I have witnessed some great performances inside the ropes for PGA Tour Radio, but none as dominant as Rory Mcllroy at the RBC Canadian Open. Rory put Hamilton Golf and CC to it’s knees over the final 36 holes, shooting -15 on the weekend. The -6 round of 64 on Saturday was very impressive in the windy conditions that many golfers struggled with. To give you an idea, Brandt Snedeker shot a course record 60 on Friday (that was a fun round to follow too), and could only manage a -1 69 in the wind on Saturday.
Mcllroy followed up the 64 by almost matching Snedeker, fueled by the chance to shoot 59. I thought he was going to do it after he birdied the par 13th hole. The 11 footer moved Rory to -8 through 13 holes, giving him 5 holes to collect three more birdies. He made and improbable 32 footer from the back fringe on the 14th hole to really put in everyone’s mind. A great drive on 15 left him just 115 yards to the a front left hole location. Unfortunately he overcooked a wedge and the ball bounced into the thick rough by the front left bunker. He was able to get up and down keeping the chance real, needing 2 birdies over the final three holes.
The 16th is a very difficult par 3 that played 186 yards uphill to a back left hole location. Rory fired at the pin and tugged the ball to the left into a bunker that was 15 feet below the putting surface. He was unable to make the sand save and dropped back to -8 on the day. The tournament was already in the bag as he blew past fellow 54 hole leaders Matt Kuchar and Webb Simpson (Webb was playing along side and had to be in awe of the dominance Rory was displaying). The 17th offered opportunity. It was a short par 5 that played under 570 yards. Rory drilled another driver to the left side of the fairway, leaving him 197 yards for his second. He launched his iron into the air (a 7 if I recall) and the ball landed just on the surface, took one hop towards the flag and stopped 2’6” from the cup. The eagle had landed, back to -10! Rory needed to birdie the 18th for a 59.
He took iron off the tee because Driver or fairway metal would put him in the penalty area (I want to go back to calling it a hazard). Rory had 191 uphill to a front right hole location that was just 4 paces from a bunker on the right hillside. It was not a pin to take dead aim at, but Rory was gunning for a 59, he had to go for it. He tried to cut a 6 iron into the green, but overcut the ball by a bit and ended up in the bunker. He tried to hole the shot and ran the ball 8 feet past, a quality shot. Unfortunately he missed the par putt to tie Snedekers’ course record, but it hardly mattered. Rory dominated the field, the course, and hopes to carry some of that with him to Pebble Beach this week for the U.S. Open
Some notes from the RBC Canadian Open
–Love the the golf course! I think Hamilton Golf and CC is one of my favorite courses on Tour. The topography, the risk rewards holes, demanding par 3’s, and great scenery make it a gem. I can’t wait to go back in 2023 or sooner (I may have worked myself an invite to play!).
—Yes that was me at the end of the CBS broadcast (see the photo) stepping in to interview Rory after he finished with Amanda Balionis. I tried to stay out of frame, but guess I was in the background the whole time, and when I stepped the cameraman (there were 2 on the interview) walked right into our space. Fine by me, but I did not purposely get into CBS territory. I just knew I had to grab Rory right there on the green, or it was going to be awhile due to a long walk up the hill, scoring, and a whole bunch of people wanting Mcllroy’s attention. Funny enough, I had a dream the other night that I was a member of the CBS golf team, but it wasn’t quite like that!
—When Rory was walking off the green to go up the hill and sign his card, Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum handed him a Kyle Lowry jersey. Rory held it high and was waving it with both arms for the entire walk up the hill. Applebaum was holding Rory’s putter and became separated from him by a good distance. I quickly remarked “You better give that back to him, it’s hot!” A big grin and “Sure thing!” replied Laurence.
—Golfers take note: Rory Mcllroy and Matt Kuchar hit mostly wedges during their time on the range prior to the final round Sunday.
—Fun exchange: On Friday I was covering Shane Lowry who had started his second round on the back 9. He putted out on 18, first in the group, and started up the path to the first tee. It’s a steep climb, and Lowry is a bigger guy with a great personality. I was half-way up already and waited for him. I told him they need a tow rope on the side we were walking up, like they have behind the green where the broadcast booth was located. Lowry said “I have the honors on the tee and if I don’t start now, I won’t make it!”. We shared a good laugh as the others putted out.
Does it get any better than having the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in primetime this week? The answer is no! It is America’s course, exclusive by price but available for anyone willing to pay to play. Bethpage Black may be moving up the ranks, but Pebble is still there. Sure, Augusta, Pine Valley, and Cypress Point all rank higher, but they aren’t accessible (I do dream one day….).
Who am I picking to win? Phil won back in February, but the course is set up differently. Tiger is back in form and energy. Dustin Johnson should have won the last time the U.S. Open was at Pebble. Jordan Spieth has some fire back in form. But how do I go against Brooks Koepka? The guy is a killer, and until someone beats him at this event (two time defending champion) Koepka is the pick.