Rory McIlroy won the RBC Canadian Open on Sunday and gave the PGA Tour a strong response to the start of the Saudi-funded LIV Golf Invitational, closing with an eight-under 62 to win a wild race to the finish with Justin Thomas and Tony Finau.
McIlroy had his first title defense on the PGA Tour, even if he had to wait for it. He won golf’s fourth-oldest national open in 2019 at Hamilton Golf & Country Club, only for the the COVID-19 pandemic to cancel the next two editions.
Thomas pushed him to the end at St. George’s Golf & Country Club, and the tournament effectively ended on the 17th hole. McIlroy and Thomas were tied and in the rough. McIlroy hit a wedge that rolled out to tap-in range, while Thomas missed a 10-foot par putt, a two-shot swing. Thomas closed with a pair of bogeys and still shot 64.
McIlroy finished at 19-under 261 for a two-stroke victory.
Finau holed a 40-foot birdie putt on the 18th for a 64 to finish second alone. Thomas was third at 14 under. Justin Rose matched the tournament- and course-record with a 60 — with three eagles and three bogeys — to tie for fourth with Sam Burns (65) at 14 under.
McIlroy as been one of the strongest opponents of the LIV Golf series and spoke out against the money being paid to players like Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson. Greg Norman, who runs the LIV Golf, said in a story in the Washington Post that McIlroy had been “brainwashed” by the PGA Tour.
The victory was the second for McIlroy this season, adding to his victory in Las Vegas last October in the CJ Cup. He won for the 21st time on the PGA Tour.
“This is a day I’ll remember for a long, long time,“McIlroy said. “Twenty-one PGA Tour wins, one more than somebody else.”
It was a dig at Norman, who had 20 career tour wins.
PGA Commissioner slams LIV Golf
BROOKLINE, Mass. — PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan described the Saudi-funded league that has signed up Johnson, Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau as a “series of exhibition matches” that spends billions of dollars on players without getting a return on its investment.
Monahan also said players paid an exorbitant amount of money would “have to be living under a rock” to not know they would be criticized for the source of the money. LIV Golf is backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.
“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?’” Monahan said from Toronto on the CBS telecast of the RBC Canadian Open.
They were Monahan’s first public comments since Thursday, when Norman’s series began and Monahan suspended all PGA Tour members who played at Centurion Golf Club outside London.
Henderson wins ShopRite LPGA Classic
GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. — Brooke Henderson closed with a seven-under 64 a year ago in the ShopRite LPGA Classic and finished second.
The 24-year-old Canadian matched the final-round performance in the event this year, and still had work to do. This time she got the job done Sunday after overcoming a four-shot deficit.
Henderson eagled the first playoff hole to beat Lindsey Weaver-Wright for her 11th tour victory and first this year.
“I just was trying to go low and see what happens,” Henderson said. “I didn’t think — I mean, I thought the victory was a possibility, but there are a lot of really talented players ahead of me and I think I was four shots back starting the day.
“I knew it was going to take a little bit of magic, and I’m just really happy that I’m sitting here next to the trophy.”
Thongchai Jaidee became the first Thai winner in PGA Tour Champions history, closing with a four-under 68 for a one-stroke victory in the American Family Insurance Championship in Madison, Wis. … Linn Grant became the first female golfer to win on the European Tour when the 22-year-old Swede obliterated a field of both male and female golfers at the Scandinavian Mixed event, winning by nine strokes after an eight-under 64 in the final round in Tylosand, Sweden. … Top-ranked amateur Rose Zhang set the tone by routing Women’s British Amateur champion Louise Duncan, and Rachel Heck completed an unbeaten week at Merion as the Americans won the Curtis Cup for the third straight time. The Americans had a 8 1/2-3 1/2 lead going into the eight Sunday singles and needed only two matches to secure the cup. They won seven of them for a 15 1/2-4 1/2 victory in Ardmore, Pa.