This about covers what happened at the RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey Golf Club just outside of Toronto:
Weather forecast: Mostly cloudy with a high of 72 degrees. Winds SW 12-18, with gusts to 25.
All of the incredible 8-, 9-, and even 10-under pars from the second and third days disappeared, evaporating in the wind. It didn’t look that bad watching it; it looked benign even. But it caused Brand Snedeker to block his 4-iron into the edge of the close-by woods on the par-3 12th hole:
I was kind of right between clubs. I wanted 4‑iron, and kind of flared it a little bit to the right, wind caught it and pushed it over right of the bunker. Hit the down lip of the bunker and kicked into the junk; I guess that is the best way to put it.
And then his playing companion, David Lingmerth, who just right there with a chance to make a run at a win, followed Snedeker into the woods, only deeper. Snedeker got away with a bogey, but Lingmerth needed a couple of hacks to even get to the green and ended up with a triple. It was all trying to accommodate for the wind.
Dustin Johnson was making a run at it standing on the 17th tee. But then he hit his drive out of bounds and he, too, made a triple:
I was playing really well. Really confident, swinging the driver really good. So you know, it’s a driver hole for me, and I just blocked it a little bit, made a poor swing.
I just happened to make a poor swing with a bad wind, and kind of just amplified it. I was trying to draw it back into the wind and I just blocked it.
At least Johnson walked away with T2 money. Lingmerth dropped from 2 to T12 by the end of the day, making a difference in his payday of $256,200. But like Johnson, even though he’s young and still learning, he is learning a lot from being in the heat and he’s quickly becoming a very good player.
Even rock-steady Matt Kuchar had a devil of a time with the wind, committing the cardinal sin of making a bogey on a par-5:
It was difficult. Most challenging all four days, for sure. I felt like I was off and running with a birdie on the first and then hit a bad drive on 2. 2 was drastically different. Playing into the wind, that tee shot, it was a hard one to get a line on and then into the wind you really get confused.
I hit a bad shot and chipped out. It was too bad to get off to such a good start and then drop it off on the second hole, but seemed to hang tough for a while. I was driving it well and had some chances. I knew Snedeker, Dustin Johnson, I knew those guys weren’t going to back off much. I knew I needed to make a lot of birdies to have a chance.
Among the leaders, the low-round honors went to William McGirt, a longtime mini-tour player who has finally found his way and his home on the PGA Tour. He shot 4-under, matched by only two other players who came from well down the leaderboard.
One of the good things about kicking around the mini-tours for a while is that you get some serious training in playing in all kinds of weather conditions because you don’t have any trouble getting into tournaments. As a rookie on the PGA Tour, you only get second or third pickings, particularly at great weather training stops like Pebble Beach or La Jolla. So he was ready for Sunday’s weather:
I was not upset at all when I saw what the weather forecast was for today with the wind supposed to blow, and we got out here this morning and it was blowing pretty good. I kind of felt like that would help me. I told them, par’s going to go a long way today. I really had a chance to make up some serious ground there on the front. I had some good putts that kind of lipped out, and still turned at 3‑under and knew I was moving up. But I played solid most of the week.
Each day of the tournament, the course played easier and easier as measured by the field stroke average which finally got down to 70.116 on Saturday. The guys who made the cut were eating the place alive. Sunday the wind made it over 2.25 strokes harder.
Snedeker was elated by his 16-under, three-shot victory for a couple of reasons: a reward for his longtime Canadian caddie and to have played well in tough conditions:
Just ecstatic right now. This is a tournament I said early on in my career I wanted to win just because my caddie is actually from Canada and it’s his national open. It meant a lot to him, meant a lot to me. Third oldest tournament on Tour and it’s got some great history to it, and now to put my name on that trophy it means a lot.
To go out there today in tough conditions where I obviously didn’t drive the ball the way I wanted to or hit some particular shots, but I hung in there really well and made the key putts I needed to and I was able to survive. That’s what today is all about.
And it was about one other big thing, the arrival of Zoe Mahan into the lives of Hunter and Kandi Mahan. She the young lady her dad left his two-stroke lead in the tournament to meet. Zoe will one day be grateful that her dad didn’t want to miss her birth; Snedeker was grateful Sunday:
Zoe will be getting a very nice baby gift from me. I can’t thank Kandi enough for going into labor early, I don’t know if I’d be sitting here if she hadn’t. But that is a way more important thing than a golf tournament. I missed a golf tournament when my first was born, and it was the best decision I ever made. I’m sure Hunter would say the same thing.
And as time goes on and they become functioning human beings who relate to you, children give you even more perspective:
I used to take everything way too seriously on the golf course. It used to be who I was. Now with a daughter and new young son, I realize they don’t care at the end of the day if I shot 90 or 60. My two and a half‑year‑old told me great shot. I hit it in the water on Saturday. He said, “Great shot. Way to go, dad.” They don’t care. They just want to be there at the same time with you.
So it really put a lot of importance on practicing smarter, being better on the golf course, about managing my emotions and realizing how unimportant every golf shot really was.
So I suppose it is true that except for the entertainment value and memories of the good shots and the lessons learned from the bad ones, golf shots really are unimportant.