Rory McIlroy Wins the RBC Canadian Open, One Week Before U.S. Open
The RBC Canadian Open attracted an excellent field for this year’s version, and Rory McIlroy ran away with it. Shane Lowry, who finished second, observed that he didn’t know what tournament Rory was playing, but that playing against the rest of the field, it almost felt like winning. I have watched this tournament since childhood. At that time, I had visited Vancouver with family, but there was an awful lot of Canada I had not seen.
There was something for everyone in this year’s tournament, and two or three things just for me. First off, I have always liked Rory McIlroy as a player and as an on-camera personality. I have never, and still do not understand how a person of that stature hits a golf ball so far, but that’s for another day. This week, McIlroy demonstrated what most of us have already known. He might not win all the time, but when the game comes into sync, there isn’t a greater talent on the globe. On any given day, he will light up the leaderboard with some absurd score, and walk off the 18th sorry that he didn’t make 59 – it sure must be nice to think like that. Not winning all the time isn’t a result of being lazy or anything else. The fact is that McIlroy isn’t nuts. Yes, he practices hard, plays hard, prepares well, but he knows that Mars won’t invade if he misses a putt or comes in second. Anyway, for a Rory fan, it was a lot of fun to see him win, especially the week before one of the American majors.
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The second part of the RBC Canadian Open that tantalized me was the play of Adam Hadwin, a native of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Hadwin was in contention after three rounds, sitting only one back of McIlroy. I get a huge kick out of anyone winning the Open of their own country, and my allegiance was torn for Sunday. It’s been a little while since a Canadian man won the Canadian Open, although Brooke Henderson has done it recently. Hadwin, a University of Louisville graduate, has won on the PGA Tour, at Valspar in 2014. A big part of me wanted him to have the round of his life on Sunday. Someone got mixed up and gave it to Rory instead. He flirted with a 59 for the fourth round. The people who have done that in sanctioned tournaments is such a short list that it barely qualifies as a list.
Then there is that course, the one that has hosted five of these championships. Championship courses are all generally difficult. Some do it with distance, while others do it with rough or hazards. Each tournament course has a personality, but for me, there is a trend toward grace and sweep among golf architects the farther north one goes. It feels as though one course designer is saying “And I’ll make that longer, and that harder, and that deeper, and that more undulating, etc.” On the other hand, I look at some of the courses across Canada and some in the northern states, thinking of the designer more like a painter – “I’ll put a long smooth sweep on that fairway, and that water will look little slice of Switzerland, and oh yes, it will also be difficult.” By the way, the grassy part of the course aside, does someone know how to build a clubhouse or what? I hate to even call it that – perhaps the manor house or the villa. How could one resist turning the curve into a green sitting there with that structure for a backdrop? There is something extra special about northern grass, aesthetically. The green is deeper, richer.
Since my early Vancouver days, I have lived in Canada and driven across the breadth of it. I was shocked at the number of good golf courses in Ontario particularly, but the Hamilton Golf & Country Club is a great one. This year’s Canadian was a feast for the eye and for the vicarious golfer in all of us. I still wish, though, that I could have given Adam Hadwin the round of his life. Maybe next year.