Fan favorite Freddie back
If a 53-year old Greg Norman can contend at the British Open and draw the superlatives of fans around the globe, then perhaps, the most significant entry into the field at this weeks RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey is fan favorite Fred Couples.
Like the Shark last weekend, Couples, 48, will need to catch the galleries off-guard with his play, but being able to contend is not that outrageous since he has three top-10 finishes in 12 starts this year, including a tie for fourth at the Shell Houston Open in April.
The last PGA TOUR victory for Couples, who has missed just two cuts in 2008, came five years ago at the Houston Open, but no matter what happens during this soggy Canadian Open, Couples is likely to spark a few Fredd-ie, Fredd-ie chants just like old times.
I grew up in Seattle, so Ive been to Vancouver a lot. I think the people, they all make the event and the galleries are huge at the Canadian Open, said the 1992 Masters champ.
Its nice to see that theyre moving it. They played at Shaughnessy (in Vancouver) -- I wish I would have played. I hear (2005 champion Mark Calcavecchia) calling it one of the greatest courses hes ever played.
So familiarity does not breed contempt in Couples relationship with this country, but success has also softened him after winning the Canadian Skins Game five times and pocketing a cool $1,140,000 in nine appearances.
There are other fond memories, too.
One of my first years playing up here, playing with (Jack) Nicklaus, which was amazing early in my career and then, obviously, some good Skins Games and winning those, he said.
With that in mind, Couples says nothing should be read into the fact that he has been absent from the Canadian Open since 1995, when he tied for 34th at Glen Abbey. He has played nine Canadian Opens with his best performance a second-place finish in 1993.
I like the Canadian Open, he said. Oddly enough, Ive never played the Canadian Open outside of this golf course. Ive had great memories here and Ive never really done well with a chance of winning, but Ive usually played pretty decent here.
I think were here again next year, so Ive got one more year to play in this thing and then, maybe theyll have a Champions (Tour) event here.'
Over the past couple of seasons, Couples has been plagued by health problems. In late 2006, he was diagnosed with a blood clot in his right arm that hospitalized him after tying for third at the Masters that year.
Last year, back problems limited Couples to just three official events and he didnt play a tournament after the Masters.
The Champions Tour is on the horizon, but Couples will make one more whirl around the PGA Tour next year before serving as captain of the American team at the Presidents Cup in San Francisco.
I dont want to look past being the captain, he said of his immediate future.
Ill be on the Tour next year, so Ill be playing and seeing some of the guys and doing that. I think towards the end, Ill look forward to the (Champions Tour), but I dont want to look past playing and then, being the captain, he said.
My (50th) birthday is in October, so as soon as the Presidents Cup is over, on Monday, Ill go to Houston and play my first senior event, if I can do it. I dont really want to take a lot of time off and go play poorly in my first one.'
Wherever he ends up on the leaderboard, fans are usually following him and any kind of excitement is good news these days for a Tiger-less Tour.
Email your thoughts to Ian Hutchinson
Editor's Note: Ian Hutchinson is golf columnist for the Toronto Sun. He is also a frequent contributor to Golf Scene and Golf Canada Magazine, the official magazine of the Royal Canadian Golf Association.
Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage
Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.
Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.
Swipe to see what’s up in my world. It’s long-winded.... short version, we lost the baby. Had to share this since we had shared the news already. I know you’re all so supportive and kind. I just couldn’t face it before. Now let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming. #ihavealotoffeelings #andphotostocatchupon
“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”
The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.
“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia
This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.
The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.
Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.
The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.
A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.
And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.
Green jacket tour
Man of the people
Ace at 17th at Sawgrass
Departure from TaylorMade
Squashed beef with Paddy
Victory at Valderrama
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18
Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf
Well, this is a one new one.
According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:
“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”
Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.
“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.
The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.
“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”
The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.
Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.
Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.