MCCARTHY: Two more Canucks in U.S. Open ... Missing the RBC Canadian Open ... Did you say Congaree?

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There will be double the Canadians next week at Torrey Pines in California for the season’s third major.

Monday’s 36-hole final qualifying for the U.S. Open has been coined golf’s longest day, and this year because of a weather delay at the Columbus, Ohio, qualifier — where Adam Hadwin was playing —  the drama carried over to Tuesday.

When the scorecards were all signed, Hadwin and Taylor Pendrith had punched their ticket, and for the second year in a row the pair will join fellow Canadians Corey Conners and Mackenzie Hughes at the U.S. Open.

Hadwin returned Tuesday morning with just one hole to play in his second round. The Abbotsford, B.C. native finished with a second-round five-under 67, to go with his opening round two-under 70. With 16 players of 120 qualifying, Hadwin finished tied for ninth at seven-under par.

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Former RBC Canadian Open winner Chez Reavie and PGA Championship tee box destroyer Erik van Rooyen finished tied for first at 12 under. Two-time PGA Tour winner Nick Taylor failed to qualify.

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On Monday at Woodmont Country Club in Maryland, where there were 71 players battling for four spots, Pendrith earned his second trip to the U.S. Open finishing first at eight-under par.

“I hit it really nice all day, probably only missed six greens maybe,” Pendrith told the Golf Channel after his round. “I just couldn’t get anything to go the first round. I think my speed was a little bit off, but I was able to make a lot of birdies this afternoon, and the greens were firm and fast and I was able to control my speed.”

The big-hitting Pendrith, 30, is playing the best golf of his career on the Korn Ferry Tour this year and has already secured a spot on the PGA Tour for next season.

“I had a four-week stretch where I finished in the top five each week and that kind of gave me a little bit of the boost I needed,” he said. “I think my game is a little bit more well rounded now.”

Pendrith has battled injuries for much of his professional career, but has shown plenty of promise, including at last year’s U.S. Open at Winged Foot where he was the low Canadian.

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“It was crazy hard,” Pendrith said of his U.S. Open experience. “I had never played in a major before and to play there was unreal, it was super difficult. I’m really looking forward to Torrey Pines. I haven’t been back since I played in the Junior Worlds there when I was 16.”

In the end, out of more than 9,000 original entrants, 66 golfers earned their spot in the U.S. Open through nine final qualifiers this week and two in May.

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For the second straight year, the lone Canadian qualifier at Rattlesnake Point in Milton was cancelled because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

NO CANADA

It’s RBC Canadian Open week. Well, it was supposed to be at least.

For the second year in a row, both our men’s and women’s national opens have been cancelled. When the pandemic hit, the Canadian Open was a tournament on the rise. When the PGA Tour schedule was tweaked for 2019, only the PGA Championship moving from August to May could rival the benefit that the Canadian Open received by moving to the week before the U.S. Open in June. Gone was the albatross (the bad kind of albatross) of having our national open held directly after the Open Championship. Hosting a tournament the week before a major has its pros and cons, but the folks at Golf Canada and RBC managed to make the cons easy to overlook. The 2019 field was the best in decades, the early-summer festival atmosphere was electric because we all know how much Canadians look forward to shorts, T-shirts, and patios. And to top it off, the champion was Rory McIlroy.

Golf has been a surprise pandemic success story, if there can be such a thing, but for the RBC Canadian Open it’s been a deflating couple of years. Here’s to hoping the light at the end of the tunnel is real, and by next summer the pent-up demand for big events will put the wind back in the sails of our country’s biggest golf tournament.

INTRODUCING CONGAREE

In the RBC Canadian Open’s place this week is the one-off Palmetto Championship at Congaree.

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The tournament is being held at Congaree Golf Club in South Carolina, a course that shares some aesthetic qualities with Pinehurst as well as some of the Australian Sandbelt courses such as Royal Melbourne. Nobody is ready to compare the overall quality of Congaree to two of the world’s best courses, but at first glance, the 2017 Tom Fazio design looks stunning and a lot of fun to play.

Like most courses built on sand, Congaree is meant to be played firm and fast, but with recent rain in the area, early word is that it’s soft this week. Let’s hope that changes throughout the week.

Congaree is a unique golf club that has a philanthropic initiative at its core. Instead of members, it welcomes ambassadors who are interested in helping with the club’s goal of impacting the lives of youth by offering athletic, educational, and mentorship opportunities through the game of golf.

And then there’s the golf course.

“It’s incredible, a special place,” said Bryson Nimmer.

Nimmer earned a sponsors exemption into the RBC Canadian Open last year, and now the South Carolina native finds himself playing a PGA Tour event in his own backyard.

“You drive through the gates, it’s got that same feel as driving in the gates at Augusta,” he said. “Driving down that road, you got the trees hanging over, beautiful drive coming into the house, and I mean, it’s just so cool. You would never guess that it was down here in the low country, but it is, and it’s amazing. … I think people are really going to enjoy getting to see it the first time.”

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