Paul Anthony Arco

The Takeaway

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O'Hair Owns 'Sean'-essy

Monday, July 25, 2011


In what could be described as a forgettable season to this point, just got a whole lot better for Sean O'Hair.

The American golfer wrapped up the RBC Canadian Open Sunday in a playoff win after tapping in for bogey, while Kris Blanks watched his five-foot bogey putt lip out to end any chance of victory at the unforgiving Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club.

O'Hair shot a final-round 68 to tie Blanks (70) at 276 heading into the one-hole playoff.

Andres Romero shot an even-par 70 to finish one stroke behind at 277. Geoff Ogilvy (70) and Adam Hadwin (72) finished T4 at 278. Hadwin had the best finish for a Canadian since 2004.

It had been a disappointing season for O'Hair coming into this week. He had missed 10 of 17 cuts, including his last two starts, and five in a row at one point. He also parted ways with his swing coach Sean Foley and caddie Brennan Little.

It was the fourth PGA Tour victory for O'Hair, but his first in two years when he won the 2009 Wells Fargo Championship. It's also his first top-15 this year. His best finish had been T16 at Colonial.

O'Hair started the day three strokes behind third-round leader Bo Van Pelt in a grueling four-day event for most of the field.

How tough was Shaughnessy's brutal rough and tough greens?

O'Hair's 4-under 276 was the second-highest winning total on the PGA TOUR this year, behind Keegan Bradley's 3-under at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. It was the first non-major without a bogey-free round since 2008. Only eight players finished under par for the week, compared to nine in 2005.

It was a rough start to the playoff for both O'Hair and Blanks. While playing No. 18 again, they placed their drives in the deep rough. O'Hair's second shot landed short in the fairway, but Blanks found the greenside bunker. O'Hair two putted from 21 feet and Blanks chipped it past the hole, before missing his bogey putt.

Despite the loss, Blanks improved to 54th in the FedEx Cup standings in his best finish of the year. He finished T12 at the John Deere Classic and T10 at Colonial.

The playoff could have easily included Romero, who made five birdies in seven holes to tie for the lead. But he missed a 22-par putt on No. 18, which left him at 70 and alone in 3rd place at 277. Romero has now made 12 of 17 cuts with three top-10 finishes. This is his best outing and moves him up to No. 68 in the FedExCup standings.

With the win, O'Hair, who was emotional following his round, moved up to 43rd in the FedEx Cup standings.

This time, however, it was tears of joy.

Bo Knows

It's back to the drawing board for Bo Van Pelt.

The third-round leader shot a 4-over 74 Sunday to finish T6, three strokes behind O'Hair and Blanks.

It was the fourth time in his career that Van Pelt started the final round as either the leader or co-leader. He finished T2 in the 2008 Puerto Rico Open, T28 at the 2009 Mayakoba Golf Classic, and T19 at the Shell Houston Open (2009).

On Saturday, Van Pelt birdied four of his last five holes, including the final two, to finish with a 65 and a one-stroke lead over Hadwin heading into the final round. But he started Sunday with a bogey, and a double bogey on No. 13 put an end to any chance he had of victory.

Van Pelt has made 14 of 20 cuts with three top-10 finishes. Prior to the Canadian Open, his best finish this year was a T3 at Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. Van Pelt had five-straight top-15 finishes before tying for 57th at the Open Championship last week.

Oh Canada

Hadwin was looking to become the first Canadian to win the tournament since Pat Fletcher did it in 1954. You remember him, right?

Hadwin, the crowd favorite who played on a sponsor's exemption, finished strong (72) for a T4. He had a four-putt double bogey on No. 8 and bogeyed No. 11, before stringing together three straight birdies. Hadwin earned another start at the upcoming Greenbrier Classic.

The 23-year-old Hadwin did win the River Mead Cup given to the low Canadian. He was making just his third start on the PGA TOUR. He was also the best Canadian in last year's event (37), and had a T39 at this year's U.S. Open.

Other Canadians didn't fare so well. After opening with a 2-under 68, Matt McMillian finished T31 (285); David Hearn was T35 (286); Brad Fritsch finished T71 (295); and Dustin Risdon was T73 (297).

Stray Shots

John Daly shot 72 to finish T9 at 280, his first top-10 finish in six years. It was just his 14th PGA TOUR event this year … Ernie Els had the best round (66) Sunday to finish T17 and a move to No. 131 in the FedEx Cup standings ... Ogilvy earned his second T4 of the season (Masters). He has made nine of 15 cuts with three top-10 finishes … Luke Donald shot a 3-under 67 Sunday to finish T17 … Amateur Patrick Cantlay continues to impress. He finished T9 (280) and has a top 25 in all four PGA TOUR events this season, including the U.S. Open … Three former Canadian Open champions made the cut: Nathan Green (2009) finished 76th, Chez Reavie (2008) was T13 and Jim Furyk (2006/07) was T34. Marc Turnesa finished T40 by shooting 7-over 287. He has four starts left on his Major Medical Extension to earn $506,709 to keep his status … Shane Bertsch shot 7-over 287 to also finish T40, for a payday of $18,740.80, which leaves him with eight starts on his Major Medical Extension (reshuffle category) to earn $513,338 and get elevated to the MME category … Notable players to miss the cut include Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar and Jose Maria Olazabal … Harris English of Georgia drained a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole Sunday to win the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational and become just the third amateur to win on the Tour. English shot a 14-under 270 to beat fellow amateur John Peterson of LSU and Kyle Reifers, both who finished 13-under 271. Since English and Peterson are amateurs, Reifers earned $144,000, which lifted him from No. 52 to No. 5 on the season money list. The 25 leading money winners at the end of the year will earn PGA TOUR cards for 2012.





Paul Anthony Arco is a freelance writer and contributor to rotoworld.com. He is host of The Golf Show!, which airs Saturday mornings on WNTA 1330 AM (www.wnta.com) in Rockford, Ill. Paul can be reached at paul@paulanthonyarco.com
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