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Feeling the Roar-y

RBC Canadian Open

Greg Bowman

Capturing his second PGA Tour win of 2019, Rory McIlroy can add another trophy to his collection, winning the Canadian Open in his first time competing in the tournament.

“It started off as a good week,” said McIlroy, who shot a 9-under 61 on Sunday, to give him a four-day total of 22-under, “I saw some really good signs in the first couple days. I played nicely, got myself into position…I played aggressively, I was swinging very freely… I think what I’m proudest of is still playing with that freedom today, going out and being tied for the lead, and then putting my foot down and really making this tournament mine.”

McIlroy was tied for the lead heading into the day, starting at 13-under after his field-best 6-under 64 in the third round. He led the entire field in birdies with 26, one eagle, and only shot six bogeys the entire weekend. He is the first player to ever win the Player's Championship and the Canadian Open in the same year. He is now the winner of six National Championship tournaments, having already won the US Open, the Open Championship (British Open), the Australian Open, the Hong Kong Open and the Irish open.

Adam Hadwin was the top-seeded Canadian in the field heading into Championship Sunday, sitting at 12-under before teeing off. He sputtered out of the gate though in his final round, bogeying twice in his front nine. He rebounded in the back nine, birdying on holes 10 and 11 to bring him even on the day. He finished in sixth place overall, which earned him a spot in the Open Championship in July.

Mackenzie Hughes was the local talent, playing on the course he grew up on, hailing from nearby Dundas, Ontario. He would have needed to be exceptional to win the championship, coming in four strokes back of the lead at 9-under. His putting cost him though, unable to convert any birdie opportunities, finishing Sunday with a 1-over 71, giving him a total of 8-under for the tournament.

Hughes was one of many stellar Canadian showings at this year’s National Championship, with the leaderboard being riddled with red and white the entire weekend. “I’m going to go on a limb and say that within the next five to seven years there will be a Canadian winner,” boasted Hughes after he was done his round.

Hadwin echoed similar sentiments to his countryman: “I think it proves a lot not only to us as players but to the golf fans across the country. There’s a bunch of us out here and we’re here to stay. We’re here to play well and we’re going to contend for championships for years to come. No longer can we just speak about golf in Canada being in a good state; we’re going out and proving it year in and year out.”

Along with Hadwin and Hughes, Ben Silverman finished tied for 20th when it was all done, shooting a final round 1-under 69 for a total of 7-under. Nick Taylor slowed down in the final two rounds after opening with a 9-under to make the cut, finishing at 6-under tied for 27th. Roger Sloan finished tied for 56th at 1-under, and Richard Jung finished in 69th place.

Paired with the eventual champion, Webb Simpson came into the day tied for the lead at 13-under. Simpson had a solid performance on the final day of competition, shooting a 2-under 68 to finish tied for second place at 15-under

Shane Lowry was a sneaky competitor in this year’s competition, flying under the radar for the most part but ending up tied for second finishing at 15-under. He shot in the 60s in all four rounds and put up a 3-under 67 in the final round.

“I just tried to go about my business and I played okay,” said Lowry, "I managed to hole a few putts and a couple up and downs when I got myself in trouble. I’m very happy with my result.”

While Canada was well-represented on the leaderboard, so too was Ireland, with McIlroy and Lowry occupying the top two spots as Irishmen, and Graeme McDowell finishing tied for eighth at 10-under. McDowell, like McIlroy, is from Northern Ireland while Lowry is from Ireland proper, but it’s no surprise they pump out high-level talent: “the game of golf is very cheap and accessible in Ireland,” McDowell explained, “it’s [got] lots of clubs with great junior programs. It’s cheap. I mean, I would never have played the game of golf had it been expensive – we wouldn’t have been able to afford to do it.”

In all, the 2019 Canadian Open was a roaring success, and, of course, Rory’s success as well. Between the top name in the tournament winning it in his first trip, the stellar Canadian contingent, and the extracurricular activities that were available to record crowds, the storylines were plentiful from the Hamilton Golf & Country Club.

Many of the players who competed this weekend will now travel to California for the US Open next week at Pebble Beach. Next year's Canadian Open will be played at St. George's Golf & Country Club in Toronto, Ontario.