Weir to Raise Canadian Hopes Once More

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 6, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 Bell Canadian OpenAs the season begins to wind down and with a lull in between the WGC-NEC and the Presidents Cup, the PGA Tour heads north into Canada for this week's Bell Canadian Open in Vancouver.
But make no mistake, this isn't just some ho-hum tournament on the 2005 schedule - at least, for one man it's not.
And that man is Canada's own Mike Weir.
Without a champion of their own for over 50 years now, Canada's hopes rest squarely on the diminutive shoulders of Weir. Having played in 14 previous Canadian Opens, the 2003 Masters champion has never had a good showing in his native country's national open.
That is, until last year.
Holding a three-shot lead heading to the back-nine and possibly tasting victory, Weir stumbled down the stretch with three bogeys to fall into a playoff with Vijay Singh. Singh ultimately won the tournament on the third extra hole leaving Weir with mixed feelings.
'For whatever reason I could never get comfortable on the greens, but outside of that, it was a tremendous week, something I'll never forget,' said Weir. 'You know, I'm disappointed not only for myself, but obviously for everybody who was out there supporting me. It was really special.'
Weir, whose maiden PGA Tour victory came, ironically, at the 1999 Air Canada Open, might not have Singh to deal with this year due to back problems that caused him to pull out of the Deutsche Bank Championship last week.
For the fifth straight year, the Bell Canadian Open will be played at a different venue. This year, the event comes to Shaughnessy Golf Club in Vancouver, marking the first time since 1966 that the club has hosted the tournament.
Though only 18 of the 95 Canadian Opens have been decided by playoffs, three have come in the past three years.
The purse for the event is $4,200,000 with $756,000 going to the winner.
Five for the title:
Mike Weir
Despite blowing an opportunity to win last year, the good news for Weir is that he has improved upon his previous year's finish for five straight years. With his second place a year ago, that gives the lefthander only one place to go - to the winner's circle.
Chris DiMarco
Mr. Runner-Up is coming off a - you guessed it - runner-up finish to Tiger at the WGC-NEC Invitational. Hasn't won since 2002 but in the process has racked up five second place efforts. Currently ranks seventh on the money list and with Presidents Cup just around the corner, the former Florida Gator is sure to have the juices flowing.
Vaughn Taylor
After struggling mightily during the first part of the season - at one point missing six straight cuts - Taylor reversed things in a big way with his victory at the Reno-Tahoe Open. No small feat considering the pressure of trying to repeat as champion. Riding wave of confidence, finished third at last week's Deutsche Bank.
Vijay Singh
Only time he isn't a threat is when he isn't playing. Pulled out last week due to back spasms, but this PGA Tour iron man is likely to be back in the fold this week. Just so happens to be the defending champion and will try desperately to reel Tiger back into sight in regards to the world rankings. Has six top-10s in his last seven starts including his win at the Buick Open.
Fred Couples
Recently named to the Presidents Cup team as a caption's selection, the ever-popular Couples hopes to be in fine form for captain Nicklaus by the time he reaches Virginia. Has resurrected his career somewhat following his emotional win at the Shell Houston Open in 2003. Had a great showing at this year's Open Champion with a tie for third.
Playing Out the Front Nine
Four more to keep and eye on
Craig Stadler
After winning the 2003 B.C. Open at age 50, the man known as the Walrus has used the two-year exemption that came with the win to play semi-regularly on the PGA Tour. This will be his sixth start of the season, with his best finish coming at the Sony Open in January where he tied for ninth. More importantly, however, it will be the fifth time he has been able to tee it up with his son Kevin this year.
Kevin Stadler
At one point early last season, the young Stadler was a man with clubs but no place to play. He then caught fire after using a sponsors exemption on the Nationwide Tour to win in his first start of the season, with which he ultimately parlayed into earning his PGA Tour card for this season. Has only two top-10s on the season and sits well outside the top-125 on the money list. With father in tow, may get the inspiration he needs to make a final push to retain his card for 2006.
Jason Gore
The man the American golfing public fell in love with at the U.S. Open, Gore recently earned the PGA Tour's Battlefield Promotion by winning three Nationwide Tour events in one season - a feat he accomplished in three consecutive starts this summer. This will be his third PGA Tour start this season, following a missed cut at the Buick Championship and then a tie for 60th at the Deutsche Bank.
Peter Tomasulo
A relative unknown graduate from the Canadian Tour, Tomasulo is coming off a huge victory in this past week's Nationwide Tour event in Alberta. Though not a Canadian himself, Tomasulo also recently won the Canadian Tours Montreal Open and is apparently feeling quite at home above the northern border. Talk about moving up the ranks - all the while in Canada!
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - Bell Canadian Open
  • Getty Images

    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

    Getty Images

    McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

    Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

    Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

    The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

    McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.

    Getty Images

    Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

    The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

    Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

    Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

    Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

    Getty Images

    Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

    SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

    Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

    Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

    With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

    ''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

    Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.

    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

    ''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

    Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

    Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

    He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    "I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''