Major Talk Surrounding Canadian Womens

By Ian HutchinsonAugust 14, 2007, 4:00 pm
2006 Canadian WomenThe new big cheese at the Royal Canadian Golf Association has contacts from a previous life in the beer industry, so maybe he can swing a deal on suds for a soiree recognizing the presence of the two youngest people ever to win majors this week at Edmonton's Royal Mayfair.
Oakville's Sandra Post will be in town to do television coverage of the CN Canadian Women's Open, arguably the pinnacle of this Canadian golf season, and the abrupt change in that tournament's fortunes should put new executive director Scott Simmons and his RCGA staff in a party mood.
The way the LPGA is today, some of the players bellying up to the bar may have to sip Cokes instead of beer as youth is having its day, a perfect example being the 2007 winner of the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Morgan Pressel became the youngest person to win a major at the tender age of 18 years, 10 months and nine days, and replaced Post, who is a year or so older than when she took the 1968 LPGA Championship.
'I'm going to ask Morgan what she was thinking, taking my record. I had it for 39 years and I had grown quite fond of it,' joked Post, who won her major at the age of 20 years, seven days.
Pressel is just one of countless marquee players visiting Edmonton, a list that also includes world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa, Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie, Se Ri Pak, Cristie Kerr and Karrie Webb. It's a field that never would have been expected in Canada just two short years ago, thus giving the RCGA more reason to party.
With 45 of the top 50 players on the money list in the field, the Women's Open offers a pleasant break from the gloom surrounding the sponsorless men's Canadian Open. RCGA officials are drawing strength from the positive vibes surrounding the women in their quest to breathe life back into the men's event.
At various times this decade, the Canadian women's event has also been on life support, the first crisis coming seven years ago when federal anti-smoking legislation snuffed Imperial Tobacco as title sponsor.
Meg Mallon won the final du Maurier Classic, then claimed unofficial status as a Canadian citizen and pleaded with her new adopted country to save the tournament she'd just won at Royal Ottawa.
'I feel like an honourary Canadian for sure, winning the event in Canada three times. It's been a very special event for me,' Mallon said recently.
'I called everybody out because I knew what a great country (Canada) is and what a great golf country this is and it would have been such a shame not to have the greatest women golfers in the world not playing in front of some of the greatest golf fans in the world,' said Mallon.
The Canadian LPGA event lost its major status, but it did survive when BMO came on board as sponsor, but that relationship ended in 2005, when a remarkably weak field showed up in Halifax and even the RCGA was predicting the tournament's demise if a title sponsor wasn't found quickly.
The RCGA got its wish when CN came on board later that year and immediately raised overall prize money from $950,000 to $1.7-million to $2.25-million U.S., which is where it stands today. The tournament quickly took a strong charitable component and charmed players with its hospitality.
To the delight of the RCGA and players, CN recently extended its deal to 2010. 'To have a company like CN come in six or seven years after that statement and bring the tournament to where it should be, and that's one of the premier events on tour, it's amazing,' said Mallon.
There is even loose talk about it returning to major status. No formal discussions on the matter have been held with the tour and Stan Jablonski,.senior vice president of sales for CN, says such talk is premature.
'I'd like to see it happen next year,' said Jablonski. 'I don't know when it will happen. I think that will be strictly dependent on how the LPGA sees our success. We've only got one tournament under our belt.'
From a player's perspective, that's all it takes. 'It's a major to me. It's Canada's national championship and I think you can't take anything away from that,' said Mallon.
With the future of the men's Canadian Open so uncertain, the festive atmosphere of the women's event will be short but sweet this week for the RCGA before returning to reality with renewed hope.
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    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.
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    Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

    According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

    Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.

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    Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

    Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

    And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

    Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.

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    Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

    The Monday morning headline will be …

    REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

    RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

    MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

    JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.

    Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

    HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

    LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

    BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

    COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.

    Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

    HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

    LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

    BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

    COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.

    What will be the winning score?

    HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

    LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

    BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

    COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”

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    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.