Tuesday at The RBC Canadian Open

The time has come!! It’s time for #OurOpen.

This week marks the playing of the RBC Canadian Open which once again will be contested at the course that “Jack Built”. Glen Abbey Golf Club.The course located in Oakville, Ontario (not far from Ontario’s Capital Toronto) was the first solo design of Mr. Nicklaus. Unfortunately, the course (as historic as it is) has been mired in uncertainty.

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All too often that we see golf courses give way to housing and real estate developments. The reality is that real estate is worth way more  than a golf course is… especially when we’re talking about the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The GTA is literally enveloping the surrounding periphery of its greater metropolitan area and there is a premium on multi-million dollar condominiums. It remains to be seen if this will be the last Canadian Open held at the storied golf course but if it were to be a star-studded field will be the pre-cursor to the final curtain. Personally, I don’t think that this will be the final Open for “The Abbey”. I base that conclusion on nothing more than a hunch.

I always love to attend practice rounds when I get a chance. Personally speaking, I’d rather attend a practice round (day) then the actual events. There’s just so much to do and see. So I took advantage of Tuesday which has free admission to attend. even though I was miffed at my “Open Snub” for media credentials I was still excited to make a day of it. So I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and after walking the dog (who chased two raccoons as we walked out the door) and showering it was time to make the roughly 55 minute drive. If you’ve never attended the Canadian Open at Glen Abbey the organizers do a fantastic job at arranging shuttle buses leaving from various locations around the city.

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The air was sort of heavy with the smell of dew and freshly cut grass. Really, it was more sweet than anything. But as I walked deeper into the venue and walked through security there was a sort of buzz. I watched the first fairway as there was one lone golfer (Tyrone Van Aswegen) and his caddie walking towards the first green getting in some early work. Oh to be in that position. But, I made my way to the green complex of the Par 3 7th hole which is home to “The Rink”. Adorned with a hockey net that entices the field to take a “shot” at “our game”, boards that make it look like a hockey rink and lastly a real Zamboni it really adds a dimension that makes the event feel uniquely Canadian.

I made my way to the range where there was a bevy of activity. However, if I do have one “beef” about Glen Abbey as a host site for the RBC Canadian Open it’s that the practice grounds are not fan friendly. While there is a spot to view from overlooking the short game area what there isn’t is a good vantage point for watching the players on the range. The way that they set it up makes you feel like you’re miles away from the action. But you can see the players warm up. Sabbatini, Hahn, Schneiderjans, Jimmy Walker, Tringale, Abraham Ancer, Joaquin Niemann and Sergio to name a few. Some of the events really big names like DJ, Kooch, Bubba, Sneds were elsewhere off-site. One of these days I’ll catch Sneds and Kooch.

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While there I took the time to walk the course. Spots that I’ve never seen like “The Valley”. A section of the course that consists of holes 11 through 15. I walked halfway down it when I realized that I had to climb back up. I survived unscathed much to my delight. For a while I stuck around a group that consisted of Wesley Bryan, Domenic Bozzelli and Harold Varner III. With hopes of catching Sergio Garcia I headed back towards the practice area and holes 6 and 7. Sure enough, there was a throng of golfers and looking much like the “Pied Piper” there was Sergio Garcia and his playing partners. So I sat in one of the “Muskoka Chairs” that sat by the 6th green. Waiting patiently. his group appeared on the sixth tee. His tee shot was pulled left and came to rest nestled in the rough amongst the trees. Sergio got to his second shot and went through his pre-shot routine a thought emerged. “He’s pulling this left” I nonchalantly said to another spectator. He made his swing and then it happened. I heard a ball whizz by my head and land about 2 feet away from me. Indeed he yanked his shot left. He sort of chunked his pitch and left it a tad short. After studying the green with his caddie and group off to 7 Sergio went signing a few autographs along the way

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I planned to stay the entire day but an early wake-up, poor sleep, hot weather and hunger pains later I decided to head home. Rain threatened all day and there is  more rain on the way. The Superintendent and his crew have The Abbey looking great. The greens were receptive and will be even more so with more expected rain. I have no doubt that the players will go deep and I predict a score of -26 to win come Sunday afternoon. Nearly anybody there can shoot that type of score but I like Varner III to win this week. He’s been playing some “lights out” golf and a win seems imminent. I saw him stretching out his back on 14 and he assured me his back was fine right after the picture below was taken.

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This guy is due! He’s trending the right way.

 

 

 

With that prediction it means that a Canadian will not win our Open. So who will the Top Canadian be this week? Corey Conners!

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A bag full of Ping goodness.

Until The Next Tee!!

 

 

Takeaways From Tampa

What an exciting week of golf this week on the PGA Tour! The action and atmosphere from the Tampa area was as electric as the power generated by the power plant in nearby Apollo Beach. Let’s take a look at what happened this week during the Valspar Championship held at the Innisbrook Golf Resort on the Copperhead Course in Palm Harbor, Florida. Some of the names that we saw through the course of the week on the leaderboard made it feel like a serious throwback. Bob Estes, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk to name a few.

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The Snake Pit (Photo Credit: Golf Advisor)

I think the place that I want to start right off of the bat is with the obvious. Tiger Woods! This was the first time that he’s played in the Valspar Championship (formerly Tampa Bay Classic and Transitions Championship) and the “Tiger Effect” was very much noticeable. The galleries massive and the air electric. There was something about this tournament that again felt different. I thought that golf was fine without Tiger but there is no doubt it’s better with a healthy, competitive Tiger Woods. I said on social media that I like this iteration of Tiger he seems like he’s enjoying golf and more importantly life. He doesn’t seem like an untouchable cyborg and this week was further proof that he’s “back”. Everything about him looks healthy and it looks like the surgeries are holding up nicely… after all they must be to handle a clubhead speed of 129 mph. I really like his swing and how his overall game looks. It’s inevitable that he’ll be holding a trophy again on a Sunday evening in the not-so distant future. Funny thing though… people are questioning his play on the 72nd hole. No matter how you look at it… it’s all a process. You knew he wanted to win and he did what he (and caddie Joe LaCava) thought what was best.

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Photo Credit: CBS Sports

Speaking of wanting to win. I just want to talk about Canadian Corey Conners for a minute. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t rooting for my fellow Canuck to win this week. This might be the first time that you’ve heard of him but I will almost guarantee this won’t be the last time. The 26 year-old from Listowel, Ontario has what it takes to make it and win. You almost have to like his action which features a silky smooth tempo and swing. His demeanour is calm and cool like an old veteran of the Tour. golf fans won’t remember him from this tournament because nobody ever remembers who the 54-hole leader of a tournament was. But there was Conners a relative unknown in contention coming into Sunday. The names pursuing him were impressive. Champions like Patrick Reed, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, and yes… Tiger Woods. His day started off tough carding a bogey on the first hole of the day and unfortunately he was never able to rebound from it. He would bogey the third and eventually double bogey the 13th hole in what would be the “death-blow”. Those bogey’s all made worse by not carding a single birdie. But as sure as the sun will rise in the east Conners will rise again.

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Photo Credit: Golfweek

Paul Casey. Our 2018 Valspar Championship Champion. It’s been a long time since he was victorious on the PGA Tour and continues a “sort-of trend” started by Michelle Wie and Phil Mickelson a week ago. At 40, Casey was last a champion on the PGA Tour in 2009. Casey was in good form all week and I can’t even imagine how he felt sitting there for what seemed an eternity as the clubhouse leader. I admit I thought that the scoring would be low Sunday… for those teeing off earlier in the day. The conditions were relatively benign with little to no wind. There was a chance of thunderstorms for the afternoon which of course meant the possibility of higher winds coming in off of the Gulf of Mexico in the afternoon. As great as his swing and ball-striking were it was the 21 putts that he made for the round (lowest putts in a round total in his career) that fueled the victory. Casey would end carding an impressive -6 (65) on the final day to win the Valspar Championship. Championships are won and lost on the greens.

Until The Next Tee!!