By Ron Patey
Jason Day of Australia ran the table by making birdies on the final three holes Sunday in the RBC Canadian Open, edging Bubba Watson of the U.S. by one shot and denying David Hearn of becoming the first Canadian to win his country’s national championship since 1954.
Watson had made a spectacular charge of his own down the stretch when he racked up four birdies on 15, 16, 17 and 18. However, after Day, who played in the group ahead of Watson, rolled home a 22-foot putt at 18, the American was unable to follow with eagle on the iconic water hole to tie and send the event to a playoff at Glen Abbey Golf Club.
Hearn entered the final round in first place and was carrying the hopes of a nation on his shoulders. His prospects of being the first Canuck since Pat Fletcher, who won the tournament 61 years ago, looked good after he made birdies on the first two holes. Unfortunately for Hearn, his momentum stalled at holes three and seven, where he recorded two bogeys. On the back nine, Hearn posted only one birdie as Day and Watson flew up the leaderboard and past the host country’s last hope from a contingent of 16 homegrown players in the field.
The victory is Day’s fourth career win on the PGA Tour. Watson’s second-place finish moves him to second in the FedExCup standings behind Jordan Spieth. Hearn’s solo third-spot performance gives him four top-10s this season.
Next On The Tee: Quicken Loans National
When tournament host Tiger Woods isn’t attending to the social aspects of the event, ones that will benefit his foundation at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club on the banks of Lake Manassas in Virginia, he’ll be looking to cobble together his game so he doesn’t make another early exit – such as the one he made two weeks ago during the Open Championship at St. Andrews. The missed cut in Scotland went into books as the first time he’s failed to make the cut in two straight majors. While Woods did finish a respectable T17 at The Masters, the rest of his season has been highlighted by an inability to consistently control every club in his bag at the same time. One week his short game vanishes, the next week his putting touch takes a hike or hitting fairways off the tee happens only in his dreams because balls leaving the face of his driver can only be categorized as flight risks. It’ll be interesting to see which version of Tiger shows up in Virginia.
The defending Quicken Loans National champion, Justin Rose, comes into the event following solid major championship showings in Scotland where he closed T6 and in the U.S. Open when he posted a T27 on the controversial challenges of Chambers Bay. A victory would earn the Englishman special status alongside Woods as only the second two-time winner. Another player on the comeback trail appears to be Alabama native Stewart Cink. The 2009 Open champion at Turnberry posted a stellar T5 finish in Canada on the heels on a terrific T20 performance at this month’s Open.
Robert Trent Jones Golf Club plays 7,425 yards long and is a par 72.
Favorites: Justin Rose, Jimmy Walker, Rickie Fowler, Brendon Todd, Gary Woodland
Players To Watch: Tiger Woods, Stewart Cink, Danny Lee, Tony Finau, Harris English
Ron Patey covered the golf industry for 21 years as a special sections editor with Sun Media. During the past five years, Patey has been a golf writer for Examiner.com.