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Monday Rap: The Canadian Open Doesn't Miss, A Win For The MacIntyres and Lancaster CC Steals The Show

Icon Sportswire. Getty Images.

Canada sure has a flare for the dramatic, eh? The proud RBC Canadian Open delivered the drama (and maybe a few tears) yet again this past weekend despite a field mostly bereft of the game's top stars. Rory McIlroy was there, yes, but with three consecutive huge tournaments coming up—this week's Memorial, the U.S. Open and the signature event Travelers Championship—most big-name guys opted for a week of rest before a grueling stretch. 

But this tournament, with its long and storied history, hasn't relied on superstars to generate drama. Hell, the last two years, drama's fell into their lap, a burden more than anything. In 2022 the tournament was played opposite the first-ever LIV Golf event. The interviews that week, the articles, the videos—it all centered around the breakaway league, which player might next to go, and who could come up with the spiciest dig at LIV. Rory McIlroy won the tournament that week and immediately called out Greg Norman. It was his 22nd PGA Tour victory,  which was, in his words "one more than somebody else. That gave me a little extra incentive today and I'm happy to get it done."

Last year's Canadian Open was once again rocked by a truly jaw-dropping visual on Tuesday morning of tournament week: Jay Monahan, looking deeply tired, trying to muster a smile as he sat next to Yasir al-Rumayyan on CNBC. The two men were there to announce their "Framework Agreement" which would, in time, unite professional golf. Fast forward nearly a full year and we don't seem to be much, if all, closer to a deal than we were that day. But that's beside the point. Reaction to the deal ranged between relief and outrage—at the nature of the deal, yes, but more so how tour leaders kept everyone in the dark. No one knew it was happening. That left a sour taste, but it was washed away by maybe the best finish all year: Nick Taylor becoming a national hero by making a 72-foot putt to become the first Canadian to win his national open in 59 years. 

It was a teary Sunday yet again up North thanks to the MacIntyres, plural. Robert MacIntyre isn't your average PGA Tour professional. Born and raised in Oban, Scotland, he'd played on the DP World Tour before getting his PGA Tour card late last year. This is first year playing full-time in America and it hasn't been the easiest experience. Just a few weeks ago, at the Myrtle Beach Classic, MacIntyre spoke about the difficulty he's had adjusting to life over here. 

“I’m from a small town on the west coast of Scotland," he said. "A lot of people never leave Oban. They go on holidays and stuff, but they’re born there, they work there, they ultimately die there. My whole family and friends are there. They’re probably always going to be there.

“It’s just difficult when I come over here, me and my girlfriend. We’re trying to make it home, and it’s difficult when you’ve not got that family connection. We’re giving it our best shot, but it’s completely different to home life."

They've set up shop in Orlando and he's been practicing out of Iselworth. But, at least a few weeks ago, he wasn't loving it. 

“I thought that moving to the U.S. was the only way of achieving my dreams in golf. I don’t know if that’s the answer.

“I feel like a happy Bob MacIntyre is a dangerous Bob MacIntyre on the golf course, and home life makes me happy. That’s why I’m probably going to go home after the next couple events. I’ll go home to Scotland rather than go to Orlando.”

His very next event was the PGA Championship, and his mom came out to support. He contended for three-plus days and finished tied for eigth. Fast forward a few weeks and it was a family affair yet again. MacIntyre's parted ways with a number of caddies recently—remember, it hasn't been the smoothest transition—and needed a last-minute sub in for the Canadian Open. So he called his dad, Dougie, a greenskeeper back home. 

Fitting that the guy who seems to thrive with his people around, and desperately misses them when they're not, won his very first PGA Tour event with pops on the bag. 

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"Unbelievable," is how Dougie put it. "I'm a grass cutter…" he said through tears as an adoring crowd watched on. 

After the round the younger MacIntyre could hardly believe how it had all played out. 

"It was incredible," he said. "Everything that I've done in my life has been with the support of my family…He's wanting me to do well just because I'm blood. There's no -- yeah, he's going to get a nice paycheck out of it, and my mom and dad will be mortgage-free now, and life's looking a little bit better on that side of things, but he just wants me to do well because I'm his son, and there's no angles to it, there's nothing. It's just sheer fight for me."

A phenomenal story, and one that had nothing to do with money or who's handing it out or which players might play on which tour. MacIntyre chose against playing in this week's Memorial, which he qualified for with the win. Jack's tournament has a massive purse and massive FedEx Cup points up for grabs. But for Bobby Mac, that's not what life's about. He headed home with his dad for what he calls "a hell of a party." It's a bad week to be a pint in Oban.

A plea to RBC

And, with that, a plea to the Royal Bank of Canada, which sponsors two PGA Tour events: the RBC Heritage, a signature event, and the RBC Canadian Open, which is not. They should be reversed. The Heritage is an awesome tournament with a rich history of its own. It's also the week after the Masters, and it's played in a chill-ass seaside town, and everyone's just trying to decompress a little bit after Augusta. One would think  the eventual goal with this signature-events model is for the PGA Tour to expand beyond the United States and lean into tournaments that have a soul and an identity. That, after all, is their differentiator. There's an existing tournament just north of the border that already has a committed sponsor that's willing to pay for an elevated event, a world-class host city in Toronto (assuming it'd be played in that region), tremendous fan support, access to incredible courses and a true heart and soul. I know there are scheduling issues with Canada's short golf season and an already-packed summer schedule. But man, it just seems like such a logical decision. These are the exact type of events the tour should lean into. 

Yuka Saso is a two-time U.S. Open champion

All eyes leading into the U.S. Women's Open were fixated on Nelly Korda, the game's emergent superstar and winner of six of her last seven events coming in. But that party ended before it even started when Korda made a 10 on the par-3 12th, which was her 3rd hole of the day. She posted an opening-round 80 and did well on Friday to make it interesting but she, along with so many other of the bigger draws women's game, was sent packing on Friday afternoon. 

A very difficult setup at Lancaster Country Club—but not an unfair one, as the test was almost universally praised by players and on-site media—got the best of many. And there's something beautiful about a U.S. Open setup with a winner at -4 and the ability to be +6 through 36 holes and still finish third, as Ally Ewing did. Not everyone was able to charge up the board like that. An incomplete list of those who did not stick around for the weekend:

Nelly Korda
Rose Zhang
Brooke Henderson
Lydia Ko
Leona Maguire
Georgia Hall
Angel Yin
Maja Stark
Allisen Corpuz
Lexi Thompson

As such, for large portions of the week the biggest stories had nothing to do with those on top of the leaderboard. The first viral event was, of course, Nelly's 10. Next came the public's absolute fascination with Charley Hull's cigarette smoking. Pictures of her smoking were absolutely everywhere. Hull is a colorful character. She was the star of the show. An ambitious fan even slipedp her his number. She shoots from the hip, and as I've said umpteen times, our game needs more characters, not less. I'm a fan. 

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All that said, I don't fully understand the cigarette obsession. And I'm not even an anti-nicotine guy. Alas…

Saso is a deserving winner. Her swing's pretty much perfect, and she now has two U.S. Open titles before her 23rd birthday. That's in addition to sharing the record for the youngest-ever winner of the U.S. Women's Open. That's right—she shares the record because she was the exact same age to the day when she won in 2021 as Inbee Park was in 2008. That stat blows my mind every time I hear it. The U.S. Women's Open isn't played on the same dates every year. The odds of both of them winning at 19 years, 11 months, 17 days are astronomical. But I digress. A compelling weekend at Lancaster despite a dearth of superstars on the leaderboard. 

Elsewhere…

—Bernhard Langer continues to be an ageless wonder. Just four months after having surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon, Langer, 66, shot 63 on Saturday in the PGA Tour Champions event to beat his age by three. Again, four months after Achilles surgery. For a guy that's closer to 70 than 60. Ernie Els wound up winning the event.

—Hamilton Golf Club was a tough walk all week in Canada, and C.T. Pan's caddie Fluff Cowan took a spill and couldn't continue caddying on Sunday. His replacement, at least for a bit: a random fan who happened to be in the right place at the right time. Now there's a story. Hey, you won't believe what happened at the golf tournament today!

LIV Golf is back in action this week at Golf Club of Houston. A full 17 LIV players are, at the time of typing, competing in U.S. Open final qualifiers in an attempt to get their way to Pinehurst. 

—MacIntyre is the only eligible player who's not in the field at the Memorial. Should be an action-packed week on an excellent golf course with all of the PGA Tour's top guys. I'm here, and I'm excited. 

Until next week,

Dan