DUNROBIN, ON: It took 72 holes of regulation play and four playoff holes for Canada’s Stuart Macdonald to emerge victorious at the Commissionaires Ottawa Open on Sunday. At Eagle Creek Golf Club, Macdonald made birdie on the fourth extra hole—No. 18, his fourth consecutive birdie on the hole—to oust Devon Bling and take home the title and the 500 Fortinet Cup points that go with it. Luke Schniederjans was also in the playoff but bowed out on the first extra hole.
The victory, Macdonald’s first on PGA TOUR Canada, moved him to No. 6 in the Fortinet Cup standings after beginning the week in 124th place. Immediately after securing the win, he called his wife, Carly, who, as Macdonald put it, “is very pregnant.”
Dad will have quite a tale to tell his child, who has an arrival date of mid-August.
“To get my first PGA TOUR-sanctioned win, in Canada, is huge. I’m really happy about it,” the Vancouver native said. “I’m obviously thrilled to be standing here as the champion. It’s a long-time coming. I felt like I’ve put myself in this spot a few times this year and haven’t gotten it done. It feels amazing to finally get it done.”
In the playoff, that began on the par-5 18th hole, Macdonald and Bling both birdied, and Schniederjans dropped from the proceedings with a double bogey-7. On the second extra hole, also on No. 18, both Macdonald and Bling birdied again after missing eagle tries, taking them to the par-4 ninth hole. Macdonald had the best chance at birdie there, just missing a six-footer, with both players parring, sending them back to the 18th hole for a fourth time.
“It felt like for a time we were going to have to come back [Monday] morning,” said Macdonald of the extended playoff. No need for that as Bling would three-putt for par, while Macdonald made an easy tap-in for birdie.
In regulation, it was a tight battle throughout the back nine, with the threesome emerging. Schniederjans just missed an eagle putt on the 72nd hole, a putt he thought he made. His tap-in birdie got him to 19-under, and Macdonald had an eagle putt of his own that came close but didn’t drop. He, too, tapped in to match Schniederjans’ birdie. The two then waited to see what Bling would do on the final hole. Bling joined the playoff by matching his predecessors: missing his eagle putt but tapping in for birdie.
Beginning the day three strokes behind Bling, Macdonald, playing in the third-to-last pairing, started quickly, with a birdie on his opening hole. He played bogey-free all day and added birdies on the fourth and fifth holes, with an eagle on No. 7 before he made the turn to the back nine. The birdies stopped coming for 10 consecutive holes until his birdie to close earned him a spot in the extra session.
“I would say it’s a little freeing being two groups back,” Macdonald said of his starting position. “Not playing with the lead is probably a little bit easier. I was pretty free starting the round. As I made the turn, I saw I had a one-shot lead. I pumped the brakes a little on the back nine. I was a little more conservative.”
Macdonald credited his work off the tee as the key to his win. “I was in play on almost every hole. I was pretty aggressive off the tee. I hit a lot of drivers, and I had a lot of wedges and was able to capitalize on a lot of those (approaches),” Macdonald added.
On PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, Macdonald played in eight of the 12 tournaments in the just-completed season, making every cut and recording a pair of top-six finishes—at the Colombia Classic (third) and the JHSF Brazil Open (tied for sixth). His 20th-place Totalplay Cup finish ensured his membership on the newly formed PGA TOUR Americas, set to begin play in 2024. With his performance this week, Macdonald can set his sights on returning to the Korn Ferry Tour, where he has 75 career starts, including full seasons in 2018, 2020 and 2022.
Bling, who made the cut at the 2019 Masters while still an amateur (he tied for 55th), settled for his career-best PGA TOUR Canada finish. His 65-66-66-68 showing this week added to his current streak of sub-70 scores. He has eight in succession, following his 68-67-68-64 performance last week in Quebec.
The Tour has passed the halfway point in the 2023 season and will be in action for the third consecutive week when it plays the Osprey Valley Open presented by Votorantim Cimentos CBM Aggregates at TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley. The tournament begins Thursday in the Toronto suburb of Caledon.