Weir Ames or Nobody for Canada

By Ian HutchinsonAugust 11, 2007, 4:00 pm
Over breakfast at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla., a few years ago, Gary Player entertained a Canadian writer with tales of his frequent trips north of the border, recalling with fondness the people, places and golf courses that made his travels so memorable there.
Whether a trip to Canada next month is as special as those in the past for Player remains to be seen. A win by his International team against the United States in the Presidents Cup is the clincher and Player commences the journey towards that objective on Monday when he announces his two captain's picks.
The Black Knight already has a tough decision, one that is becoming more complex as the PGA Championship continues this weekend at Southern Hills in Tulsa.
If Player didn't already know from his own experiences that the host country would want a home boy on the International team, he has figured it out through incessant questions from the Canadian media as decision day approaches.
As he did two years ago, Player insisted that he will go with hot hands when making his captain's picks, but the flip side of that is will he risk losing home team advantage by not having a Canadian on the International team at Royal Montreal?
With Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh playing, it isn't likely the Presidents Cup will be hurting for attendance, but without a Canadian in the lineup, the International team doesn't have an identity with the home fans, who are just as likely to adopt the American team with all of its marquee names.
Mike Weir isn't helping Player out in this matter as he did two years ago when he surged into the top 10 and earned an automatic spot on points. This year, Weir was 20th going into the PGA Championship, where he missed the cut with a disastrous 9-over score.
That crash-and-burn came after Weir withdrew from the Bridgestone Invitational the previous week and tied for 37th at his own national Open the week before that.
The 2003 Masters champ hasn't won a tournament in over three years and about the only positive he has going for him is an 8-6 overall Presidents Cup record and some top-10 finishes in other majors.
The selection of Weir after that meltdown in the heat of Tulsa yesterday would appear to be a pity pick by Player just to keep Canadians happy.
Wait a minute. Does a Canadian pick necessarily have to be Weir? This is where it really gets complicated for Player.
Check out Stephen Ames tied for third after the second round at Southern Hills where he arrived one place ahead of Weir in Presidents Cup standings.
It is conceivable that Ames could still make the team on an automatic pick, which would take Player out of the equation, but he is also making a case for being a captain's pick from Canada should that be required. Ames would be a Presidents Cup rookie if Player chose him, but he has displayed an ability to hold it together in the heat of the moment, the most prominent instance being his convincing win at THE PLAYERS Championship last year.
Although he stated in 2004 that he wouldn't play in the Presidents Cup the following year because he didn't go in for team golf, Ames has said that being part of the 2007 event would be special with it being played in Canada, his adopted homeland.
Canadian fans, however, haven't taken to Ames with the same warmth as they have for Weir, who was born and raised in southwestern Ontario, just a good tee shot from the Michigan border, played through that province's amateur ranks and went on the Canadian Tour. Then, there's that memorable Masters win.
Ames, on the other hand, chose to live in Canada after meeting his wife Jodi on a flight. Not only does his family reside in Calgary, but Ames also has a couple of restaurants there and is actively involved in junior golf with an annual competition between Canada and Trinidad bearing his name.
While he isn't a native son, he chose to take out his citizenship and has definitely been a positive addition, but some fans in his adopted country still don't consider him a true Canadian in a land that prides itself on welcoming immigrants. Many also aren't sure how to take his controversial statements over the years.
In the eyes of Canadians, and most golf fans for that matter, Weir is Richie Cunningham, Ames is Bart Simpson. Do we have to bring up the whole Tiger Woods '9-and-8' affair last year?
Many of Ames' statements come with a smirk and a rolling of the eyes, but most have merit, even when they're ticking off people as it did last year when he hinted at THE PLAYERS Championship that he might not play in the Masters. What he meant was he would have to check with his family before committing.
That's Ames, but his unique personality aside, his performance to this point has illustrated that he should be the Canadian who plays in the Presidents Cup -- if any Canadian plays in the Presidents Cup. Player has several options to ponder as he watches the PGA Championship wind down this weekend.
Does he stick to his original plan and go with the hot hands, with no consideration given to each player's country?
Does he play politics and go with Canadian home boy Weir, who had a hand in getting the Presidents Cup to Canada, but hasn't proven he belongs this year?
If he does go with a Canadian, does he go with his hot hand plan and choose Ames?
Would Player go with both Canadians? Forget about it.
One thing is certain. You can bet that Player's breakfast isn't going down as easily this weekend as it was when he talked about Canada at the World Golf Village years ago.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - 89th PGA Championship
    Toronto Sun 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.
  • Getty Images

    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

    Getty Images

    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

    Getty Images

    Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

    Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

    ''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

    It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    ''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

    Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

    ''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

    After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

    ''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

    He's making his first start in the event.

    ''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

    Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

    ''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

    Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

    ''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

    The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

    ''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

    Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

    ''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

    Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

    John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

    Getty Images

    Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

    He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

    How rare is his missing the cut there?

    The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

    The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

    Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

    Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.