Records Fall at the RBC Canadian Open

Despite difficult weather conditions at this week's RBC Canadian Open (over five inches of rain fell on the Glen Abbey Golf Club during the first four days, suspending play and forcing a Monday finish) the tournament provided an unusual abundance of drama for golf fans.

Nathan Green trusted his Pro V1 golf ball to shoot four rounds in the sixties and then claim victory in a sudden death playoff. It was the first win for the 34-year-old Australian in 112 career PGA TOUR starts.

In the softened conditions, the course became vulnerable, as evidenced not only by the low scoring (Green posted an 18-under 270 in regulation play) but also by two notable PGA TOUR records that fell at the RBC. Pro V1 loyalist Mark Calcavecchia set a new PGA Tour record in the third round of the Canadian Open with a run of nine consecutive birdies.

"Minnesota" Leif Olson and "Calc" Goes Low

The 49-year-old Calcavecchia is no stranger to going low. In 2001 he set the PGA Tour 72-hole scoring record at the Phoenix Open with a 256 total (65-60-64-67). This mark was eclipsed two years later by Pro V1x loyalist Tommy Armour III, who shot 254 (64-62-63-65) at the 2003 Valero Texas Open. Calcavecchia's amazing run started on the par-three 12th hole - his third - and continued all the way to the par-five 2nd. Throughout these holes, Calcavecchia never had longer than a 15-foot putt for birdie.

He arrived at the 2nd tee knowing that he needed one more birdie for the record. He took some advice from his 15-year-old son, Eric, who was caddying for Mark. As Mark recounted in his post-round press conference, "Super Caddie over here says, 'Don't hit it left.' I hit probably the best drive of the day."

He converted his birdie, but the streak ended on the par-four 3rd when his chip from over the green went five feet past. The previous record of eight birdies was held by a half dozen players and last achieved by Pro V1x loyalist Jerry Kelly in 2003.

Another remarkable record was set at the 2009 RBC Canadian Open when eight different players recorded holes-in-one, obliterating the previous mark of five, which was set at the 2004 John Deere Classic. Among the players to score 1's were local favorite Mike Weir (Pro V1) at the 197-yard 4th hole, Kevin Sutherland (Pro V1x) at the 156-yard 7th, and Arjun Atwal (Pro V1x), Briny Baird (Pro V1), and Leif Olson (Pro V1x) at the 141-yard 15th.

All holes-in-one are spectacular, but Leif Olson's was particularly noteworthy, both as a golf shot and as an amazing "billiard" shot. Olson played a 3/4 AP2 9-iron beyond the front pin and spun the ball back, where it glanced off his playing partner's ball (which had already found the putting surface). The ball veered to the left and curled right into the center of the cup. To see Leif's amazing shot, as well as some highlights from Mark Calcavecchia's birdie-binge, click on the video above, courtesy of YouTube and ESPN.

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2 Replies

  1. Robert Sellman

    Andy:  Thanks for your comment.  Very insightful.

  2. Robert Sellman

    The hole-in-one for Arjun Atwal almost turned around his fortunes. It for sure started a run for him in the second round at the Canadian Open. On his comeback trail, it looked like he would make the cut for the first time after returning from Shoulder injury. He shot a round of five-under and missed a 66 by an inch as his birdie putt on the final hole just stayed out. As it turned out, he missed the cut by one stroke, with the rest of the field taking advantage of the great playing condition to move ahead.

    But, undoubtedly, the moment of the tournament had to be that hole-in-one from Olson. Never before have I seen a perfectly orchestrated putt like that. Most holes-in-one, I guess, are lucky breaks, but this one was something else. And to top it off, he got a shiny new BMW roadster.

    I wonder if BMW had actually insured their hole-in-one sponsorship. They said no one had made an ace on that hole in more than 25 years of the Canadian Open there and yet here we had four guys walk away with BMWs just for that achievement