Nathan Green takes RBC Canadian Open in playoff over Retief Goosen
It only stands to reason that this RBC Canadian Open would produce a champion from Toronto who honed his game on the Canadian Tour. And isn't actually Canadian.
OAKVILLE, Ont - It only stands to reason that this RBC Canadian Open would produce a champion from Toronto who honed his game on the Canadian Tour. And isn't actually Canadian.
Nathan Green is as Australian as they come and won golf's third-oldest championship Monday by outlasting Retief Goosen in a two-hole playoff - yet another surprise from a tournament that was full of them.
It was the first PGA Tour win for the 34-year-old, who entered the week 27 worldwide victories behind Goosen and 269 places back in the world rankings.
"This is pretty much the last thing I was expecting to do," said Green.
Anyone who was at Glen Abbey for this event should really have been expecting the unexpected. There were eight holes-in-one in total - three more than any other PGA Tour event since 1971 - and a record nine straight birdies from Mark Calcavecchia on Saturday morning; there was an endless slew of rain delays and the first Monday finish at this tournament since 1988.
And in the end, there was another unlikely winner following Chez Reavie's victory at this event last July.
Green is a resident of Toronto, Australia - a small town named in honour of a Canadian rower that once visited the area - and spent three years playing the Canadian Tour. One of his three previous professional victories came at a tour stop in Sudbury, Ont., in 2000.
He was telling people all week how much he enjoys visiting Canada.
"It was a huge surprise to finally win," said Green. "This is where I started my pro career. I love coming up here. The people are great."
Rain battered the course for four days before giving way to sunshine on Monday morning, allowing golfers to complete what was left of their third round as well as all of the fourth round.
Green finished off a 69 in the morning before posting a bogey-free 68 in the afternoon - playing 28 holes in total. An eagle at the 72nd hole gave Goosen a fourth-round 69 that was good enough to get him in a playoff at 18-under 270.
Anthony Kim (73) and Jason Dufner (73) finished four shots back while Lee Janzen (67), Brandt Snedeker (68) and Jerry Kelly (71) were another stroke off.
Chris Baryla of Vernon, B.C., shot a splendid final-round 66 to match Calgary's Stephen Ames (67) as the low Canadian. They each tied for eighth.
"Being (tied for) low Canadian is a huge achievement for me, absolutely," said Baryla, a regular on the Nationwide Tour. "It's the difference between thinking that I have the ability and validation, and it's nice to have that validation."
Green got some validation of his own after spending three full seasons on the PGA Tour without registering a victory.
He earned US$918,000 from the $5.1-million event and jumped to 43rd on the tour's money list. Even more importantly, he is now exempt on the PGA Tour through 2011 and will be extended an invitation to next year's Masters.
"It's just such a buzz for me to be able to turn the year around so dramatically," said Green. "That's more than I thought I could have done."
Goosen wasn't too upset after falling just short.
He's been enjoying something of a renaissance since turning 40 earlier this year, registering a win at the PGA Tour's Transitions Championship in March. He's now on a run of four straight top-10 finishes worldwide.
"I've been leading or within one or two shots of the lead in the last four events and haven't been able to pull it off," said Goosen. "I need to just pray a little bit harder on Sundays - or Monday."
Green moved to the top of the leaderboard as Goosen and Kim - two of the top-ranked players in the field - each made mistakes on the final nine.
Even though Green didn't end up making a bogey over his final 21 holes, he did fail to birdie the easy par-5 18th twice in the tournament's last hour - first, failing to win in regulation before "dodging a bullet" on the opening playoff hole when Goosen missed a six-footer for birdie that would have ended it.
"I had my chances to win, and unfortunately I hit a poor putt," said Goosen.
Green clinched the title on No. 17 after making a par and watching the South African fail to get up-and-down from behind the green. He wore a look of disbelief when Goosen's eight-foot putt to extend the playoff missed wide.
Most of the golfers were thrilled to bid farewell to a course that many had visited on eight consecutive days.
"Eight (days)? Oh, I thought it was two weeks," said Ames. "Sorry. Yeah, it is a relief to get it over with - finally."
Even an exhausted-looking Green could identify.
Fittingly, the rain started up again while he sat in the media tent talking about his victory while clutching a yellow flag he's going to keep as a souvenir from the win.
"It's just been a bizarre week, a long week," said Green. "To get my first win in Canada, where I spent a lot of years playing on the Canadian Tour, is a great way to have a first one."
Notes: Mike Weir of Bright's Grove, Ont., shot 71 and tied for 24th while Graham Delaet of Weyburn, Sask., had a 71 and tied for 46th ... Kevin Sutherland aced the 7th on Monday, extending the record number of holes-in-one ... The tour incorrectly listed Janzen as withdrawn on Friday night. He ended up tying for fifth ... The last time two Canadians finished in the top-10 at this event was 1989 when Dave Barr (T8) and Dan Halldorson (T10) did it ... Next year's Canadian Open will be held at nearby St. George's Golf and Country Club for the first time since 1968.