This week: Match play, Carnoustie and Canada
In case you haven’t seen these previews before, I come at them from the standpoint of whether or not it’s worth your time to tune in based on a variety of factors. Field strength, TV schedule (North America) and the course are the three main factors at play when discussing the watchability of each event, along with whatever notes I can dig up that contributes to its quality. Each event is then given a Miller score (because Johnny Miller really is the best) out of ten. I usually only focus on the PGA and European Tours because that’s where my knowledge tends to sit.
This week: The RBC Canadian Open, the UL International Crown, the Senior Open Championship. Note that there is also the Web.com Tour event in Utah this week, but that won’t be covered in this post.
- Event: RBC Canadian Open
- Course: Glen Abbey Golf Club (1976 – Jack Nicklaus)
- Location: Oakville, Ontario, Canada
- Five Consensus Favourites: Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker and Jim Furyk
- TV Schedule:
- Thursday: 4:00 to 7:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
- Friday: 4:00 to 7:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
- Saturday: 1:00 to 2:30 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (CBS)
- Sunday: 1:00 to 2:30 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (CBS)
The Canadian Open used to be a much bigger deal on the PGA Tour. Players like Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer used to come and play in Canada all the time because winning a country’s national open was seen as a huge accomplishment that fell right in behind the major championships, but these days, with the advent of the WGC’s, the FedEx Cup and higher purses in general, the Canadian Open tends to fall much lower in the pecking order. Its place in the schedule hasn’t helped matters either. Usually, it falls the week after the Open Championship and before Tiger’s Quicken Loans event, but this year, it’s actually worse as it has been sandwiched between two majors thanks to the Olympics. This has caused a lot of the top players to take a pass on the week, but things have gotten better over the last couple of years thanks to RBC taking over as the title sponsor, meaning that their sponsored athletes like Jason Day will likely show up and play.
The field is actually interesting this year, with the five solid names at the top being joined by a group of talented young players. Emiliano Grillo, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau and Jon Rahm are all teeing it up, which means we should have some fun over the next few days, even if the course doesn’t really offer a ton of value.
Glen Abbey isn’t a bad course by any means, and as one of Nicklaus’ early tracks, it’s not as crazy as some of his other designs but we’ve seen it so often now that at least to me, it’s grown stale. The front nine is boring, and while the back nine does ratchet up the excitement a little bit, it just doesn’t do it for me like a lot of other courses do.
There are a ton of great courses in Canada and many better than this one that could host the event, but with Golf Canada being located in Oakville, it makes sense to stage the event at the Abbey. However, with its future up in the air, we really don’t know how many more times it’s going to host the tournament. Despite the lack of enthusiasm I have the course, the event is still pretty solid and the field much better than I thought it would be considering the placement on the schedule.
The RBC Canadian Open earns a score of 7 Millers out of 10.
- Event: UL International Crown
- Course: Merit Club (1992 – Bert Getz Sr.)
- Location: Libertyville, Illinois
- Five Consensus Favourites: Korea Republic, USA, Thailand, Japan and Australia
- TV Schedule:
- Thursday: 12:00 to 4:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
- Friday: 12:00 to 4:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
- Saturday: 3:00 to 7:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
- Sunday: 12:00 to 2:00 PM ET (NBC) & 2:00 to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
The second playing of the LPGA’s International Crown takes place this week, pitting eight countries against each other in a match play format. Randall Mell has written up a preview of the event for Golf Channel, and you won’t find a better primer for what to expect this week than that, so I suggest that you start there. I like the format, and I’m always here for more match play events, but the giant elephant in the room could not be more obvious: the LPGA is in the best position it’s been in for quite some time, and we should all be tuning in more, but it makes it harder to tune in when the three best players in the world aren’t actually playing.
Lydia Ko (New Zealand), Brooke Henderson (Canada) and Inbee Park (South Korea) are all not in action this week, and that really hurts the appeal. Yes, top names like Lexi Thompson, Sei Young Kim, Stacy Lewis and Ariya Jutanugarn are playing, but it just feels empty without the top tier.
From what I’ve been able to read on the Merit Club, it’s a solid but unspectacular course that will play like a standard LPGA venue. It was the host of the 2000 U.S. Women’s Open, won by Karrie Webb and is ranked as the 20th best course in Illinois by Top 100 Golf Courses.
Ultimately, even though I love the format, the field and course aren’t really doing it for me this week.
The UL International Crown earns a score of 5 Millers out of 10.
- Event: Senior Open Championship
- Course: Carnoustie Golf Links (1850 – Old Tom Morris and James Braid)
- Location: Carnoustie, Scotland
- Five Consensus Favourites: Bernhard Langer, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Colin Montgomerie, Billy Andrade and Joe Durant
- TV Schedule:
- Thursday: 6:00 to 8:00 AM ET (Golf Channel) & 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
- Friday: 6:00 to 8:00 AM ET (Golf Channel) & 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
- Saturday: 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM (Golf Channel) & 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM ET (NBC)
- Sunday: 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
Last week, we were treated to Royal Troon and this week, we get to see an even better Scottish links course in Carnoustie. I’m a sucker for this place, which always produces drama, likely because it is probably the toughest championship course in all of Europe and maybe even the world. That’s even before the wind gets up, and if it does get up, we could be in for some carnage.
The final stretch of holes is brutally difficult, and the entire back nine is among the best set of holes in all of golf. The winner this week should be the player who ends up with the best score on 15-18, which would presumably mean that they’ve avoided Van de Velding themselves on the 18th.
Speaking of Van de Velde, much of the promotion in the lead up to the event, at least here in North America, has been about him returning to the scene of the crime for the first time in seventeen years. It’s been an interesting way to frame a major championship considering that the field is really good, and he should be nowhere near a factor in the final outcome, but you can expect to see a lot of focus on him this week. At the very least, you’ll see him play the 18th on the first two days, regardless of how he’s doing in the tournament.
In a perfect world, we’d get to see the best in the world at Carnoustie instead of the best senior players, but we’ll have to wait until 2018 for that to be the case. This is a great appetizer for that though, and you should take some time out of your day to watch it.
The Senior Open Championship earns a score of 9 Millers out of 10.