It's time for the third event of golf's "Triple Crown" – the RBC Canadian Open. This year, Canada's major is being held at Glen Abbey Golf Club. Headlining the field is World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who will look to get back in the winner’s circle.
Vegas cashes in
Last year, Jhonattan Vegas birdied the final three holes to shoot a final-round 64 and win. Vegas' triumph came at the hands of heartbreak for Steve Wheatcroft. Wheatie found himself in the par-5 18th greenside bunker needing an up-and-down to force a playoff. Disaster struck for the journeyman, who bladed the routine bunker shot into the water. Wheatcroft ended up making a bogey and falling into a tie for fifth. He ended the season 126th in the FedExCup, losing his card. Had he made a birdie or par, he would have retained his card.
Glen Abbey serves as the home of Golf Canada and was Jack Nicklaus' first solo design. Opened in 1977, it will host its 29th Canadian Open this year – the fourth time in the last five. The par 72 stretches to over 7,200 yards and has two distinct nines. The front nine is situated on the flat part of the property and is a traditional parkland design. The back nine weaves through a river valley and offers dramatic elevation changes. Over the years the 18th hole has provided drama. The hole and course is best remembered for Tiger's heroic fairway bunker shot to win the 2000 edition.
Over the years, the Canadian Open has lost some of its luster. It used to be referred to as the fifth major and a must-stop for the Tour's high-profile players. It’s the event that Jack Nicklaus most regrets not winning.
Today it’s just another stop on the schedule. Following The Open does it no favo(u)rs but the real culprit is Glen Abbey. Canada is filled with great championship golf courses and Glen Abbey just isn't one of them. Great courses garner great fields and Glen Abbey hosting 29 of the last 40 editions of Canada's national championship has played a role in the event's demise. To put it in perspective, imagine if the U.S. Open was held at Valhalla 29 of the last 40 years.
Rumors are Jack Nicklaus and Golf Canada have spent the week exploring potential new sites for a course. Nicklaus has done a lot of great things for the game but his career as an architect has produced far more flops than hits.
In today's era of architects, there are plenty of capable and talented architects. As evidence, look at the unanimous praise that Gil Hanse's Olympic Course received.
Storylines to watch
The Canadians and the Mike Weir Effect
Coupled with Tiger Woods, Mike Weir's rise to World No. 3 has led to a surge of young Canadian talent. The 2003 Masters champion won 15 times and made the sport relevant in the great white north. 17 Canadians are in the field and looking to become the first Canadian champion since Pat Fletcher in 1954.
Jared Du Toit made headlines as an amateur at last year's event, playing in Sunday's final pairing. Du Toit struggled on Sunday, settling for a T9 finish, but he’s back this year. Now a professional, the recent ASU grad plays full time on the Canadian Tour and is 22nd on the Order of Merit.
An amateur to watch is Canadian mid-am Garrett Rank. Rank's day job is as an NHL referee, but he is also one of the world's best amateur players.
Adam Hadwin and Mackenzie Hughes have each won this year and are within the top 30 of the FedExCup standings. Another Canadian 20-something in the field is Nick Taylor, who has notched four top 10's on the season.
The old guard of Canadian golf is also represented with Weir, David Hearn and Graham DeLaet – each of whom have had near misses at the event.
Other Canadians in the field are Brad Fritsch, Riley Wheeldon, Matt Hill, Ryan Williams, Daniel Kim, Hugo Bernard (a) and Austin James (a).
With four events remaining in the regular season it’s crunch time for players to lock up their jobs for next year. Finishing inside the top 125 of the FedExCup grants players a spot in the playoffs and a card for 2017-18. Looking at the standings, the magic number will likely be around 350 FedExCup points. Some notables outside of 125 include Harold Varner III, Sam Saunders and Jim Furyk.
Another FedExCup number to watch is 200. Players who fail to finish inside of the top 200 will miss out on Web.com Tour Finals and will lose status on both tours. Missing the top 200 also will often void sponsorship deals the pros have established.
Paulie notched his 8th win of 2017 with his Spieth pick at The Open. With a field that’s light on star power, he’s got a few sleepers that might be worth looking at. Check out his picks here.
An AutoCAD masterpiece...
The European Tour heads to Germany for the Porsche European Open. Last year, Alexander Levy won in a playoff over Ross Fisher. The event host is Green Eagle Golf Course, which looks like an AutoCAD design gone bad from the photos. The field is headlined by Patrick Reed and Jimmy Walker, who opted to stay abroad following The Open. They are joined by Charl Schwartzel, Pat Perez, Levy, Matteo Manassero and others.
The home stretch
Much like the PGA Tour, the Web Tour is in its home stretch. Last week, Andrew Landry took over the top spot from Stephen Jaeger on the money list with a T2 finish in Omaha. The top earner on the Web Tour will earn fully-exempt status on Tour.
This week, the Tour heads to Kansas for the Digital Ally Open, the fifth-to-last event of the regular season. Players are jockeying for position on the money list. A spot in the top 25 guarantees you a PGA Tour card, while a spot in the top 75 gets a spot in Web Tour Finals. The top 25 bubble has a group of former Tour players: Jason Gore, Rob Oppenheim, Alex Prugh and Casey Wittenberg.
Currently sitting in 75th position is young gun Jack Maguire, who has qualified and made the cut in two U.S. Opens. Former Illinois star Luke Guthrie is on the bubble after spending the past four seasons on the PGA Tour.
With five weeks left, much can change as players will look to get hot to finish off the season.
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