Q-School of Hard Knocks
If all goes accordingly, Leggatt will resume his PGA TOUR career after grinding through six rounds at the final stage of qualifying school, which begins Wednesday.
You may recall Leggatt winning his first TOUR event on Feb 24, 2002, but then again, maybe not.
Even diehard golf fans would be forgiven for briefly turning their attention to Olympic hockey that day when Canada ended a 50-year drought by winning gold.
Had Leggatt not been busy winning the Tucson Open, he would likely have been glued to the game himself, but accomplished something pretty significant that day.
There was no Olympic hockey game to steal his thunder just over a week ago, but Leggatt was operating on a stage not nearly as grand as the one where he got his first TOUR win.
He shot respectable rounds of 70-70-71, but flirted with disaster when he posted a final round 75 to tie for 19th, when only the top 20 and ties advance.
'I shot 41 on the first nine holes. I hit it over a couple of greens and I had a couple of three-putts and the next thing you know, I was 5 over par,' said Leggatt, adding that the inflated score was not indicative of his play.
'I really didn't play that badly. I had been hitting it pretty good. I hadn't really been putting very good the whole week, but my ball-striking was really good,'' he added.
'I had to shoot under par my next nine because after my first nine holes, I was back to even par (for the tournament),'' said Leggatt, who thought 1-under might get him through. Aided by an eagle on the 15th hole, he finished two-under to advance to the final stage.
Once again, Leggatt flew under the radar into Q-school after earning an exemption through the first stage thanks to his previous PGA TOUR experience. After several health issues, including a nasty battle with carpal tunnel syndrome in his left wrist, Leggatt found himself on the Nationwide Tour this season.
He played four PGA TOUR events, missing the cut in each, and things didn't get much better on the Nationwide Tour, where he missed the cut in 13 of 19 events and withdrew from another to finish 151st on the money list.
'My short game has been terrible all year, my putting's been terrible,'' said Leggatt.
'There are days when I go out and I shoot 1or 2-over par and it should be 2 or 3-under par and, on the other side, I was shooting 3 or 4-under par and it should be better than that. I just wasn't competing very well because my putting hasn't been very good.
'My ball-striking hasn't been exactly where I wanted it to be. That always used to hold me up when I wasn't putting all that great. Now, I'm back hitting it really well again and driving the ball great. I just need to putt a little bit better. I've been working really hard on my short game these last three or four weeks.''
Leggatt now has the opportunity to make one of those sudden reversals of fortune so common in golf, but the six rounds of the final stage is renowned for being a minefield. With his health a non-factor and a renewed confidence in his game, Leggatt says he will draw on his experience.
'Guys think that it's a long week, but I never take any time off. I play golf every day. Playing nine days in a row, for a lot of guys, is a lot. I play and hit balls every day, so it's not any different than any other week for me,'' said Leggatt, who feels the second stage is more difficult than the final stage.
'There's no doubt (final stage) is stressful, but I don't think it's really any different than any other tournament for me, mentally anyway.
'I think, for a lot of guys who have never played on tour before, it's even more stressful because they're so close to having an opportunity to play on the PGA TOUR and that adds a little bit more (pressure) than the guy who has already been there.''
Leggatt is a guy who wants to be back there and if it's mission accomplished by this time next week, it's unlikely he'll sneak under the radar of Canadian fans.
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Editor's Note: Ian Hutchinson is golf columnist for the Toronto Sun and senior writer for Pro Shop Magazine, a Canadian golf trade publication, and Canadian Golfer Magazine. He is also a frequent contributor to Golf Scene and Golf Canada Magazine, the official magazine of the Royal Canadian Golf Association.
McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.
The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.
McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.
McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.
''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''
Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.
''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''
McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.
''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.
''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''
The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.
Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel
If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.
Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:
When in the Middle East... pic.twitter.com/lNv1Lh79E0— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) January 16, 2018
If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:
Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."
Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."
I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H
And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.
Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational
Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.
The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.
Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.
“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”
Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews
Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.
Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.