It shouldn’t be a surprise that this fall will be considerably different than the ones that preceded it, especially since I’m tapping out this blog while wearing shorts on a sunny day with near-summer temperatures with Thanksgiving weekend nearly upon us.
One of the stories I read before starting this blog is that the two-time winner of the Canadian Women’s Open, an event that in a previous era was an LPGA Tour major, was just named the world’s top amateur for the third year in a row.
The rise to prominence of teenager Lydia Ko is a sign of the times, but not the only indication that things are changing in an autumn in which there will be no Q-school, at least in respect to players obtaining PGA Tour cards.
Actually, the PGA Tour season will be well underway by the time the Q-school we’re used to once rolled around. It gets started this week at the Frys.com Open in California, where Stephen Ames, Mike Weir, David Hearn and Brad Fritsch are in the field.
Ames is expected to spend a lot of his time in 2014 on the Champions Tour once he turns 50 in April and Weir is on his second of two career money-list exemptions in 2013-14 and will need a solid season.
When you get past the two Canadian stalwarts on tour for so many years, the faces of a new era appear set to provide more memorable moments whether the season begins in October or its usual time in January.
It’s been awhile since things were this optimistic from a Canadian perspective, another sign that times are changing.
Most of that optimism understandably comes from Graham DeLaet after his outstanding performance in the FedEx Cup playoffs and again at the Presidents Cup, where he holed out twice in his final two matches to nicely cap off a breakthrough season.
There’s little doubt that DeLaet will go in with added confidence to complement the skills that have earned him such praise inside and outside Canada.
Confidence will go a long way for Canadians as the tour progresses. As much as DeLaet broke through this season, there’s every reason to believe that David Hearn is on the verge of his first tour victory as well after just missing in a playoff at the John Deere Classic earlier this year.
I had a chance to chat with Hearn after his 2013 season ended in a story I wrote for GolfScene Magazine, which you can read here.
Speaking of confidence, Fritsch handled himself quite well in his rookie year on tour until he ran into back problem that forced him to WD from the RBC Canadian Open and miss the cut at the Wyndham Championship.
Fritsch, to his credit, wasn’t blaming the back problem he suffered at Glen Abbey for missing the cut in the first three events of the WebDotCom Tour Finals. Then, he came from nowhere to tie for second at the WebDotCom Tour Championship to regain full-time status on tour.
I talked with Fritsch here just a couple of hours after that and his confidence appeared solid as he readied for the start of the season, which gets underway Thursday.
The feeling these days is that Canadians are not only happy with hanging in to regain their status anymore. They expect more of themselves and appear ready to take it to the next level.
If that comes to be, it will certainly prove that change can be a good thing, even if we don’t always embrace it right away.