Johnattan Vegas attempts to be the first three peat winner since Steve Stricker in 2009-11 at the John Deere Classic at the RBC Canadian Open this week at Glenn Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontatio, 30 miles southwest of Toronto. Superstars Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Brooks Koepka and Sergio Garcia, though Garcia is not having a good year, join Vegas in this classic tournament, the national championship of Canadian golf.
Course: Glen Abbey Golf Club, 7,253 yards, par 72
Weather: Thursday, 80, t storm late in the afternoon so shouldn't be a problem, winds 8-14; Friday, 75, winds, 8-13, 40% rain; Saturday, 75, partly sunny, 8-13, maybe a shower; Sunday, Mostly cloudy, 74, winds 5-8.
TV: Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel, 2-5 PM CT; Saturday-Sunday, Golf Channel, 12-1:45 PM CT, CBS 2-5 PM.
The top eight spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team with 3 events left are in this order, 1. Brooks Koepka, 2. Dustin Johnson, 3. Patrick Reed, 4. Justin Thomas, 5. Bubba Watson, 6. Jordan Spieth, 7. Rickie Fowler, 8. Webb Simpson. Bryson DeChambeau is 9th, Phil is 10th, Xander Schauffele is 11th, and Matt Kuchar is 12th. Tiger Woods is now 20th. After the PGA Championship, captain Jim Furyk will have his 8 automatic qualifiers. The 4 remaining captain's picks will be selected in September. Three picks will be selected on September 3rd following the Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston in Norton, Massachusetts, the second leg of the Fed Ex playoffs, and the final pick will be selected after the BMW Championship at Aronimink Golf Club in Newton Square, PA, the third leg of the playoffs. That pick will be announced at halftime of Sunday Night Football on NBC.
The Ryder Cup will be held Sept. 28th-30th at Le Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France. The U.S. won the cup in 2016 at Hazeltine Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota, but haven't won on European soil since 1993. The European top 8 are led by Open Champion Francesco Molinari, who played some brilliant golf last Sunday in winning the Open, including a 5 foot birdie putt on 18 at Carnoustie that put him ahead by 2 shots and virtually clinched the victory after Xander Schauffele bogeyed 17. Molinari was iron. You would have thought Tiger had won the tournament and already surpassed Jack Nicklaus in the all time majors victories with all the golf writers and broadcasters waxing about how awesome Tiger was. The truth of the matter is he didn't get it done. More on that in a minute.
Justin Rose is No.2, Tyrrell Hatton is No.3, Tommy Fleetwood is No.4, Rory is No.5, Jon Rahm is 6th, Alex Noren is 7th, Paul Casey is 8th. Matthew Fitzpatrick is 9th, Thorbjorn Oleson is 10th, Russell Knox is 11th and Sergio is 12th. There's talk that Sergio might not make the team if he tanks at the PGA Championship, but he'll most likely be a captain's pick along with Ian Poulter. Poulter won the Shell Houston and is a lion in the Ryder Cup with a 4-0-1 singles record and a 4-1-0 foursomes record. And he's a leader on the team always. Sergio loves it and raises his game to another level in the Cup, so I expect him to be a part of the team if he keeps getting better this year. Europe has a different way of picking their team. Captain Thomas Bjorn will pick 4 from the Ryder Cup European points list, 4 from the Ryder Cup World points list and 4 captain's picks. I don't exactly know the dates on those selections or who the leaders are in those other categories except for the points list, but will keep you posted when I find out more.
It's an epic. I'm reading a classic book on the 2016 Ryder Cup along with a lot of human interest history of the Ryder Cup. It's the great John Feinstein's 2017 piece, The First Major. It's pretty amazing how much importance players from both sides put on this event. The pressure is the most intense in golf. It's an Alabama-Auburn atmosphere. It's truly a sports spectacle. If you love golf, I'd highly recommend John's book.
In the Alternate Shot segment on Golf Channel's Golf Central last night, debaters Jaime Diaz and Matt Adams, both contributors to the GC, discussed and disagreed on if Tiger is back and will win majors. Adams said there is no doubt.
Jaime, a golf writer at Sports Illustrated for many years, was not as sure, even saying no. He said Tiger had the lead in the Open last week on Number 10 on Sunday and hit a couple of bad drives and a chip and couldn't get the job done. Jaime thinks he's not a closer any more. He's lost that ability. I will say an amazing stat on the Open Championship last week that NBC pointed out is that Tiger has never come back from a 54 hole deficit in a major to win on Sunday. That's astounding really. He kept the streak going Sunday.
I'm more in the Jaime camp. I don't trust him in the big moments. And just as importantly, the competition is more fierce than ever week to week on the tour and particularly in majors. Tiger may make the Ryder Cup team as a captain's pick if he keeps playing well. Adams said it would be classic if captain Jim Furyk announced it at halftime on Sunday Night football. That's a little too much of a dramatic way to pick him in my opinion. Furyk will announce it then, but does it have to be this LeBron-Tiger type "decision" like drama?
In Feinstein's First Major, Brandel Chamblee, the great Golf Channel analyst, said before the '16 Cup, that the reason the U.S. had lost 8 of the last 10 Cups was because Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods weren't good team players or leaders. I agreed with that. Phil had come out in 2014 and thrown captain Tom Watson under the bus embarrassing the 8 time Major champion, then before the 2016 cup he embarrassed the 2004 captain Hal Sutton. He basically said both were clueless in different ways. It was totally classless and uncalled for. Phil is known as one of the most egotistical guys on tour, and if you ever heard Tiger talk, which I'm sure everyone reading this blog has, you know what his favorite subject is; himself. So there was a lot of truth to that commentary by Brandle and though a lot of the players don't like Chamblee for his critical commentary and David Duval came screaming in defense of Phil and Tiger, I think everything he said about that was totally accurate. Phil has become more like a big brother figure on the team and I guess Tiger has. But I don't trust them in the Ryder Cup.
Everything was working for the 2016 team. The team was stacked with great players, including Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, 2 guys who weren't used to losing, and had home course advantage with the home course setup of shaved down rough and faster greens. It worked very much in the American's favor. But we're back across the pond this year, and the Euros are tough at home as evidenced by their undefeated record there since 1993.. Should be spectacular.
Matt and Jaime also debated on which major is their favorite. Matt chose the Open Championship with its history dating back to 1860. Jaime said the U.S. Open.
Three years ago, 2015, before the U.S. Open I would have said the U.S. Open as well. But the debacle at Chambers Bay in 2015 with the trains rolling by the 17th hole and those pathetic greens, then Oakmont in 2016 becoming Jokemont with all the rain softening up the greens, then Erin Hills and a joke of a test of golf last year when Kopeka won going away on Sunday, a very boring final round. Then this year, Shinnecock was a beast on Saturday, I loved it. The players were struggling mightily and there were complaints like there always are at the Opens. That's what makes them so captivating. Then Sunday, the USGA sets it up easy, and Tommy Fleetwood shoots a 63, and Koepka sinks a no stress bogey putt to win it. That took away my passion for the U.S. Open. Fox took over the broadcast in 2015 and the Open has gone downhill since. Their broadcasts have gotten better, but I still think they have a ways to go before they can become an elite golf broadcasting team. There a long way from that status. Joe Buck has improved, so maybe he and the rest of their crew will keep getting better. I like NBC the best and CBS is a close second despite Gary McCord.
So it would have been the U.S before 2015., but I'll take the Masters. It's been almost 4 months since Patrick Reed put on the Green Jacket so I've almost forgotten about it, but it always delivers on Sunday. With the U.S. at Pebble Beach next year and some more classic courses in the following years, maybe it will recapture it's prestige. But for me, it's the Masters even though it's been a while since Patrick Reed captured the Green Jacket. Just so much drama on Sunday. The Open Championship is a close second, then the PGA and the U.S. The U.S. needs to upgrade its quality.
Now the Ryder Cup is on a whole different level. I love the majors, but this Ryder Cup is truly riveting. The players aren't playing for a paycheck, just their country. And they forget about their paychecks for a week. It means so much to them. it's awesome. The only problem is it's played in the heart of football season, so that's a little problematic, though this year it'll be in France, so NBC will broadcast earlier on Saturday and Sunday, though with the NFL losing some fan interest, the Ryder Cup will take center stage on Sunday. Can't wait.
Key Holes at Glen Abbey
No.9, 458 yard, par 4
Just 28 yards of a landing area off the tee in the fairway. There are multiple trees on both sides of the fairway. The second shot is to an elevated green protected by bunkers front left and back right. This is the hardest hole on the course.
No. 11 452 yards, Par 4
There is a 100 foot drop from tee to green. An amazingly scenic tee shot into a tightly guarded fairway. This leads into Glen Abbey's notorious valley holes.
No. 18 524 yards, par 5
A classic finishing holes. Most players on Sunday will most likely go for the green in 2 and set themselves up for what could be a clinching eagle or birdie if you're the leader or a contender. The second shot is over water so it's very challenging.
Winner this week
I'm bullish on this 28 year old from Salt Lake City. He finished tied for 11th at the Masters, T-5th at the U.S. Open, and T-9th at the Open Championship. He finished tied for 5th at this tournament a year ago. I'll take this young American to capture the Canadian championship.
Very close to picking