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In overtime, Macdonald wins Commissionaires Ottawa Open

DUNROBIN, Ontario—It took 72 holes of regulation play and four playoff holes for Canada’s Stuart Macdonald to emerge victorious at the Commissionaires Ottawa Open on Sunday. At Eagle Creek Golf Club, Macdonald made birdie on the fourth extra hole—No. 18, his fourth consecutive birdie on the hole—to oust Devon Bling and take home the title and the 500 Fortinet Cup points that go with it. Luke Schniederjans was also in the playoff but bowed out on the first extra hole.

The victory, Macdonald’s first on PGA TOUR Canada, moved him to No. 6 in the Fortinet Cup standings after beginning the week in 124th place. Immediately after securing the win, he called his wife, Carly, who, as Macdonald put it, “is very pregnant.”

Dad will have quite a tale to tell his child, who has an arrival date of mid-August.

“To get my first PGA TOUR-sanctioned win, in Canada, is huge. I’m really happy about it,” the Vancouver native said. “I’m obviously thrilled to be standing here as the champion. It’s a long-time coming. I felt like I’ve put myself in this spot a few times this year and haven’t gotten it done. It feels amazing to finally get it done.”

In the playoff, that began on the par-5 18th hole, Macdonald and Bling both birdied, and Schniederjans dropped from the proceedings with a double bogey-7. On the second extra hole, also on No. 18, both Macdonald and Bling birdied again after missing eagle tries, taking them to the par-4 ninth hole. Macdonald had the best chance at birdie there, just missing a six-footer, with both players parring, sending them back to the 18th hole for a fourth time.

“It felt like for a time we were going to have to come back [Monday] morning,” said Macdonald of the extended playoff. No need for that as Bling would three-putt for par, while Macdonald made an easy tap-in for birdie.

In regulation, it was a tight battle throughout the back nine, with the threesome emerging. Schniederjans just missed an eagle putt on the 72nd hole, a putt he thought he made. His tap-in birdie got him to 19-under, and Macdonald had an eagle putt of his own that came close but didn’t drop. He, too, tapped in to match Schniederjans’ birdie. The two then waited to see what Bling would do on the final hole. Bling joined the playoff by matching his predecessors: missing his eagle putt but tapping in for birdie.

Beginning the day three strokes behind Bling, Macdonald, playing in the third-to-last pairing, started quickly, with a birdie on his opening hole. He played bogey-free all day and added birdies on the fourth and fifth holes, with an eagle on No. 7 before he made the turn to the back nine. The birdies stopped coming for 10 consecutive holes until his birdie to close earned him a spot in the extra session.

“I would say it’s a little freeing being two groups back,” Macdonald said of his starting position. “Not playing with the lead is probably a little bit easier. I was pretty free starting the round. As I made the turn, I saw I had a one-shot lead. I pumped the brakes a little on the back nine. I was a little more conservative.”

Macdonald credited his work off the tee as the key to his win. “I was in play on almost every hole. I was pretty aggressive off the tee. I hit a lot of drivers, and I had a lot of wedges and was able to capitalize on a lot of those (approaches),” Macdonald added.

On PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, Macdonald played in eight of the 12 tournaments in the just-completed season, making every cut and recording a pair of top-six finishes—at the Colombia Classic (third) and the JHSF Brazil Open (tied for sixth). His 20th-place Totalplay Cup finish ensured his membership on the newly formed PGA TOUR Americas, set to begin play in 2024. With his performance this week, Macdonald can set his sights on returning to the Korn Ferry Tour, where he has 75 career starts, including full seasons in 2018, 2020 and 2022.

Bling, who made the cut at the 2019 Masters while still an amateur (he tied for 55th), settled for his career-best PGA TOUR Canada finish. His 65-66-66-68 showing this week added to his current streak of sub-70 scores. He has eight in succession, following his 68-67-68-64 performance last week in Quebec.

The Tour has passed the halfway point in the 2023 season and will be in action for the third consecutive week when it plays the Osprey Valley Open presented by Votorantim Cimentos CBM Aggregates at TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley. The tournament begins Thursday in the Toronto suburb of Caledon.

Did you know the last three-man playoff before this week’s Commissionaires Ottawa Open occurred in 2022, with Canadian Wil Bateman prevailing over the United States’ Joe Highsmith and Mexico’s Jorge Villar at the ATB Classic presented by Volvo Edmonton? It was the first of what turned out to be two titles Bateman won last season on his way to the Fortinet Cup title and Player of the Year honors.

Key Information

In his quest to win three consecutive tournament titles, Davis Lamb came up short this week, settling for a tie for 12th, with an impressive weekend performance of 68-65 that led to him earning 59 points. Lamb maintains his stranglehold on the Fortinet Cup standings’ top spot, holding a 513-point advantage over new No. 2 John Pak.

Of the 14 Canadians who made the cut this week, Stuart Macdonald was not only the top Canadian performer, he was the best player, capturing his first career PGA TOUR Canada title. Here is how all 14 Canadians who played the weekend fared.

Pos. Player Score

1 Stuart Macdonald 265 (19-under)

T7 Joey Savoie 268 (16-under)

T12 Jimmy Jones 270 (14-under)

T12 Sudarshan Yellamaraju 270 (14-under)

T16 Matthew Anderson 271 (13-under)

T24 Brendan MacDougall 274 (10-under)

T28 A.J. Ewart 275 (9-under)

T28 Jared du Toit 275 (9-under)

T35 Étienne Papineau 276 (8-under)

T35 Thomas Giroux 276 (8-under)

T52 Lawren Rowe 279 (5-under)

T67 Jake Lane 284 (even)

69 Johnny Travale 285 (1-over)

T71 Chris R. Wilson 289 (5-over)

Six players shot four scores in the 60s this week. They were the United States’ Devon Bling (tied for second), Luke Schniederjans (tied for second), Sam Choi (tied for sixth) and Derek Oland (tied for 10th), and Canadians Joey Savoie (tied for seventh) and Sudarshan Yellamaraju (tied for 12th).

This is Luke Schniederjans’ third season as a PGA TOUR Canada member and second playing on PGA TOUR Canada (he spent the 2021 season playing the Forme Tour). In his 14 previous PGA TOUR Canada starts, Schniderjans’ best finish prior to this week was a sixth-place effort a year ago at the GolfBC Championship.

Jimmy Jones tied the low score of the week with his 9-under 62 Sunday, matching John Pak’s performance from a day earlier. Jones began the final round tied for 40th and quickly began moving up the leaderboard, with five front-nine birdies followed by four more on the back nine on his bogey-free day. He tied for 12th. The strong finish allowed Jones to improve from No. 44 in the Fortinet Cup to No. 28. “It was just one of those days where the game has felt good, the putter got hot, and I hit some good shots. I just kept compounding those good shots and good swings, and it happened to be one of those days,” Jones said.

A year ago, a top-10 by Cooper Dossey was not an unusual occurrence as he racked up three during his 10-tournament, rookie PGA TOUR Canada season. This year has been more of a struggle as Dossey missed the cut in each of his three 2023 starts. He ended the trend this week by tying for eighth, thanks to four par-or-better rounds, including a closing 63 Sunday. Dossey moved to No. 57 in the Fortinet Cup.

Although he missed the cut this week, Derek Hitchner will be making his PGA TOUR debut next week at his hometown 3M Open. The former Pepperdine golfer, in his first year on PGA TOUR Canada, is a Minneapolis native. This season, prior to the missed cut, he tied for 27th (Elk Ridge Saskatchewan Open presented by Brandt), tied for 40th (ATB Classic) and tied for sixth last week at the Quebec Open powered by Videotron Business. Earlier this year, before turning pro, Hitchner won the prestigious Western Intercollegiate at Pasatiempo Golf Course in Santa Cruz, California, by a stroke over Owen Avrit and Yuki Moriyama.

In 2021, Clay Feagler qualified for PGA TOUR Canada by winning the Qualifying Tournament in metro Phoenix. He ultimately played that season on the Forme Tour due to the global pandemic that shut down PGA TOUR Canada. After a ninth-place finish on the Forme Tour points list, Feagler joined the Korn Ferry Tour, where he played in both 2022 and 2023. As another former Pepperdine star, a member of the Wave national championship team, Feagler is in his true first PGA TOUR Canada season, and this week he locked up his first top-10 in his second career start. After opening with a 71, Feagler reeled off rounds of 67-67-64 to tie for 10th.

Even before the tournament began, players recognized the par-4 12th hole at Eagle Creek would be a beast, and that proved to be correct. It was the most-difficult hole all four days of the Commissionaires Ottawa Open, with a cumulative stroke average of 4.390 for the four days. It yielded only 32 birdies all week but forced 141 bogeys, 27 double bogeys, three triple bogeys and one quadruple bogey. It is the second-toughest hole of the season behind only Golf Château-Bromont’s par-4 sixth from last week.

Final-Round Weather: Mostly sunny and warm. High of 27. Wind W at 6-9 kph.

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