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Borrowed clubs and a Coors Light polo: Inside the missing-clubs crisis on PGA Tour Canada

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Harrison Ott didn’t have his clubs. He didn’t even have a collared shirt.

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The Vanderbilt freshman was scheduled to compete in Monday’s PGA Tour Canada’s Prince Edward Island Open qualifier, but he was also one of about 50 players still waiting for an airline flight to deliver their golf as of Monday afternoon. clubs and other luggage.

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Players who arrived at Prince Edward Island on one of at least three separate Air Canada flights in the past 24 hours have reported that their golf clubs have not arrived. This included Ott’s connection from Toronto, which, after numerous delays, landed around 2am on Monday.

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“There were like 30 players on my flight and we all go to baggage claim and the bags start going around and almost no one even picks them up,” Ott said. “It turned out they were backup bags from previous flights that had no luggage.

“Not a single golfer got his clubs.”

While some players, including Ott’s roommate Ollie Osbourne, decided to withdraw from the qualifier, Ott decided to improvise. Despite sleeping less than three hours after waiting on his bags to no avail until around 3:30 a.m., Ott showed up Monday morning at the Belvedere Golf Club in Charlottetown, hoping to find some usable clubs. He heard that the club is working hard to put together kits for the players.

Ott originally got a set of hollow-back irons on loan and was thinking about finishing the week – exactly 20 players withdrew from the qualifier – when one of the contestants turned down a set of the same irons and wedges Ott uses, albeit with different rods. and angles of lies. He borrowed a rider from the top pro and a stick from another pro, bought two ball sleeves and a glove, and decided he could walk. Not really.

“I was wearing a T-shirt, sweatpants and tennis shoes, so I asked if I needed a collared shirt for the game and they said yes,” Ott said. “So the professional goes to his office and brings me two polo shirts to wear.”

One polo shirt was plain navy blue but had long sleeves. The other was a blue striped polo with the Coors Light logo but with short sleeves. Ott went with the latter.

“I wore it loose over my sweatpants,” Ott said, laughing. “I went out there not knowing what to expect. I texted my dad about 45 minutes before I played with the rental, and right before the game started, he said, “Seriously?”

As Ott described it, on Monday, 17 irons hit the left and one hit the right. However, being one of about 12 players who had to use clubs in tackles, Ott hit a 4 to 68, marked with an eagle on his 12 hole, and was able to earn one of eight spots in the course this week at Dundarave Golf Club in Cardigan.

“Crazy,” said Ott, who didn’t like the idea of ​​using the same set for a real tournament. In any case, he planned, as a last resort, to spend the night with him several old clubs.

“Hopefully our clubs will come,” he added, “although I’m not too sure they will. Nobody could have predicted this, so it’s hard to get upset about it.”

While Ott was playing his qualifying match, Osbourne went to the airport to see if their clubs were on a late-arriving flight. No luck, although Osbourne was sent back to the hotel with a “care package” – a white T-shirt, toothbrush and toothpaste. Ott then received an email from Air Canada that his clubs were due to arrive on a 6:00 pm flight (the original message from another player was that golf bags had started arriving from this flight and another from Montreal, but the clubs of many players still haven’t arrived). not coming). After that, there is another flight with about 30 players due to arrive after midnight.

“If those guys who were on this flight don’t get their bags, it’s not going to be any good,” said Dylan Meyer, who was on Ott’s flight from Toronto to Prince Edward Island and still without his clubs.

“My back-up plan is if my clubs don’t show up, I’ll go home. Yes, you can rent a set, but at the same time, I feel like it’s just a waste of my time on it. It would definitely suck, but I hope I get on one of the first flights and maybe I can get my bag.”

Ott added: “Anyone who doesn’t get priority on Tuesday or Wednesday, or even someone who is late tonight, will have a very hard time. [for them to get their clubs].”

Taylor Funk is still stuck in Montreal as he had two flights canceled and 30 hours have passed since his original arrival.

“At this point, it’s more than absurd,” Funk said.

Scott Pritchard, chief executive of the PGA Tour Canada, said tour members are aware of the baggage issues and have spoken to many of the affected members, many of whom traveled from the Elk Ridge Open last week in Saskatoon, where there were heavy rains and a wet track. forced the officials to cancel the tournament with some players not even in the first round. Ott entered this event as a substitute and was equal to the lead when the tournament was cancelled.

Several other players, such as Ty Strafaci, who opted out of qualifying on Monday, also had their flight canceled after the tour opened earlier this month, preventing them from making it to the US Open final qualifying time.

“It’s difficult because a lot of what’s going on is out of our control,” Pritchard said. “We couldn’t have expected it. I know there have been some issues with airlines since COVID and a shortage of manpower and all the various reasons why things are happening the way they are, but for the most part the players have been great. They behave like professionals in difficult times.”

For the players who competed last week, the PGA Tour wrote out a check for $200,000, which was split evenly among the players, for about $1,300 per player. Pritchard remained hopeful that this week’s crisis would resolve itself without further disruption.

“Fortunately, today is only Monday, so we have some time,” he said. “I know being away from your clubs as a professional golfer makes these guys nervous about this, but hopefully things will work out and I hope time is on our side here.”


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