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After finishing his final round Sunday at LIV Golf Andalucía, Laurie Canter flew back home to England with his wife, who had attended the tournament in Spain. They walked through the front door at 1 a.m. Monday.

A few hours later, their daughter was dropped off by his wife’s parents, the babysitters for last week. That allowed the young family to spend an hour together having breakfast. Canter then jumped in his car and made the four-hour drive to Wales, which was hosting one of the four Open Championship qualifiers.

After a short lunch, Canter headed to Royal Porthcawl for prep work. The wind was so severe, though, that he decided not to play a practice round, instead opting to walk the course that he last played 10 years ago as a junior. Thirty-six holes awaited him and his competitors on Tuesday, with five spots at stake.

It was a good day. Canter shot 69 in the morning, then 65 – the afternoon low score in the field – to finish at 8 under, four strokes better than the next closest qualifier. It was the third time Canter had gone through qualifying to earn an Open spot, and he’ll make his fourth career start in golf’s oldest major July 20-23 at Royal Liverpool.

He then drove back home and arrived at Centurion Club on Wednesday morning, refocused on this week’s LIV Golf London as part of the England-centric Majesticks GC that will receive the most support – and perhaps the highest expectations – this week as the home favourites. The good news is the course is only about 30 minutes from his house. Even so …

“It’s been a long three days,” Canter said.

Totally worth it, of course. Such is the life of a 33-year-old professional golfer who is trying to maximize his opportunities and find his footing during this groundbreaking moment in the sport. And like many of the players who’ve been associated with LIV Golf since the inaugural event at Centurion 13 months ago, it’s been a wild ride.

Canter was part of the original Majesticks team co-captained by Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood that finished in third place a year ago. But when Henrik Stenson joined the team in the third event at Bedminster, Canter was the odd man out, and he transferred to Cleeks GC. Difficult to argue with the Majesticks’ decision, given that Stenson immediately supplied the team with its lone trophy, winning the individual title in his debut.

Still, it was an indication that LIV Golf’s team format and its potential player movement had tapped into previously unexplored territory in the sport.

Canter’s results improved after joining Cleeks, as he earned points in his first three starts. Entering the final regular-season tournament in Jeddah, he ranked 26th in points, just one point shy of the top 24 players guaranteed spots in the 2023 LIV Golf League.

Unfortunately for Canter, he did not acquire any points in Jeddah, finishing 30th. His future in LIV Golf was not secure, and at that point, options on some of the other tours were not available to him.

Making it even tougher was that LIV Golf’s tiebreaking system in regard to points did not benefit him. Ties on a tournament’s individual leaderboard are broken via final-round results for points purposes, and Canter’s Sunday rounds were not as productive as needed.

Take LIV Golf Chicago last year. Canter finished in a four-way tie for 8th on the traditional leaderboard but because he shot the highest final-round score among the tied players, his points finish was 11th, which is worth 8 points. Had he shot the best final-round score, he would’ve earned 12 points.

Same thing happened in the following tournament in Bangkok. Canter tied for 10th on the traditional leaderboard but shot the higher final-round score and was 11th in points. The difference between 10th and 11th is two points.

“A couple of my top 10s, I ended up getting low ranking points and miss top 24 by a point,” Canter said. “You think, ‘Is that fair?’ But ultimately, you’ve got to wrap your head around it. That’s the system. If you don’t like it, go and play somewhere else. And I like it.”

Despite the disappointment of not finishing in the top 24, Canter was determined to stay positive and contribute to the Cleeks at the season-ending Team Championship. In the first-day Quarterfinals, he defeated Jediah Morgan 1 up in their singles match, helping the Cleeks advance despite not having injured captain Martin Kaymer available. The Cleeks were eliminated the next day by the eventual champion 4Aces GC, but Canter again held up his end, beating Patrick Reed 2 and 1 in singles.

After that, Canter wasn’t sure when he’d next tee it up on LIV Golf.

As it turned out, Kaymer’s rehabilitation from wrist surgery opened up a spot in the Cleeks’ 2023 lineup, and so Canter was called up from the reserve list. He played the first three events, claiming points in Orlando with a 15th place.

Kaymer returned – but then another spot opened up, this time on the Majesticks, with Sam Horsfield knocked out indefinitely due to hip surgery. The captains quickly brought back their former teammate, and Canter will likely finish out the season while Horsfield rehabs. Funny how things worked out.

“Look, I’ve been very fortunate this year,” Canter said. “It’s not nice what happened to Sam, but it’s opened up an opportunity for me. Lee, Henrik and Ian were fantastic with me. They came to me when they knew Sam was going to be out for a bit and said, ‘We’d like to put our faith in you as a reserve. We’re going to pick you for every week, and we want to make you feel like part of the team. We recognize that would be important for you if we were in your shoes.’

“They didn’t have to do that. There’s guys like Andy Ogletree pulling up trees on the International Series and they could easily have said they’re going with him. But I think they recognized that I played a lot in Europe and that I was kind of developing and they could see my potential to be a top player and they thought maybe they could help me get there. Every week that I’m with them, I’m obviously grateful for.”

On Friday, Canter will join Westwood and Poulter in the all-Majesticks group that tees off on the 18th hole. They’ll likely be the most popular trio on the course. As such, they’ll push hard to provide their home fans something worth cheering about in a season that thus far has been more productive for the team off the course than on it.

Individually, Canter is again chasing a top 24 spot to secure a spot for 2024. He’s currently 40th in points but has been trending upward with each start since joining the Majesticks – 48th in Adelaide, 29th in Singapore, 23rd in Tulsa, 21st in DC and 19th last week in Andalucía.

Add in Tuesday’s successful qualifying for the Open, and Canter enters Friday’s round at Centurion with plenty of momentum. On the long drive home Tuesday night, he had plenty of time to analyze the state of his game – and appreciate the last 13 months.

“Going there where the field just isn’t what I’ve been playing in, I thought, ‘I’m playing pretty good golf here,’” Canter said. “Just maybe a little run of holes out of being in contention in one of these tournaments. It just brought home how strong and how good everyone is out here – and in my own head, realize I’m doing pretty well.n I’m playing pretty good golf and being in this environment has improved my game. That’s kind of what I suspected but until you go back into a different pond, you don’t really know.”

Canter knows he’s fortunate to be on a team with European stars Westwood, Poulter and Stenson, with the established trio providing him with a priceless golf education. Younger players on other teams are getting the same experience.

“Just seeing the superstars and the seasoned pros – how they prepare, what they do, the shots they’re hitting – if you came out here for a year, you’re going to get better,” Canter said. “If you got worse, you’d have to be an absolute fathead. You’d have to really not be taking anything in or not opening your eyes.

“It’s been an amazing golfing experience for someone trying to move their game on, to have access that you’d never get on another tour.”

Canter would love for it to continue next year. Five regular-season tournaments remain to secure a spot. If the upward trend continues, he should be in good shape. Going low on Sundays would obviously help too.