RBC Canadian Open

RBC Canadian Open

RBC Canadian Open
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Winner: Rory McIlroy

What Rory McIlroy wanted from the RBC Canadian Open was a good tune-up for the U.S. Open the following week. What he got was not only his tune-up but also his fifth national championship — sixth if he’s doing the counting — and a visit to the Twilight Zone as well.

It was an awkward situation for McIlroy. He wanted to work on his game the week before the U.S. Open, and it seemed he was insulting the Canadian national championship, using it as a tune-up. But it just happened that way after the PGA Tour, in a schedule change, moved the Canadian Open to that spot.

“I wanted my game to be in good shape for Pebble Beach,” he said, “but [it] doesn’t mean this tournament doesn’t mean anything.” As one writer then was to note: “He turned the [national] championship into a career highlight…”

McIlroy opened with a 67-66 start that left him back in the pack on the storm-softened Hamilton Golf and Country Club. Keegan Bradley took the first-round lead with a seven-under 63. “Today I was in complete control of my ball,” he said. In the second round, Brandt Snedeker blistered the course with a 60, tying for the lead at 12 under with Matt Kuchar and Scott Brown, who both shot 63. “I’m not scared about going low,” Snedeker said. “More often than not, you’re getting beat up.”

McIlroy, five behind after 36, surfaced in the third round with a bogey-free 64, tying for the lead at 13 under with Kuchar (69) and Webb Simpson (67), who had gone 54 holes without a bogey. “I’ve been putting well, especially inside 10 feet,” Simpson said. Snedeker then fell a stroke behind in the third round with a 69 in a difficult wind. “Hard to put the ball in the fairway,” he said, “and the greens are firm and bouncing.”

It all got McIlroy’s appetite up. “I think the best preparation is to get into contention and feel the heat of battle,” McIlroy said. “I don’t think there is anything else that will give you more confidence.”

And McIlroy was bristling with confidence. He started the final round with five birdies through No. 7, the longest from eight feet. He birdied four straight from the 11th and slipped into the Twilight Zone. “By the time I got to the 14th tee, I wasn’t really thinking of winning,” he said. “I was thinking of trying to shoot 59. You get into stretches like this … It’s almost like you’re out of your own body and looking at yourself play.”

He flirted with 59. He bogeyed the par-three 16th and bounced back with an eagle at the par-five 17th, firing a seven iron from nearly 200 yards to 30 inches. But he was thwarted by the par-four 18th. He bunkered his approach and came out long and bogeyed for a 61, tying his tour low and a tournament-record 22-under 258. He won by seven over Shane Lowry and Simpson.

And so McIlroy had his fifth national open championship: the 2011 U.S. Open, 2013 Australian Open, 2014 British Open, 2016 Irish Open and the 2019 RBC Canadian Open. Or sixth, counting the 2011 Hong Kong Open, as McIlroy does.


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