PGA Tour

Corey Conners finishes 3rd at Arnold Palmer Invitational

Corey Conners
ORLANDO, FLORIDA - MARCH 07: Corey Conners of Canada prepares to putt on the 16th green during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge on March 07, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

ORLANDO, Fla. – The long ball helped Bryson DeChambeau outlast Lee Westwood on Sunday in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, only the key shots were as much with his putter as his driver.

DeChambeau holed a 40-foot birdie putt on the front nine and a 50-foot par putt early on the back nine. He closed it out with a nervy 5-foot par putt for a 1-under 71 and a one-shot victory over the 47-year-old Westwood.

It matched the low score of the day, one of only three rounds under par in the toughest final round at Bay Hill in 41 years.

DeChambeau and Westwood were never separated by more than one shot over the final 15 holes, a fascinating duel of generations that came down to the last shot.

DeChambeau took a one-shot lead to the par-4 18th and hit his most important drive of the day – in the fairway. Westwood’s tee shot settled in a divot, and he did well to get it on the green and two-putt from 65 feet. DeChambeau’s birdie putt slid by some 5 feet and he shook his arms in celebration when the par putt dropped.

Westwood closed with a 73, not a bad score considering the average of 75.49 was the highest for a final round since 1980.

Corey Conners was third at 8 under after a 74.

DeChambeau said he received a text Sunday morning from Tiger Woods, who is recovering from serious leg injuries from his car crash in Los Angeles. He said Woods, an eight-time Bay Hill winner, told him to “keep fighting.” He also considered the words from Arnold Palmer to “play boldly.”

DeChambeau rose to No. 6 in the world with his ninth PGA Tour victory, and he became the first player this season with multiple victories, to go along with his U.S. Open title in September. It matched the longest it took for a multiple winner on the PGA Tour since 1969. Nick Price won his second title in the 21st week of the season in 1994.

PGA Tour

2021 RBC Canadian Open cancelled due to ongoing COVID-19 challenges

RBC Canadian Open
Round 3 of the 2019 RBC Canadian Open at the Hamilton Golf & Country Club,

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA AND TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA – Due to logistical challenges related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the PGA TOUR, title sponsor Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and Golf Canada announced today that the 2021 RBC Canadian Open, scheduled for June 7-13 at St. George’s Golf & Country Club in Etobicoke, Ontario, has been cancelled.

“Even with an extensive health and safety plan in place, we faced a number of significant logistical challenges that led us to this decision,” said PGA TOUR President Tyler Dennis. “While we are disappointed to cancel Canada’s National Championship, we are thankful to our partners RBC and Golf Canada – along with our Canadian fans — for their unwavering support and cooperation throughout this process. We look forward to the RBC Canadian Open returning to our schedule next year.”

The RBC Canadian Open had put together a comprehensive health operation protocol with consultation and direction from local, provincial, and federal government and health officials, and was working together with a multitude of partners to navigate the impact of the travel restrictions and quarantine measures currently in effect, given the number of stakeholders required to cross the border for the week of the event. A decision timeline was also established to allow the PGA TOUR a sufficient window to fill the event date.

Tournament organizers will now redirect efforts to the return of the RBC Canadian Open to the PGA TOUR schedule in 2022.

“Together with RBC and the PGA TOUR, we set a decision timeline based on the most up to date travel and quarantine restrictions in effect along with consideration for the TOUR’s ability to pivot and successfully fill a significant date on the schedule,” said Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum. “It was also important to be respectful partners to the health leaders and government officials who have helped inform our operation protocols and provided great direction on this journey. The timing simply did not align for us and we are deeply disappointed that the celebrated return of the RBC Canadian Open will have to wait another year.”

Since assuming sponsorship of Canada’s National Golf Championship in 2008 and the RBC Heritage in 2012, RBC continues to be a strong advocate for the game, supporting PGA TOUR and LPGA players through Team RBC, and funding youth and amateur golf initiatives in Canada through the Golf Canada Foundation.

“We share in the disappointment with our RBC Canadian Open community over the cancellation of this year’s tournament,” said Mary DePaoli, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, RBC. “Persistent challenges and health and safety considerations resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, including international travel restrictions, quarantine measures and government mandates, presented significant logistical challenges for this year’s tournament. We are immensely proud to be title sponsor of Canada’s National Open Championship, and to promote this great sport. We are more excited than ever to return in 2022 and bring this world-class event to new and existing Canadian golf fans.”

Established in 1904, the RBC Canadian Open — the third-oldest national championship in golf behind The Open Championship and the United States Open — had been previously conducted every year since 1904, with the exception of wartime cancellations from 1915-18 and 1943-44, and as the result of complications related to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The RBC Canadian Open was last played in June 2019 at Hamilton Golf & Country Club in Ontario, with Rory McIlroy winning in his debut appearance.

To fill the week left open on the calendar, the PGA TOUR will secure an alternative venue in the United States to host an official FedExCup event for one year only. Details on the replacement event are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

PGA Tour

Conners shares lead with McIlroy at Bay Hill

Corey Conners
ORLANDO, FLORIDA - MARCH 04: Corey Conners of Canada smiles on the 17th green during the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge on March 04, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Bay Hill was bustling Thursday, just like golf before the pandemic. The fans were limited in numbers but they all wanted the same dose of entertainment provided by Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau.

First it was McIlroy, slowly feeling better about his game, and with good reason. Starting with a 55-foot putt on the par-3 second hole, he ran off five straight birdies for a share of the lead with Canadian Corey Conners in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at 6-under 66.

In the group behind McIlroy was DeChambeau, who has been contemplating a shot across the water to cut the 528-yard sixth hole down to size by going for the green. This was not the day with a slight breeze into his face, so the U.S. Open champion had some fun. He took out an iron, and then hit a conservative tee shot (309 yards) to the middle of the fairway.

It was a boring birdie, his third in a row, and he opened with a 67.

“There was a high expectation level of me trying to go for the green there, and it was a little pressure that I wasn’t expecting,” DeChambeau said. “But no, it was fun. The crowds were great with it. I pulled out an iron as a joke off the tee box. And for me, it was just too much off of the right and more into the wind than anything.”

 

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In the group with DeChambeau was Jordan Spieth, making his debut at Bay Hill, and producing high adventure in a 70 that left him satisfied he remained on track – and irritated hitting off the toe of his driver and into the water on No. 6.

Even having to hit his third from the tee, he salvaged bogey with a 25-foot putt and made a 35-foot birdie on the next hole.

“Definitely proud of the way I responded, but the way I putted today, certainly would have liked a lower number,” Spieth said. “But it all just comes down to one shot for me today.”

Conners, from Listowel, Ont., played in the afternoon and was 6 under through seven holes, capped off by an eagle on the par-5 16th. He took the lead with birdie on the par-5 sixth, but finished with a three-putt bogey from 60 feet to fall into a tie with McIlroy.

Shadow Creek winner Jason Kokrak opened with a 68. Of the 60 players who teed off in the morning, only six broke 70. Defending champion Tyrrell Hatton shot a 77, while past Bay Hill winner Francesco Molinari took a step back from his progress with a 78.

McIlroy wasn’t too happy with his game after missing the cut – a rarity for him these days – at Riviera, then not having ideal practice sessions. He still managed some improvement last week in the World Golf Championship, and saw big even better results Thursday.

Most pleasing was seeing the ball go where and how he wanted it. He made three of his birdies on par 3s, the strength of Bay Hill. What stood out was a pair of 5-irons into the wind on the 14th and 17th holes, both tight draws, flighted the way he wanted to about 15 feet.

“Those shots last week that I was trying to hit were missing the target 20 yards left,” he said. “So it was nice to just see them coming out in the window I was anticipating.”

He said it was his best round of the year, and it helps being at Bay Hill, where McIlroy had a victory and no finish worse than a tie for sixth the last four years. He has seen enough of Tiger Woods’ eight victories in the Arnold Palmer Invitational to appreciate how to attack.

“He played it very conservatively. He took care of the par 5s. And that was usually good enough to get the job done,” McIlroy said. “So sort of take a little bit of a leaf out of his book.”

He only made birdie on two of the par 5s, going long on the 16th and having to lay up on the 12th from a fairway bunker.

Through it all, it was the activity outside the ropes at Bay Hill that stood out.

The Arnold Palmer Invitational was the last PGA Tour event that had a full complement of fans, one week before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down golf. The tournament is allowing 25% of capacity – roughly 5,000 fans a day – and when most are watching some of golf’s bigger draws such as McIlroy, DeChambeau and Spieth, it feels even larger.

All were wearing masks, though no one got high marks for social distancing.

“It’s nice to hear some cheers and a little bit of energy from the fans,” Martin Laird said after a 69. “It was fun to play in front of a crowd again.”

Nicky Taylor and Adam Hadwin, both from Abbotsford, B.C., struggled in the first round. Taylor fired a 1-over 73, while Hadwin shot a 7-over 79.

PGA Tour

Reed wins at Torrey Pines, Hadwin tied for 18th

Adam Hadwin
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 30: Adam Hadwin (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO — Showing no effects from a rules controversy a day earlier, Patrick Reed pulled away for a five-shot victory Sunday in the Farmers Insurance Open.

Reed closed with a 4-under 68 at Torrey Pines, making an eagle on the par-5 sixth and finishing off his ninth PGA Tour title with a birdie on the 18th.

Abbotsford, B.C. native Adam Hadwin finished in a tie for 18th place. The 33-year-old fired a 1-under 71 to end his tournament at 5-under par. Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., fired a 2-under 70 in his final round to finish in a five-way tie for 37th. Merritt, B.C. native Roger Sloan finished in a tie for 53rd.

The former Masters champions finished at 14 under after a consistent four days at the blufftop municipal courses overlooking the Pacific Ocean. He shared the first-round lead with Alex Noren, was in a group one shot off the lead in the second round and then shared the third-round lead with Carlos Ortiz.

The controversy arose Saturday on the par-4 10th when Reed hit a 190-yard shot out of a bunker with a TV replay showing the ball bounced once before settling into the rough. Without waiting for an official, Reed picked up the ball to see if it was embedded. Reed told the official that no one in his group, as well as a nearby volunteer, saw it bounce. He was awarded a free drop and saved par in a round of 70.

On Sunday, Reed jump-started his round with a 45-foot eagle putt on the No. 6 to get to 12 under and followed with a birdie on the par-4 seventh. His only bogey was on the par-3 eighth, and he rebounded with a birdie on the par-5 ninth. He played par the rest of the way until sinking an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 18.

Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Ryan Palmer, Henrik Norlander and Viktor Hovland tied for second.

Hovland had been the closest in pursuit with four birdies on the front nine, including on the ninth to get to 12 under. But the birdies dried up and he bogeyed Nos. 14, 15 and 17 — missing a 2-footer on 17 — in a round of 1-under 71.

Ortiz stumbled badly with a round of 6-over 78. He hurt himself with three bogeys on the front nine that left him even at the turn. He had even more trouble on the back nine, when he bogeyed No. 11 and then had trouble getting out of a greenside bunker on No. 12, taking a double-bogey 6. He bogeyed 15, 16 and 18.