South African Tim Clark began the day trailing 18, 36 and 54-hole leader Jim Furyk by three shots before coming home in 30 to win the RBC Canadian Open at Royal Montreal Golf Club just outside of Montreal. Clark fired a final round five-under-par 65 to post a total of 17-under 263 to win for the second time on TOUR and his first victory since the 2010 PLAYERS Championship. Furyk finished in second place one shot behind and American Justin Hicks rounded out the podium three more shots behind at 13-under 267.
When Sunday began with a bogey Clark probably thought trailing Jim Furyk by four shots would lead to his 13th-career runner-up finish. Heck, he’s had a second EVERY YEAR since 2005 and already racked one up this season when he closed with 62 at McGladrey last October. When Sunday ended, Clark had stormed home in 30 thanks to almost 90 feet of putts that he holed to rip away the trophy from Furyk. Coming down the stretch Clark swished four birdie putts from six feet or better to take the lead by a shot with three holes to go after a short rain delay. His biggest putts were yet to come. After an errant approach to No. 16 and an average chip, Clark found himself with 11 feet to save par. Flushed it! On No. 17, after Furyk stuffed it to four feet on the par-three, Clark rammed in a 15-footer for birdie to keep his lead at one. Finally, on the ultimate hole, Clark needed to hold his nerve, and his anchored putter, to sink his final putt outside of five feet, and he did.
For the week Clark made only two bogeys and that’s going to give ANYBODY a chance. He only made ONE bogey in his final three rounds last week as well! The reason why he made only two bogeys was quite simple: he was first in fairways, T4 in GIR, perfect in scrambling from the sand, third in putts per GIR and second in strokes gained-putting (SGP). That’s the formula for winning on the PGA TOUR! Those numbers led to 17 birdies and an eagle plus 52 pars. For a course that Jim Furyk declared bombers paradise on Wednesday the final leaderboard showed anything but. He has now made THREE bogeys in his last 126 holes on TOUR.
Clark enjoys golf in Canada as he adds his win to T4 in 2010 and T15 in 2012. I guess he only plays here in EVEN years. Anyhow, he also won twice in 1998 on the Canadian Tour, his first two victories as a professional.
He backed up his 63-64-67 finish at the JDC his last time out with a closing 67-64-65 this week. In 15 starts in 2014 Clark had played just six weekends with his best finish being T19 before the JDC. This is why gamers must evaluate players week-to-week in addition to the value in season-long games. The reason they are called SEASON-LONG GAMES is because we have the entire season to collect on our investments. Tim Clark has had a second place finish every year since 2005 so he should be the radar for those styles of games. I’ll never hesitate to insert a guy off a top 10 with a two rounds in the low/mid 60s in a light field a look either in weekly games! Hot golf is hot golf. Speaking of hot, Rob Bolton had Furyk and Clark in the GolfChannel.com game and the PGATOUR fantasy game. Speaking of not, I had Dustin Johnson and Charley Hoffman in those same competitions. After having second, T4, T12 and T15 last week it’s all going to balance out.
With this victory, his second (2010 PLAYERS) on TOUR, Clark collects $1,026,000, 500 FedExCup points and entry into the WGC-BI and PGA in the next two weeks, plus all the “normal” benefits of winning on TOUR.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won 24 of 37 events in 2013-14 but none in the last two weeks. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed (TWO), Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Bubba Watson (TWO), Russell Henley, Chesson Hadley, Matt Every, Matt Kuchar, J.B. Holmes, Brendon Todd, Ben Crane, Kevin Streelman and Brian Harman have won for the USA.
Adam Scott, Matt Jones, Steven Bowditch, John Senden and Jason Day, all Australians, have cashed five victories. Hideki Matsuyama and Seung-yul Noh are the Asian representatives and Martin Kaymer, Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy are the European chalk that has won two of the three majors. Angel Cabrera flies the flag for South America; Tim Clark flies it for South Africa.
S.Y. Noh, Steven Bowditch, Matt Every, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Stadler, Chesson Hadley Matt Jones, Brendon Todd, Hideki Matsuyama and Brian Harman are the first-time winners this season. There were 12, first-timers in 40 events last year and we’ve had 10 in 37 events in 2014.
Only 17 of the 38, 54-hole leaders went on to win last year in full-field, stroke play events. I’m always trying to figure out if this is a trend or not. In 2013-14, 18 of 36 leaders have gone on to win as Jim Furyk is now 0 for his last seven when holding the 54-hole lead.
Furyk could not join Lee Trevino (1977) as the players to go wire-to-wire.
Furyk also did not join the club of three-time winners.
In the last 13 editions, the final margin has been either one shot or a playoff. Only Brandt Snedeker (three shots in 2013) was outside these parameters.
Ironically, Jim Furyk was the last player to defend his RBC Canadian Open title. Snedeker finished the week T25 after beginning Sunday T14.
Clark’s 17-under 263 sets a “new” record at “new” Royal Montreal.
Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer remain the only multiple winners on TOUR this season.
Young Guns Versus Prime Time Versus Old Guys
Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and has since added two more wins to lead the FedExCup standings. Ryan Moore (30), Zach Johnson (37), Kevin Stadler (33) and Bubba Watson (35), Matt Every (30), Steven Bowditch (30), Matt Jones (33), all were victorious before Watson picked up victory No. 2 of the year at Augusta. Matt Kuchar (37), J.B. Holmes (32), Adam Scott (33), Ben Crane (38), Kevin Streelman (35), Justin Rose (33) and Tim Clark, 38, have added to the prime-timers trophy case as the season moves along.
Scott Stallings (28), Patrick Reed TWICE (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29), Harris English (24), Jason Day (26) and Russell Henley (24) Seung-Yul Noh (22), Martin Kaymer TWICE (29), Brendon Todd (28) and Hideki Matsuyama (22), Brian Harman (27) and Rory McIlroy (25), are the twenty-somethings who have made large noise this year.
Australian John Senden (42) FINALLY has some company in the winner’s circle this year for the old folks as Angel Cabrera won at Greenbrier. Jim Furyk continues his excellent 2014, minus a victory, as he finished second for the third time in seven events.
What I learned from the finishers in the top 10
Jim Furyk: He’s now 10-26 when taking the lead into the final round but sadly for gamers he’s 0-for his last seven. For salary and weekly gamers, 2014 has been excellent if bittersweet. With three seconds in his last seven starts everyone should be cashing something! Let’s be honest. Furyk was BEATEN today. Clark made all the putts and Furyk didn’t. Furyk stuffed shot after shot but couldn’t get any clutch birdie putts to fall. Being greedy in fantasy golf has never gotten me anywhere so enjoy the second place money and move on. For those gamers who thought Furyk would have a better 2014 than 2013, they have been correct as he is almost plus $1 million over last year year-to-date. For those gamers that expected a guy to start winning for the first time in four years in his mid-40s I suggest toning down expectations. Remember, only TWO players in their 40s have won in 38 events this season. Two. He was one of seven players that put all four rounds in the 60s.
Justin Hicks: A final round 64 moved him from T9 up to solo third to complete the best finish in 78 career starts. He finished in style with birdies in three of his last four holes for his best finish since T6 at Mayakoba last November. Gamers should be surprised that Hicks hit the podium this week as he MC in four of his last seven events and his best finish in that streak was T27 at the JDC. Gamers should NOT be surprised that he was T9 in fairways and second in GIR as he sits fourth and third respectively on TOUR in those categories. The reason Hicks had his best finish was he holed putts when he hit those GIR, finishing second in putts per GIR. This was just his sixth top 25 in 26 events this season so value can be found weekly, perhaps, on courses that require accuracy off the tee and into the green.
Matt Kuchar: Another week of Kuchar, another week of fantasy mismanagement for me. With only two starts left, I had no problem leaving him on the bench after an opening round 69. I also had no problem leaving him on the bench for Sunday after his 70 on Saturday. He backed up both of those rounds with 65. I have guessed wrong again but at least I still have two starts left on Kuchar. He was T16 or better in fairways, greens and putting just like he was all spring. This was his first top 10 (T4) since his T7 seven events ago at Byron Nelson. He now has 10 top 10s in 19 events this season.
Michael Putnam: Welcome to The Takeaway! His T11 at the Travelers was his closest to the top 10 this year but it was also bittersweet as he opened that week 67-63. He backed that up with T24 and T35 in his last two starts before his T4 this week. He’s now made 20 of 26 weekends but this is just his fourth top 25. Last year on the Web.com Tour he played 19 of 23 weekends but had 14 top 25s, two wins and two other podium finishes. He’s proved to gamers over the course of two seasons that he’s a very solid, consistent player. The next step is figuring out how to contend and win on THIS TOUR on the weekend and this week’s 66 on Sunday was an excellent building block for the 31-year old. He’s made too many cuts for gamers to just be hearing about him but this is his best-ever finish in nine years as a pro.
Gonzalo Fdez-Castano: The Spaniard who decided to play 2014 on the PGA TOUR has been learning hard lessons throughout this season but something has clicked as he posted all four rounds in the 60s for his first top 10 in 20 events. G F C had made 13 of 19 cuts entering the week but only had posted one top 25, all the way back at the Honda (T24), so there’s a reason gamers have ignored him this season. He makes Putnam look like Kuchar! His T4 this week moves him to No. 107 in the FedExCup standings and he’ll need another decent finish to move into the first two rounds of The Playoffs. I wouldn’t get too excited fantasy owners as this week he was T14 in fairways, third in GIR and third in putts per GIR. Take a look at his stats at PGATOUR.com and you’ll see why this is probably an aberration as opposed to a trend. He’s worth a flier next week and nothing more.
Dicky Pride: What a week for old guys who can’t hit it very far! Furyk, 44, and Pride, 45, joined Graham DeLaet as the three guys to set the course record this week on 63. Pride did the trick on Sunday as he finished T7. After missing eight of his first nine cuts on the season, Pride has gone back-to-back after T27 at JDC. This was his first top 10 since T5 at last year’s Barracuda Open at Reno-Tahoe. Interestingly enough that’s next week’s event opposite the WGC-BI. Circle him!
Graham DeLaet: His bid to become the first Canadian champion since 1954 came up short but at least he takes with him a share of the course record. Gamers, take a look at his stats this week before rushing to enter him into the lineup next week. His only day he was positive with SGP was his record-setting round of 63 as he gained almost SIX SHOTS on the field. The other three days he LOST shots to the field. I’m saying that one good round shouldn’t cloud your judgment as DeLaet has hit it great tee to green all year but his short game has struggled as evidenced by his 19 birdies being reduced by 11 bogeys this week. Remember, he played the other three rounds just three-under for the week. I’m not sold that he’s turning the corner.
Kevin Kisner: His final round 64 moved him up 19 spots to finish T9. For the second tournament in a row he finished 68-64 (JDC). That’s weird. Kisner led the field in SGP this week but was T69 (of 72 players) in GIR. At JDC he was T22 in GIR and 30th in SGP. That’s probably a reason why Kisner has just five top 25s in 24 events but there’s not a doubt that something is going in the right direction after back-to-back 64s on Sunday.
Brad Fritsch: He matched Kisner’s jump of 19 spots with a closing 64 as well as he became the second Canadian to hit the top 10 this week in Montreal. His weekend featured ZERO bogeys after making the cut on the number with a birdie on his 36th hole. He took advantage of this great playing to hit the top 10 for second time this year (Torrey Pines) and his second T13 or better in back-to-back starts. I usually don’t get too excited when guys are posting scores from the JDC as one of their best of the season. He had a 63 last week and 64 this week so there is something to look at if he tees it up at the Barracuda next week.
Graeme McDowell: I stated in my preview that he was the first RBC Ambassador on my list. I guess I refused to count Jim Furyk. What a stupid I am. I was not stupid for listing GMAC in my top five this week and he obliged with a solid T9 after a quiet 70-68 weekend. That’s now four consecutive top 10 finishes worldwide in his last four starts. There’s no need to continue typing.
What happened to my pre-tournament favorites?
Dustin Johnson: As I said in our chat on Wednesday, Furyk was the safest pick to make in any format but I decided after last week that I would try and go for the kill. Instead, I got killed. Live to learn another day. Johnson made seven bogeys and a double in 26 holes against just seven birdies. The good news was he backed up his awful 74 with a decent 68 so it’s not like his game is spiraling out of control. I swung. I missed. Next pitch.
Jim Furyk: See above.
Graeme McDowell: See above.
Matt Kuchar: See above.
Charley Hoffman: My Group B player in the GolfChannel.com game crashed and burned as well this week north of the border as he fired 69-72 to MC by one. I guess after making 12 cuts in a row this was bound to happen. I’ve now crashed Chris Kirk (22 straight weekends) at JDC and now Charley Hoffman in two of the last three weeks. Bitterly unlucky.
David Hearn: Every time gamers start expecting returns from Hearn the opposite tends to happen. I’ll just go back to ignoring him and he’ll be fine.
Luke Donald: Since finishing second at RBC Heritage, Donald has ripped off T38, T49, MC, T64 and another MC this week in his last five tournaments in the Western Hemisphere. His third at Wentworth in May seemed forever ago. His record at Firestone, site of the WGC-BI next week, is off the charts though and his only big finishes this season are on courses where he’s had plenty of past successes. Circle him as well.
Brandt Snedeker: The defending champ dropped 11 spots on Sunday as he closed with all four rounds in the 60s and 69 on his final 18. His last four on TOUR are T9, T11, T21, T58 and T25 so that’s positive for the new Butch Harmon pupil. It’s also, sadly for gamers, his best stretch of golf in 2013-14. There’s a reason he sought out Harmon.
Hunter Mahan: No, thanks. His great record at Firestone will lure gamers in again next week only to have their hearts ripped out and stomped on. He lured you in with 68 on Thursday and then BLAM! 75 on Friday that included SEVEN bogeys.
Coming TUESDAY Afternoon
I post my weekly preview column, Range Rover for the TOUR stop and Playing the Tips. Playing the Tips will be up and running this and every Tuesday afternoon and will list all of the Rotoworld experts picks in the GolfChannel.com game, the Yahoo! Fantasy Golf game and my One-and-Done feature.
And the analysis doesn't end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a one-hour live chat Wednesday at NOON ET. We will be breaking down the field at the WGC-BI and Barracuda Championship plus answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter. Don’t forget to follow Rob (http://twitter.com/RobBoltonGolf) and Glass (http://twitter.com/mikeglasscott) on Twitter.