ORLANDO, FLA. - Canadians were buzzing during the PGA Merchandise Show on the weekend here but the feeling wasn't only because of the equipment and other wares on offer. They were talking up that four of the six Canadians who started the Farmers Insurance Open in La Jolla, Calif., were doing well, and that some were even in contention in the tournament that Tiger Woods eventually won for the seventh time when the fourth round concluded Monday.
In the end, Woods won his 75th PGA Tour event by four shots while the number of Canadian flags near the top subsided. But Ottawa's Brad Fritsch and Weyburn, Sask.'s Graham DeLaet still posted top-10 finishes. Each finished ninth.
Meanwhile, Mike Weir made his first cut in 19 tournaments. The 42-year-old from Bright's Grove, Ont., has suffered mightily in the last couple of years while trying to fight his way out of a deep slump that might have sent a less determined player packing from the PGA Tour. But, finally, Weir made it to the weekend. He was actually tied for second place after shooting 66 in the opening round on the North Course at Torrey Pines.
Weir played the last three rounds on the much more difficult South course. He shot 75-73-76 to shoot two-over par 290, and fell to a tie for 68th place. Still, the fact that he made a cut was a positive sign. Weir has posted four rounds in the 60s of the nine he's played this season. He's progressing rather than regressing.
David Hearn, Stephen Ames, and Adam Hadwin were the other three Canadians in the Farmers Insurance Open.
Brantford, Ont.'s Hearn missed the cut, as did Ames, who lives in Calgary. Hadwin doesn't have his PGA Tour card this year but the 25-year-old from Abbotsford, BC., got into the Farmers Insurance when he shot 64 to tie for the lead in Monday qualifying at the El Camino Country Club in Oceanside, Calif. Hadwin nailed one of the four spots available in the Monday qualifier.
Hadwin shot 66 on Torrey Pine's North course in the first round. He followed with 74 and then had to take Saturday off when fog that hung over the course all day kept play from proceeding. He shot 69 on the South course in the third round Sunday and at seven-under par for 54 holes was in great shape heading into the fourth round. Players started the final round Sunday but darkness intervened and play was suspended, to finally conclude on Monday.
For Hadwin, however, a different sort of darkness settled in on him Sunday, when he started the last round in ninth place. He made seven bogeys, a double bogey, and a triple bogey in his first 15 holes of the final round and was 12-over for the last round when play was stopped. He had fallen to 83rd place.
Hadwin then withdrew from the tournament. CBS had asked the PGA Tour to start the final round Monday at 11:10 a.m. local time so that it could get a 2:30 p.m. finish. The PGA Tour agreed, no doubt because Woods was leading and he's the golfer everybody wants to watch.
"They're our TV partner and if that's what they want us to do, that's what we're going to do," said Mark Russell, the PGA Tour's senior vice-president of rules and competitions.
Russell couldn't recall a final round starting so late on Monday. The timing meant that Hadwin wouldn't be able to make his qualifying round Monday afternoon for this week's Waste Management Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, Ariz. PGA Tour media official Joe Chemycz said from Torrey Pines that Hadwin didn't provide an official reason for withdrawing, but that he had mentioned that he wanted to make it to the Monday qualifier. Hadwin had the last time but shot 79 and did not qualify for Phoenix.
Meanwhile, Fritsch, a PGA Tour rookie, has now played three tournaments this year and made the cut in each. He started the last round four shots behind Woods, but but fell back in the final round. He did birdie the final hole Monday to move into the top 10 along with DeLaet, who closed with a 71. Each finished at 281, seven shots behind Woods.
By Monday evening, and the end of the tournament at Torrey Pines, one thing was clear: Woods continued to dominate Torrey Pines, where he also won the 2008 U.S. Open. And for Canadians, some light had appeared in the fog that was a big part of the story for much of the Farmers Insurance Open.