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Jake Knapp squandered a four-shot lead and only hit two fairways in the entire fourth round but found a way to pull it together over the final six holes for a two-stroke win at the Mexico Open. It was the first career win for the PGA Tour rookie in just his fifth start, earning him an invitation to the Masters and PGA Championship as well as an exemption into the final five $20 million signature events. Knapp became the sixth winner in eight tournaments this year to start the season outside the top 50 and he’s the third rookie to win this season. Fellow rookie Sami Valimaki, looking to become the first player from Finland to win on the Tour, managed to tie for the lead on two separate occasions but was forced to take a penalty drop following his drive on the final hole to end any chance of catching Knapp. …Ben Silverman notched his best result of the season and second top-20 finish in four starts. His third-round 63 was his lowest career round on the PGA Tour since 2019. …Stuart Macdonald recorded his best career finish on the PGA Tour. It was his first Tour start of the year after Monday qualifying for the event.
NEXT EVENT: Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches (Feb. 29)
CANADIANS ENTERED: Corey Conners, Taylor Pendrith, Ben Silverman, Adam Svensson, Roger Sloan (alternate)
PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS
Argentinian Ricardo Gonzalez birdied four of the last six holes to turn a two-shot deficit into an eventual nail-biting one-stroke victory over Thomas Bjorn in the Trophy Hassan II. Gonzalez, who only got into the field by finishing among the top four on the European Legends Tour last season, now has his first career Champions Tour win and an exemption into all five of this season’s senior majors. Y.E. Yang, who shared the final-round lead with Gonzalez, finished tied for third with Mark Hensby. Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera, playing in his first PGA Tour Champions event since being released from two years in prison, finished tied for 27th. …Defending champion Stephen Ames notched his third straight top-20 result to start the year. Dating back to the 2023 tournament, Ames has now finished at even par in his last four rounds at Royal Dar Es Salam Golf Course.
NEXT EVENT: Cologuard Classic (Mar 8)
Patty Tavatanakit tapped in for birdie on the final hole for a one-stroke victory at the Honda LPGA Thailand. It’s her second career LPGA Tour victory and her second straight tournament win after taking the title at last week’s Ladies European Tour event. Tavatanakit becomes the second Thai player to win the event, joining Ariya Jutanugarn. Albane Valenzuela, ranked 91st in the world heading into the event, recorded her career-best finish after a final-round 63 that included five birdies over her last six holes. …This was Brooke Henderson‘s fourth top-10 finish at this event and her 75th career top-10 result. Her opening round 67 was her lowest 18-hole score this season.
NEXT EVENT: HSBC Women’s World Championship (Feb 29)
Carlos Ortiz ran off seven birdies in a nine-hole stretch to win the International Series Oman by four shots. It was his first victory worldwide since he won on the Mexican Golf Tour a year ago and he becomes only the third Mexican player to win on the Asian Tour. Louis Oosthuizen, one of 21 players from LIV Golf in the event, finished runner-up. The South African was going for his third straight win in a tournament that is recognized by the Official World Golf Rankings. Chile’s Joaquin Niemann finished solo third.
Richard T Lee
NEXT EVENT: New Zealand Open (Feb. 29)
CANADIANS ENTERED: Jared du Toit, Jake Lane (reserve), Jordan Pittman (reserve)
Darius van Driel birdied the 10th hole to break a four-way tie for the lead and birdied the final hole for a two-shot win at the Magical Kenya Open. The Dutchman went wire-to-wire for his first career win on the European Tour which included just four bogeys over the entire four days. Nacho Elvira and Joe Dean – the 2,930th-ranked golfer in the world coming into the event – finished tied for second. A week ago Dean was delivering groceries to make ends meet. His runner-up finish was worth more than $200,000 (199,749 euros).
NEXT EVENT: SDC Championship (Feb. 29)
CANADIANS ENTERED: None
World No. 1 Kipp Popert cruised to a five-stroke victory at the inaugural Magical Kenya Open. Popert has now won GD4 events on three continents – Africa, Europe and Australia. Popert was the only golfer to post two sub-par rounds at the event. Lachlan Wood, the Tour’s previous Gross winner at the ISPS HANDA Australian All Abilities, finished runner-up. Major Champion Brendan Lawlor carded a 74 to finish solo third at two over, one shot better than American Chris Biggins. ...Kurtis Barkley, making his first start of 2024, has posted top-10 results in his last five starts.
Canada’s Jared Du Toit finds immediate success in Asian Tour debut
Jared Du Toit
John Chidley-Hill/ Canadian Press
Jared Du Toit was planning the next phase of his golfing career last summer, casting a wide net by entering qualifying for the Korn Ferry Tour, the DP World Tour, and anything else he could think of.
But a friend from his days playing at Arizona State University nudged him toward the Asian Tour.
Fast forward to now and Du Toit, from Kimberley, B.C., sits seventh on the Asian Tour’s order of merit after earning a top-10 finish in his first-ever tournament on the men’s golf circuit.
“I was talking to him a little bit in the summer and he just said ‘you’re crazy if you’re not giving Asia a try. The competition is solid, the events are great, and the money is pretty good,'” said Du Toit. “That sparked some interest so I gave it a try, not thinking much of it.
“But (the DP World Tour and Korn Ferry Tour) didn’t work out so I went to Asia, got status that way. Now we’re here and enjoying it, enjoying it a lot so far.”
The 28-year-old Du Toit tied for seventh at 17 under on Sunday at the IRS Prima Malaysian Open at The Mines Resort & Golf Club, six shots back of winner David Puig of Spain.
Du Toit was in a position to miss the cut halfway through his second round but rallied to shoot a 64 and see the weekend. He then fired a 62 in the third round to rocket up the leaderboard before a 71 settled him into seventh.
“Going from basically the cutline to three or four inside the number and in the thick of it a little bit I felt like I was on the house money bit and just had a great round three, which got me right into it,” said Du Toit. “Unfortunately, I didn’t play my best on the last round, but all things considered going from the cutline to contention to finishing top 10 was a solid start to the year and I’m excited to get going over here.”
His next target is to earn his way into some of the co-sanctioned events like next week’s New Zealand Open or one of men’s golf’s majors, like the British Open.
“I was pretty close last week being in contention in Malaysia. There was three spots for the Open,” said Du Toit. “It might be a little tougher to do that, don’t think they just give away spots so I definitely lost a bit of an opportunity last week, but I’d love to do that.
“I just still try and play my best, make as many cuts as I can.”
Du Toit has his next chance to do just that this week at the International Series Oman at Al Mouj Golf in Muscat, Oman. Toronto’s Richard T. Lee is also in the tournament.
PGA TOUR — Five Canadians are in the field at this week’s Mexico Open at Vidanta Vallarta in Vallarta, Mexico. Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ont., is the top-ranked member of the Canadian contingent, entering the week at 62nd in the FedEx Cup standings. Mackenzie Hughes (72) of Dundas, Ont., and Ben Silverman (99) of Thornhill, Ont., are also in the field, as are unranked players Stuart Macdonald of Vancouver and Roger Sloan of Merritt, B.C.
OUTSPOKEN HUGHES — Hughes, who is on the PGA Tour’s player advisory council for another year, remains outspoken about the upstart LIV Golf circuit. He spoke to CBS while on the course of last week’s Genesis Invitational about the ongoing rivalry.
“Now we’re in a place where I think fans are just generally a little bit fed up with it, to be honest,” said Hughes. “Those are the people that drive our sport so I’d love to appeal to the masses a lot more.
“Certainly, the way we’re going right now, to me, isn’t quite it.”
DP WORLD TOUR — Aaron Cockerill of Stony Mountain, Man., is the lone Canadian in this week’s Kenya Open at Muthaiga Golf Club in Nairobi. He finished second at the event in 2022.
LPGA TOUR — Brooke Henderson of Smiths Fall, Ont., is the lone Canadian in the field at Honda LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club’s Old Course in Chonburi. She sits sixth in the Race to CME Globe standings after placing third at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions on Jan. 18 and tying for 16th at the LPGA Drive On Championship.
MEN’S NCAA — Calgary’s Hunter Thomson won his season opener with eight birdies in the final round of the Palmas del Mar Collegiate tournament in Humacao, Puerto Rico. He won the event by two strokes on Feb. 13, helping the University of Michigan to a fourth-place finish.
Canada’s Henderson hopes to repeat at Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions
Brooke Henderson (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
John Chidley-Hill/ Canadian Press
Brooke Henderson is eager to get back on the roller-coaster that is an LPGA Tour season.
Henderson, from Smiths Falls, Ont., will be the only Canadian in the field at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions when the LPGA Tour tees off its 2024 campaign on Thursday. The exclusive tournament has winners from the past two seasons on the top women’s circuit competing, as well as a celebrity tournament.
She qualified for it as a two-time winner in 2022 and as the 2023 Tournament of Champions’ victor, even though the rest of her year didn’t go as she had hoped.
“There’s lots of highs and lots of lows and you just have to continue to ride it out and be patient,” said Henderson at a news conference. “Starting out with a win here last year, definitely a huge high and then I did have some lows throughout the year.”
Henderson missed the cut five times last season after winning the Tournament of Champions on Jan. 22. She didn’t reach another top 10 until the Amundi Evian Championship, where she finished second on July 27.
Her performance improved from there, finishing 12th at the CME Group Tour Championship, the LPGA Tour’s season finale, on Nov. 16. She then ended the year on a high note too, finishing second with partner Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., at the Grant Thornton Invitational, a non-sanctioned event that brings together golfers from the LPGA Tour and the men’s PGA Tour.
“I feel like near the end of the season, I was starting to climb my way back up,” said Henderson, who finished last season 15th on the Race to CME Globe standings and starts the season ranked No. 13 on the Rolex Rankings. “I just started to see a lot of positives near the end of the season so I tried to continue that on through the off-season.
“I’m excited to be playing here this week, playing next week as well (at the LPGA Drive On Championship), couple weeks off and go to Asia, which I always really look forward to playing those events over there.”
Henderson has fresh start in her bag too, having worked in an entirely new set of clubs over the past few months. The 26-year-old replaced her irons in the fall, then switched out her fairway woods, driver, and putter.
She’s particularly excited about her new Qi10 driver, which she first tried during a photo shoot for TaylorMade.
“I had to use it that day for some photos and I used it on the range and I was like, ‘Wow, I love this!’ so it went immediately into my bag,” said Henderson, who noted that its added power was a boon since the LPGA Tour shrunk the maximum length of drivers from 48 inches to 46 two years ago.
“(The new driver) has been such a great change. I’ve gained a little bit of distance and I feel like I’m hitting it a lot straighter, which gives me a lot of confidence moving forward.”
Henderson said that she loves the Tournament of Champions because the smaller, elite 35-player field and celebrity tourney gives it a different feel from the typical LPGA Tour event.
“This is a great way to start out the year,” said Henderson. “It’s an amazing atmosphere, it’s really fun.
There’s concerts three nights of the week, big parties, and it’s just a little bit more chill. it’s great vibes.”
Q-School success for Grewal, Szeryk, Sharp means five Canadians on LPGA Tour in 2024
John Chidley-Hill/ Canadian Press
After a down year, there will be more than double the number of Canadian golfers on the LPGA Tour in 2024.
Maddie Szeryk and Alena Sharp will return to the top women’s professional golf circuit next year and Savannah Grewal will make her debut after all three qualified at the LPGA Tour’s Q School last week. They’ll join world No. 12 Brooke Henderson and Maude-Aimee Leblanc on tour.
“That’ll be really cool to grow on the women’s side and have more players out on the LPGA Tour every single week,” said Henderson before Szeryk, Sharp and Grewal had confirmed their status. “It’s been really fun to watch the men’s side of Canadian golf, they’ve been playing amazing with four wins on the PGA Tour last season, which is really cool.
“Hopefully something similar like that can happen on the LPGA Tour in the next few years.”
Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., and Szeryk of London, Ont., were the only two Canadians on the LPGA Tour last season after Leblanc of Sherbrooke, Que., missed most of the year with an injury.
Szeryk is also happy to see ranks of the Canadian contingent swell in 2024.
“It’s so great to see that, that there’s going to be more Canadians out there,” said Szeryk. “We all feel the support from each other and build off of that, so that will be really nice to have more.”
Henderson maintained her LPGA Tour membership thanks to her end-of-season ranking and Leblanc will return on an injury exemption. Szeryk had to re-earn her LPGA Tour membership through Q-School after finishing the 2023 season just outside of the rankings threshold.
She tied with Hamilton’s Sharp for 38th at the third stage of the qualifying format.
“A lot of relief that the week was over. It was just a stressful week,” said Szeryk with a sigh. “Obviously, you want to be on the LPGA and play as best as you can.
“I think I’m just relieved and excited that I get to play out there again next year, because that’s really the dream.”
Grewal, from Mississauga, Ont., was the top Canadian at Q-School after she tied for 10th at 18 under. She turned professional in November after playing U.S. collegiate golf at Clemson. It is a requirement for all golfers to turn pro before entering the third stage of Q-School.
“Honestly, my goal is to be rookie of the year,” said Grewal, who made three starts on the LPGA Tour as an amateur. “I want to go out there and hopefully play some good golf.”
The 22-year-old Grewal will be the youngest Canadian to make her LPGA Tour debut as a professional since Henderson, now 26, turned pro in 2014.
Canada’s Henderson and Conners happy to be reunited on the course
Corey Conners and Brooke Henderson (Getty Images)
John Chidley-Hill/ Canadian Press
Canada’s Brooke Henderson and Corey Conners are a perfect 1-0 when paired together on the golf course. They’re ready to improve their decade-old record this week.
Henderson and Conners were teammates on Golf Canada’s junior national and both represented Canada at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, but they rarely see each other as professionals on the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour.
They haven’t been paired together since 2013, when they won the Copa de las Americas along with fellow Canadians Albin Choi and Augusta James.
That all changes when they tee it up together Thursday, at a new event featuring players from the world’s top men’s and women’s golf tours.
“I’ve always admired her swing and the smile she always has on her face,” said Conners on Wednesday in a joint news conference with Henderson. “We go way back. We haven’t crossed paths, unfortunately, that much over the last few years.”
The Grant Thornton Invitational, a new tournament on the pro golf calendar, sees players from the PGA Tour and the LPGA Tour pair up in a season-ending event. Prize money will be evenly divided between the two genders at the 16-team field at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla.
Henderson and Conners hope to learn from each other on the course and maintain their unblemished record as a pairing.
“I’m really excited to watch the men play, watch Corey play, see how he goes about it,” said Henderson, who added they have already begun strategizing. “I think that it’s pretty cool to have a partner and somebody that is as brilliant as Corey is to talk that through.”
Neither Conners or Henderson had turned professional when Team Canada won the Copa de las Americas by one stroke at the TPC Blue Monster Course at Doral Golf Resort & Spa Miami 10 years ago. Conners, Henderson, Choi and James finished with a four-day total of 25-over par 1,177 to best Mexico (1,178) by a shot and the United States (1,179) by two.
A lot has changed since then.
Conners, from Listowel, Ont., has won twice on the PGA Tour since turning professional in 2015 and is the second highest ranked Canadian on this year’s FedEx Cup standings.
Henderson, from Smiths Falls, Ont., has put together an even more impressive resume, winning 13 times on the LPGA Tour including two majors since turning pro in 2014. She has the most pro wins in the history of Canadian golf.
“Ever since they announced the format of this event, I tried to try to throw my name in and partner up with Brooke,” said Conners. “I think it was similar from from her side, so it’s really exciting to be here together representing Canada.
“Obviously, I’ve got a pretty solid partner so I’m looking forward to having some fun this week.”
Henderson think she can learn a lot from Conners, one of the best ballstrikers on the PGA Tour.
“I always enjoy watching my playing partners just regularly out on tour, when they’re practising, when they’re warming up, and also when I’m playing with them,” said Henderson. “You just always try to keep an eye out and see what I can learn and what I can pick up on and maybe how I can improve.”
Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., the highest ranked Canadian on the PGA Tour, will also play at the event. He will partner with China’s Ruoning Yin. Henderson and Conners agreed that the Grant Thornton could help grow the sport of golf in North America.
“It’s a really cool opportunity for the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour to do something together,” said Conners. “Hopefully this leads to some more collaboration and possibly some more events together.”
Grewal, Sharp and Szeryk secure 2024 LPGA Tour Status
Savannah Grewal, Alena Sharp, Maddie Szeryk
Savannah Grewal, Alena Sharp and Maddie Szeryk finished inside the top-45 at the 2023 LPGA Q-Series in Mobile, Ala. securing their 2024 LPGA Tour status.
Grewal of Mississauga, Ont. finished T10 at 18-under following rounds of 66-69-71-67-71-68-412. Grewal turned professional in November, prior to the third stage of Q-Series. Grewal has made three starts on the LPGA Tour as an amateur. Grewal reached match play at both the 2022 U.S. Women’s Amateur and British Amateur.
Sharp of Hamilton, Ont. finished T38 at 9-under following rounds of 69-72-70-69-73-68-421. Sharp has 19 years of experience on the LPGA Tour and made four starts in 2023, highlighted by and eighth place finish at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational and T36 at the CPKC Women’s Open. Last month, Sharp also won the bronze medal for Canada at the 2023 PanAm Games in Santiago, Chile. In addition, Sharp represented Team Canada at the Olympic Games in 2016 and 2020.
Szeryk of London, Ont. also finished T38 at 9-under with rounds of 68-67-71-75-68-72-421. Szeryk recently completed her second full year on the LPGA Tour and made 22 starts with one top-ten finish. During her career, Szeryk has made 36 starts on Tour with one top-ten finish.
Robin Choi of Australia finished atop the leaderboard at 29-under after six rounds. Mao Saigo of Japan and So Mi Lee of Republic of Korea finished tied for second at 26-under. For the final leaderboard please click here.
Players who finished inside the top-45 including ties after 108 holes earn 2024 LPGA Tour eligibility. Players finishing in positions 1-20 and ties earn LPGA Tour status in Category 14 and players finishing 21-45 and ties earn LPGA Tour status in Category 15.
Golf Canada Q-School/Series stipends were made available thanks to generous donors of the Golf Canada Foundation, to help off-set the expenses of Canadian professionals striving to qualify for tours affiliated with the PGA TOUR and LPGA Tour.
Now in its third year, the stipends have been given to Canadian professionals based on performance at Q-Series/School to ensure more support is available for players who accumulate higher expenses from advancing to further stages. To receive a stipend, players must compete professionally on the tour where they earned status (or another professional tour if status is gained elsewhere). In addition to Grewal, Sharp and Szeryk, 11 others will receive a stipend for their 2023 Q-Series/School performance including Leah John, Kate Johnson, Tiffany Kong, Brigitte Thibault, and Selena Costabile along with Jared du Toit, Stuart Macdonald, Sudarshan Yellamaraju, Thomas Giroux, Etienne Papineau and Myles Creighton.
Next week the PGA TOUR Q-School presented by Korn Ferry will take place from December 14-17 at TPC Sawgrass’ Dye’s Valley Course and Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Canada’s Grewal turns professional to go to LPGA Tour’s Q-School Stage 3
Savannah Grewal (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
John Chidley-Hill/ Canadian Press
Savannah Grewal is just trying to drink in this moment.
Grewal, from Mississauga, Ont., will officially become a professional golfer next week when she enters the third stage of the LPGA Tour’s qualifying school. Turning pro is a requirement for the tournament, and the third-highest ranked Canadian on the women’s amateur golf rankings welcomes the challenge.
“To be able to make it to Stage 3 my first time around and then just to it also being my first professional event, I think I just want to really enjoy each moment and take it one step at a time,” said Grewal. “Obviously, I want to make it to the LPGA Tour, but I think, getting there is an accomplishment and in those moments, I just want to really stay where my feet are.”
Lauren Kim of Surrey, B.C., is ranked 31st in the women’s amateur golf rankings, Monet Chun of Richmond Hill, Ont., is 89th, and Grewal is 122nd.
Grewal reached those heights on the strength of her play for Clemson University in South Carolina, where she played for five seasons, getting an extra year of U.S. collegiate eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She was first-team All-ACC for her accomplishments on the course and academically, finishing the year with 71.77 stroke average, best in Clemson history. Alice Hewson, who now plays on the Ladies European Tour, held the previous school record of 72.10.
That included a win at this year’s Cougar Classic, a collegiate event hosted by College of Charleston, at Yeamans Hall Club in Hanahan, S.C.
“It has always pretty much been my dream to play professional golf, since I was eight years old,” said Grewal. “There was never really a doubt in my mind that I want to play professional, it was always the end goal.”
With that in mind, Grewal decided to go to the LPGA Tour’s Q-School this year.
Grewal tied Japan’s Suzuka Yamaguchi at 15 under for a two-stroke victory at Stage 1 on Aug. 31. She followed that up with a tie for sixth, 10 shots behind the winner Ingrid Lindblad of Sweden, at Stage 2 on Oct. 20.
Those strong showings earned her a card on the second-tier Epson Tour, the feeder circuit for the LPGA Tour, as well as a spot at Stage 3.
That led to a conversation with coaches Kelley Hester and Erica Popson at Clemson about her future at the school.
“We had talked about (Q-school) when I had decided that I was going to come back from my fifth year,” said Grewal, who had already completed a pre-med degree but would have studied French as a major in her fifth year in university. “At that time, you didn’t have to turn pro to play in Stage 3 and then they changed that rule.
“When (the LPGA Tour) did change that rule we talked about it and they said, ‘Yeah, if you make it to Stage 3 go ahead, go turn pro, do your thing.”
Grewal will practice at Clemson’s golf facilities for the next week before heading to the Magnolia Grove Golf Course in Mobile, Ala., for Tuesday’s practice rounds. The tournament is set to begin Nov. 30.
“I’m just making sure I’m checking off all the boxes,” said Grewal of her training program. “Chipping, pitching, and bunker game, so everything all around.
“It’s nice that I have some time with American Thanksgiving break now so I can take this time to really focus in.”
CPKC Women’s Open once again named LPGA Tour’s tournament of year
Adam Stanley/ Canadian Press
The CPKC Women’s Open has won the LPGA Tour’s highest tournament honour for the second consecutive year.
The event, hosted Aug. 22-27 at Vancouver’s Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club, was named the back-to-back winner of tour’s tournament of the Year at the LPGA’s annual year-end tournament awards Wednesday night.
“We really have a secret sauce,” tournament director Ryan Paul told The Canadian Press at the CME Group Tour Championship, the final event of the LPGA Tour season. “It’s really an incredible golf tournament. You’ve got the best players in the world a rope-line away from you, but outside the ropes there are so many great things that you can see and do.”
The Canadian tournament also won for best sponsor activation and best volunteer appreciation at the ceremony hosted at Tiburon Golf Club.
The sponsor nod was a culmination of the tournament’s partner programming like the Brooke Brigade fan zone. Unique for this year — and specially recognized — was a junior clinic at the Musqueam Golf and Learning Centre for First Nations youth hosted by star-in-waiting Rose Zhang. Zhang became the first golfer in 72 years to win in her pro debut on the LPGA Tour when she captured the Mizuho Americas Open in June.
The volunteer award stemmed from a new initiative where every player, caddie, and staff on site at Shaughnessy was given a poker chip to give to a volunteer who they recognized were going above-and-beyond their call of duty. The poker chip could be redeemed for prizes. There were more than 1,300 volunteers this year.
“A number like that you can see how important they are to the success of the event,” Paul said. “Without them we don’t have a golf tournament.”
American Megan Khang won the 2023 CPKC Women’s Open in a dramatic playoff over former world No. 1 Jin Young Ko. It was her first LPGA Tour win.
Big crowds and memorable performances during the 2023 CPKC Women’s Open helped Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) raise nearly $3.5 million for children’s heart health, with $2.9 million to the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation and $580,000 to the Royal Inland Hospital (RIH) Foundation.
The 2024 LPGA Tour schedule was announced Thursday, with the CPKC Women’s Open set for July 25-28 at Earl Grey Golf Club in Calgary.
“(With) the schedule, not going to lie … I was a little worried when we were going to change our date to July. The Olympics always messes things up,” Paul said. “But I spent some time talking to the players this week and they love our event. They’re not going to miss it for the world. They’re happy the schedule has a nice flow.”
Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the CPKC Women’s Open. Paul said there are going to be a lot of announcements to come in celebration of the history of the tournament over the coming months. And he said a “three-peat” next year would be extra special as the event celebrates an important milestone.
The two-time tournament of the year will see its purse increased for 2024 to US$2.6 million, up from $2.5 million.
The total prize fund for the 2024 LPGA Tour season will be more than US$118 million, the highest ever in tour history and up a staggering 69 per cent from three years ago.
The tour will travel to 15 states and 10 countries and will feature three new events in 2024.
Announced earlier this week, the CME Group Tour Championship — the LPGA Tour’s season finale that features only the top 60 golfers on the yearlong Race to CME Globe — increased its purse from $7 million to $11 million with an impressive $4 million given to the winner. Only one event on the PGA Tour has a first-place prize of higher than $4 million.
“The money says that they’re valued in what they do as the top 60 players in the world playing here,” said LPGA Tour commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan. “And they should be compensated commensurate with that unbelievable world-class talent.”
The 2024 season will begin Jan. 18 with the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions in Orlando, Fla., where Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont. will be the defending champion.
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.
Canada’s Szeryk looks to keep LPGA Tour status heading into season’s final full event
Maddie Szeryk tees off at the 2023 CPKC Women's Open in Vancouver (Bernard Brault/ Golf Canada)
Adam Stanley/ Canadian Press
Maddie Szeryk feels like her game has turned a corner the last couple of weeks. And that feeling has come at a good time as she prepares to tee it up at the final full-field event of the LPGA Tour’s 2023 schedule.
Szeryk, of London, Ont., currently sits 99th in the Race to CME Globe, the LPGA Tour’s season-long points list. The top 100 after this week’s event — The Annika at Pelican Golf Club — will keep their LPGA Tour status for 2024.
Szeryk is currently 2.6 points ahead of Spain’s Azahara Munoz at No. 100.
“It’s hard to make it bigger than it is, like, ‘Oh, I have to play amazing.’ At the end of the day, I’m going to try to play my best and play as well as I can and wherever I end up is where I end up,” Szeryk said by phone from Belleair, Fla.
“You don’t know how the other girls are going to play. We could all finish top 10 and it could be super close. Or we could finish all over the board. I can only do my part and play as well as I can and see where I end up at the end of the week.”
Szeryk is in her second full year on the LPGA Tour. Her best result of the season came in her first event, the LPGA Drive On Championship in March, where she finished tied for seventh.
The 27-year-old struggled through the summer, missing six of seven cuts from July until September. But she’s found the weekend in her last two tournaments and finished in a tie for 26th last month at the LPGA Shanghai tournament — her best result on tour in three months.
“Everyone gets on these little runs and it’s like, ‘OK, any time now would be great (to turn things around),” Szeryk said. “I felt like a lot of those weeks I was close. I could see things were getting a little closer and then the last few weeks it finally clicked.”
Szeryk says her comfort level this year has been “way higher” than 2022. Last year she had to return to the LPGA Tour’s qualifying school to earn full status again for 2023, a gruelling eight-round marathon with the top 45 and ties receiving their cards. Szeryk finished tied for 17th.
In speaking with other players on the LPGA Tour, she realized it takes about a year to feel comfortable with the travel and the logistics of women’s professional golf at the highest level.
“I’ve definitely had a better schedule and I know what I’m doing versus thinking about when I could play, what I should do, or where I should go,” Szeryk said.
Szeryk has tried to keep things as similar as possible through the year in terms of her gear and preparation, although she said her and her longtime caddie (they had been together since July of last year) split after the she missed the cut at the Canadian Women’s Open in Vancouver.
Szeryk said she’s been struggling off the tee this year and sits 106th on the LPGA Tour in driving accuracy. She was 57th in the same statistic last year.
“The last couple of weeks, most of the time when I made a bogey it was I was completely out of play,” Szeryk said. “(This week) really going to make sure the big focus is getting my driver at least in play.
“I feel like I’m heading in the right direction which is always comforting and what you want to see.”
Szeryk will be one of two Canadians in the field at The Annika, and the other one won’t be worrying about their position in the season-long standings.
Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., sits 14th in the points list and comes into the event after a tie for sixth at the Maybank Championship two weeks ago — her third top-10 of the year.
Henderson won the season-opening Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions for her 13th LPGA Tour title.
The top 60 on the Race to CME Globe at the end of the week earn their way into the LPGA Tour’s season finale, the CME Group Tour Championship, where they will compete for the biggest prize in women’s golf — a US$7-million purse, with $2 million going to the winner.
The Annika begins Thursday at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair. World No. 6 Nelly Korda is the two-time defending champion.