Canadian golf fans watching the Open Championship last week were likely familiar with three of the country’s entrants – PGA Tour winners Corey Conners, Mackenzie Hughes and Adam Hadwin. But the fourth may have been more of a mystery.
Toronto-born Richard T. Lee earned a spot in the major championship by grabbing one of four berths available at a 2020 Asian Tour event that served as a qualifying tournament. With the 2020 Open canceled because of COVID-19, his eligibility carried through to this year.
It was Lee’s second career start in a major and another milestone in his global golf journey. The 30-year-old made his major debut as an amateur at the 2007 U.S. Open, playing his way into the field through a qualifier. Just 16 at the time and by then relocated to Arizona, he was the second youngest golfer in the United States national championship’s history.
Lee turned professional shortly afterward and had a stint on the Nationwide Tour (now called the Korn Ferry Tour), before jumping overseas to the Asian, Japan, Korean and other tours. The son of a teaching professional, he won three times in Asia playing under his traditional name, Taehoon Lee.
He notched his latest victory in 2019 and entered the Open last week in decent form, posting two top-four finishes in his seven 2021 starts on the Korean Tour, where he is in fifth place on the season-long points list.
“Can’t wait till the Open,” he tweeted in the pre-pandemic days of February 2020, unaware of the long wait ahead before he ultimately reached Royal St. George’s on England’s southeastern coast. He didn’t live up to the anticipation, however. Lee opened his second major with 5-over-par 75 and missed the cut.
The owners of Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario, have dropped plans to convert the property into housing, commercial buildings and a park, ending a contentious battle at the longtime venue for the RBC Canadian Open. It will remain a golf course.
Ontario housing minister Steve Clark said he has secured a commitment from owner, ClubLink Corp., not to proceed with redevelopment plans.
“I am incredibly thankful to ClubLink for its cooperation and for ensuring that this heritage landscape will be protected from development,” he said.
Glen Abbey opened in 1976. It was Jack Nicklaus’ first solo design, a prototype of modern stadium courses, and it has served as host to the Canadian Open a record 30 times, most recently in 2018.
After ClubLink announced plans to redevelop the parkland course to feed suburban Toronto’s growing appetite for housing, residents and elected officials in Oakville launched a fierce campaign to save it. The dispute eventually landed before the Ontario Land Tribunal, which adjudicates land-use matters in the province.
ClubLink parent company TWC Enterprises confirmed to the CBC that it no longer will pursue the case at the tribunal. A hearing had been planned for August. Golf Canada and the Canadian Open’s title sponsor, Royal Bank of Canada, have not commented.
The Canadian Open began rotating through Toronto and area clubs after ClubLink signaled its Glen Abbey redevelopment intentions. The national championship has host venues lined up through 2026, with the exception of 2025.
Adam Svensson has locked up his return to the PGA Tour. The 27-year-old from Surrey, British Columbia, shared seventh place at a Korn Ferry Tour event this month in Colorado, which was good enough to ensure he will finish in the top 25 on the second-tier tour’s points list and graduate to the PGA Tour next season.
Svensson played on the PGA Tour regularly for the 2018-19 season but lost his card and had to return to the Korn Ferry Tour. Across 2020 and 2021, he’s had a victory and six other top-10 finishes to vault himself to No. 10 on the points list as of last week.
The Korn Ferry Tour’s Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ontario, earlier secured his promotion to the PGA Tour for next season as well.
Corey Conners has more to look forward to this fall than the start of his fifth full season on the PGA Tour. He and his wife, Malory, are expecting their first child.
“Not sure if you can ever be ready for it, but we’re as ready as we can be and are really excited for that,” Conners told the Toronto Star last week ahead of the Open.
The native of Listowel, Ontario, married Malory Martin in 2018. The world No. 38 has become a top performer on the PGA Tour, winning in 2019 and currently enjoying his most lucrative season, with more than $3.4 million (U.S.) in earnings as of last week.
Malory Conners has experienced her own golf celebrity. With wine glass in hand, she reacted animatedly to every shot during Conners’ run to victory at the Valero Texas Open. Her facial contortions were caught on TV and in pictures and went viral.
The PGA Tour Champions event in Calgary is returning this year but will look different because of COVID-19 safety precautions.
The number of spectators at the “modified version” of the Shaw Charity Classic will be limited to 2,000 for each round, and testing protocols will be in place for players, caddies and other event personnel, organizers said last week as the tournament opened its ticket sales and announced its first presenting sponsor, Suncor Energy.
The full safety rules are to be released July 31. Canada’s only stop on the senior circuit is scheduled to begin play Aug. 13 at Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club.
The Shaw Charity Classic, which the tour named its top event three times, ran for eight years before the 2020 edition was canceled because of COVID-19. But Calgary and the surrounding province of Alberta lifted almost all pandemic-related restrictions this summer as COVID case numbers receded.
The tournament will be the year’s second significant sports gathering in the city, following the return of the annual Calgary Stampede rodeo this month.
“We are so excited to bring back one of Calgary’s signature summer events and generate some energy, excitement and community spirit,” tournament director Sean Van Kesteren said.
It also will be the biggest golf event in Canada in almost two years. Both the RBC Canadian Open and CP Women’s Open were canceled for 2020 and 2021 amid pandemic restrictions.
The PGA of Canada intends to go ahead with its popular RBC PGA Scramble National Championship at Cabot Links in Nova Scotia in early October but will hold off until Aug. 11 to confirm.
The championship features four-person teams of amateurs competing in a scramble format. The top-finishing teams at local qualifiers across Canada advance to regional qualifiers, with the 11 winners there moving on to the national final.
COVID-19 lockdowns last year prompted organizers to skip the Cabot finale. But with Nova Scotia’s reopening to vaccinated travelers this summer, the PGA of Canada is hopeful the national final can return to the Cape Breton resort in October. The resort began welcoming Canadian visitors again on June 30.
Organizers said registrations in the sixth year of the program have eclipsed 8,000 golfers and are on pace to set a record. The regionals begin Aug. 11. Each one has a spot reserved for an all-female team.
Top: Richard T. Lee hits a tee shot during the Open Championship.