Short Game: Guan not coming to Canada after all
Published on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 05:50PM EST Last updated on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013 05:15PM EDT
Guan Tianlang will not be in the field for the RBC Canadian Open next week.
Tournament director Bill Paul, who had reached out to Guan and his family to see if he wanted to play, confirmed Friday that the 14-year-old amateur standout from China will not tee it up next week at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ont.
Guan was interested but his family didn’t file a visa application in time, reports have indicated.
Earlier this year, the teenager became the youngest player to compete in the Masters in the major’s history. He made the cut in what turned out to be a run of starts on the PGA Tour.
Guan also reached weekend play at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans but not at the Memorial Tournament and the FedEx St. Jude Classic .
Paul told golfnewsnow.ca earlier in the week that he first inquired about Guan’s availability at the Masters once he assured himself the teen would be a good addition to the Canadian Open field.
“I really felt comfortable when a bunch of players told me afterwards that the kid is very calm and composed and a pleasure to play with,” Paul told golfnewsnow.ca. “I made the overture to see if there was interest in playing up here and they got back to me and said yes.”
The Canadian Open field is to be finalized later Friday.
STARS ALIGNING: Fan favourite Fred Couples has signed on play in the Shaw Charity Classic, giving the inaugural Champions Tour event another shot of star power.
The tournament announced this week that the World Golf Hall of Famer will be joined by Dave Barr, the 61-year-old Canadian who played on the PGA Tour and more recently the Champions Tour.
Steve Elkington, John Cook and Kenny Perry, a back-to-back major champion on the senior circuit this year, were named to the field earlier.
The tournament, which begins Aug. 30, is to be played at Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club in Calgary.
"Calgary has been through a very challenging summer, but I hope the community will be able to enjoy watching some great tournament golf at Canyon Meadows,” Couples said, alluding to last month’s flooding in Alberta.
MAGIC NUMBER: In a month in which 59s are flying, Canadian Brian Hadley became the latest player to shoot golf’s magic number.
The Sarnia, Ont., native posted a 13-under-par 59 on Monday in the opening round of the PGA of Ontario Championship, the province’s marquee event for club pros.
He fired 11 birdies and an eagle at Deer Ridge Golf Club in Kitchener, Ont., to open up an eight-shot lead heading into the second and final round Tuesday.
Hadley’s back nine was especially dazzling – he shot nine-under 27, beginning with four birdies in a row and ending with an eagle on the par-five 18th.
“It’s a pretty exclusive club, it’s pretty cool,” the 32-year-old said in a news release. “I knew walking down No. 18 that if I could make the putt I could get to 59. The putt was only four feet and I was surprisingly nervous.”
Hadley, an assistant professional at Thames Valley Golf Club in London, Ont, went on to win Tuesday, defending his title. He shot 69 in the second round to finish at 16-under 128, 10 strokes ahead of runners-up Bill Walsh of Markham, Ont., and Kyle Kirkland of Owen Sound, Ont.
It’s been quite a month for Hadley. The 32-year-old topped the field at the RBC Canadian Open’s regional qualifier in Ontario to earn a direct pass into the national championship, which begins July 25 at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ont. It’ll be his second career PGA Tour start.
Hadley also reached the quarter-finals of the PGA Championship of Canada, the top event nationally for club pros.
It’s also been quite a month for shooting 59. A day earlier in the final round of the Web.com Tour’s Utah Championship, Will Wilcox of the United States posted 12-under 59.
He moved up 35 places on the leader board in the final round but came up one shot short of joining a playoff between Steven Alker and Ashley Hall. Alker of New Zealand went on to win. (More on Wilcox below.) And last week, 16-year-old amateur Will Grimmer put a 59 on the board in the second round of the North & South Junior on the Pinehurst No. 1 course in Pinehurst, N.C. The teenager from Cincinnati bettered his previous best by seven shots.
He went on to finish in fourth place at the 54-hole event.
CHANGING COACHES: Former world No. 1 Lee Westwood has turned to Canadian coach Sean Foley, whose other high-profile students include Tiger Woods and 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose.
Westwood told Golf Channel in Scotland on Monday that he started working this season with Foley at Old Palm, a Florida golf club the Briton belongs to and lives near. He said Foley has already helped him adjust his ball flight and get his swing in different positions.
The 40-year-old Westwood is at Muirfield this week for the Open Championship, as is Woods, Rose and Foley. Although he’s won 39 professional events and held the No. 1 ranking for almost half a year in total, he has yet to win a major championship.
IN HIS WORDS: Here is what Will Wilcox said after he became the fourth player in Web.com Tour history to shoot 59, as told to Laura Livsey at pgatour.com.
“This has been such a dream year for me. From my first Web.com Tour victory at the South Georgia Classic to shooting 59 at the Utah Championship, I’ve had several dreams come true this season.
“When I stood over the putt for 59, I really wasn’t that nervous. I don’t know why, although I think it has to do with the fact I’ve been practising hard and working hard so it was a situation I had prepared for. Maybe I hadn’t prepared to shoot a 59, but I had prepared to make putts under pressure.
Shooting 59 is huge, obviously and it’s something every golfer dreams of.
“I played Willow Creek Country Club backward Sunday (started on back nine). We had to play two tees in threesomes because we didn’t finish the third round due to a storm the day before. So I began my round on No. 10, a par 5. I made four straight birdies to start my round, and that’s the way I like to begin a day. I just felt confident with what I was doing, and I was pretty relaxed.
“With the conditions and the left pins, I was able to make some putts. Then I just kept making them. The wind wasn’t blowing much, and I was hitting it nicely.
“I teed off in front of a few people who had gathered on No. 10, and I noticed as my round progressed that the spectator size was growing a little. I haven’t really gotten much TV time out here, but even the cameras didn’t bother me. I was hitting it fine, so the added attention wasn’t a big deal.
“Looking back, I missed a really easy birdie putt on No. 7, my 16th hole. It was probably no more than two-and-a-half, maybe three feet. I hit just a terrible putt. So if I was nervous during the round, it came at my 16th and 17th holes. When I missed that short one on 16, I was nervous because I had three feet coming back for par. I also knew I needed to bury the putt on 17 to give myself a chance at 59 on my closing hole. But I made it, and that set me up for the finish.
“For me, No. 9 at Willow Creek is a 7-iron off the tee and a pitching-wedge par-4. That’s a pretty nice combination. If you can’t hit the fairway with a 7-iron, I don’t know what to tell you. I hit the fairway, and then it was a front-left pin. So it was the perfect number for me with a wedge in my hand. I had perfect numbers all day. It was awesome.
“Then came the putt. Again, I really wasn’t nervous. It was a right-edge putt, probably six or seven feet. I told the guys in the media centre I didn’t think I could win until I won. Then I did, in Valdosta. I didn’t think I could shoot 59 until I shot 59. I did that in Utah.
“A few players came out to watch me on my last hole, including Jason Gore, who shot a 59 on this tour himself. I appreciated that. There were a lot of hugs, and everything got really busy, even a little crazy. I had to do a Golf Channel interview, and I almost gave away the ball I made the putt with. The media official told me to put it in my pocket. He also gave my caddy, Tyler Olson, permission to keep his caddy bib as a memento.
“As I stop and think about this day and this year, I know I’ve made a lot of changes in my life that have allowed me to do all this. I’m not out at night. I’m doing what I need to do. I’m going to bed early, I’m working out, I’m taking care of myself and I’m trying to be nice to people. If this is the reward for that, then I’ll take it.”
MEASURING UP: Brooke Henderson took another small step forward in her budding career at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic on Sunday.
The 15-year-old Canadian amateur shot four-under-par 67 in the final round at Grey Silo Golf Club in Waterloo, Ont., to finish at 10-under 274. She tied for 35th spot, improving on her 59th-place finish at the U.S. Women's Open two weeks ago.
"Beautiful golf course and I had tons of fan support all week, especially the last couple of days," the member of Canada's national amateur team said after her round. "It was so fun and I enjoyed it."
With family and friends from her hometown of Smiths Falls, Ont., and a sizeable gallery cheering her on, Henderson posted five birdies in the final round against just one bogey.
Still, she felt she could have gone lower. "I missed a couple of opportunities and I have some things to work on, but I'm happy with the finish."
The national team is carefully handling the high-school student, blending competitions against her peers where she can challenge for titles with a few cameos on the LPGA Tour and other pro circuits to give her experience. There's no rush to throw her in with the world's best touring pros on a regular basis like some other prodigies have been.
"She's got a lot of winning before we even think about that," said Tristan Mullally, her national team coach and her caddy during the Manulife Classic. "As long as she continues to hit those marks (progress targets), she'll end up where she wants to be."
Henderson has already excelled in the minor leagues, winning a Canadian mini-tour event last year to become the youngest champion of a pro tournament in golf history. This year she played well enough on the same mini-tour (two top-three finishes) to earn a spot in the field of the CN Canadian Women's Open later this summer. It will be her second appearance in the national championship. (She missed the cut last year.)
She returns to the amateur circuit this week at the prestigious North & South Women's championship in Pinehurst, N.C.
Mullally said after Henderson made the cut at the always-tough U.S. Women's Open, they set a goal in Waterloo of not just playing on the weekend but moving up the board.
"The exciting thing is there are lots of things she can do better," the coach said.
Mullally suggested she could be sharper on shots within 100 yards of the green, saying her short game might have suffered more if the rough at birdie-friendly Grey Silo were more penal. Still, he described her finish as "an amazing feat" and said she has nothing but time on her side.
Henderson said the experience she gained inside the ropes will be invaluable down the road -- "a definite confidence booster." She played practice rounds last week with Lorie Kane and reunited with the Canadian veteran in the final round Sunday.
"Brooke is a true talent," the 48-year-old Kane said after the round. "She's going to be a great young talent."
Kane has high expectations, like many other Canadians who are becoming aware of Henderson's talent.
"She's very well-managed, very well-guided," said Kane, who turned in a respectable performance of her own: nine under and a share of 41st place with fellow Canadian Jennifer Kirby and seven others. (Alena Sharp of Hamilton was the low Canadian, tied for 31st at 11 under.)
"I think she knows what she wants to do," Kane said. "She's 15 but she's a very mature 15-year-old. The future is very bright for her."
Henderson was also paired on Saturday with Michelle Wie, who told The Canadian Press she was shocked to learn Henderson is just 15. "When I heard she was 15, I was like, 'What?' I didn't believe it. She's a great girl. She's really talented and she plays really well. I can't wait to see what she does in the future."
ODDS AND ENDS: Some facts and figures on the winner Hee Young Park from the second playing of the Manulife Classic, courtesy of the crack research staff at the LPGA Tour.
- Hee Young Park became the fourth South Korean to win on the LPGA Tour this year. Jiyai Shin, Inbee Park and Ilhee Lee have also been in the winner's circle (in Inbee Park's case, six times).
- Park's 61 in the third round was the 11th in tour history and the lowest of her career. Her previous best was 63 at the 2010 LPGA State Farm Classic.
- Her victory was the second of her career on the LPGA Tour. (She also won the 2011 CME Group Titleholders.) But the nine-year pro also has captured six titles on her home country's KLPGA.
- In both of her LPGA wins, she held the 54-hole lead.
- Park's cheque for $195,000 put her inside the top 10 of the LPGA's 2013 money list and into 71st place on the tour's career money list.