Will the Triple Crown of Golf be Awarded this Year?

By: JJ Gowland

By winning the U.S. Open, Angel Cabrera took the first step in taking home the "Triple Crown in Golf." Though not as familiar to today's golfers as the Grand Slam - the winning of the current four majors (Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship), the Triple Crown was one of the game's early-day achievements. If one believes in celestial links, it appears that Angel may have what it takes.

The original "Triple Crown of Golf" included taking home the trophies of the three oldest tournaments in golf in one year: the British Open (first played in 1860), the South African Open (1893), and the U.S. Open (1895). More recently, the term applies to winning the Open, U.S. Open, and Canadian Open (1904).

Because Cabrera won the U.S. Open at Oakmont, Pa., he's the only player capable of winning this year's Triple Crown. The British Open, to be played July 19-22 at Carnoustie in Angus County, Scotland, is link No. 2, and No. 3 - the Canadian Open, will be held at Angus Glen in Markham, Ontario, July 25-29. All three courses are described as links-style courses, and each course features tall fescue rough and deep sod-faced bunkers.

The odds of winning the "Triple Crown in Thoroughbred Racing" are pretty high. It's been 29 years since that happened - in 1978 by the superb Affirmed. The odds of winning the "Triple Crown in Golf" in a year . . . well, it's anyone's guess.

Tiger Woods could take home the Open title for a third time in a row - a remarkable accomplishment. But he doesn't have a chance in the 2007 "Triple Crown of Golf." In 1971, Lee Trevino captured the "Triple Crown," and Tiger snared it in 2000. Woods' performance that year at the Canadian Open is probably best remembered for his amazing 216-yard bunker shot on the 18th green. Even Tiger lists that shot as one of his top-10 all-time greatest.

Tiger hasn't played in a Canadian Open since he tied for 23rd at Royal Montreal in 2001, and he's not expected to be at this year's Canadian Open. The key is that as we watch The Open from Carnoustie, ONLY Angel Cabrera has the opportunity.

Who'll be contending at this year's Canadian Open? Jim Furyk, who after winning the Canadian Open last year at Hamilton Golf and Country Club said that it was "a point of honor" to defend a title. Furyk will be joined by fellow Canadian Open winners Mark Calcavecchia (2005), Vijay Singh (2004), Bob Tway (2003), Scott Verplank (2001), Billy Andrade (1998), Steve Jones (1997), and Dudley Hart (1996) as well as John Rollins, the 2002 winner on the South Course at Angus Glen. Canadians Mike Weir and Stephen Ames also won't miss the opportunity to play.

What other PGA players will be present isn't set yet as they have until the Friday before the Canadian Open to confirm their participation and possibly earn some FedEx Cup points. The Royal Canadian Golf Association may need to hire an AirBus to bring players to Toronto right after the British Open finishes in Scotland.

In the nature of true open tournaments, four spots are available. On Monday July 23rd at Royal Ashburn, just a few miles east of Angus Glen, 156 golfers will tee it up in the Canadian Open Qualifying round.

Among the competitors there will be Isabella Beisiegel, who played on the LPGA Tour and attempted the PGA Tour's Q-school in 2004. Other notables include: Victor Ciesielski - last year's Canadian fan favorite; Tom Schupp - an Oakville resident and Hooters Tour player (a few years ago I played with Tom, who at age 14 consistently hit dead-straight 310-yard drives); David J. Morland III - now on the Nationwide Tour, whose best finish on a PGA Tour event was a T-5 at the Canadian Open; Stuart Anderson and Andrew Parr - both currently on the Canadian Tour; Andrew Ross - now on the RCGA National Team; and his brother Chris Ross - both sons of Stephen Ross, former executive director of the RCGA. The qualifying field is mostly made up of Canadians, but there are players from Florida, South Carolina and Oregon.

A full list of players trying to qualify can be found at www.thecanadianopen.ca.

About the Course

Bordered by farmers' fields, Angus Glen Golf course is located northeast of Toronto on rolling countryside. As I toured the course recently, bleachers were being built and staff members were preparing for the Wayne Gretzky Charity Celebrity Classic. In the surrounding fields summer wheat had been cut and rolled, and cows grazed and mooed in the field behind the sixth tee. Public players used the course, but Angus Glen has instituted a cart-path-only rule throughout for at least a month, protecting the knee-deep fescue from being trampled.

The Canadian Open will be played on holes 1-16 on the Angus Glen North Course, with the 17th and 18th holes on the South course also in use. The layouts feature Providence bentgrass on the tees, greens and fairways. The course is described as a links-style. Some holes are wide open with virtually no trees; here the prevailing winds will be a big factor. Knee-deep fescue borders the hilly fairways, with bunkers and elevated greens also adding to the challenge. Several holes sport greens that cannot be seen from the tee.

The 7,409-yard Angus Glen is the longest of the three courses in the 2007 Triple Crown of Golf. Perhaps that's a good omen for the long-hitting Cabrera, who won at the 7,230-yard Oakmont (Carnoustie will stretch 6,941 yards). We'll know by the end of July whether the Argentinean can become the latest player to take home golf's Triple Crown.

Jill J. Gowland has a BA in psychology from McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario, and worked as a psychiatric clinician for five years. Following that she did a 10-year stint in sales and then worked as a marketing manager in the high-tech software and the security/access-control industries.

Before attending university, J.J. served tables in a golf course coffee shop and has been an avid golfer for more than three decades. Jill has been associated with the golf business as a director and shareholder of a privately owned golf course for more than 20 years. Jill studied comedy at Second City, Toronto, has written and directed stage plays, taught improv comedy, is a published poet. She has blogs on www.SandbaggersAnonymous.blogspot.com, has written for Ontario Golf Magazine, and is a golf novelist. Jill lives with a fluctuating handicap in Oakville, Ontario, Canada.

Her latest book, "Confessions of a Sandbagger," (ISBN 1-4137-5527-4), a trade paperback, was released in December 2004 and is available world-wide and directly from the author. For ordering information, visit www.publishedauthors.net/jjgowland. Also, see Bob Spiwak's review of "Confessions of a Sandbagger" at http://www.cybergolf.com/bookreview/index.asp?newsID=3903.