When the PGA Tour revamped its 2023 playoff setup in the wake of the LIV-related disruption of the pro game, one of the major changes was the reduction of playoff berths from 125 to 70. Now, instead of having to be among the top .000005 per cent of the best golfers in the world, the PGA was now telling you that .000004 would be required to cut the FedEX Cup playoff mustard.
That’s why when the playoffs start this week at the FedEx St. Jude Championship in Memphis, it’s incredibly impressive that five Canadians will be in the field. Americans dominate the top 70, of course, but the five Canadians represent the third-highest number of qualifiers when countries are ranked, tied with South Korea.
It’s been a productive season for Canadians on the PGA Tour. The highlight, of course, was Nick Taylor’s triumph at the Canadian Open when he sank a 72-foot putt on the fourth playoff hole to beat England’s Tommy Fleetwood (who is among seven Brits to qualify for the playoffs, No. 2 in country rankings behind the Americans’ 40-plus).
Taylor winning in Toronto snapped a 69-year drought for Canadians winning their national open, but Corey Conners, Adam Svensson and Mackenzie Hughes also won trophies (and huge cheques) in the 2023 season. Adam Hadwin was without a win, but he piled up enough top finishes to win $3.4 million in prize money and gain a berth in the playoffs.
It gets tougher after this week. The field of 70 will be pared to only 50, and those 50 will take part in the BMW Championship near Chicago before the field is further reduced to the top 30. That elite group will take part in the Tour Championship in Atlanta Aug. 24-27.
Kevin Blue of Golf Canada is hesitant to call this a ‘golden era’ for Canadian golf because he said that indicates it has a beginning and an end. The governing body of golf in Canada thinks this is just the beginning of a long run.
“Around six million Canadians will play 18 holes this year and we have the highest per-capita participation rate (of golf) in the world,” Blue said in a PGA tour.com story. “The quality of play on the PGA TOUR shows that Canada is increasingly represented on world-class stages as well.”
More Canadians could soon be joining Taylor, Conners and Co. on the best golf tour in the world. Manitoban Aaron Cockerill has enjoyed some solid success on the DP World Tour (career earnings of around $1.5 million Cdn so far this season) and has played three or four PGA Tour events this year. And Ben Silverman has had an outstanding season on the developmental Korn Ferry Tour and has already earned his PGA Tour card for 2024.
- Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg: “The International Olympic Committee has reinstated Jim Thorpe's gold medals in the 1912 Olympic Decathlon and Pentathlon. (They were stripped when he got paid $20 to play minor league baseball.) In an equally timely move, the IOC strongly feels women should be allowed to vote.”
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “I just saw where Georgia’s football players have racked up 11 speeding tickets since January. I don’t know if the Bulldogs will win a third straight national title this season, but I’m definitely picking Kirby Smart Racing to win the Daytona 500.”
- RJ Currie of sportsdeke.com: “Russian Olympic high-jumper Anna Chicherova said she’s shocked at her most recent failed doping test. Not as shocked as the stadium crowd after she cleared the left-field bleachers.”
- Vancouver comedian Torben Rolfsen, on the free spending Saudi Arabians: “Wait til the Saudis find out about cornhole.”
- Comedian Gary Bachman: “I just heard about Joe Burrow’s calf injury. I didn't even know he had a farm.”
- RJ Currie again:” Appleton, Wisconsin, home of the Timber Rattlers baseball team, was recently named “drunkest city in America” by 24/7 Wall Street. At home games, fans are more likely to be corked than the baseball bats.”
- Headline at theonion.com: “Zealous American Patriot Draws Line At Women Playing Soccer"
- fark.com headline: “Angels state that they won’t trade. He rewards their faith by throwing a one-hitter and hitting two HRs.”
- Another one from fark.com: “Mbappe to Mslappe down Saudi offer”
- One more from fark.com: “Concussion spotters are at the Women’s World Cup. Tua Tagovailoa last seen pleading with them to attend every Dolphins’ game this season”
- Sign displayed by a Mariners’ fan at a Blue Jays’ game in Seattle, aimed at all the Canadian fans in attendance: “Stanley Cup champions since ’94: USA 29, Canada 0”
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