Featured Golf News
O'Hair Last Man Standing in Canadian Open
On a course that wreaked havoc with some of golf's best players, it was only fitting that the winner would secure the Canadian Open title with a bogey.
After ending up tied with Kris Blanks through 72 holes, Sean O'Hair carded a five on the first sudden-death playoff hole, the 472-yard, par-4 18th, to win the Canadian Open at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club in Vancouver, B.C.
The victory, the fourth of O'Hair's seven-year career and his first since the 2009 Quail Hollow Championship, was worth $926,000 and 500 FedEx Cup points.
Coming into the Canadian Open O'Hair had missed the cut in 10 of 17 events this year. His highest finish was a tie for 16th in the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial and his season earnings were $327,731, placing him 143rd on the money list.
During a greenside interview, O'Hair tearfully admitted it's been a tough season. "I don't know what to say - it's been a humbling year. Jackie (his wife) I love you. It's been a tough road - I've had a lot of people help me.
"You appreciate the blessings you have," he added. "Sometimes when you are playing well you take that good playing for granted. It's not easy out here. To win out here and play well is difficult. I've just learned to appreciate it when I'm playing well."
The father of four later remarked, "(The win) means a lot, for all the hard work to finally pay off. This win means more than the other three do." (See below for his full post-round interview.)
O'Hair closed with a 2-under 68 Sunday to tie Blanks (69) in regulation at 4-under 276. Only six others broke par during the week at Shaughnessy. Anders Romero could have joined the playoff, but the Argentine bogeyed the 72nd hole to finish a stroke back in solo third after an even-par 70.
On the only playoff hole, both O'Hair and Blanks pulled their drives into the deep rough left of the fairway. Going first, O'Hair opted to hit back out into the fairway, about 50 yards short of the green. Blanks, who has some local ties as his wife grew up in Vancouver, went for the green from 200 yards away with a 7-iron. His approach, though, bounced into the bunker right of the green.
O'Hair's chip came up short of the hole, while Blanks' blast from the sand rolled past the cup, stopping in the fringe. O'Hair's par attempt from 21 feet just missed and he tapped in for bogey. Blanks took an aggressive chip shot at the winning par, but his ball rolled 5 feet by. His tying bogey attempt just slid past.
Besides O'Hair and the old-style, tree-lined Shaughnessy with its beguiling greens, the star of the tournament was Canadian Tour player Adam Hadwin, who grew up in nearby Abbotsford, B.C.
After two bogeys and a double on the par-3 eighth, followed by another bogey on the par-4 11th, Hadwin reeled off three birdies on Nos. 12, 13 and 14 to get back into contention. But pars the rest of the way left the 23-year-old in a tie for fourth with 2006 U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy (70).
Hadwin, who was seeking to be the first Canadian to win his national championship since Pat Fletcher 57 years ago, said later that he made an attitude adjustment after the poor front nine, in which he carded a 4-over 39. "I did get off to a rough start but I just kept telling myself, 'Just enjoy this, everyone's cheering for you out there.'
"I can't put words to it," he added. "I felt like I was playing for my country out there."
In a subsequent session with reporters, Hadwin said, "That was a lot of fun. You know, just things weren't going, couldn't make the putts like I was the first few days, getting some bad shots. But I found something and made a few putts and heard some roars."
Tied for sixth at 1-under 279 were Americans Woody Austin (68), Scott Piercy (69) and third-round leader Bo Van Pelt, who closed with a disappointing 4-over 74.
Four players finished at even-par 280. That group in ninth included 2011 Masters' champion Charl Schwartzel (69) from South Africa and Americans Spencer Levin (69), amateur Patrick Cantlay (69) and a resurgent John Daly (72).
Cantlay, a 19-year-old who attends UCLA, noted that Shaughnessy fit his style. "I just like tough golf courses. I don't make too many mistakes. I make a lot of pars, and you know, small fairways and long routes really suits my game," said the low amateur in the U.S. Open at Congressional.
Daly played surprisingly well for someone known for his wildness - both on and off the golf course. The two-time major winner hadn't finished in the top 10 of a PGA Tour event since 2005, but will leave Vancouver - where he was playing on a sponsor's exemption - feeling good.
"There's no doubt about it," Daly answered to a question about how the positives he's taking with his high finish. "I love the way I chipped the last two days. Under the heat today, I know I was kind of out of it there with four or five holes to go. But I made one heck of a par on 15, 17 and 18. I got them down a lot today. Probably in the past I would have shot an 80 or 82 today."
Ernie Els carded the low round of the day, a 66. "The Big Easy" ended up in a tie for 17th at 282 with, among others, the No. 1-ranked player in the world, Luke Donald, who shot 67 Sunday after opening with rounds of 70, 73 and 72.
When asked if he'd like to see more courses like Shaughnessy on the PGA Tour, Donald answered: "Not really. I think they're very close to having it set up well. I think the rough is just a little bit too penal. I think they need an intermediate cut. I hit a great drive on 7, it just drew with the wind and took one bounce left and I couldn't advance it more than 50 yards.
"You know, it just seems a little bit penal. It's kind of a secondary cut where if you're just a little bit off, you're not going to get penalized quite so much. Maybe just turn a couple of the (par) fours into fives. I feel like guys are making a few more birdies out there."
After accepting the Canadian Open trophy, O'Hair met with reporters for the following interview.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome the winner of the 2011 RBC Canadian Open. Big smile on on your face. That's got to have a good feel to it. Thank you for joining us. Obviously, it wasn't an easy week for anybody, but you got the job done. It took an extra hole, but you got the job done. With the win, you picked up 500 FedEx Cup points and moves you right into the race. I think you needed 43. Just a few comments about the week. We heard you talking outside about how you kind of struggled a little bit through the year. What kind of validation does that mean to you?
SEAN O'HAIR: I guess to explain it the best, last week is one of my favorite weeks at the British Open. Something I look forward to all year. I played so great, and I ended up doubling my last hole from basically just off the fairway to miss the cut by a shot. I was having a hard time trying to learn from that experience. And obviously it's been a tough year up to that point, missed a lot of cuts by a shot. I've worked very, very hard this year, and I've had so much support from family and friends, and just to keep me upbeat. To be sitting here right now is unbelievable. I tell you what, by the beginning of the week, to be honest with you, when I played my Pro-Am, obviously, it's a very intimidating golf course and I played horrific. Probably, Wednesday night was my worst point of the whole year. Just kind of I didn't know how I was going to play this week, and to be sitting here is amazing.
Q. It's been a pretty tough year. Can you put your finger on why it's been a tough year and why it's been different some?
SEAN O'HAIR: I think the golf swing got off to a point where I was struggling to play the game and play it the way I play it. I like to hit a lot of different types of shots. I'm not a one-type of shot player. I like to shape shots both ways and strike it and whatnot. I got to a point where I had to go back to what kind of got me on the PGA Tour. So I went back to an old coach of mine, Steve Dahlby, who has been coaching me on and off since I was about 11 or 12 years old. We just kind of started rebuilding it right before the Players. A big part of it was just set-up and trying to coil a little bit better on the back swing. I kind of was starting to lean towards the target on my back swing and not getting behind the ball.
I actually hit that shot -- I hit kind of a fat 5-wood shot on number 16 and that was kind of my old swing. Then from there it's just gotten better and better. The ball striking has gotten better and better. I thought I was over this hump after the Players Championship. I had a good Players Championship and had a good Colonial. My father-in-law was caddying for me at the time, and we thought I was good to go for the rest of the year. And then I missed the cut here by a shot, I missed a cut there by a shot. It just kind of the bad play kept showing up and I didn't know what the deal was. But I think this week the golf swing, the game has been there, but mentally I was a lot better. You know, I've been impatient. I've been wanting to play myself out of this slump so bad, and I've been getting in my own way. This week I did a better job. I still need to work on it, but I did a better job to stay out of my own way and playing good golf and letting the chips fall where they may.
Q. It's a little ironic that you're is sitting here with the Canadian Open Trophy. You had a Canadian caddie. You had a Canadian swing coach. Those are gone now, but here it is. Do you find anything odd about that?
SEAN O'HAIR: No.
Q. Could you explain what happened with those gentleman?
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, I don't think I'd be here without Sean Foley. Sean really helped me learn about myself and about my game. He took me a long way in a short period of time. I learned a lot with him. It was time to make a change, and that's really it's that simple. We're still close friends. We still chat quite a bit. You know, in this business nothing's guaranteed. We're always trying to find a way to play better. Like I said, I felt like I needed to go back to some things that got me out here and it's just some basic stuff. You know, Steve's gotten me to that point.
Brennan Little is a fantastic guy and a fantastic caddie. He didn't do anything -- he wasn't doing anything wrong. It's just I wasn't playing well and I felt like I needed to make a change. But there are so many people that have gotten me here. I'm not going to ever say that I did this on my own. So many people put their time in and effort in to me and my game, and I just can't thank them enough. It is ironic that I'm sitting here after Wednesday and how I felt and to be holding the trophy is unbelievable.
Q. Can you -- you mentioned obviously Wednesday being a low point. Was there a point that you got past that? A point this week that you started to think, hey, maybe this is going my way.
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, actually, you know, I was doing some reading Wednesday night, and I just had something inside me just told me it's time to let go and just let everything take care of itself, and I did that. You know, I've been holding on so tight and trying to do it forcefully. Finally I just said, you know what, it's just time for me to just let go and whatever happens, happens.
Q. I know Vancouver's a little isolated from the rest of the Tour and the schedule, but I'm just wondering if you'd like to see this become more of a regular stop, and I'm wondering how you enjoyed your experience here in Vancouver?
SEAN O'HAIR: Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to get down to the city of Vancouver. I hear it's unbelievable, and a lot of the players and caddies would tell me how fantastic it was. I think there was a Kenny Chesney concert earlier this week so that would have been fun. But this golf course, I would love to have as a venue that we come back to. Like I said, I think this is one of the best courses I've ever played. Not just because I won, but just because when I stood up on the tee on Tuesday playing the front nine, everything just sets up so nicely for you. I talked earlier about shaping shots and that's the kind of player I am. The fairways really shape your shots for you. The green complexes are nice. It's just a very straightforward, difficult golf course. Just very old school. I think the players as a whole love this thing. So I would like to see this be kind of a normal visit for us.
Q. You're just talking about how much you like the golf course. Do players talk a lot on Tour, and would you spread the word about this golf course? What would you tell a player?
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, players do talk a lot about the courses from week to week and the conditions and weather and whatnot. I don't think the weather could have been any better, and the conditions of the golf course were phenomenal. I thought the golf course itself was fantastic. If I was telling anybody, you know, if we had an event here, it's definitely something you need to put on your schedule. I think on the flight from British Open over to here, you had a nice, solid field that normally probably wouldn't have played the week after a major that were on that plane to play this event. And I think a lot of it had to do with the golf course.
Q. During the time that you had the doubts, what kept you going? And what do you think you take from this carrying on for the rest of the year?
SEAN O'HAIR: Sure, I think what keeps you going is just your love for the game and the love for the competition. Plus, if I quit, I'm probably going to be flipping burgers because I can't do anything else. You just keep working hard. I was getting down on my self pretty good and just that support system that's always telling you, look, you're working hard, you're doing the right things, just keep at it and trust the fact that it's going to happen. What I take from this event -- in a way this has ended so much different than my other three wins. I really appreciate being here and holding up that trophy. It's fantastic. The other three wins have been fantastic, and it's always great to win a golf tournament. But you're always like, all right, now it's like, all right, I want to win more. I just think I really appreciate what today was all about. I appreciated being out there, being in the hunt. I just was soaking things up a little bit more. You know, the struggle and to be fighting and really kind of been lost. That's the word for it. I was lost on Wednesday. To be sitting here I just really appreciate this win.
Q. Can you just talk about, I guess, the significance -- I know it's not your national open on -- but the significance of winning a national open, and what it was like playing in front of Adam Hadwin today, and the following that he had?
SEAN O'HAIR: I didn't play with -- he was playing behind me. But to be a champion of the Canadian Open, clearly winning a National Championship, so that's pretty cool. That's pretty cool within itself. But the names on that trophy are pretty cool names. To be a part of that and part of that crew is an honor. I think that's the best word for it is I'm truly honored to be the champion of this year's Canadian Open. To win a national title is very cool, and I've always appreciated coming here and playing this event. We play some fantastic golf courses. Not every year is great, but for the most part every single golf course has been phenomenal and the people here are fantastic. It's really cool to be sitting here holding the trophy up.
The crowds this week are phenomenal. I played with John Daly, and their support for him was great. It's nice to see him play well. I think we all kind of want him to play well and get back to his form. I saw a lot of good things out of him this week. It's just a lot of fun. You almost try to put yourself in a cocoon so you're trying not to look too much. That's not my style looking around and everything. So I try to stay zoned in and mind my own business. But looking back at the sounds and the roars and the feeling of throwing up on every single shot it's something that's a lot of fun that I'll look back on.
Q. Can you walk us through your final hole prior to the playoff? Talk a little about the playoff. There were a bunch of people sort of stuck in the scrum with Adam coming off. So give us a sense, it looked a little messy in the playoff.
SEAN O'HAIR: The playoff -- it's a tough hole. I mean, that's really all it comes down to. It's just a difficult hole. And this rough is very penal. I was trying to play a cut off the left bunker there, and just kind of stayed there and the wind took it to the left. I had a nasty lie, and I think the same thing happened to Kris. From there you're just trying to get it as far up to the green as possible and try to make up-and-down. I felt like I made a nice putt there. Just kind of stayed on the high side. But I was surprised that Kris missed that putt. You know, I know he and I were kind of in a similar situation. We haven't been playing well this year. Obviously you're trying to win, and I wasn't really looking at the scoreboard too much, but on 16 I saw that it was he and I were at the top. Then Romero behind us was kind of making a charge.
You root for guys like Kris. Kris is a nice guy. I was rooting for Daly as well. You kind of know what situation they're in, and you're in the same situation and you just kind of like, you know, let's just get it to 18 and whoever wins, wins. That's kind of what happened. I think it's only a matter of time before Kris wins because he's a solid player.
Q. Just before we wrap up, you mentioned on the 18th green after the tournament was over how blessed you felt. You also mentioned that Wednesday night you read something that kind of turned your mind. Can you share what that is, please?
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, I read James 2 through chapter 1 through 4. It talks about adversity and it talks about when your faith is tested be happy for it because when your faith is tested, your faith grows if you allow it to. When it's over and when your faith has grown, you'll be better off as a person and your faith will be stronger. So I don't know word for word, but basically that's what it was. Actually, I read it the last two days, and I just kept saying that to myself. You know, I just -- that voice in my head Wednesday night just said, "Let go and let God," and it's really just that simple. Here we are.
Q. I'm just wondering, when Kris was taking that putt on 18, were you feeling a little nervous or a little anxious for winning this?
SEAN O'HAIR: Yeah, to be honest with you, there is not one second that I'm not, like I said, that I'm not feeling like I'm going to just puke. There's not one second of it. When you're walking to your next shot, you're breathing, you're trying to suck in as much air as possible. Trying to keep your mind occupied and not think of the situation. I'm sorry that he missed the putt, but it just was the fact that I won knowing that he missed the putt, I don't know. It was just overwhelming. It just was overwhelming.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.