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Two significant events involving top Canadian players — one on the women’s side, one on the men’s — tee off Thursday. Here’s what to know about them, plus the latest developments in the PGA Tour vs. LIV Golf battle:
The CP Women’s Open is back.
The LPGA Tour’s lone Canadian stop returns from a two-year, pandemic-induced hiatus this week at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club in the nation’s capital. Though it’s no longer a major championship, the tournament formerly known as the Canadian Women’s Open (and about a million other names as sponsors have shifted in and out) still offers one of the richer non-major purses on the tour and attracts most of the best players.
Eighteen of the top 20 in the Race to the CME Globe — a season-long points competition that determines who gets to compete in the Tour Championship — are expected to play in Ottawa. That includes world No. 1 (and defending CP Women’s Open champion) Jin Young Ko of South Korea and the winners of all five 2022 majors.
Among that group is the woman who will be the overwhelming fan favourite this week. Canada’s Brooke Henderson is ranked fifth in the world after winning the second major title of her career last month at the Evian Championship in France. With 12 victories on the LPGA Tour — including the 2018 CP Women’s Open in Regina — the 24-year-old from Smiths Falls, Ont., has already won more major-tour events than any other Canadian golfer in history.
WATCH | Can Canada’s Brooke Henderson win at home (again)?:
Henderson is one of 15 Canadians slated to compete in Ottawa. Maude-Aimee Leblanc (No. 111) is the next-highest in the world rankings, while Monet Chun is the most intriguing. The 21-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., won the Canadian Women’s Amateur last month before making it to the final match of the prestigious U.S. Women’s Amateur. Though she was trounced by 17-year-old Saki Baba of Japan, it was another impressive showing by Chun, who earlier this year led the University of Michigan to its first conference championship. On the other end of the age spectrum, 57-year-old Lorie Kane, a four-time winner on the LPGA Tour, will make her 30th and final appearance at the Canadian Women’s Open.
The PGA Tour will crown its playoff champion.
The top 30 players in the FedEx Cup standings are invited to this week’s Tour Championship in Atlanta. Canada’s Corey Conners got in at No. 24 after finishing tied for fifth yesterday at the BMW Championship in Delaware.
For the Tour Championship at East Lake, players are given a starting score based on where they rank in the standings. First-place Scottie Scheffler, who’s also No. 1 in the world rankings, begins at 10-under. Second-place Patrick Cantlay, who won yesterday in Atlanta, starts at 8-under, and third-place Will Zalatoris at 7-under. Conners is part of a group of players that will begin at 1-under (there’s an even-par group below them). Whoever has the lowest score after the final round on Sunday wins the FedEx Cup and the $18-million US prize that comes with it.
More players are poised to jump ship to LIV Golf.
British Open champ and world No. 2 Cameron Smith, who’s long been rumoured to be leaving for the PGA Tour’s Saudi-financed rival, is reportedly among seven guys who will officially defect next Monday. That’s the day after the Tour Championship ends — and just in time for the next LIV event, starting Sept. 2 in Boston.
Meanwhile, the PGA Tour and its loyalists are trying to figure out how to stop the bleeding after losing Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed and other big names to their extremely deep-pocketed rival. Last week, Tiger Woods spearheaded a meeting of 20 elite players to talk about how to reshape the tour — and retain top talent.
Reportedly, Woods and world No. 4 Rory McIlroy, the most outspoken critic of LIV, are backing a plan that would see something like 15 PGA Tour events set aside for a limited number of top players to compete for elevated purses — essentially, their own LIV-style tour within the established tour. The prize money wouldn’t be quite as eye-watering as LIV’s $25-million events, and there would be no nine-figure guaranteed contracts. But it’s a lot more tangible than the moral haranguing the PGA Tour is currently resorting to in hopes of guilting guys out of taking the Saudi money.