For Justin Thomas, a loaded ranking at the RBC Canadian Open is the perfect hunter for LIV Golf | Golf News and Tour Information
Jay Monahan has his hands full this week and beyond — you know, the existential crisis of his tour and all — but this week’s RBC Canadian Open standings should make the PGA Tour commissioner smile. The field at St. George’s this week is heavy on star power but light on depth, which is fine as long as the stars are doing their thing. And they are.
Just hours after world number 126 Charl Schwartzel won $4.75 million at the inaugural LIV event, three of the world’s top players have booked a spot in the final trio for this first Canadian Open since 2019. Sunday tee times have increased due to a worrying forecast, Rory McIlroy (65) and Tony Finau (62) share the lead at 11 under, and they will be joined on Sunday by Justin Thomas (63), who is two back with Sam Burns, looking for his second straight win and fourth of the season, 36-hole leader Wyndham Clark and rookie Alex Smalley.
Here are three more takeaways before the final lap north of the border.
McIlroy is expected to run for Prime Minister
If the PGA Tour had a sitcom, it would be called “Everybody Loves Rory.” He’s probably the most universally loved player among fans and peers, but the love somehow seems to go deeper in Canada. Making his return to RBC three years after shooting a 61st final round to win it last time out, McIlroy was adoringly serenaded all day, and as the booze continued to flow deep on Saturday afternoon, the cries became even more passionate. By the time he stuck a six-foot approach at 18, fans had burst into a full-blown chant of Ro-ry, Ro-ry Ro-ry Ro-ry! to the tune of the famous football ole! For a man who has always been a bit unsure of his national identity – he was born in Northern Ireland, feels British, lives in the United States and is married to an American – Canada is trying hard to adopt him as his.
“Yeah, it’s amazing, the atmosphere there today was…I can’t remember the last time I played in an atmosphere like that,” McIlroy said. “It was really special. Walking to the 16th tee, The Rink, my ears were ringing as I hit that tee shot. So, no, it’s going to be loud again tomorrow and it’s definitely a lot of fun for us to play. I really appreciate everyone for coming out and supporting this event.
McIlroy’s game is in excellent shape ahead of next week’s US Open, and he’s in prime position to win for the 21st time on the PGA Tour.
Thomas feels warm and fuzzy inside
In his letter announcing the suspension of LIV defectors, Monahan pointed to this week’s RBC Canadian Open as a shining example of all that is good with the PGA Tour. A national open, on a world-class golf course, with tons of history and a field full of the best players in the world. And, if we look at the legacy-for-money dynamic that the PGA Tour wants to establish, there is a feel-good aspect to this week with the return to Canada. Money in play this week is not comparable to Lucre LIV, and that will not change; the PGA Tour however holds the advantage of the quality of the golfers. At least for now. And it’s almost as if the cleats showed up on Saturday to remind the golfing world of that fact. Thomas loved to see him.
“It’s really cool,” Thomas said of the stacked leaderboard and fan support. “Obviously, with everything going on, this week was going to be very special regardless. … Without sounding corny, it makes me kind of happy to see this. There’s no other place where I would like to play. …obviously with a tournament like this and the history it has and how long it’s been played, there were a lot of great past champions and places and dramas. And it looks like he has potential tomorrow to produce a little more of that and create a little more history.
Thomas and McIlroy have become spokespersons for the PGA Tour over the past week, and McIlroy echoed the sentiment of fellow Florida native Jupiter.
“It’s definitely the best atmosphere of any golf tournament going on this week,” McIlroy said. “Yeah, the crowd support is amazing and, yeah, I’m pretty sure what’s going to happen over the last 18 holes here is going to be more.”
Drake is from Toronto; if you’ve heard any of his songs, you know it. Finau is a huge Drake fan, which would make a win on Sunday that bit more special. It’s a distinct possibility after a sizzling eight-under 62 catapulted him up the leaderboard.
“I know Drake is from 6. I like Drake, I like a lot of his songs. And he has a certain rhythm in his style of rapping, which I think makes him one of the great rappers” , said Finau. “I think he has good pace and a big Drake fan, so it was pretty cool to be in his hometown for a bit.
He was asked if there was a specific song he would listen to in preparation for the final round.
“I think there are a lot of Drake songs that are good. ‘Controlla’ is a song I always come back to,” he said. “It’s just, again, a slower song, but yeah, I like Drake’s style. It’s probably the one that could be repeated tomorrow morning.
If Finau was to do the job on Sunday, Drake is expected to pay tribute to him in an upcoming track. It’s only justice.