Juxtapositions

When the final round of the Canadian Women’s Open came on the air on Sunday from the Hillsdale Golf and Country Club just outside of Montreal, Canada, I was a little taken aback. The Canadian announce crew said that the wind forecast was for about 75 kilometers per hour and heavy rain. That got my attention…primarily because I had the miles per hour conversion backward…and the factors wrong. Hey, there were hurricane remnants; it was plausible.

By the time I Googled my way to the correct answer, they had revised their number down to 60 kph. So 38 mph was a lot less than 47 mph. But still that’s a whole lot of wind.

When they came on the air there were four players tied at 12-under par: Brittany Lincicome, Ai Miyazato, Michelle Wie and Tiffany Joh. It was dry at the time and just blowing 16 mph. But they all knew it was coming.

Tiffany Joh had a tough time. She held it together as the wind and rain began to rise with two bogeys followed by two birdies. But at the end of her round when it was at its worst, she faded with double-bogey, bogey, bogey.

Ai Miyazato, Japan’s gift to women’s golf, depends on her slow, rhythmical swing for consistency and remarkable success. A tiny woman who doesn’t hit it very far in the first place averaging 245 yards, she went bogey, par, double-bogey as the wind began to come up. She held her own until the 11th where she made another bogey and finished with two bogeys in the worst of it and was 5-over on the day.

Michelle Wie acquitted herself well trading two bogeys and two birdies during the broadcast to shoot even par on the day. Strength and clubhead speed solves a whole lot of problems when the weather is nasty. Pretty impressive in those conditions.

We also have to give kudos to Stacy Lewis who finally got to 12-under at the 12thand she managed to do it shooting a clean card 5-under par. She only needed one more birdie to force a playoff, but it was heroic enough that she managed five in that weather.

Brittany Lincicome made two early birdies, but slipped with a bogey on 12. But when it was at its worst, she shot par to the house and won her second tournament of the year with a rock solid 13-under par. This was very impressive.

Over at the U.S. Amateur played at Erin Hills Golf Course in Hartford, Wisconsin, amateur phenom, Patrick Cantlay lost the tournament 2-down to Kelly Kraft.

I have been writing about Cantlay all summer long. The UCLA sophomore finished T21 in the US Open at Congressional, shot a 60 in the Travelers in Hartford and finished 9th in the Canadian Open. All of this in tournaments where amateurs are in dire risk of missing the cut. He had such a spectacular summer that I think even he must have been pinching himself over his improbable success.

Unfortunately, in today’s 36-hole final, he played more like the amateur that he is. At one point he was 4-down in the first 18, but got it back to 2-down. But 36 holes for something as big as the US Amateur takes a lot out of you both physically and mentally. And Erin Hills, a very hilly 7,700 yards only added to all of that.

In the end it was two mental mistakes that did him in. On the short par-4 15th where he made bogey in the morning by going for the green off the tee, he decided to prudently just lay up with an 8-iron. But he hit it in the bunker in the middle of the fairway and made bogey anyway. What’s the old saying? “If you’re going to layup, layup.”

And on the 16th, pin high to a tight pin, he blew his first putt 8 feet by from just off the green and couldn’t make it coming back. That one was all mental because if nothing else, Cantlay is a great putter.

One of the reasons that this blog focuses on the PGA Tour is because you don’t see those kind of mistakes on the PGA Tour very often. It’s not that they don’t get made, it’s just not by the guys who are playing well enough to be on television that week.

You don’t need any more evidence for that than how Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar played in Saturday’s 54-hole finish at The Barclays. With all the ominous weather forecasts from Hurricane Irene, those two guys were like rocks. Kuchar made bogeys to lose, but with his steady, consistent game, there was never any doubt that he was in it until the end.

The ladies came the closest to living up to that standard this weekend. I love watching professional women playing golf because that quality of play is so exceptionally different than amateur women. As I’ve said before, they don’t hit it as far as the men, but to scale from their shorter tees, they do.

And I really enjoyed following Cantlay’s magical mystery tour summer. It truly was, hmmm, astounding that he accomplished so much. There are people calling for him to turn pro now and dismayed that he values his education more. He seems to be as smart as Michelle Wie in pursuing her college degree and experience. Like Wie, he will have plenty of opportunity to have a very successful professional career.

So while this blog will always have an eye on wherever great golf is played, my primary focus will always be on the PGA Tour because, with all due respect to the ladies and the great amateur players, that’s where the greatest golf is played.

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