Weekly Recap: Rory Adds to the Inventory

Weekly Recap: Rory Adds to the Inventory

This article is part of our Weekly Recap series.

Sunday at the RBC Canadian Open began with three of the best golfers in the world in the final group. Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Tony Finau proceeded to wage a taut battle, with golf's signature voice, Jim Nantz, on the call. The day culminated with a soon-to-be victorious McIlroy walking up the 18th fairway to a cheering, adoring 20-deep throng ringing the green at St. George's Golf and Country Club in Toronto.

In light of what has happened in golf over the past week, it was about as perfect a scenario as possible for the reeling PGA Tour, one that was punctuated by arguably their most important member walking away with the trophy.

Perfect may not be good enough.

With LIV Golf siphoning off players, a bunch already with more big names surely to follow, the PGA Tour needs many more days like this one. They don't have the money to compete with the Saudi-backed upstart; what they do have is almost all the best players and the best golf.

McIlroy, who defeated Finau by two strokes and Thomas by four after a sizzling 8-under 62, has been the most vocal member of the Tour trying to rebuff LIV. He pointedly noted in his on-course interview with Amanda Renner that this was his 21st career PGA Tour victory, which was "one more than someone else."

Hale Irwin? Doug Sanders? Yes, they both have 20. But of course McIlroy was directing his venom at LIV's Greg Norman.

McIlroy and

Sunday at the RBC Canadian Open began with three of the best golfers in the world in the final group. Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Tony Finau proceeded to wage a taut battle, with golf's signature voice, Jim Nantz, on the call. The day culminated with a soon-to-be victorious McIlroy walking up the 18th fairway to a cheering, adoring 20-deep throng ringing the green at St. George's Golf and Country Club in Toronto.

In light of what has happened in golf over the past week, it was about as perfect a scenario as possible for the reeling PGA Tour, one that was punctuated by arguably their most important member walking away with the trophy.

Perfect may not be good enough.

With LIV Golf siphoning off players, a bunch already with more big names surely to follow, the PGA Tour needs many more days like this one. They don't have the money to compete with the Saudi-backed upstart; what they do have is almost all the best players and the best golf.

McIlroy, who defeated Finau by two strokes and Thomas by four after a sizzling 8-under 62, has been the most vocal member of the Tour trying to rebuff LIV. He pointedly noted in his on-course interview with Amanda Renner that this was his 21st career PGA Tour victory, which was "one more than someone else."

Hale Irwin? Doug Sanders? Yes, they both have 20. But of course McIlroy was directing his venom at LIV's Greg Norman.

McIlroy and Thomas have probably been the two most vocal supporters of the PGA Tour in light of the LIV onslaught. When McIlroy's final putt dropped, the two of them hugged, and you could infer that they know what the Tour is up against, and they had just provided the best argument against LIV's billions: world-class golf, the height of sport and true competition.

Commissioner Jay Monahan made his first appearance of the week, sitting down with Nantz to offer his most forceful comments to date. "I would ask any player that has left, or any player that would ever consider leaving, 'Have you ever had to apologize for being a member of the PGA Tour?'"

It was a great line, and compelling, but as compelling as tens of millions of dollars? We shall see.

We could go on an on about LIV, but there is the little matter of the next tournament: the U.S. Open. All three golfers in the final group offered evidence that they are ready to contend. Thomas and McIlroy sit second and third in RotoWire's U.S. Open Rankings, which were published before the Canadian Open ended. 

If the rankings were done today, those two spots might be reversed. McIlroy's weakness is his chipping, but it certainly wasn't in Canada – it looked outstanding. We also should not underestimate the hate and anger that McIlroy feels about LIV Golf. It spurred him to victory on Sunday.

Could it spur him to a major title next week for the first time in eight years? It would give him five. 

That would be three more than the aforementioned "someone else."

MONDAY BACKSPIN

Tony Finau
Finau now has three top-5 results in his past five starts. He is back to being the almost automatic golfer week in and week out (you know, the one with the high finishes who never wins. Cheap shot). A good U.S. Open would hardly be a surprise, even the first page of the leaderboard.

Justin Thomas
Thomas made a fatal bogey on 17 and then another meaningless one on 18 after he was already locked into solo third. But it was still a 63-64 weekend for Thomas, who heads into Brookline with a very real chance for a second straight major.

Sam Burns
Burns had won two of his previous five starts so finishing tied for fourth just keeps the heater alive. He also had his best major finish ever at the PGA Championship, a tie for 20th, so he could not be in better form heading into the U.S. Open.

Justin Rose
Rose went to 18 needing a birdie for a 58. He didn't get it, or even a par, but a 60 will do. His tie for fourth was by far his best showing this season. He's really been all-or-nothing all year, the same as his recent U.S. Open results. But this is surely a positive vibe heading into Brookline.

Corey Conners
Conners didn't contend for the title, but a solo sixth was a great result – not only for the Canadian star and the hometown fans but also to get in a good place on the even of the Open. It was a good week overall for Canadians in their national championship, with Adam Svensson tying for 21st, Mackenzie Hughes and Nick Taylor tying for 28th and Adam Hadwin tying for 35th. Even little-known Aaron Cockerill, a DP World Tour player ranked outside the top-300, made the cut with a tie for 48th. Hughes and Hadwin will also be in the Open this week.

Wyndham Clark and Keith Mitchell
They both tied for seventh, and with that came the nice little perk of qualifying for the historic 150th Open Championship next month at St. Andrews. The Canadian Open was part of the Open Qualifying Series (OQS), and neither guy was exempt. Chris Kirk, who also tied for seventh, had used the very same OQS at Bay Hill to get into the Open. Kirk and Mitchell have been having good seasons, with this just the latest example. But Clark had been in a protracted slump that had seen him fall close to No. 300 in the world. This was his best finish in 19 months, since Bermuda in 2020.

Matt Fitzpatrick and Shane Lowry
They tied for 10th, continuing their strong seasons as they head to the U.S. Open. Fitzpatrick opened with a 64 but couldn't keep up with the likes of McIlroy, Finau and Thomas, but he surely has the ability to do so, and could be a sneaky play at Brookline. The same goes for Lowry.

Brendon Todd
One of our short-course favorites did not disappoint with a tie for 13th. Another, Tyler Duncan, missed the cut by a shot.

Alex Smalley
It was a disappointing Sunday for the rookie, who began Sunday in the top-5 on the leaderboard but tumbled to T18 as many guys went super low and he shot a 3-over 73. Smalley could've wound up with his best full-points-tournament finish of the season, but surely should be able to take away some good thoughts once the initial disappointment subsides.

Patrick Rodgers
Rodgers closed with a 65 to zoom up the leaderboard and tie for 18th. He's had only one better finish all year, so this was welcome for him heading to the U.S. Open. Rodgers has never missed any Open cut in three starts, and last year tied for 31st.

Cameron Champ and J.J. Spaun
Champ and Spaun were the only two guys in the field who could've secured a berth in the U.S. Open with a victory, which would've given them two since last year's Open. They both missed the cut and therefore will have next week off.

Tyrrell Hatton
In a field that was strong at the top but got very weak very fast, Hatton was the only bigger-name guy to miss the cut. Not exactly a good sign heading into Brookline. It was his first missed cut in 12 starts in 2022, and it followed a tie for 13th at the PGA Championship. It's always hard to figure out what Hatton will do, and this MC only makes it harder.

Rasmus Hojgaard
Hojgaard made a rare trip Stateside to play on the PGA tour and missed the cut, his first of 2022 anywhere in the world. He's not necessarily your typical European playing on the inferior DP World Tour who struggles when he comes to the PGA Tour. He played the Valero a few months back and tied for 18th. And he was sixth at Puntacana and also made the cut at last year's C.J. Cup.

Christopher Gotterup
The Haskins Award winner out of Colorado made his pro debut and missed the cut. But he will be in next week's U.S. Open, having gone through qualifying just like so many other PGA Tour players.

Harry Higgs
Higgs missed the cut in what has become a very odd year for him – he's missed 10 cuts in 16 starts in 2022. But he also tied for 14th at the Masters and did have that fun moment when he lifted his shirt amid the raucous crowd on the 16th hole at Phoenix. But that was a long time ago, and Higgs has fallen to 177th in the world rankings.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Len Hochberg
Len Hochberg has covered golf for RotoWire since 2013. A veteran sports journalist, he was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for many years. He was named 2020 "DFS Writer of the Year" by the FSWA and was nominated for the same award in 2019.
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