Canadians Henderson and Svensson hope for strong finishes in their pro golf seasons
John Chidley-Hill/ Canadian Press
Brooke Henderson loves breaking records and this week she’s got a dubious one hanging over her head.
Since 2016, no LPGA Tour player has won the opening tournament of the season and then won a second title in the same year. Henderson, from Smiths Falls, Ont., kicked off 2023 with a victory at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions on Jan. 22 and is in the field at this week’s CME Group Tour Championship, the climax of the professional women’s golf season, still looking for her second win of the year.
“It’s a really weird stat that I don’t like very much,” said Henderson with a laugh. “I thought I would break it earlier but maybe it kind of got in my head a little bit.
“This would be the perfect week to break that and bookend the season; win the first one, win the last one, that would be obviously ideal.”
Henderson is the only Canadian in the 60-golfer field at Tiburón Golf Club’s Gold Course in Naples, Fla. She enters the tournament ranked 14th in the CME Globe rankings.
At last year’s CME Group Tour Championship, Henderson had an outside shot at finishing atop the standings, but was hampered by a back injury. Instead, New Zealand’s Lydia Ko won the event and the season’s championship.
“The off-season, for me last year was huge,” said Henderson. “I put in a lot of work to strengthen and heal and it has really paid off.
“Knock on wood, I don’t have the issues that I had last year. That was another thing coming into this week: I was really excited that I’m a lot healthier than where I was this time last year.”
The PGA Tour also concludes its season with the RSM Classic. Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., is the defending champion. His victory at Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside Course in Saint Simons Island, Ga., last year was the start to a breakout season for Svensson.
“It is my best year here on the PGA Tour,” he said. “I feel like I’ve played my best golf in my career and I feel like I’m getting better and better.
“Hopefully, I can keep it going.”
The RSM Classic is the seventh and final PGA Tour event of the FedExCup Fall. All seven tournaments featured winner’s benefits, including a two-year PGA Tour exemption, 500 FedExCup points and invitations to The Sentry, The Players Championship, the Masters and the PGA Championship in 2024.
Svensson enters the event 37th on the FedEx Cup standings, guaranteed a PGA Tour card next season as well as spots in the circuit’s premium events.
He’ll be joined by at least seven other Canadians next season.
Nick Taylor (25th) of Abbotsford, B.C., Corey Conners (26th) of Listowel, Ont, Adam Hadwin (45th) from Abbotsford, Mackenzie Hughes (53rd) of Dundas, Ont., and Taylor Pendrith (86th) of Richmond Hill, Ont., have also retained their tour cards.
Roger Sloan of Merritt, B.C., and Ben Silverman of Thornhill, Ont., have earned cards through their rankings on the second-tier Korn Ferry Tour.
Svensson has played more PGA Tour golf than most of the top 50 players on tour, including most of the fall events. He said that’s just a product of his passion for the sport more than any kind of strategy.
“I love playing I love competing and I feel like I learn so much each week,” said Svensson. “Even if I don’t play good I still learn and if I play great I learned so I feel like the more events I play … the better I get.”
Conners, Hughes, and Pendrith are also in the field at the RSM Classic this week, as is Michael Gligic of Burlington, Ont. Gligic is 204th on the FedEx Cup standings and needs a strong showing this week to clinch a tour membership for next year.
Ames wins at Sugarloaf for 2nd PGA TOUR Champions wins this year
Stephen Ames (David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
DULUTH, Ga. – Stephen Ames capped off his dominant week on the TPC Sugarloaf with a 4-under 68 on Sunday that gave him the tournament scoring record and a four-shot victory in the Mitsubishi Electric Classic.
Ames joined David Toms as the only multiple winners on the PGA Tour Champions this year. He previously won the Trophy Hassan II in Morocco.
Ames had a three-shot lead going into the final and was never seriously challenged. He drove into the water on the final hole and still made a 30-foot par putt to finish at 19-under 197. Ames broke his own 54-hole record at Sugarloaf by four shots. He also won in 2017.
Miguel Angel Jimenez birdied the final hole for a 68 to finish alone in second.
Brett Quigley tried to make a run at Ames and got within three shots until a bogey-double bogey finish for a 69 to finish alone in fourth.
Ames, from Calgary, won $300,000 and moved up four spots to No. 4 in the Charles Schwab Cup standings. What made this victory more special was having his son, Ryan, as his caddie for the week. Ryan Ames is a PGA of Canada member and aspiring teaching pro.
“The fact I ended up winning was icing on the cake,” Ames said.
Steve Stricker didn’t make a birdie until the back nine and then shot 32 to tie for seventh, keeping his lead in the Charles Schwab Cup. He has finished in the top 10 in all seven of his PGA Tour Champions events this week, and 11 in a row dating to last August.
Stephen Ames goes wire to wire to win the Trophy Hassan II
Stephen Ames of Canada poses with the winner trophy following the final round of the Trophy Hassan II at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam on February 11, 2023 in Rabat, Morocco. (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)
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Canada’s Stephen Ames, 58, picked up his third PGA TOUR Champions victory by going wire to wire at the Trophy Hassan II in Rabat, Morocco.
But it wasn’t without a challenge during Saturday’s final round. Australian Mark Hensby got as close as one after a birdie on No. 10, but he missed a short birdie putt at the 12th that would have tied him for the lead.
Hensby proceeded to double bogey each of the next two holes to push Ames’ lead to five, and Ames cruised home from there.
“I knew everybody else had to catch me,” Ames said. “I played the game I needed – put the ball in play. I had opportunities but didn’t make any. Unfortunately, Mark faltered with two double bogeys.”
Hensby, 51, held on to finish solo second. It was his best finish in 11 career PGA TOUR Champions starts.
Ames, who burst from the gate with what would tie for the low round of the tournament in the first round – a 6-under 67 that included eight birdies – needed only 18 pars in the final round to seal the deal.
Ames last won at the 2021 Principal Charity Classic. He led by three shots after two rounds the last time PGA TOUR Champions was in Morocco, for the 2020 Morocco Champions, but he wound up finishing second to Brett Quigley.
“Everybody knows this is a tough golf course. Takes a lot of patience, and there was a lot of patience going on for me this week. I’m ecstatic about the win. It moves me forward nicely.”
Mike Weir achieves best finish of 2022 on PGA TOUR Champions
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
ENDICOTT, N.Y. – Mike Weir had reason to celebrate on Sunday. Competing in the Dicks Sporting Goods Open, the 52-year old made a pair of birdies down the stretch to finish T2 for his best result on the PGA TOUR Champions this season.
Padraig Harrington won the DICK’S Sporting Goods Open for his second PGA Tour Champions victory of the year.
Harrington closed with a 5-under 67 at En-Joie Golf Club for a three-stroke victory over Mike Weir and Thongchai Jaidee.
“Unusual for me, no drama, no real drama,” Harrington said. “Normally, I create something coming home. … Got the right breaks at the right time, holed the right putts and played nicely.”
A stroke behind Weir entering the day, Harrington birdied Nos. 2, 3, 9, 11 and 12 in a bogey-free round to finish at 16-under 200.
The 50-year-old Irishman won the U.S. Senior Open in late June at Saucon Valley. He also has four runner-up finishes and a tie for third in 11 starts this year.
Weir shot a 71, and Thongchai had a 66.
“It’s fun. You’re just thinking birdie, you’re just thinking middle of the fairway, get me in the fairway because my iron game is good and the putter’s finally starting to heat up for the first time this year,” said Weir, following Saturday’s second round. “I was kind of champing at the bit for more holes.”
The Canadian scrambled out the gates on Sunday, bogeying two of his opening four holes but regained his rhythm with a birdie on No. 8 to move back to even par on the day.
After another dropped shot on No.10, the lefty responded with birdies on No. 12 and No. 16 – with the help of a tree, no less – to establish himself in a tie for 2nd place.
Jim Furyk (68) and Vijay Singh (69) were 12 under, and 64-year-old Bernhard Langer (68) followed at 10 under with Darren Clarke (69), Ken Tanigawa (68) and Gene Sauers (70).
Fred Couples, John Daly and PGA TOUR Champions Rookie Padraig Harrington Book Tickets to Calgary for 2022 Shaw Charity Classic Presented by Suncor
(Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
CALGARY—Fred Couples and John Daly are coming back to Calgary and bringing with them the top rookie on the PGA TOUR Champions, Padraig Harrington, for the 10th anniversary celebrations at the 2022 Shaw Charity Classic presented by Suncor, August 1-7.
The trio of major winners – Fred Couples (1992 Masters), John Daly (1995 Open Championship, 1991 PGA Championship), and Padraig Harrington (2008 PGA Championship; 2008, 2007 Open Championship) – are the first to add their names to the tee sheet when the PGA TOUR Champions’ lone Canadian stop makes a full return after operating under a modified structure and ticket price in 2021. The 10th-anniverary of the award-winning community event will feature a string of special events and activities for Calgary golf fans to enjoy for as low as $10.
Couples is the first World Golf Hall of Famer to commit to returning to Calgary. A crowd favourite since the tournament’s inception in 2013, Couples won the 2014 event in thrilling fashion after a career-best final round 61 that included a chip-in eagle on the 54th hole. Boom Boom got sized up for a white cowboy hat after winning the first playoff hole over Billy Andrade.
“Calgary has been a very enjoyable place for me. I have always said, as long as I’m healthy I plan on coming here every year,” said Couples, who has 13 victories on golf’s senior circuit. “The people at Shaw are incredible. The crowds are huge. The course is always in great shape, and I feel like I play it well. There is nothing more a player could ask for. I look forward to getting back and participating during this special year for the tournament.”
A winner of 15 PGA TOUR events, the smooth swinging bomber is remembered most for his 1992 triumph at the Masters Tournament. Once graduating to the senior swing, he made an immediate statement. Finishing second in his first start, he went on to win his next three events, becoming the first player ever to win three of his first four tournaments. Couples has two major championship victories on the PGA TOUR Champions: 2011 Senior Players Championship, and The Senior Open Championship in 2012.
It will be a family affair when Long John Daly makes his first return to the Shaw Charity Classic since his lone appearance in 2016. The two-time major winner will be travelling to Calgary along with his son Little John who will be caddying after recently completing his freshman year playing golf at the University of Arkansas.
One of the most colourful characters in professional sports, Daly is a two-time major champion, a winner of five PGA TOUR titles and one PGA TOUR Champions title who is adored by golf fans around the globe.
The story of how golf’s “Wild Thing” burst onto the international scene never gets old. It was nearly 25 years ago when John Daly was the ninth and final alternate of the 1991 PGA Championship. A 25-year-old rookie, Daly drove halfway across the country the night before his first round at Crooked Stick Golf Club where he eventually went out and won the golf tournament – not to mention legions of fans around the world with his booming drives, deft short game and fearless approach to the game. He backed that up by winning the 1995 British Open at the Home of Golf in St. Andrews.
“I’ve always said I’ve got the greatest fans in the world, and Calgary is no different. No matter what, through thick and thin, they’ve always stuck by me,” said Daly. “This tournament always has huge galleries. There is nothing better than getting it going and having the fans get loud and crazy. That’s just the way I like them so I’m looking forward to getting up to Canada with Little John, and hopefully give the fans something to get loud about.”
Daly and Couples will have to fend off the top name in the PGA TOUR Champions’ rookie class for 2022, Padraig Harrington.
A three-time major winner, Ireland’s Padraig Harrington brings 31 victories worldwide with him to the Shaw Charity Classic. Not only was Harrington the first player from Ireland to win the Claret Jug in 60 years (2007), he was the first European to successfully defend his British Open title in nearly a century the following summer (2008). A six-time Ryder Cup European Team Member added his third major title to his resume when he also won the 2008 PGA Championship which brought him to third in the Official World Golf Rankings.
“I really enjoy it (playing on the PGA TOUR Champions). I was shocked. I’m substantially longer than the field and yet I got lapped in the first two events,” said Harrington. “These guys were just running by me. I played with Bernhard [Langer] and he made me look like an amateur golfer. It was a lesson for me. If I want to go out there and beat these guys – just because you hit it past them ain’t going to do it. You have to be very good with your wedges and very good with your scoring.”
“Fred Couples, John Daly and Padraig Harrington are three of a handful of players in professional golf who are needle movers,” said Sean Van Kesteren, executive director, Shaw Charity Classic. “Sport is entertainment, and these guys are exactly who fans of any sporting event want to come out and see. They are extremely talented. They still hit the ball a mile, and are colourful characters who are sure to entertain both with their play and while interacting with our loyal fan base.”
Single-day General Admission tickets for tournament play August 5-7, 2022, that are purchased in advance for the award-winning tournament will cost $10 while upgraded Clubhouse tickets purchased in advance will be only $30 (plus GST and fees). Juniors 12 and under are admitted FREE when accompanied by a ticketed adult. The deadline to purchase advanced tickets is July 31, 2022, at 11:59 PM MT. The RBC Championship Pro-Am (August 3-4, 2022) will also be FREE for spectators to attend.
Ames leads Senior PGA Championship by 2 strokes over Mike Weir
BENTON HARBOR, MICHIGAN - MAY 28: Stephen Ames of Canada hits his tee shot on the 15th hole during the third round of the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid at Harbor Shores Resort on May 28, 2022 in Benton Harbor, Michigan. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) – Germany’s Bernhard Langer and Canada’s Mike Weir made third-round moves Saturday in the 82nd Senior PGA Championship, under improved weather conditions.
The 64-year-old Langer and the left-handed Weir, who started the day two strokes behind co-leaders Scott McCarron and Calgary’s Stephen Ames, played the front side of the Jack Nicklaus designed course on the shores of Lake Michigan in 3 under. They were one stroke behind Ames, who turned at 2 under for the third round and an early 10 under for the tournament.
Ames birdied No. 2 and 3. After he bogeyed the 436-yard seventh hole, Ames finished the front with a birdie on the par-5 ninth to turn in 2-under 34. McCarron turned in 1 under after a front nine that included three birdies and two bogeys.
Following Friday’s rain and temperatures in the 50s, the 72 golfers who made the cut at 3-over 145 at Harbor Shores were taking advantage of the soft conditions and temperatures nearing 70 degrees. It’s the Senior PGA’s fifth visit to the par-71 course that opened in 2010. It’s produced four champions, whose victories totaled a combined 64 under. The record score is 19-under 265 by champions Rocco Mediate (2016) and Paul Broadhurst (2018).
Langer has three top-10 finishes in the 2012, 2014 and 2016. He didn’t play in 2018 because of his son’s graduation but showed up that year for media day after winning the Senior PGA championship in 2017.
On Saturday, Langer, a two-time winner of the Masters who has won the most senior majors (11) on the PGA Tour Champions, picked up where he left off after two straight rounds of 68 by making birdies on holes 1, 6 and 9. Weir, from Bright’s Grove, Ont., who opened with a 65 Thursday before scrambling for a 71 in Friday’s poor weather, started his round with a bogey on the par-4 third hole but then birdied four of his last five holes.
Ames co-leads Senior PGA championship, Weir 2 back
BENTON HARBOR, MICHIGAN - MAY 26: Stephen Ames of Canada hits his tee shot on the 11th hole during the first round of the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid at Harbor Shores Resort on May 26, 2022 in Benton Harbor, Michigan. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) – Tournament housemates Scott McCarron and Stephen Ames each shot 5-under 66 in stormy and cold conditions Friday at Harbor Shores to share the second-round lead in the Senior PGA Championship.
The round started with rain and wind and it got colder as the day progressed.
“It was crazy,” McCarron said. “Weather (when) we teed off ? was not too bad. (It was) 60 (degrees) and then we got to the third hole, and I think it dropped 10 or 15 degrees.”
The 56-year-old McCarron had eight birdies, five in a back-nine 30 on the Jack Nicklaus-designed layout that sits near Lake Michigan. McCarron has 11 PGA Tour Champions victories, including the 2017 Senior Players.
The 58-year-old Ames, who had a double bogey for the second straight day, made six birdies over the final 11 holes.
“It’s not my cup of tea,” Ames said. “I’m not a fan of the cold weather even though I lived in Canada. But I never went out and played golf in this.”
McCarron had major reconstructive surgery of his left ankle in August and has just one top-25 finish in nine events this season, a tie for 16th in the major Regions Tradition on May 15.
“It’s been a slow process,” McCarron said. “I knew it would be. It’s been a struggle, but the last couple of weeks it’s gotten better.”
Ames has four top-10 finishes.
“Putting has been a bit of an issue the last six weeks I’ve played,” Ames said after making a 25-foot birdie putt for his final birdie at the 16th. “I’ve had opportunities, but I couldn’t make putts to close things out.”
McCarron and Ames were at 8-under 134, two strokes ahead of 64-year-old Bernhard Langer (68), Brian Gay (68), Mike Weir (71) and Steven Alker (72).
Langer made four birdies, three of them on par-5 holes at 9, 10 and 15, to offset a bogey at the 436-yard seventh hole where the windswept small green overlooks Lake Michigan.
“It was cold today, much colder, and the ball just went nowhere at times,” Langer said. “It’s nice to go below 70 on a day like this because it’s not easy. The course played a lot longer.”
Joe Durant holds off Bernhard Langer in The Ally Challenge; Weir finishes T10
GRAND BLANC, MI - AUGUST 26: Mike Weir plays his tee shot on the ninth hole prior to The Ally Challenge at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club on August 26, 2021 in Grand Blanc, Michigan. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
GRAND BLANC, Mich. (AP) – Joe Durant made a 5-foot bogey putt on the par-4 18th Sunday for a one-stroke victory over Bernhard Langer in The Ally Challenge.
The 57-year-old Durant closed with a 4-under 68 to finish at 17-under 199 at Warwick Hills. He won for the fourth time on the PGA Tour Champions after winning four times on the PGA Tour.
“I’ve got to give thanks to one of my best friends at home, Steve Fell, who’s a golf coach, my son’s golf coach, and Ray Schuessler and Brad Faxon,” Durant said. “They’ve all been trying to help me with my putting because I’ve been putting so poorly and those three guys have really just made some changes in my mind that helped me a lot this week. I putted beautifully and just fortunate to hang on by one.”
A stroke behind Langer and Doug Barron entering the round, Durant had four birdies in a six-hole stretch on the front nine and added a birdie on the par-5 16th. He drove left on 18 into an adjacent fairway, clipped a branch hitting over the trees, left his third short of the green and chipped past.
“I was very fortunate to be in the other fairway, but still had to get the second shot up over the trees, and I clipped the tree. Actually had the perfect yardage for me, a 60-yard wedge shot is the perfect yardage for me, but that just shows you how nervous I was and I dumped that one. I was somehow fortunate to just wiggle in that second putt.”
Langer parred the 18th, hitting into two bunkers, in a 70. Two days after shooting his age on his 64th birthday, the German star had just one back-nine birdie – matching Durant on the 16th. Langer has 41 Champions victories, four off Hale Irwin’s record.
“It’s been a very memorable week with 64 on my 64th birthday. I’ll never forget that,” Langer said. “And playing really good, solid golf for the most part. Followed up the 64 with a 66 and today was a lot tougher. The wind was up, course played longer with all the rain we had last night, the pins were tough and I just didn’t make a lot of putts today. That’s why I shot 70, but it was still a good score.”
Steven Alker was third at 15 under after a 67.
Barron (72), Steve Flesch (64) and K.J. Choi (66) were 14 under.
Vijay Singh had an albatross on 16 – holing out with a 5-wood – in a 67.
A three-time winner of the PGA Tour’s Buick Open at Warwick Hills, Singh tied for seventh with Stephen Leaney (68) at 13 under.
Defending champion Jim Furyk (70) tied for 10th at 10 under.
Mike Weir of Bright’s Grove, Ont., also finished at 10 under and Calgary’s Stephen Ames sat tied for 30th at 6 under.
Rod Pampling wins Boeing Classic for first Champions title; Ames lands T7
SNOQUALMIE, Wash. (AP) Rod Pampling won the Boeing Classic on Sunday for his first PGA Tour Champions victory when Jim Furyk and Woody Austin failed to get up-and-down for birdie from greenside bunkers on the par-5 18th.
Pampling, playing five groups ahead of Furyk and Austin at Snoqualmie Ridge, shot a 6-under 66 to finish at 12-under 204. The 51-year-old Australian won three times on the PGA Tour, the last in 2017 in Las Vegas, and has two PGA Tour of Australasia wins.
“It’s fantastic,” Pampling said. “You look at all the Hall of Famers are just phenomenal out here. There’s so many and they still play really good golf, which people think they don’t, but I’ll tell you what, they play so good. It’s just not quite as far off the tee anymore, but everything else is still really good. To get a win you’ve got to play good and thankfully I did today.”
Furyk dropped a stroke back with a bogey on the par-3 17th after hitting well short of the green and chipping 8 feet past. He hit left into a greenside bunker on 18, sent his third across the green nearly to the fringe and missed a 20-footer.
“Today on the way in everyone kind of ended up making some bogeys and went the other way,” Furyk said. “It’s just kind of that type of golf course. There’s some holes where there’s just no bail-out, so you fly it at the pin and if you hit a good shot, great. if not, you make bogey. There’s a few of those holes.”
Austin, the second-round leader, took two to get out of a right-side bunker and made a bogey to drop to 10 under.
Stephen Ames shot a 70, finishing the classic inside the top 10 tied for the 7th spot.
Furyk had a 70 to tie for second with Tim Herron (67) and Billy Mayfair (69). Austin’s closing 72 left him tied for fifth with Alex Cejka (66).
Pampling opened eagle-birdie, birdied Nos. 7 and 9, bogeyed the 10th, birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 14 and bogeyed the 16th.
Colin Montgomerie, playing in the final group with Furyk and Austin, shot a 74 to tie for 11th at 7 under. He had a double bogey on 17 after hitting into the water.
Local favorite Fred Couples closed with a 71 to tie for 26th at 4 under.
Woody Austin birdies 18th to take Boeing Classic lead; Ames T9
SNOQUALMIE, WA - AUGUST 20: Steven Ames of Canada putts on the 11th green during the first round of the Boeing Classic at The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge on August 20, 2021 in Snoqualmie, Washington. (Photo by James Gilbert/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)
SNOQUALMIE, Wash. (AP) Woody Austin birdied the par-5 18th on Saturday for a 4-under 68 and a one-stroke lead over Jim Furyk and Colin Montgomerie in the PGA Tour Champions’ Boeing Classic.
The 57-year-old Austin had three straight birdies on Nos. 13-15. He has four senior victories after also winning four PGA Tour titles.
Austin took a 10-under 134 total into the final round at Snoqualmie Ridge.
“It will be fun,” Austin said. “I mean, that’s all you ever ask for is a shot and I give myself a shot and I’ll see how it goes. … I’m always confident. I think I can beat anybody on any given day.”
Furyk and Montgomerie, playing in the same group, each shot 67.
The 51-year-old Furyk won in his first two senior starts last year and took the U.S. Senior Open last month in Nebraska.
The 58-year-old Montgomerie birdied the final two holes. He won the last of his seven senior titles in 2019.
“I enjoyed playing with Jim Furyk, I must admit,” Montgomerie said. “A gentleman and someone I’ve admired for many, many years since we first came across Jim in ’97 at Valderrama at the Ryder Cup. I’ve always admired his game and it’s great to play with him here in America.”
Jerry Kelly (69) was two strokes back at 8 under with Brett Quigley (67), Tim Petrovic (67), Glen Day (68) and Billy Mayfair (70). Kelly won the 2017 tournament.
Ernie Els, tied for first-round lead with Austin and Mayfair, had a 71 to fall into a tie for ninth at 7 under with Stephen Ames (66) and Jesper Parnevik (69).
Brandt Jobe, the 2019 winner in the event that was canceled last year because of the COVID-10 pandemic, was 1 over after a 75.
Two-time Boeing winner Bernhard Langer was 6 under after a 68.
Local favorite Fred Couples shot a 69 to get to 3 under.
“It was a little better,” Couples said. “I hit a few good shots and I made a few putts.”