Irishman Medallist at Canadian Q-School
The 27-year-old fired a final-round 6-under 66 to wind up with a five-day total of 15-under 345, seven shots in front of Australias Michael Curtain and reigning U.S. amateur runner-up Robert Hamilton. Chad Bellbin, Kyle Stinson and Kent Fukushima were Canadians who earned tour playing privileges for the remainder of the 2002 season.
Canadians earning non-exempt status were Mark Corrigan, Blair Buttar, Gord Burns and Jamie Kureluk.
The trio of Omelia, Hamilton and Curtain were paired together over the final three rounds of the 90-hole event and, with quite a cushion heading into the final day, seemed relaxed on the 7120-yard Dunes at Kamloops course.
Today I just went out with the attitude that there wasnt any pressure, said Omelia, a former member of the Ireland and Great Britain national squads. The three of us had set ourselves up quite nicely, but we still wanted to finish strong. There were a lot of good shots out there today, so we were all focused on the job at hand. It gave us a taste of what we can expect, because we are going to have to do that beginning next week (at the Bay Mills Open).
Curtain, 23, who also holds status on the Asian Davidoff Tour, had his sights set on obtaining a tour card when he arrived in Kamloops, and a quick start out of the gate earlier in the week pushed that target to a top-five showing. On Friday, he realized that goal, winding up tied for second.
This is a big step for me, and now I am looking forward to getting right out there, he admitted. I dont think I would have been in contention had I not had the chance to play with two guys like (Omelia and Hamilton). I am playing pretty confident right now, but there is still a lot to learn. And I know playing on the Canadian Tour will give me that chance to learn.
When the 24-year-old Hamilton dropped his final putt Friday, so too came an end to a stellar amateur career. Playing with Arnold Palmer during the legends final round at The Masters last month turned out to be Hamiltons amateur swan song, and he cant think of a better way to go out. Now he will face a new challenge beginning next week in Brimley, Mich.
I just talked to my parents, and they are excited - they have waited 24 years to see me turn pro, said Hamilton shortly after his round. I had done all I could as an amateur, but playing with Arnold Palmer in his final round at Augusta was like a storybook ending. But now it is time to embark on a new journey - there are a lot of great players here, and I am looking forward to it.
Scores Friday after the final round of the Canadian Tour's Spring Qualifying School held at the 7120-yard, par-72 The Dunes at Kamloops (x-earned exempt card in playoff):
EARNED EXEMPT CARD:
Omelia, Bryan Ireland 72-69-70-68-66_345 -15
Curtain, Michael Australia 70-71-69-71-71_352 -8
Hamilton, Robert Carmichael, CA 73-71-69-72-67_352 -8
Correa, Larry San Diego, CA 73-75-69-69-73_359 -1
Forsman, Johan Sweden 74-70-70-72-74_360 Even
Carr, Dave Sacremento, CA 71-75-78-69-68_361 1
Wood, Jeff Fortuna, CA 69-76-75-70-71_361 1
Belbin, Chad Kamloops, BC 77-72-70-71-72_362 2
Brunson, Daniel Greenville, SC 73-72-77-72-68_362 2
Fisher, Jason Bakersfield, CA 77-75-74-68-72_366 6
Stinson, Kyle Edmonton, AB 72-75-72-76-71_366 6
Scaletta, Paul Richmond, VA 73-77-72-73-72_367 7
Yamanaka, Moto Norwalk, CA 73-71-71-76-76_367 7
x-Valentin, Jerome Mission Viejo, CA 73-74-76-73-72_368 8
x-Fukushima, Kent Grande Prairie, AB 72-73-80-71-72_368 8
EARNED NON-EXEMPT CARD:
Corrigan, Mark Cornwall, PEI 72-73-79-72-72_368 8
Serna, Antonio Mexico 75-71-75-77-70_368 8
Buttar, Blair Leduc, AB 76-79-70-71-73_369 9
Flugstad, Brian Kenmore, WA 72-78-72-79-68_369 9
Gibbs, Jonathon Boise, ID 72-73-75-79-70_369 9
Snelling, Justin Boise, ID 74-75-73-70-77_369 9
Davey, Steve Tallahassee, FL 78-69-73-73-77_370 10
Gentry, Brian Tahoe City, CA 75-73-72-74-76_370 10
Nelson, Birk Philomath, OR 77-74-77-70-72_370 10
Bensel, Ken Belligham, WA 74-74-77-72-74_371 11
Burns, Gord Toronto, ON 74-77-72-74-74_371 11
Kureluk, Jamie Calgary, AB 73-75-79-74-70_371 11
Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com 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.
Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty
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.
McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses
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.”
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.
Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign
A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.
Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.
Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.
And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”