Power Rankings: RBC Canadian Open

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2013, 8:35 pm

With the season's third major in the rear-view mirror, the PGA Tour heads north of the border for the RBC Canadian Open. A full field of players will look to conquer Glen Abbey Golf Club, which hosts the event for the 26th time in its history, but for the first time since 2009.

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Scott Piercy returns to defend the title he won last year at Hamilton Golf & Country Club over Robert Garrigus and William McGirt. Here are 10 players to watch this week in Ontario:

1. Hunter Mahan: His tie for ninth at Muirfield was his second consecutive top-10 in a major and 12th top-25 finish of the 2013 season. He has four top-25s in eight starts in Canada, with his best career result coming at Glen Abbey in 2004 (T-4).

2. Matt Kuchar: Quietly notched a T-15 finish at the British Open, his 10th top-25 finish in 16 starts this year. Kuchar remains remarkably consistent on the stat sheet, ranking sixth on Tour in scoring average, 12th in strokes gained putting and 13th in scrambling.

3. Charl Schwartzel: The South African tied for 15th in Scotland, his fourth top-15 finish in his last five starts overall, and currently sits third on Tour in scoring average. He's making just his third career start in Canada, though he tied for ninth in his debut in this event in 2011 at Shaughnessy.

4. Brandt Snedeker: Without a Friday 79 at Muirfield, Snedeker may very well have contended down the stretch at the British Open. With three straight top-20 finishes, he's beginning to show signs of the form that made him the hottest player in the game during January and February.

5. Graham DeLaet: Though a Canadian hasn't won this event since 1954, DeLaet is likely the nation's best hope. With five top-10 finishes this year and two in his last four starts overall, DeLaet leads the Tour in GIR percentage and will be in search of a strong finish as he continues his quest to make Nick Price's squad for the Presidents Cup this fall.

6. Luke Donald: Though the Englishman missed the cut last week, his last six starts in North America each went for a top-25 finish. Donald has been equally consistent in this event across multiple venues, with three straight top-25 results from 2009-2011, including a third-place finish in 2010 at St. George's.

7. Hideki Matsuyama: The Japanese sensation broke through for a T-6 finish at Muirfield, a strong follow-up to his T-10 result at Merion last month. Now 34th in the world, the 21-year-old has been on an international tear since turning pro this spring, including a pair of wins on the Asian Tour, and appears ready to continue his hot play this week in Canada.

8. Graeme McDowell: Though he finally broke his 'feast or famine' streak last week by making the cut at the British Open but not winning the event, McDowell can still pull off an 'RBC double' this week after winning the RBC Heritage in April. The Ulsterman still ranks 10th on Tour in driving accuracy and 11th in strokes gained putting.

9. Daniel Summerhays: A week after missing a playoff in Illinois by a shot, Summerhays earned a spot in the playoff Sunday in Mississippi, ultimately finishing behind Woody Austin. In addition to his T-9 finish at Greenbrier earlier this month, he heads to Canada on the heels of three straight top-10 finishes with a 67.2 stroke average across that span.

10. David Lingmerth: The Swede has quietly compiled a solid stretch since his breakthrough runner-up finish at TPC Sawgrass, with three top-20 finishes. Lingmerth has compiled a 69.8 scoring average before the cut since The Players Championship, making the cut in each of his six starts, and ranks 34th on Tour in total driving.

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LPGA faces dilemma relating to ANA date

By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 5:00 pm

While the new Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship promises to bolster the overall women’s game, it has created a challenge to the LPGA’s first major championship of the year.

Should the LPGA move the ANA Inspiration to new dates?

Or stay put and go up against the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship?

It’s a complex question, with no easy fix.

“I don’t know that keeping the date we are in is a good long-term decision, but I won’t make a switch out of that date without reviewing all the variables, and thinking about it long term, not just one year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan told GolfChannel.com.

Whan said his staff is studying options and expects to review them with All Nippon Airways (ANA) sometime over the next two weeks.

Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley announced during the Masters, almost three weeks ago, that the club’s new women’s amateur championship will be played over three rounds, with the final round being played at Augusta National on the Saturday before the Masters. That’s the same week as the ANA Inspiration.

If the ANA Inspiration keeps its dates, it would compete with the Augusta National Women’s Amateur over the ANA’s first three rounds. It would compete for media attention and for some of the top amateurs who have become an integral part of the ANA.

The ANA Junior Inspiration is played the weekend before the women’s first major, with LPGA legends occupying an important role in the event. LPGA legends play alongside juniors in the final round and also attend the ANA Junior Dinner. There’s a mentorship philosophy woven into the entire amateur element of the ANA.

The ANA Junior winner and six other elite amateurs get invites to play the ANA Inspiration.

Switching the ANA dates isn’t the no-brainer some fans might think.

Swapping with the LPGA’s Kia Classic the week before means the possibility ANA loses the highly appealing 20 hours of live TV tournament coverage it receives in its current dates. It also means LPGA pros would get just one full-field event to qualify for the year’s first major. Any swap of earlier March dates puts the LPGA up against formidable PGA Tour Florida swing dates, including The Players, with its expected move back to March.

A swap of dates to mid-March with the LPGA’s Bank of Hope Founders Cup next year would mean LPGA pros wouldn’t get a single full-field event to qualify for the ANA. (The Women’s Australian Open is co-sanctioned with a shared field). Plus, a swap with the Founders Cup would create major logistical issues for Founders Cup and Wildfire Marriott resort officials hosting that event.

Moving to the week after the Masters is equally difficult, with the ANA then competing against the immensely popular Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which featured Beyonce as its headliner this year. Plus, there would be weather and volunteer issues.

“There are a lot of partners involved in a decision relating to a date change,” Whan said. “It’s not just Mission Hills, IMG and ANA and the volunteer and operations groups.

“And, most importantly, it would come down to where we could find a TV window that is at least equivalent to what we have today. Those options are limited.”

While an ANA date switch might be ideal long term, when the LPGA has more time to revamp its entire schedule, to better prepare a lead-in to the ANA, it’s a problem for 2019.

“Staying in the current date is a legitimate alternative,” Whan said. “Because we know we get a great golf course and fan support, and we get a schedule that makes sense in terms of players being able to play their way into the event.”

Still, the ANA dates remain under study.

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Levy boosts chances of playing in home Ryder Cup

By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 4:24 pm

France's Alexander Levy took a big step toward qualifying for a spot at this year's Ryder Cup in his native country with his win at the European Tour's Trophee Hassan II.

Levy's one-shot victory was his third in as many years, and the fifth of his European Tour career. It lifted him to ninth in the latest European Points standings for the Ryder Cup, with the top four players automatically qualifying for a spot on the team in Paris.

Levy, 27, is likely France's best hope to have some representation on the roster in October. His win lifted him to No. 47 in the world rankings, while the next highest-ranked Frenchman (Victor Dubuisson) is currently 122nd.

Levy also ranks 15th on the World Points list, where the top four players not otherwise qualified on the European Points list will join the team, rounded out by four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn. Here's a look at the latest standings:

European Points

1. Tyrrell Hatton

2. Justin Rose

3. Jon Rahm

4. Ross Fisher

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5. Matthew Fitzpatrick

World Points

1. Rory McIlroy

2. Tommy Fleetwood

3. Sergio Garcia

4. Alex Noren

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5. Ian Poulter

On the American side of things, the top 14 in the U.S. points race remained unchanged following the Valero Texas Open, while tournament winner Andrew Landry jumped from 48th to 15th. Here's a look at the current standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship earning automatic spots on the team:

1. Patrick Reed

2. Justin Thomas

3. Dustin Johnson

4. Jordan Spieth

5. Bubba Watson

6. Rickie Fowler

7. Brooks Koepka

8. Phil Mickelson

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9. Matt Kuchar

10. Brian Harman

11. Kevin Kisner

29. Tiger Woods

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Descending into golf's depths, and trying to dig out

By Brandel ChambleeApril 23, 2018, 3:05 pm

Watching Alvaro Quiros finish second this past week in Morocco, I was reminded of just how rare it is for player to come back from the depths of golf hell.

Quiros, a player of immense ability, hype and length, won the Dubai World Championship – his sixth win in four years – to close out 2011 and then went down the rabbit hole of trying to change his golf swing. He would miss 11 cuts in 2012 and either miss the cut or withdraw in another 41 European Tour events over the next four years. Because he hadn’t won a major championship, his epic backwards slide in the world rankings (435th prior to this past week) mostly went unnoticed – but it was far from unusual.

Ian Baker-Finch won the 1991 Open Championship, but just three years later, when he played 20 events on the PGA Tour and missed 14 cuts, he no longer looked anything like a recent major champion. In 1995, he played in 18 events and either missed the cut, withdrew or was disqualified from every one of them. In 1996, he missed the cut in all 11 events he entered on the PGA Tour; and in 1997, he shot 92 in the first round of The Open, withdrew from the championship and stopped playing professional golf.

Like Quiros, Baker-Finch’s downfall came after his biggest win, when he finally thought he had the time, because of the 10-year exemption he received, to change his golf swing.

David Duval won the 2001 Open Championship and just two years later he shot 83-78 in the same event and missed the cut, which was one 16 events he either missed the cut or withdrew from that year. In 2005, he missed 18 cuts in 19 starts. Duval’s competitive demise may well have been precipitated by injuries and an existential malaise after winning golf’s oldest championship, but it was accompanied by queries far and wide as to how to correct his swing and thinking, just like Baker-Finch before him and Quiros thereafter.

These desperate searches for help, like the indelible ink stains on dyer’s hands, are the one common thread amongst those who suffer from the absolute negation of their technical and then creative abilities. Those who take as indisputable the theories of others are, in the deepest sense, wounding their own intuition. They are controverting the evidence of their own senses in such a way that is comforting to the insecure player, but tragic to the artist. To quote Carl Jung: “Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.”

As I write this, PGA Tour winners Steven Bowditch (1,885th in the world) and Smylie Kaufman (337th) are in similar downward spirals in their careers and no doubt are desperate for, and susceptible to any suggestion.

One player they can look to who made it back from the frantic madness that accompanies losing one’s game, is Henrik Stenson. He put his trust in one man, Pete Cowen, even though while working with Pete he missed 14 cuts in 2002, followed by 15 missed cuts in 2003, and 11 in 2004. What Stenson did not do was panic and run from teacher to teacher, from shrink to shrink, as the missed cuts piled up.

Stenson, with Cowen’s help, slowly built one of the most reliable swings in the history of the game. A swing that regularly leads events in fairways found and greens hit in regulation. A swing that authored the lowest score ever shot in major championship history. A swing that is a far cry from the OB-launching swipes he was taking in late-2001 and 2002.

Given the soul-eating depths of where he came from, a place from which few have dug themselves out of, I watch Stenson play golf with a far greater admiration than I otherwise would, and similarly was pulling for Quiros in Morocco. The same way I am pulling for Bowditch and Kaufman to find their games again.

Bernhard and Jason Langer at the 2017 PNC Father/Son Challenge Getty Images

Langer skipping Senior PGA for son's HS graduation

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 23, 2018, 2:53 pm

Defending champion Bernhard Langer will miss this year’s Senior PGA Championship to attend his son’s high school graduation.

Langer made the announcement Monday, during Senior PGA media day at Harbor Shores in Michigan. The event will be held May 24-27.

“I won’t be able to defend my title this year because my son graduates from high school that very same weekend,” he said. “Family comes first in my life, so I have to be there to celebrate.”

Langer said that his son, Jason, will play golf for the University of Pennsylvania in the fall. Langer and his family live in South Florida.

Langer won last year’s event at Trump National outside Washington, D.C. The 60-year-old has no wins but three runners-up in eight senior starts this season.