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LPGA resumes with Canadian Pacific Women's Open

By Associated PressAugust 23, 2017, 10:15 pm

If there's a major feel to this week's Canadian Pacific Women's Open, it might be because this tournament used to be one of the LPGA's majors.

It helps, too, that the event has drawn a stellar field, as the Tour gets back into a full-fledged swing after a week off and last week's Solheim Cup.

The field of 156 competitors will vie for the $2.25 million purse as the championship returns to Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club in the nation's capital for the first time since 2008. The 2017 winner's prize is $337,500 and 500 Race to the CME Globe points.

It's the 23rd event of the LPGA season and second of the year to be held in Canada.

This year's Canadian Pacific Women's Open will feature 92 of the top 100 players on the LPGA's Official Money List, including 22 of the top 25.

Leading the roster of players this week is top-ranked So Yeon Ryu of South Korea and defending champion and world No. 3 Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, who won in a playoff earlier this year at the Manulife LPGA Classic in Hamilton, Ontario.

Three-time Canadian Pacific Women's Open winner Lydia Ko of New Zealand looks to break through here for her first victory of the season.

Also in the field are former Canadian Pacific Women's Open champions Laura Davies of England (1996) and Australians Karrie Webb (1999) and Katherine Kirk, who won in 2008, the last time the tournament was contested at Ottawa Hunt.

Nineteen-year-old Brooke Henderson, who lives about 40 miles up the road in Smith Falls, Ontario, tees it up this week as the Canadian favorite and hometown hero. Henderson, who's ranked 10th in the world, won earlier this season at the Meijer LPGA Classic.

And while any victory is a good one, capturing the title here at her national championship would certainly be just that much sweeter.

"This championship isn't a major anymore, but for us Canadians, it really is," Henderson said of the event that was played as an LPGA major in 1979-2000 as the du Maurier Classic.

"This is a tournament that I would love to hoist that trophy, and especially here in Ottawa. Growing up, I dreamed of playing on the LPGA Tour. Now I'm fortunate enough to do that every single week and play against the best players. To now have them here, basically, in my backyard and to compete against them is pretty cool."

Henderson is one of 14 Canadian players trying to join Jocelyne Bourassa as the only native winner of this championship. Bourassa, who was inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame in 1996, won the inaugural event in 1973.

Lorie Kane, one of Canada's golf stalwarts and a member on the short list of this nation's most beloved athletes, will play in her 27th consecutive Canadian Pacific Women's Open this week. Kane has four wins and 99 top-10 finishes in her career, which began in 1996, while bankrolling almost $7 million in lifetime earnings.

"Holy smokes -- where has the time gone?" Kane said when reminded of a 27-year streak of playing in this championship. "What I'm looking forward to is teeing it up on Thursday and putting my best foot forward. I'm not getting to play a lot of tournament golf, but I do feel pretty good about things and ready to go."

Nineteen of the 24 competitors from last week's Solheim Cup are in the field in Canada's capital city, including nine golfers from the victorious U.S. squad. Included in that group is a trio of former Canadian Pacific Women's Open champions including Cristie Kerr (2006), Michelle Wie (2010), and Brittany Lincicome (2011). Stacy Lewis, Austin Ernst, Angel Yin, Brittany Lang, Paula Creamer, and Danielle Kang, a major champion this year, will join that threesome.

On the European side, 10 of the 12 competitors will head to Canada this week, including Suzann Pettersen of Norway, who had to withdraw last week because of injury.

She will be joined by Anna Nordqvist and Madelene Sagstrom of Sweden, Carlota Ciganda of Spain, Karine Icher of France, Caroline Masson of Germany, Emily Pedersen of Denmark and Mel Reid and Jodi Ewart Shadoff of England.

This week's Canadian Pacific Women's Open is the 22nd event in the season-long Race to the CME Globe (the Solheim Cup did not count for points).

World No. 2 Lexi Thompson currently leads the standings with 2,642 points, followed by Ryu (2,587) and Jutanugarn (2,204).

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Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.

Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.


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"I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

"What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."

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McDowell needs Wyndham result to maintain status

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:56 pm

For the first time in nearly three years, Graeme McDowell heads into an event with his PGA Tour status hanging in the balance.

The Ulsterman joined the Tour in 2006, and he has had nearly uninterrupted status since winning the 2010 U.S. Open. But McDowell's two-season exemption for winning the 2015 OHL Classic at Mayakoba only extends through this week, where he will start the Wyndham Championship at No. 143 in the season-long points race.

McDowell tied for fifth at Sedgefield Country Club in 2016, and he will likely need a similar result to crack the top 125 in the standings and retain his fully exempt status for the 2019 season. While he finished T-10 in Las Vegas in November, that remains his lone top-10 finish of the Tour season. The veteran's best results this year have come in Europe, where he tied for fifth at the Italian Open and finished T-12 at the BMW PGA Championship.


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"I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I feel like it's not a do-or-die scenario for me," McDowell told reporters earlier this month at the Barracuda Championship. "I feel if I was 25 years old without a European Tour card to fall back on, it would be a do-or-die scenario. Certainly trying to put the pressure off, if I don't get myself into the top 125 it's not the end of the world for me. I still feel like I can play a great schedule next season."

By finishing Nos. 126-150 in points after this week, McDowell would retain conditional status that would likely ensure him at least 12-15 starts next season. He would also still have privileges as a past tournament champion.

But he's not the only winner from the 2015-16 season whose two-year exemption is on the verge of running out. Fabian Gomez (160th), Peter Malnati (164th) and Billy Hurley III (202nd) all need big results in Greensboro to keep their cards, while Shane Lowry, David Lingmerth and Matt Every all earned three-year exemptions for victories in 2015 but currently sit Nos. 139, 140 and 184 in points, respectively.

Last year four players moved into the top 125 thanks to strong play at Wyndham, with the biggest jump coming from Rory Sabbatini, who went from No. 148 to No. 122 after tying for fourth place.

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Vogel Monday qualifies for eighth time this season

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:27 pm

The PGA Tour's regular season ended with another tally for the Monday King.

While Monday qualifiers are a notoriously difficult puzzle to solve, with dozens of decorated professionals vying for no more than four spots in a given tournament field, T.J. Vogel has turned them into his personal playground this season. That trend continued this week when he earned a spot into the season-ending Wyndham Championship, shooting a 5-under 66 and surviving a 4-for-3 playoff for the final spots.

It marks Vogel's eighth successful Monday qualification this season, extending the unofficial record he set when he earned start No. 7 last month at The Greenbrier. Patrick Reed earned the nickname "Mr. Monday" when he successfully qualified six different times during the 2012 season before securing full-time status.

There have been 24 different Monday qualifiers throughout the season, with Vogel impressively turning 19 qualifier starts into eight tournament appearances.

Vogel started the year with only conditional Web.com Tour status, and explained at the AT&T Byron Nelson in May that he devised his summer schedule based on his belief that it's easier to Monday qualify for a PGA Tour event than a Web.com tournament.


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"The courses that the PGA Tour sets the qualifiers up, they're more difficult and sometimes they're not a full field whereas the Web, since there's no pre-qualifier, you have two full fields for six spots each and the courses aren't as tough," Vogel said. "So I feel like if you take a look at the numbers, a lot of the Web qualifiers you have to shoot 8-under."

Vogel has made three cuts in his previous seven starts this year, topping out with a T-16 finish at the Valspar Championship in March. The 27-year-old also played the weekend at the Nelson and the Wells Fargo Championship, missing the cut at The Greenbrier in addition to the RSM Classic, Honda Classic and FedEx St. Jude Classic.

While Vogel won't have another Monday qualifier opportunity until October, he has a chance to secure some 2019 status this week in Greensboro. His 51 non-member FedExCup points would currently slot him 205th in the season-long race, 13 points behind Rod Pampling at No. 200. If Vogel earns enough points to reach the equivalent of No. 200 after this week, he'd clinch a spot in the upcoming Web.com Tour Finals where he would have a chance to compete for a full PGA Tour card for the 2018-19 season.

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Woods adds BMW Championship to playoff schedule

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:01 pm

Tiger Woods is adding a trip to Philadelphia to his growing playoff itinerary.

Having already committed to both The Northern Trust and the Dell Technologies Championship, Woods' agent confirmed to GolfChannel.com that the 14-time major champ will also make an appearance next month at the BMW Championship. It will mark Woods' first start in the third leg of the FedExCup playoffs since 2013 when he tied for 11th at Conway Farms Golf Club outside of Chicago.

This year the Sept. 6-9 event is shifting to Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pa., which is hosting the BMW for the first time. The course previously hosted the Quicken Loans National in both 2010 and 2011. Woods won the BMW en route to FedExCup titles in both 2007 and 2009 when it was held at Cog Hill in Illinois.


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Woods was already in good position to make the 70-man BMW field, but his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship vaulted him from 49th to 20th in the season-long points race and assured that he'll make it to Aronimink regardless of his performance in the first two postseason events.

Woods' commitment also means a packed schedule will only get busier leading into the Ryder Cup, where he is expected to be added as a captain's pick. Woods' appearance at the BMW will cap a run of five events in six weeks, and should he tee it up in Paris it could be his seventh start in a nine-week stretch if he also qualifies for the 30-player Tour Championship.