KORN FERRY TOUR INSIDER
Players gear up for old-style challenge at Canterbury
September 07, 2016
By Adam Stanley , PGATOUR.COM
- Canterbury GC is one of two clubs to have hosted all five rotating men's professional majors in the U.S. (Courtesy of Bill McKinley/Canterbury GC)
The opportunity to play history doesn’t come around very often for golfers on the Web.com Tour, so when it does, it’s no surprise to see a level of newfound excitement for those in the field – especially as the Web.com Tour kicks off its four-event Finals series this week in Beachwood, Ohio, about 25 minutes from downtown Cleveland.
That’s not to say the other courses on the Web.com Tour rotation aren’t worthy of their historical significance – far from it – but this week at Canterbury Golf Club marks the arrival of the Web.com Tour to a course that is only one of two in the United States that has hosted five of the rotating men’s ‘major’ tournaments (Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York being the other): the U.S. Open, PGA Championship, U.S. Senior Open, Senior PGA Championship and U.S. Amateur.
It’s a major venue with major implications for the players as they kick off the Web.com Tour Finals, the home stretch to decide who will earn PGA TOUR cards for next season.
Web.com Tour Finals 101
As mentioned, Canterbury was long known as a major venue before sliding into the Web.com Tour rotation for this year. Founded in 1921 and designed by Herbert Strong, Canterbury has appeared in numerous ‘Top 100’ lists from golf publications in the U.S.
Playing at around 7,000 yards, the course won’t challenge the players with its length, but instead will force golfers to think their way around the storied layout.
“These guys are so good that the objective will be to hit their tee shot to a certain distance to keep the ball in the fairway. They’re not going to hit a lot of drivers here, and when they do, they better keep it in the fairway because the rough is really long,” says Michael Kernicki, head golf professional, with an emphasis on ‘really.’
With rain in the forecast for most of tournament week – including Wednesday during the Pro-Am – Kernicki admits the course will soften up, but that’s not to say the players aren’t looking forward to taking their spins around Canterbury.
“They don’t play a lot of golf courses like this, so they’re all excited about it,” explains Kernicki of the field. “They’re all happy and complimentary because they have to think about where to put the ball.”
Time to Reload
The DAP Championship is in its inaugural year as part of the Web.com Tour schedule, but it comes at a key juncture in the season.
The 25 has already been decided - with high drama following most of the golfers who earned their TOUR cards thanks to strong Regular Seasons – but with more than half the field made up of PGA TOUR members who are looking to return there next year, the rewards are higher than ever.
Golfers who already earned their TOUR cards via The 25 can improve their position, while anyone from the Web.com Tour’s money list who finished Nos. 26-75 can also earn a TOUR card this week, while golfers who were Nos. 126-200 on the FedExCup – along with non-members like the affable Andrew “Beef” Johnston or the electric Bryson DeChambeau – are trying for their TOUR cards as well.
With the purses of these next four events being the biggest of the season, there is a lot riding on the Web.com Tour Finals. Plus, momentum is key. Last year, for example, Emiliano Grillo captured the Web.com Tour Championship, and then went on to win on the PGA TOUR in the fall.
Off we go
Ryan Armour – who won the first event of the Web.com Tour season and finished 12th on the money list – is an Ohio native (he’s from Akron).
Armour and Mackenzie Hughes (who went to Kent State University, about 35 minutes from Canterbury) are the lone golfers in the field with Ohio connections this week.
“The setup is great,” says Hughes of Canterbury. “It’s in great shape. It’s really pure. We never got to play it in college, but I really like this place.”
And while Hughes and Armour are hoping for a little local mojo to carry them through to a good finish this week, others, like Ollie Schniederjans, are eager to play well in order to get themselves as prepared as possible for the start of the TOUR season.
“My intention, every time I play, is to win and that will never change,” explains Schniederjans of his approach this week. “It’ll be great to some confidence going into Napa (for the Safeway Open).
For Kernicki, he says the opportunity to bring the Web.com Tour to the historically significant club was one that was too good to pass up.
“We have to keep in mind that there have been two generations of players, from Tiger Woods to these players today, who have never seen Canterbury. The U.S. Amateur in 1979 was really the last event we had the ‘young guys,’ because after that, we just had senior events. We looked at it from that light and thought, ‘Why wouldn’t we do it?’ he says. “It’s a Finals event. There’s been a great buzz with everyone coming to town the last few days. It’s going to be great.”