Tiger, Q-School, and a Loss For Canadian Golf

It seems a few more people had their interest in golf rekindled yesterday courtesy of the win by Tiger Woods.  Sure, it was a 18-man field at a non-PGA Tour event but that did not stop  hearts from racing as Woods grabbed his first victory of any kind in almost two years.

Proponents of the 71-time PGA Tour winner were over the top in their chants that “Tiger is back” but my thought is that we’ll still need some time to see if Woods has regained the form and confidence necessary to compete at the highest levels again.  Yes, the win was a great indicator of some progress but as we should realize from Tiger’s own situation, there are never any guarantees in golf. Who would have ever thought he would be making a “comeback” at age 35 in the first place.

And as for guarantees in golf?  You only have to see that two-time U.S. Open Champion Lee Janzen and former World #1 David Duval are back at Qualifying school this week to realize it is a very fickle game that rewards nothing but good (and often great) performance.

Speaking of Q-School, two Canadian women are the newest full members of the LPGA Tour.  Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Sherbrooke and Rebecca Lee-Bentham of Toronto both finished in the top 20 at LPGA Q-School over the weekend to earn their spots on the 2012 LPGA Tour.  It is no surprise that either is having success.  Having watched both of them play a bit over the years I can tell you they are both immensely talented.

Lee-Bentham just seems to have a nose for playing well when she needs it and can make a truckload of birdies.

In 2008 I watched Leblanc shoot 63 at Camelot G&CC just east of Ottawa on her way to a Quebec Amateur title.  She bombed the ball that day, tearing the course apart while only using about five drivers the whole day.

Hopefully both will do well on tour next year although it can be a pretty tough road to make it worth your while.  Paying endorsements are hard to find for many of the LPGA Tour players and when you consider that the 80th place player on the money list in 2011 (the last spot to retain your card) only made just over $75,000, you can imagine that turning a profit can be pretty difficult after you cover your expenses.

Sad news came Sunday with word that Canadian Golf Historian James Barclay had passed in his sleep Saturday night.  The 88 year-old Glaswegian crafted some of the most significant golf history books for our country including Golf In Canada: A History.  A member of both the Ontario and Canadian Golf Hall of Fames, he contributed stories to many publication in Canada with few people able to match his knowledge of the game’s history with our borders.

On a personal note, I was recall my first meeting with Mr. Barclay to be a spirited session where we had a long talk about the original Kingston Golf Club that was founded in 1886.  Although I did not see him very often, every chance meeting would turn into a half hour conversation or longer.  I was honoured a few years back when he asked me to help him gather some information on a book project he hoped to complete on Alexa Stirling Fraser, the childhood friend of Bobby Jones and talented amateur golf champion who eventually moved to Ottawa to marry and raise a family and is buried in Pembroke, Ontario.  As small of a contribution as it was I enjoyed the chance to interact with Barclay and delve into his knowledge a bit.

James Barclay was a treasure who will be missed by the golf community.

His family is asking for donation to the GolfCanada Golf In The Schools Program in lieu of flowers. It’s very appropriate since he loved to see the game blossom.