Oh Canada

By Kraig KannJune 7, 2001, 4:00 pm
It is Canada's second oldest professional golf tournament, dating back to 1912. We're talking about the Canadian PGA Championship. But this year, that old staple of Maple Leaf professional golf joins forces with the Buy.Com Tour for the Samsung Canadian PGA Championship taking place at the DiamondBack Golf Club in Richmond Hill, Ontario.
 
Certainly, this is a major change for those Canadian golf fans used to seeing their home grown talent take part in such a prestigious championship. This week there are but 23 Canadians participating. The majority of the 156-man field is made up of Buy.com Tour talent.
 
A quick read of the papers in the Toronto, Ontario area makes it perfectly clear that the Canadian touring professionals aren't too found of the change in field. Wednesday's headline in The Globe and Mail read PROS TEED OFF WITH CANADIAN PGA CHAMPIONSHIP.
 
For example, Stuart Hendley, who's played on the Canadian Tour for 15 years and won the 1994 Canadian PGA Championship, is not playing this week. And neither is two-time Canadian Tour winner and PGA Tour veteran Ray Stewart. Both are on the sidelines because the Buy.com Tour provides 122 of the 156 spots for its own members. 'It's a slap in the face,' Stewart said. 'They didn't do a very good job of allocating spots. I'm certainly not going to watch it on TV.'
 
In fact, 20 exemptions are provided to Canadians, including 3 for the top finishers in the 2000 Canadian PGA Club Professional Championship, nine exemptions for the top player in each of Canada's nine golfing zones, one exemption for the winner of the 2000 Canadian PGA Assistants' championship, two for the most recent past winners of this championship, three for the top-three Canadian players on the Canadian Tour and two special exemptions.
 
Is the whole thing fair? Not for me to answer. But this appears at first glance to be a 'win-win' situation for both sides. The Canadian PGA Championship gets a much larger purse ($450,000 - U.S. - $81,000 to the winner) than it would have been able to put forth otherwise and certainly much bigger exposure by being on The Golf Channel for 4 days. The Buy.Com Tour benefits by being in a major market (Toronto) and being able to showcase its talent in another country - something it has also been able to do by playing in Monterrey, Mexico each year.
 
14 spots were available in Monday's qualifying round and three of those were filled by Canadians making the total number of Canadians in the field at 23.
 
So what can we look for? Probably not a repeat win by Chad Wright of Ventura, California. The last 21 stagings of the Canadian PGA Championship have produced 21 different winners. Look out for the Buy.Com Tour's 'young guns' Jonathan Byrd, Chad Campbell and Jason Hill. These rookies are all in the field and each is sporting a position among the top-10 on the Buy.Com tour's money list.
 
Finally, DO NOT dismiss the historical importance of this event. Among the past champions of the Canadian PGA Championship are Arnold Palmer, Raymond Floyd, Lee Trevino, Lanny Wadkins, Moe Norman and modern day PGA Tour pro Steve Stricker.
 
So...my take is this. As you watch the 85th edition of this great event this week, take a moment to salute (from your couch) the past history of this great Championship and all that it has meant to Canada's professional golf family. But enjoy, also, the future of what promises to be a long marriage of sorts between a Tour on the rise and a Championship that just might have been in need of some bigger exposure.
 
See you on T.V!
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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.