A Bogey No One Saw

Alejandro Canizares slid in on the cut line at the Australian Open and parlayed his good fortune into a spot in the Open Championship

By Ryan French

It was early evening at Victoria Golf Club in Melbourne, Australia, and a few fans were surrounding the 9th green. The third round of the Australian Open, Australia’s national championship and most prestigious event, was winding down. Volunteers had already begun the cleanup and preparation for the final round. David Bransdon, Luke Toomey and Kohei Okada were finishing their rounds on the 9th hole opposite the leaders, who had wrapped up on the 18th almost 20 minutes earlier. Bransdon was making a mess of the difficult par-5 and would eventually make bogey. It seemed like a tournament footnote. But who could have known the ramifications that bogey-6 would have, especially for a player who had left the course almost seven hours earlier? It played a significant role in Alejandro Canizares earning a tee time in the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool next July. 

Canizares is the son of five-time European Tour winner Jose Maria Canizares. Alejandro had a decorated amateur career, including winning the individual NCAA championship in 2006 while at Arizona State. After turning pro later that year, in his third start on the European Tour, Canizares won the Russian Open by four shots. At that point he seemed destined for a career as good or better than the one his father had enjoyed. But as we know, golf can be a cruel game, Canizares wouldn’t win again for eight years. Then he opened with a 62 at the European Tour event in Morocco, led wire-to-wire and won by five. After that victory in 2014, he had solid seasons in 2015 and ’16 with a combined seven top 10s. 

The following year Canizares went into a slump that he wasn’t able to shake. He returned to Q school in five of the last six seasons, including at the end of last season. Just six weeks ago he was back in his native Spain at the second stage of Q school. After 36 holes, Canizares was outside the projected score needed to get through to the final stage. However, he moved comfortably inside the projected cut with a third-round 62, which included 10 birdies.

Two weeks later he played in the six-round gauntlet of Q school’s final stage in Tarragona, Spain. Despite playing solid golf, Canizares was again outside the projected cut heading into the fourth round. He moved comfortably inside it with a bogey-free 65. He couldn’t get anything going in the final two rounds, shooting 72-69 and finishing T-62 to earn conditional status. He would have to capitalize on the few starts he would get. The new season started the following week at the Australian PGA, and Canizares responded with a T-12. He also had a spot in the Australian Open. 

Canizares opened with an even-par 70 at Victoria Golf Club, and in the second round he shot a one-over 73 at Kingston Heath, making the 36-hole cut by one. The Australian Open stages a men’s and women’s event simultaneously, and because of that, there is also a 54-hole cut to the top 30 and ties. Canizares played well in the third round, getting to 5 under before settling for a 2-under 68 after three late bogeys. He was at 1 under for the tournament and hovering around the cut line. The excruciating wait began.

The 605-yard par-5 9th hole at Victoria National is a “genuine three-shot hole,” former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy says. “Par is never a bad score,” the Aussie is quick to add. In fact, in the third round, eventual champion Adrian Meronk and runner-up Adam Scott both made bogey there. Still, if you’re counting on a tour pro to make a bogey on a par-5 to make the cut, it’s probably time to pack your bags. 

David Bransdon came to the ninth hole (his 18th) alone in 30th place. Canizares and six others were tied for 31st. The math was simple: if Bransdon made par or better, the week would be over for those seven guys. If he made a bogey or worse, the seven would tee it up Sunday in the final round. Bransdon made bogey.

Canizares teed off for the final round at 7:55 a.m., almost four hours ahead of Scott, the third-round leader. He exchanged a pair of birdies and bogeys on the first four holes, and starting on the 6th, he began a string of three consecutive birdies. The back nine produced six pars and three more birdies. His six-under 64 would be the best score of the day by two and the second best of the week. When he finished, he was just two strokes off the lead. As Canizares finished his round, the wind freshened. Already demanding Victoria Golf Club was about to play a lot more difficult. Although Meronk shot a final-round 66, few players passed Canizares. He finished T-4, claiming one of the three spots available in the Open Championship. It was his best finish in more than a year and just his third top-five in the last six seasons. 

Now he’s exempt into the Dunhill Championship in South Africa. He also knows what he’ll be doing the third week of July.

Alejandro Canizares
Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest stories, special events, and exclusive merch drops!

1 thought on “A Bogey No One Saw”

  1. Hopefully Alejandro can take advantage of the limited number of starts this season. He’s certainly off to a great start so far!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top