Below is a list of how Canadian golfers fared across the major professional tours the week prior.
Hideki Matsuyama almost squandered a six shot lead with bogeys on three of his final four holes before holding on to win the Masters by a single stroke, becoming the first Japanese winner of the green jacket. He becomes the second man from an Asian country to win a major after Y.E. Yang of South Korea won the 2009 PGA Championship. Will Zalatoris finished second – the best performance by a first-timer to the Masters since Jordan Spieth was runner-up in 2014 to Bubba Watson. Xander Schauffele put on a late charge with fourth straight birdies on the back nine only to see his title hopes end with a triple-bogey on the par-3 16th. …Corey Conners made the weekend cut for the third straight time as a pro (he missed in his first appearance as an amateur). He had the 6th hole in one at the 6th hole in Masters history – the first one in 9 years. It was also the first hole in one by a Canadian since Sandy Somerville at the very first Masters tournament in 1934. By finishing in the top-12, Conners earned an invitation back to next year’s tournament. …Mackenzie Hughes, playing in his 2nd Masters, made the weekend cut for the first time. Has yet to shoot under par in six career rounds at Augusta. …Mike Weir was making his 22nd start at Masters. He missed the cut for the sixth time in the last seven appearances.
NEXT EVENT: RBC Heritage (Apr. 15)
CANADIANS ENTERED: Corey Conners, Michael Gligic, Adam Hadwin, Mackenzie Hughes, Nick Taylor
MACKENZIE TOUR-PGA TOUR CANADA
Patrick Cover started the final round in a four-way tie for the lead but a 5-under 65 was enough to give him a three stroke victory at the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying Tournament in Georgia. With the victory, Cover has full membership for the 2021 season. Alexandre Fuchs, who finished runner-up, along with Ben Wolcott and Daniel O’Rourke are all exempt through the first half of the season. Five players who tied for fifth went to a playoff for the final two exempt spots. Luke Schniederjans, with a birdie on the first extra hole, and Austin Morrison – who needed three more playoff holes – secured the final spots. …Golf Canada Young Pro Squad member Joey Savoie was the top Canadian, finishing in a tie for 10th and earning conditional membership.
NEXT EVENT: Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada Q-School-CANADA West 3 (May 24)
Kevin Sutherland chipped in for the only birdie of the final round on No. 16 and had a tap-in for another on the next hole, shooting a 4-under 69 to overtake Mike Weir of Brights Grove, Ont. in the Cologuard Classic on Sunday.
Sutherland trailed by two to start the day and was down four after Weir birdied the par-5 eighth in blustery conditions at Tucson National. Sutherland cut Weir’s lead in half with two birdies in his first three holes to start on the back nine and chipped in from short right of the 183-yard, par-3 16th.
Sutherland tapped in on 17 after putting through the fringe on the par 5 and just missed another birdie on the difficult 18th to close out his second victory in his last three PGA Tour Champions starts and fifth overall. He finished at 15 under, two ahead of Weir, three up on Steve Stricker and Scott Parel.
Weir had bogeys on two of his final three holes to shoot an even-par 73. The 2003 Masters champion has twice been runner-up on the PGA Tour Champions since turning 50 last year.
Calgary native Stephen Ames finished in a tie for 52nd place at 4-over par.
Phil Mickelson’s long-shot bid to win his first three PGA Tour Champions starts came to a screeching halt with a triple bogey on the par-4 ninth. He shot 73 to finish 11 shots back.
Weir opened the second round with a birdie as gusting wind bent flagsticks at sharp angles. He followed with five straight pars and walked up to the green at the par-3 seventh as Rush’s “Limelight” blared from one of the backyards lining Tucson National.
The Canadian left-hander responded with a little inspiration of his own, chipping in for birdie from about 90 feet. A curling 15-foot birdie putt at the par-5 eighth gave him a four-shot lead over Sutherland.
Sutherland, who won the Charles Schwab Championship in November in Phoenix, opened the back nine with a birdie and had another on the par-5 12th. The 56-year-old from Sacramento, California, stumbled when he couldn’t get up and down from a bunker on the par-3 14th, but closed with a flourish as conditions worsened.
Weir watched a slick 4-foot par putt slide by the hole after a nice bunker shot on No. 16 and missed a birdie putt from the fringe on No. 17 after a bunker shot ran through the back of the green. He three-putted to bogey the par-14 18th.
Mickelson was the last amateur to win on the PGA Tour in Tucson 30 years ago, but couldn’t conjure up the same magic in his return.
Nine shots back entering the final round, he had three birdies and a bogey through the first eight holes before hitting his tee shot into the water on the par-4 ninth. He then hit into the greenside bunker and three-putted for a seven.
Mickelson did avoid the mud on No. 15, at least.
He hit two good tee shots in the opening two rounds and both found the pond on the dogleg of the par 5. Mickelson made a birdie after hitting his second shot out of the mud in the first round and salved par after another mud shot in the second.
He avoided the pond altogether Sunday by hitting into the adjacent 17th fairway and ended up with par after missing a birdie putt of about 15 feet.
Ames T13 after round two of Mitsubishi Electric Championship; Weir T15
Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images
Canadian Press with files from Golf Canada
LA’UPULEHU-KONA, Hawaii — Jerry Kelly and Darren Clarke shared the second-round lead Friday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship after first-round leader Retief Goosen stumbled late at Hualalai.
Kelly birdied the 18th for a 5-under 67 to match Clarke at 13-under 131 with a round left in the first PGA Tour Champions event of the year.
“You strive to be in the last group,” Kelly said. “That’s what we’re out here for.”
Clarke had a 68, rebounding from a bogey on the 11th with four straight birdies.
“I just didn’t really have it today, to be honest with you,” said Clarke, the former British Open winner from Northern Ireland. “Goose played really, really nicely and he just struggled on the greens a bit. He just had a tough day on the greens. He was playing nicely. So I was just trying to hang on a little bit, and then hit a few better shots on the back nine obviously. Holed a couple putts as well.”
Goosen followed his opening 63 with a 71. He bogeyed the final two holes.
“Just couldn’t make a thing,” said Goosen, the two-time U.S. Open champion from South Africa. “Lost sort of my speed on the greens quite badly today, and if you have the wrong speed you can’t make anything.”
Fred Couples had a 63, the best round of the day, to join Kevin Sutherland (68) at 10 under. The 61-year-old former Masters champion eagled the par-5 14th and birdied Nos. 16 and 18.“
“Much needed to go fairly low and then it just kept getting better and better,” Couples said. “I hit a wicked 3-wood on 14 and curved it up on the green. It rolled about 30 feet and made it for eagle. It was a really good round.”
Charles Schwab Cup leader Bernhard Langer Bernhard Langer was 9 under after a 67. The 63-year-old German star is a three-time winner of the tournament.
Jim Furyk had his second 68 to get to 8 under. Ernie Els was 6 under after a 69.
Stephen Ames of Calgary, Alta., had a 66, climbing the leaderboard to T13. Fellow Canadian Mike Weir (Brights Grove, Ont.,) was one shot behind Ames and tied for 15th.
The tournament is the first of the year, but the season is a continuation from last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down the tour for four months. It is being played for the 25th straight season at Hualalai Golf Course, the longest run a venue in PGA Tour Champions history.
Shaw Charity Classic tees up $12M donation for children’s charities in Alberta
(Shaw Charity Classic/ Todd Korol)
CALGARY—Canadians from coast-to-coast have chipped in to help the Shaw Charity Classic raise $12,572,483 for more than 200 youth-based charities across Alberta.
Nearly 3,000 generous and compassionate donors from British Columbia to Prince Edward Island built on the PGA TOUR Champions event’s legacy of giving – despite our inability to welcome the golfers and fans this year in Calgary due to COVID-19 restrictions – through the Shaw Birdies for Kids presented by AltaLink program.
“While we always look forward to gathering at Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club each summer to watch spectacular golf by many of the game’s greatest players, what makes the event truly special is the unwavering commitment of the generous donors across the country who show up every year to support the charitable groups that are making our communities better places to live,” said Jim Riddell, Chair of the Shaw Charity Classic’s seven-member Patron Group, who together supported Calgary’s pandemic relief efforts in April with a $100,000 donation to four-local charities.
“We are humbled and touched by everything that has been accomplished, thanks to thousands of Canadians who have rallied together in a time of crisis to support hundreds of charities through this much-needed fundraising platform.”
The Shaw Charity Classic has been a game-changer for Alberta’s children’s charities since 2013, annually setting new records for the largest charitable give on the PGA TOUR Champions.
When Tournament Officials were forced to cancel the 2020 edition of the event in June as a result of COVID-19, they promised the Shaw Birdies for Kids presented by AltaLink program would continue.
The tournament’s title sponsor, Shaw Communications, along with the Shaw Family were first to step up in the annual fundraising drive with a commitment to match up to $2 million in community donations. Their leadership sparked a flood of donations throughout the summer months, resulting in the second-highest tally in the eight-year history of the event. The 2020 contributions bring the grand total impact of the Shaw Charity Classic on children’s charities in Alberta to more than $61 million.
“Beyond the legendary golf and the electric energy of the crowds that line the fairways, supporting the charities that work tirelessly to help improve the lives of Alberta’s youth and their families has always been at the heart of the Shaw Charity Classic,” said Brad Shaw, Executive Chair & CEO, Shaw Communications. “In a year that can only be described as challenging, it is inspiring and humbling to see how people have once again rallied together to support the charities that make such a difference.”
The Shaw Birdies for Kids presented by AltaLink program ramped up the tournament’s charitable giving arm when it was created in 2015. The program was designed to be integrated into charities’ existing fundraising efforts to help generate new funds in communities across the country. Each of the participating charities connected to the Shaw Charity Classic receive 100 per cent of all donations collected on their behalf, plus up to 50 per cent in matched funding provided by the Shaw Charity Classic.
Funds raised have helped deliver a positive impact for children in the areas of health, food support, family support, development and counselling, sports, arts, and youth programming during the pandemic.
“We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of Albertans in supporting hundreds of children’s charities throughout our province since we helped launch the Birdies for Kids program,” said Scott Thon, AltaLink President & CEO. “Charities in our province need us now, more than ever, to stay operational. They are all experiencing increased pressure to ensure the health, safety and well-being of the families in our communities during this unprecedented time. We are proud to play an important role in helping make a positive difference in the lives of Alberta’s youth.”
The 2021 instalment of the Shaw Charity Classic is scheduled to take place August 11-15, at Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club in Calgary.
Weir settles for second as Mickelson wins to go 2 for 2 on senior tour
MIke Weir (Getty Images)
RICHMOND, Va. – Phil Mickelson likes to play aggressively and found the PGA Tour Champions’ stop at The Country Club of Virginia the perfect place to begin his preparations for the Masters.
Bombing drives like he will have to do against the younger set on the PGA Tour, Mickelson shot a 7-under 65 and became the third player – and second this year – to win his first two starts on the tour for players 50 and older. He slammed the door on Canada’s Mike Weir with a back-nine surge Sunday in the Dominion Energy Charity Classic.
“It’s fun for me to come out here and play well and this is a good start for me as I try to build a little bit of momentum heading to Augusta in about a month,” Mickelson said.
He finished at 17-under 199, one off the event record set by Miguel Angel Jimenez last year.
“I put a new driver into play this week, trying to get a little more pop, a little more carry. It was a little wayward at times, but it was also effective in allowing me to play this course the way I wanted to, which was aggressively,” Mickelson said.
Mickelson beat fellow left-hander and second-round leader Weir, from Brights Grove, Ont., by three strokes. The fellow rookie closed with a 71 and said he would have contended had he putted better.
“I haven’t been in this position in a while, but I felt very confident,” Weir said. “I hit one poor tee shot on No. 7. Outside of that, I played really well and just didn’t get anything really out of it.”
The winner in late August at Ozarks National in Missouri in his first start on the tour, Mickelson joined Bruce Fleischer and Jim Furyk as the only players to win in their first two senior events. Fleischer accomplished the feat in 1999 and Furyk did it this year with victories at The Ally Challenge and Pure Insurance Championship.
Mickelson said earlier in the week he came to Virginia to work on accurate driving and competitive fitness, and was hoping to still be in contention for the closing holes.
“I felt like the last six holes I had an opportunity with the two short par 4s and two par 5s to make something happen,” he said, noting the advantage of his length. “… I was able to have two putt birdies on three of those holes and that was very helpful.”
He got the lead when Weir three-putted the par-3 14th green, doubled his edge with a birdie on the next hole, then highlighted his distance advantage over the 2003 Masters champion by driving the green on the 274-yard, par-4 15th. He two-putted from 30 feet, then reached the par-5 16th in two and made birdie, cancelling out Weir’s birdie.
Mickelson’s chance to work on his competitive side came right away. He erased a three-shot deficit with birdies on three of the first six holes while Weir made a string of pars, but it was on the back nine that he was really tested, and delighted with his response.
After going a shot behind on the 12th hole, he pulled even at No. 13 and kept pushing.
Mickelson, who hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since early 2019 at Pebble Beach, plans to return to the PGA Tour next week for the Zozo Championship in California. After a week off, he’ll play in the Houston Open as his final preparation for the Masters on Nov. 12-15.
Weir three-putted the par-5 18th, but still hung on to beat Paul Goydos (65) by a shot. Bernhard Langer (67) and Brandt Jobe (68) shared fifth, five behind Mickelson.
It was Weir’s third top-10 finish in eight starts on the tour.
“I was low right hander this week,” Goydos quipped.
Robert Karlsson, another rookie on the tour, closed with a 64 including an albatross 2 on the final hole. The ball bounced twice, then found the bottom of the cup.
Fellow lefty Mike Weir leads Phil Mickelson in Virginia
Mike Weir (Getty Images)
RICHMOND, Va. – The other left-handed, 50-year-old former Masters champion was on top after a long Saturday at The Country Club of Virginia.
While Phil Mickelson got most of the attention going into the Dominion Energy Charity Classic as he tries to open his senior career with consecutive victories, Mike Weir was a little better on a 36-hole day after rain washed out play Friday. The Canadian shot 68-63 to reach 13 under and take a three-stroke lead over Mickelson.
“I’m super happy with the way I played today,” said Weir. “My mindset going into today knowing we had 36, I wanted to get in a nice rhythm for the day because there’s so many holes. If you get in a nice rhythm, you can kind of ride it and I did that, I got in a nice rhythm.”
Mickelson shot 68-66. He won his PGA Tour Champions debut at Ozarks National in August.
Weir won the 2003 Masters for the biggest of his eight PGA Tour titles.
Fellow major champion Retief Goosen was third at 8 under with Brandt Jobe. They each shot 68-68.
Bernhard Langer, the first-round leader after a 67, was 7 under with Wes Short Jr. (69-68) after a second-round 70.
CALGARY — The Shaw Charity Classic, with the support of the PGA TOUR Champions, has decided to cancel the 2020 edition of the award-winning professional golf event scheduled for August 24-30, 2020, at Calgary’s Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club.
With the direction of provincial medical and government leaders and international travel restrictions, the official decision comes after the City of Calgary cancelled all event permits through to August 31, 2020, in an effort to minimize the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
“Over the past few weeks, we have had extensive meetings with all of our key stakeholders including the PGA TOUR, along with our generous corporate partners and vendors. We’ve determined that, after weighing all options, it was best to press pause and focus on bringing golf fans back together in 2021,” said Sean Van Kesteren, executive director, Shaw Charity Classic.
“Community is at the heart of the Shaw Charity Classic. Our mission with this event has always been to make a positive impact on Alberta’s youth, and we will remain committed to doing that throughout the summer.”
Title sponsor Shaw Communications announced its commitment to continue supporting the kids and youth who depend on the tournament by contributing $1 million to match community donations through the Shaw Birdies for Kids presented by AltaLink program.
“The real winners of the Shaw Charity Classic have always been the hundreds of thousands of kids and youth across Alberta who rely on charitable organizations for support in areas such as food security, healthcare, mental wellness, and much more,” said Brad Shaw, Executive Chair and CEO, Shaw Communications. “Charity has always been at the heart of this tournament, and this year it is even more important. While we are unable to physically come together this year, we are absolutely committed to working with the community and our amazing partners to continue the Shaw Charity Classic’s incredible legacy of giving.”
The Patron group behind bringing many of golf’s biggest stars to Calgary over the last seven years already donated $100,000 in April to be split among four local organizations (Mustard Seed, Calgary Food Bank, Meals on Wheels and Inn from the Cold) supporting the city’s pandemic relief efforts.
Since its inception in 2013, the lone PGA TOUR Champions event in Canada has raised more than $48 million for 213 youth-based charities across the province through its Shaw Birdies for Kids presented by AltaLink program.
With more than 200 Alberta kids’ charities benefitting, Shaw Birdies for Kids presented by AltaLink will continue to match donations through 2020.
PGA TOUR Champions announces combined 2020-21 season
Champions Tour Communications
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida – PGA TOUR Champions has announced that its tournaments in 2020 and 2021 will combine to form one season, and the next Charles Schwab Cup champion will be crowned in November 2021 at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
Due to the circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, eight PGA TOUR Champions tournaments have been canceled from the original 27-tournament schedule. A number of other events have been rescheduled to later in the calendar year and a decision on The Senior Open presented by Rolex will be forthcoming.
In an effort to uphold the competitive integrity of the Charles Schwab Cup, PGA TOUR Champions will combine the 2020 and 2021 seasons and form a singular 2020-21 season. In addition, other measures are being taken to offset some of the impact made by the cancellation of tournaments.
In 2020, the field size of tournaments will increase from 78 to 81 players.
In 2020, the three Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs events will be converted into 81-player fields.
The Charles Schwab Cup Championship will be reduced from 72 to 54 holes.
“While we won’t have a Charles Schwab Cup champion in 2020, we feel that the combined schedule for 2020-21 is the best solution for everyone associated with PGA TOUR Champions,” said PGA TOUR Champions President Miller Brady. “The wonderful support from the tournaments, title sponsors, Charles Schwab and the Player Advisory Council has helped us address some of the schedule complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a result we have created solutions that best serve our members and our tournament communities.”
Players will retain their 2020 eligibility in 2021, except for the five players in the Q-School category, who will play their guaranteed events. Additionally, the 2020 PGA TOUR Champions Qualifying Tournament will not be conducted, and player awards will not be presented at the end of 2020.
Five events have been completed and 13 tournaments remain on the 2020 schedule, beginning with The Ally Challenge at Warwick Hills in Grand Blanc, Michigan (July 31 – August 2). PGA TOUR Champions events to be contested in 2021 as part of the combined 2020-21 schedule will be announced later this year.
PGA TOUR Champions will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and follow the recommendations of local and state authorities in order to determine the most appropriate on-site access in each market. Decisions on fan attendance at all events will be dependent on available protocols that could be implemented to ensure the health and well-being for all involved.
Mike Weir ready to take on Champions Tour as 50th birthday approaches
Mike Weir (Getty Images)
John Chidley-Hill/ Canadian Press
As far as Mike Weir is concerned, 50 is the new 20.
The Canadian golfing legend will reach his half-century mark on Tuesday and qualify to join the PGA Tour Champions, the senior circuit for professional men’s golf. Although the date of the next tournament is still up in the air thanks to restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Weir is ready for a new beginning in his career.
“The interesting thing about professional golf is that you look forward to your 50th birthday instead of dreading it,” said Weir. “I’ve been looking forward to this for quite a while.”
Weir, from Brights Grove, Ont., had eight wins on the top-tier PGA Tour including at the prestigious Masters in 2003, making him the only Canadian man to win one of golf’s majors.
His last win, however, was 2007’s Fry’s Electronics Open, and Weir has been targetting a move to players closer to his age for some time.
“Just because you turn 50 and you’ve had success on the PGA Tour that doesn’t mean it’s going to translate to the Champions Tour,” said Weir. “You have to really put the work in and be ready to go and that’s what I’ve really tried to concentrate on here for quite a while now, especially the last year I’ve really dialled in a lot of stuff with my game.”
Although Weir is eager to transition to the senior circuit, he still wants to make some occasional PGA Tour appearances.
He has a lifetime exemption for the Masters thanks to his 2003 win, and a sponsor’s exemption for the RBC Canadian Open will likely always be available to him.
But the Canadian Open has been cancelled this summer because of the restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Similarly, Weir has committed to playing in the Champions Tour’s Shaw Charity Classic in Calgary at the end of August, but the city has cancelled all of its event permits up to Aug. 31.
“The next couple of weeks we’re focusing on working with our municipal and provincial government partners, Shaw Communications and of course the PGA Tour to outline what our options might be,” said Sean Van Kesteren, the executive director of the event. “We can’t say with certainty that the 2020 Shaw Charity Classic is going to happen or not, but we will update the community as soon as we can.”
Weir continues to play golf regularly at courses near his home in Utah, where clubs haven’t been closed by the pandemic. Although he still has a strong work ethic, Weir has learned to listen to his body and take some time off when aches and pains catch up with him, as they did last week.
“I just took a week off and I didn’t swing it, or hit a putt, or take a chip,” said Weir, who was suffering from some lower back pain. “I did a lot of stretching and yoga, just taking my dog on a hike, and just trying to keep moving but it’s not that explosive golf movement.”
Canadian Golf Hall of Famer Stephen Ames adapting on the Champions Tour
Stephen Ames (Michael Cohen/Getty Images)
John Chidley-Hill/ Canadian Press
Stephen Ames is learning how to adapt on the Champions Tour.
The Canadian Golf Hall of Fame member finished second at last weekend’s Morocco Champions, rocketing to fourth on the Charles Schwab Cup standings after his first tournament of the season. In his fifth year on the senior circuit, Ames says he’s learned the importance of being adaptable.
“I think it’s the fact that our bodies change as we progress as human beings,” Ames said from Florida. “At a younger age, we’re a little more supple, so we’ve got a lot more flexibility and as you get older things change in that respect.
“Some of us sometimes go through playing golf with pain. So they make they make adjustments in their swing for that pain that they’ve had.”
American Brett Quigley won the Morocco Champions at 15-under 201, a shot better than Ames.
The 55-year-old Ames says that taking more than two months off between the 2019 and 2020 seasons was beneficial for his game. He also started working with Montreal-based golf coach Shauheen Nakhjavani, exchanging videos by email.
“If you want to continue being competitive, especially at this age, you have to be in the gym and working out and doing all those things. So that’s what I’m doing,” Ames said. “I’m just sticking to that same routine. I love the guys that are out here but they don’t go to the gym and it shows because they don’t hit it as far.
“They’ve got a bigger midsection, all those kind of things. So the adjustments in the swing change because your body has changed.”
Ames joined the Champions Tour in 2015 and won the 2017 Mistubishi Electric Classic. His career high Schwab Cup rank is 13th, but this season he hopes to stay in the top 10 all year.
“I’d like to win a couple times and would love for one to be a major. That’d be nice,” Ames said. “It’s a long year. Certain courses are for certain horses. That golf course last week was nice. There are certain courses and certain events that I do really enjoy playing and there’s some that I have to learn to adjust to, obviously.”
The next Champions Tour event is the Chubb Classic at Lely Resort in Naples, Fla., starting Feb. 14. Ames tied for sixth at the event last year, two shots behind winner Miguel Angel Jimenez.