This week in golf
Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.
Vying to be the first Canadian to win our national open in 61 years, David Hearn almost made it happen. Did Hearn lose this one or was it just a case of being overtaken by better players?
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: It’s so tough, but I thought it was over the way Hearn finished on Saturday. With just a couple more putts, his lead would have been big enough to withstand a par round in the heat of Sunday, in front of all the red and white. Remember, Day won at -17, which is where Hearn was after two holes Sunday. He lost it.
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): He was simply overtaken by two fantastic finishes, by two of the game’s best players… no shame in that, at all. In fact, considering that most Canadians would have wilted under the pressure, and probably expected David to do the same, I think his round of 72 was very commendable. Hats off to David Hearn! Let’s hope for a better result next year.
Craig Loughry, GAO Director of Handicapping (@craigloughry): Scores weren’t crazy low in those last few groups, the wind was up and conditions were very difficult. Day finished birdie, birdie, (struggle) birdie to win, he won it, Hearnsy didn’t lose it. Hearnsy can hold his head high; he ignited the whole country with his play, and handled himself like a champion all week (even if it didn’t include the win). He would have liked to play a little better on Sunday and make a few more birdies but that’s golf for you. I have no doubt he helped create the next generation of players and fans with his inspirational play.
Matthew MacKay, Golf Away Tours (@Golf Away Tours): David played very well considering the enormous pressure he had to be feeling. Not making birdie on 16 was critical but he responded with a solid par on 17 and asking him to make an eagle on 18 (with a 4-iron in hand) was a bit much. Hats off to Jason Day for an amazing finishing stretch. I loved how excited he was making birdie on the last.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): Hearn was overtaken by better players but he too was at -17 (the winning score) early in the final round and backed up over the remaining sixteen holes. It was a gallant effort but he had the championship within his grasp and ultimately lost it.
Dave Kaplan, Fairways Magazine (@davykap): I don’t think Hearn went out and lost it, but shooting an even par final round did not help. Hearn had everyone in attendance, and everyone watching around the country, pulling for him. I can’t even imagine playing under that type of pressure. That being said, when it came down to crunch time, Jason Day and Bubba Watson just looked like they had another gear, or two … He shouldn’t feel bad. Those are two of the best golfers in the world.
Jim Kenesky, Golf Genius Software (@JimKeneskyGolf): Hearn didn’t lose this one. He was simply beaten by tougher guys. Day and Watson can turn the switch on at any time and get the job done. Hearn is a great player, but his drive to win isn’t at the level of the top players in the world. Hearn and other Canadians need to believe they can win at anytime and not just play to make cuts or finish in the top 10.
Glen Abbey was in fantastic shape this year and for once the weather was perfect too. The course played firm and fast, so much so that some players were hitting the ball over 350 yards. The par-5 18th was a driver and wedge for some. Is Glen Abbey in danger of becoming obsolete because it just doesn’t have the length to challenge today’s players and equipment?
MacKay: Newsflash…all courses are already obsolete from a length standpoint. You’d need an 8,000+ yard golf course to have them hitting even mid irons into par 4’s and not reach par 5’s routinely. Par is relative, so I’m not fussed about that, but it would be nice to see them have to play some long irons once in a while.
Mumford: The Abbey is no different than a lot of courses on Tour that have been bombed and gouged by today’s big hitters. It may need a few tweaks but what really makes it a wonderful venue for a championship is the finishing stretch where players can go really low and leads can change quickly. That’s incredibly exciting.
Quinn: Thanks to Hearn, that’s the most I’ve watched the Canadian Open since Vijay tried his best to let Weir win it, but I’ve played the Abbey many times and never seen the ball run on it like that. It’s a design from another era, and as it’s a Nicklaus, it’s not timeless. That layout isn’t suited to being firm and fast. In the new climate reality, this may be the way it will be from now on. If the Open is parked in Oakville, they’ll have to change it.
Kaplan: The Open isn’t going anywhere else any time soon with Golf Canada bleeding money unless the event is in the organization’s back yard. The longer pros are going to make a joke out of most tracks on Tour but the scores were a good indication that it is not TOO easy for them.
Kenesky: Whatever the case, Glen Abbey continually delivers dramatic finishes. I don’t see it becoming obsolete as it’s truly a second shot course. 18 is a great finishing hole and if a player strikes it 320 in the centre, they still need a precise second shot to give them a great eagle chance. I hope Golf Canada holds more Opens than not at Glen Abbey as I feel the course is a true amphitheatre for great finishes.
Deeks: I think you can say that of every golf course, everywhere. They’re either going to have to be lengthened, or tricked up with knee-high rough, to tame these players… or better yet, use less water and let them brown and harden, forcing more of a touch and feel game for the players to master. In lieu of any of these changes, then we’re just going to have to get used to the fact that 20-under is going to win every week.
Loughry: It’s on the cusp, but the winning score wasn’t much different than the Open Championship (-15) at St. Andrew’s the week before (less the 40 MPH winds). Both events were incredibly entertaining. The beauty of Glen Abbey is its back nine and how it sets up for many different lead changes, which provides pure excitement for the fans. It is what it is, don’t change it.
The 17th green was the subject of some discussion during the telecast. Is this the stupidest green you’ve ever seen and should it be changed?
Kaplan: It certainly offers a different look from round to round. One media pundit told me on Sunday that he thought it is looking more like an amoeba each year. At the very least, it’s distinctive.
Deeks: It’s been what it is for 40 years. Let it be.
Mumford: I like quirky features in a golf course but this one is just plain stupid. Blow it up and move the green back 20-30 yards. That would add a bit of necessary length and bring out of bounds into play behind the green. If done right it could put a tough hole between two cream puffs.
MacKay: I think it’s pretty cool and it creates plenty of interesting hole locations. The potential for having to chip a ball from the putting surface is fun as well. If Riviera can have a bunker smack dab in the middle of a green then the Abbey can have its serpentine 17th green. Keep it.
Loughry: It is unique and I understand the strategy behind its design – offering several hole locations that force players to hit many different clubs into the green, and take several different lines over four days – but it simply doesn’t work. Blow it up.
Kenesky: It’s odd for sure but just another unique aspect to Glen Abbey. I like it and think they should just keep it as is.
Quinn: It is one of the dumbest aspects of a not-great course. Forget the four days a year when guys like Day and Watson can go over the corner and leave themselves lob wedges in, the high handicappers who play it the rest of the time need to hit L-wedges once they’re finally on that green. I have no idea who Nicklaus designed that green for but it never should have advanced past the drafting table.
Jason Day started the week almost winning the British Open and finished it with victory at the Canadian Open. He appears to have all the credentials to be considered amongst a handful of players (Rory, Jordan, DJ and Bubba) to capture every major and contend every time he tees it up. Is he at that level yet or does he need a breakthrough major win to secure that spot?
Deeks: I believe he’s already in the elite level, and I can’t wait to see him win a major… in fact, he’s my pick for the PGA. His record of near misses in the last 10-or-so majors is remarkable. It’s only a matter of time. He’s also a really nice guy, with good values and good sportsmanship, and that counts for a lot in my book.
MacKay: An immense talent, I’m surprised he hasn’t yet won a major. I have a feeling the floodgates will open soon and he’ll win a handful before his career is through.
Kaplan: He definitely has the game to win any tournament at any time. He is a pure ball striker and has magical touch, which we all witnessed down the stretch. Like DJ, once Day wins that first major, many more will follow in quick succession.
Kenesky: He’s got a great golf swing and it seems like one that will stand the test of time. Like most guys, he’ll need that major to be considered a great contender. I tend to judge guys on their performance in majors and until Day gets one he’ll be one of the best without a Major.
Loughry: In my mind, Day is a name to mention in that group and has been for some time. He doesn’t have to be a Major winner to be considered an elite player. I doubt anyone would disagree – a Major is in his future.
Quinn: His swing is so great to watch and he’s been a factor in so many Majors that he deserves to be grouped with the best. He’s one of those guys who will win a bunch if he gets that first one. It would just add an exclamation point.
Mumford: He’s in that group already. Even without a major win. I think membership is for those who “look” like they could win any time – players with the game and confidence to get the job done, even if they sometimes crash and burn. Other players, who are close and occasionally contend aren’t quite at that level, even though they sometimes win. It’s a fine distinction but one that would be easy to see if you were standing at a betting window and had to bet the farm on one player.