Tour Unveils 2003 Schedule with Many Highlights
For the second consecutive season, the 36-hole facility at ChampionsGate will play host to Winter Qualifying School in Orlando, FL from February 3-7. In 2002, five rookies that gained playing status at Winter Q-school went on to capture a total of seven titles. Former U.S. Amateur champions Hank Kuehne and Jeff Quinney each won a pair of events en route to a 1-2 finish on the money list. Jimmy Walker, Chris Wisler and Iain Steel were the other Winter Q-school grads to win last season.
The Lone Star State will once again kick off the first two official events of the season the weeks of February 10th and 17th with the TravelTex.com Canadian Tour Series at the world-class Barton Creek Resort. Both events will be telecast live on The Golf Channel, with a replay slated to be broadcast nightly during prime time.
In May, the Tour makes a return visit to Mexico, adding an additional event and increasing both purses. The Michelin Guadalajara Classic will be staged in Guadalajara May 5-11, with the American Express Ixtapa Classic scheduled for the following week. Last season, sponsors invite Pablo del Olmo of Mexico won on his home soil in the Tours first-ever visit to that country. In recognition of the continuing development of the Mexican Tour, we will see more of their players included in the Tours full field.
A new event, the Northern Ontario Open, will be the first event held on Canadian soil in 2003 when it is played June 23-29 in Ontario. It will be a four-day live Golf Channel broadcast, a first for the Tour on its native soil as a result of its continuing strong partnership with The Golf Channel.
Following the stop in Sault Ste. Marie, the Tour resumes the Canadian leg of the schedule with the MTS Classic in Winnipeg, MB (Pine Ridge GC) from July 7-13, which will be the first of seven straight weeks of official Canadian Tour events. Following the Winnipeg stop, the Tour moves west for the TELUS Edmonton Open (July 14-20), the Victoria Open (July 21-27) and the Greater Vancouver Classic (July 28-Aug. 3) before returning to the east for an event in Quebec (August 4-10).
The Tour then returns to the United States for the second annual Lewis Chitengwa Memorial Championship in Charlottesville, VA in honour of the rising star who passed away suddenly in Edmonton two years ago. The Players Championship, which will also be broadcast live on The Golf Channel, returns to the fold this season, running August 18-24 in Bay Mills, MI with players competing for a $235,000 CDN purse.
We are thrilled not only to have the Canadian Tour back with us playing for the largest purse of the year, but to be hosting our friends at The Golf Channel as well, said Mike Husby, tournament director and Director of Golf at Wild Bluff. Last year, the players saw the course in sub-zero conditions after a tough spring. This time around we are in the summer months, and these guys are going to see Wild Bluff at its best. With some of the changes we have planned, it is going to be a fast track that will be quite a challenge for the players.
Canadian Tour Commissioner Ian Mansfield stated that having the TPC pencilled back into the schedule was a key issue for the Tour this year, adding Bay Mills will be an ideal site for its return.
Our first visit to Bay Mills was an overwhelming success, and we look forward to having the return of The Players Championship in Michigan this summer, he said. There are a lot of host cities that welcome us with open arms, and the folks in Michigan are no exception. Our players were treated like family by the Bay Mills community, and we know they will stage another first-class show this time around.
The Canadian Tour will try to win back bragging rights with the QPGA when the Casino de Charlevoix Cup, an unofficial Tour event, is held Aug. 25-31 in Point-au-Pic, QC.
Despite a noticeable slowdown in the economy throughout North America, we feel we are making solid strategic steps as the awareness of the Canadian Tour grows, added Mansfield. Not only will we be extending our media coverage this year with the Golf Channel telecasts now moving into Canada, but several events will have increased purses. Maintaining stability in various markets is now an issue for Tours worldwide; our Tour is no exception and in fact requires even more work by us due to our relative size and dependence on the success of others.
The release of todays schedule demonstrates a firm foundation for our players and staff to plan their 2003 schedules. We will now continue to finalize more full-field events in the September timeframe and research many specialty event opportunities that will keep our players active.
The Canadian Tour will release these additions as they occur and add them to our website on a regular basis.
Schauffele just fine being the underdog
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.
Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.
Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.
“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”
Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.
“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”
Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1
Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.
So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.
Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.
Jordan Spieth: 7/4
Xander Schauffele: 5/1
Kevin Kisner: 11/2
Tiger Woods: 14/1
Francesco Molinari: 14/1
Rory McIlroy: 14/1
Kevin Chappell: 20/1
Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1
Alex Noren: 25/1
Zach Johnson: 30/1
Justin Rose: 30/1
Matt Kuchar: 40/1
Webb Simpson: 50/1
Adam Scott: 80/1
Tony Finau: 80/1
Charley Hoffman: 100/1
Austin Cook: 100/1
Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.
For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.
By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.
But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.
As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.
“This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”
Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.
As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.
But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.
After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.
“I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”
But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.
Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.
“I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.
There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.
Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par.
And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.
As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.
“We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”
Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.
Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.
The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.
Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.
It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.
Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.
One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.
McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.
“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”
McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.
“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”