Piercy Takes the Purse
North of the border this past week, the RBC Canadian Open came down to three journeyman professionals, all ranked outside the Top 100 in the Official World Golf Raning. After a botched sand-save attempt from William McGirt, and an awful putting display from Robert Garrigus, it was Scott Piercy – he of the ‘this course is boring’ comments from earlier in the week – who emerged with a one-stroke victory. Piercy, a winner on Tour in 2011 at the Reno-Tahoe Open, came in to the week ranked 100 in the world, but of course, will be shuffled down when the new rankings are released. Hamilton Golf & Country Club – already one of the shortest tracks that the Tour plays on during the year – was made shorter by heavy rains that hit the course Wednesday night into Thursday morning. This resulted in a handful of low scores, including a course record 62 by Piercy. The ‘stars’ of the RBC Canadian Open – Hunter Mahan, Matt Kuchar, and Ernie Els to name a few, were all non-factors during the week. Unfortunately, a tournament that is rich in history (it is the third oldest professional golf tournament in the world after the British and U.S. Opens) is coming up short with respect to star power of late. More on that later.
Couples claims Senior British
Across the pond, Fred Couples birdied the final two holes in regulation to come out on top at Turnberry and win his first Senior British Open title. Although a far cry from the Claret Jug – awarded to the ‘real’ British Open champion – Couples went on record to say that: “I’ve never won an Open Championship, so this is the next best thing.” This marked Couples’ eighth win on the Champions Tour. For a guy who only won 15 times on the regular Tour, including just the one major (the 1992 Masters), Couples has gotten off to a quick start on the senior circuit since turning 50 three years ago. Between his wonky back, and his President Cup duties, it’s actually surprising to see him compete quite well on Tour. Lucky for him, his swing is one of the most repeatable and relaxed in the game, and there is still some magic left. Many are already saying that he will be a factor at the 2013 British Open at Murfield.
Outside of the U.S. and British Opens, the Canadian Open is richer in history than any other Tour event currently played. However, the history of the fine tournament doesn’t matter in today’s world. The tournament is generally ignored by the best the game has to offer these days, and unfortunately, it’s looking to be that way for the next two years. That is until the Tour’s schedule is up for renegotiation and perhaps the Canadian Open will emerge with a much better time. As it stands, the Canadian Open is sandwiched between one of the premiere European Tour stops (the Scottish Open), the British Open, and then a World Golf Championship, and the PGA Championship. Not to mention the beginning of the Fed-Ex Cup playoffs and then the Ryder Cup. In the mid-2000s, the situation was even worse as there was no sponsor. Now, thanks to RBC and their aggressive golf sponsorships – of not only the Canadian Open, but also The Heritage tournament and a line-up of golfers that include Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Hunter Mahan, and Matt Kuchar – there is some financial backing to go along with the support of Golf Canada. However, until the tournament gets a better spot on the schedule, and is able to attract some players with rockstar status a la Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, or even Tiger Woods (more of a pipe dream than anything) it will continue to be an unfortunate victim of just too many good events all happening at the same time. The other option, as Jim Furyk mentioned in a press conference on Wednesday before the tournament started was just to ‘give a great purse, and a great course, and the best players will come.’ At least he wasn’t shy in saying that money would play a factor in getting some of the world’s best to come north of the border; however, I just don’t see RBC putting up the cash.
This week the Tour makes it’s annual trip to Akron, Ohio for the World Golf Championship – Bridgestone Invitational. The South Course of the Firestone Country Club is the longest par 70 that the Tour plays all year, but, with no cut and one week before the PGA Championship, it serves as a prime prep place for the world’s best. Seventy-eight golfers will tee it up this week, and there are many intertwining storylines as is the usual circumstances at this time of the year. There are guys fighting for their Tour card – not many who are playing in Akron (most of whom would be playing at the opposite field event in Reno) – guys who are trying to make an impression on their respective Ryder Cup captain, and guys who are trying to fight for a prime position in the FedEx Cup playoff standings. Really like Rickie Fowler this week. He was tied for second last year, and will be fighting for a birth on the Ryder Cup team. Another victory over a world class field – he previously won the Wells Fargo Championship earlier this season – will certainly lock that up.