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Bunker Shots International Flair

Blasting into the week ahead, from another major event in Scotland to French, Canadian and Scandinavian tests.


PGA Tour (75x100)

RBC Canadian Open

You can’t always judge the appeal of a PGA Tour field by the world rankings.

That’s the case at the RBC Canadian Open, where the most popular players in the field aren’t among the top 80 in the world. Fred Couples, John Daly and David Duval remain strong draws folks want to see. Canadian Mike Weir is No. 82 in the world, but he will be the biggest draw of all as he bids once more to win his national open. Paul Casey and Luke Donald are the highest ranked players competing at Nos. 8 and 9 in the world, respectively. Retief Goosen, Tim Clark, Hunter Mahan, Camilo Villegas, Sean O’Hair, Ricky Barnes, Matt Kuchar also spice the field with veterans Paul Azinger and Rocco Mediate in the mix.

Bunker shot: How is it that Weir makes his 20th start in the Canadian Open this week? And that he’s 40 now? The still youthful looking Canadian can script a wildly popular story if he manages to break through and win this event for the first time. Though he missed the cut the first nine times he played the Canadian Open, Weir has managed three top-10s in his last seven tries. With the Canadian Open being played at St. George’s Golf and Country Club outside Toronto for the first time since 1968, there’s some odd mojo in Weir’s favor. Bob Charles won that year. Like Weir, Charles plays left-handed. Weir’s got some momentum to change, though. He’s missed cuts in four of his last six starts and has just one top-10 finish this season. 

Mell’s picks: Winner – Luke Donald. Contender – Retief Goosen. Darkhorse – Stephen Ames.

  • Course: St. George’s Golf and Country Club, Toronto, Canada. Par 70, 7,046 yards (Designed by Stanley Thompson and opened in 1929).
  • Purse: $5.1 million (winner’s share, $918,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m., replays 8:30-11:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, CBS, 3-6 p.m.
  • Last year: Nathan Green defeated Retief Goosen on the second hole of a playoff.


Champions Tour

Senior Open Championhsip

It’s the first of back-to-back Champions Tour majors.

After a week at Carnoustie, the senior circuit will head back to the states for next week’s U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee outside Seattle. For a select group at St. Andrews, it’s the second of three consecutive majors.

Bunker shot: Mark Calcavecchia and Tom Lehman looked more than ready to claim a senior major with their “warm-ups” at St. Andrews last week. The challenge is less daunting this week with the dominant Fred Couples skipping the trip overseas to play the RBC Canadian Open. Still, Tom Watson, winner of five British Open titles and three senior British Open titles, is expected to bounce back strong after missing the cut at St. Andrews last week. Seven of his eight previously mentioned major championship titles were claimed in Scotland. He won at Carnoustie in ’75.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Corey Pavin. Contender – Tom Lehman. Darkhorse – Tom Pernice Jr.

  • Course: Carnoustie Golf Links, Carnoustie, Angus, Scotland. Par 71, 6,785 yards (Designed by Alan Robertson 1850, Old Tom Morris 1867).
  • Purse: $2 million (winner’s share, $315,600).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, TNT, noon-2 p.m. Saturday, 1:30-3 p.m., ABC; Sunday, ABC, 1-3 p.m.
  • Last year: Loren Roberts defeated Mark McNulty and Fred Funk in a playoff.


LPGA Tour _new

Evian Masters

Paula Creamer’s back in action after her inspiring U.S. Women’s Open victory two weeks ago.

Creamer, who never looked better winning her first major at brutish Oakmont despite her still sore reconstructed left thumb, is part of a strong field playing for a giant purse in France. The nature of the event makes it feel like the women’s fifth major with players getting ready for next week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open.

The top 24 players in the world are all committed to the Evian Masters and competing for $3.25 million, which equals the U.S. Women’s Open as the largest purse in women’s golf. The 111-player field isn’t as large as the LPGA’s full-field events but it’s an expanded field with 20 players more than a year ago.

Bunker shot: The fight for No. 1 continues to be the story within the story again this week with Creamer looking to move up from her No. 7 ranking with another victory. Ai Miyazato, Evian’s defending champ, regained the No. 1 ranking from Cristie Kerr by ten thousandths of a decimal point in this week’s new rankings. Though neither player teed it up last week, Miyazato’s average jumped over Kerr’s based on points they lost within the two-year rolling window of the rankings. Watch out for Suzann Pettersen if she gets her putter working before next week’s Women’s British Open. She’s No. 3 in the world with a chance to become the fifth different player to hold the No. 1 ranking this year. Pettersen’s ball striking was phenomenal at the U.S. Women’s Open, but she left saying she could have putted better blindfolded.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Paula Creamer. Contender – Ai Miyazato. Darkhorse – Helen Alfredsson.

  • Course: Evian Masters Golf Club, Evian-les-Bains, France. Par 72, 6,344 yards (Originally opened in 1904, renovated by Cabell B. Robinson in 1990).
  • Purse: $3.25 million (winner’s share, $487,500).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 6:30-8:30 p.m., replay midnight-2 a.m. following Thursday’s round; Saturday, 1-4 p.m., replay 9:30-11:30 p.m. Sunday, 1-4 p.m., replay 9:30-11:30 p.m.
  • Last year: Ai Miyazato broke through to win her first LPGA event, defeating Sophie Gustafson in a playoff.


2009 European Tour

Nordea Scandinavian Masters

Jesper Parnevik, one of Sweden’s favorite sons, hopes to return to action in his homeland this week.

Parnevik dropped out of the Northern Trust Open in February with severe back pain. That was his last PGA Tour start and he’s said he’s still uncertain how the back will hold up in his return. He had hip surgery in the middle of last season. He won the Scandinavian Masters in 1995 and ’98.

Bunker shot: A year ago, Louis Oosthuizen could probably have sneaked in and out of the Scandinavian Masters unnoticed. He’ll get a good feeling just how much his life’s changed this week. He’s suddenly a headliner thanks to his virtuoso performance winning the British Open Sunday by a whopping seven shots. He headlines a nice crop of up-and-coming stars in the Swedish event. Americans Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler also are in this week’s field, as are Italy’s Edoardo Molinari, winner of the European Tour event the week before the British Open, and Spain’s Pablo Martin, who three years ago became the first amateur to win a European Tour event.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Dustin Johnson. Contender – Edoardo Molinari. Darkhorse – Peter Hedblom.

  • Course: Bro Hof Slott Golf Club, Stockholm, Sweden. Par 72, 7,365 yards (Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and opened in 2007).
  • Purse: 1.6 million euros (winner’s share, 333,330 euros).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 8:30-11:30 a.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 7:30-10:30 a.m.
  • Last year: Argentina’s Ricardo Gonzalo won by two shots.


Nationwide Tour

Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational

Thirteen events remain before the season-ending Nationwide Tour Championship.

The top 60 on the money list earn their way in, where the top 25 at event’s end win PGA Tour cards.

Bunker shot: Tommy Gainey  became the first two-time winner of the Nationwide Tour this season with his victory last week at the Chiquita Classic. He’s bidding this week to win a third time and become the 10th player in Tour history to earn a same-season promotion to the PGA Tour. Michael Sim did it last year in the middle of August.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Kevin Chappell. Contender – Gavin Coles. Darkhorse – Joe Affrunti.

  • Course: Ohio State University Golf Club, Scarlet Course, Columbus, Ohio. Par 71, 7,455 yards (Designed by Alister MacKenzie and opened in 1938, Jack Nicklaus oversaw a restoration in 2005).
  • Purse: $800,000 (winner’s share, $144,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel, 12:30-2:30 p.m., replay 2-4 a.m.; Saturday, Golf Channel, 6:30-9:30 p.m., replay 2-4 a.m.; Sunday, 7:30-9:30 p.m., replay midnight-2 a.m.
  • Last year: Derek Lamely’s 6-under-par 65 helped him come from eight shots back in the final round and win. He defeated amateur Rickie Fowler in a playoff.