New ‘Leish’ on Life
After shooting an 8-under 62 on Sunday, Australian Marc Leishman finished his final round at the Travelers Championship and just waited. He was long done his round before the final groups came through the closing stretch of holes at the TPC River Highlands, and I’m sure he is glad that he stuck around. As more balls found the water, and more challengers faded back – including Masters champion Bubba Watson who was making his own Sunday charge – Leishman was getting closer to his maiden Tour victory. After Charley Hoffmann, the only man left on the course who had a chance to beat Leishman, finished double bogey-bogey, Leishman had captured the win by one stroke. The journeyman pro was the fifth first-time winner at the Travelers Championship in the last seven years, and the fifth player this season alone to come from at least six shots back to win a tournament. In 2012, it seems as though no Sunday lead is safe. Guys on Tour seem to have more difficulty than ever closing the deal. I’d guess it’s because of how much talent there is on Tour these days and at any moment someone could go on a hot streak and snap up a victory, as Leishman did this past week.
Calcaveccia orders the Triple-Triple
A rare achievement, but with a four-stroke victory this Sunday at the Montreal Championship, Mark Calcaveccia has now won three separate professional golf tournaments North of the border. The 1997 Greater Vancouver Open and 2005 Canadian Open champion (both PGA Tour events) matched the course record at Richelieu Valley Golf Club this past Sunday with a blistering 8-under 64, including a chip-in eagle on no.16 which all but sealed his victory. I was doubtful at the success of the tournament after hearing that stars like Fred Couples, Nick Price, and Kenny Perry had withdrawn before the tournament began, however, reports indicate that the crowds in Montreal were the biggest of the year and arguably bigger than some of the major tournaments on the Champions Tour. Hopefully more of the stars of the senior circuit recognize the success of the event and will make an appearance next year when ‘Calc’ will look to defend his title.
Brittany Lang dukes out her first victory
About 8 hours down the 401 from Montreal in Waterloo, another professional golf tournament was being played as the LPGA tour swung through Grey Silo Golf Club for the inaugural Manulife Financial LPGA Classic. Former Duke University standout Brittany Lang captured her first LPGA victory after surviving a three-hole playoff with four other golfers. For a Tour that has been struggling in years past, any ‘new’ event (and specifically, any new event with half-decent prize money) will bring out a great field. As Bob Weeks mentions on his blog here, playing on the LPGA Tour can be a tough way to make a living. Despite some media hiccups by the organizers – there was minimal Canadian golf media invited to any of the pre-tournament events, and therefore, minimal coverage of the event itself – the event seemed to be a great success. Reports indicate that all 1,400 of the volunteer positions were filled, and Grey Silo saw nearly 66,000 spectators come through the gates for the week.
After two years playing at Aronimink Golf Club nearPhiladelphia, the AT&T National returns to Congressional (outside ofWashington,D.C.) this week. The two year absence was due to Congressional prepping to play host to the 2011 U.S. Open where soft weather conditions allowed for Rory McIlroy to trounce the field and the record books. The Tiger Woods-hosted event is one of the premier non-major events of the season and Woods looks to return to the winner’s circle to ‘defend’ his 2009 title – the last time the tournament was played at Congressional. After shooting a scorching 61 on Sunday at the Travelers Championship, I wouldn’t be surprised if Hunter Mahan translates some of that success into a good showing this week. Also, with Dustin Johnson coming to Summit Golf & Country Club (in Richmond Hill) for an event on Monday, I have to give a little Canadian-connection shout-out to DJ, who I also expect to play well this week.