PGA Tour heads north for Canadian Open (Jul 26, 2017)
The PGA Tour moved west back across the Atlantic Ocean this week to Oakville, Ontario, for the RBC Canadian Open.
It will be welcomed by perhaps the most Canadian of features at Glen Abbey Golf Club -- a hockey-rink-themed hole, complete with boards and a Zamboni.
But don't expect that feature to distract the field of 156 golfers that begin play on Thursday halfway between Toronto and Hamilton. Many of the golfers are still trying to secure spots in the FedExCup Playoffs while the players from Canada are hungry to keep this title at home for the first time since 1954.
Glen Abbey Golf Club was designed by Jack Nicklaus, opened in 1977 and will play to a par of 72 (35-37) and 7,253 yards. Up for grabs this week is a total purse of $6 million, with $1.08 million and 500 FedExCup points going the winner.
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Open Championship runner up Matt Kuchar headline the field, which also includes 11 major championship winners, accounting for 18 major championship victories, representing all four majors: Ernie Els and Retief Goosen of South Africa, Fiji's Vijay Singh, Bubba Watson, Keegan Bradley, Stewart Cink, Jim Furyk, Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland and Australia's Geoff Ogilvy.
Seven RBC Canadian Open winners add to the roster, including defending champion Jhonattan Vegas, Scott Piercy, Sean O'Hair, Carl Pettersson of Sweden and Chez Reavie.
In winning here last year Vegas, who is from Venezuela, reeled off five straight birdies on Nos. 2-6 in the final round of the RBC Canadian Open en route to an 8-under 64 and one-stroke win over Jon Rahm of Spain, Martin Laird of Scotland and Johnson. The victory was his second on the PGA Tour and cracked his game back into form. He's hoping that a good showing this week will do the same.
"Obviously this win gave my career a huge boost, and it's always fun coming back to places where you've had great results, especially wins," Vegas said. "I've had a horrible summer to put it the best way. I know that my game is good enough to compete against all of the guys here, but they are doing it a bit more often than I am right now.
"But it's always good to have that in the back of your mind," he added. "You've just got to keep your confidence up and keep your head on a good target and work hard towards that. It's frustrating not playing good golf, but you just have to remember the type of player you are and where you can go."
Joining the field will be 15 Canadians -- Hugo Bernard, Graham DeLaet, Jared du Toit, Brad Fritsch, Adam Hadwin, David Hearn, Matt Hill, Mackenzie Hughes, Austin James, Daniel Kim, Bryn Parry, Garrett Rank, Nick Taylor, Ryan Williams and Mike Weir -- as well as the top three players on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada Order of Merit: Robby Shelton, Johnny Ruiz and Kramer Hickock.
Weir, the eight-time PGA Tour winner and 2003 Masters Tournament champ, will be making his 26th appearance at the RBC Canadian Open. He owns three top-10s at this event. Weir will be an International Team assistant captain at the Presidents Cup in September.
The last Canadian to win the RBC Canadian Open is Pat Fletcher in 1954 at Point Gray Golf and Country Club. In 2004, Weir lost in a playoff to Vijay Singh in the 50-year anniversary of Fletcher's win.
Much of the talk on the range this week has been about the "Rink," which has been built around the par-3 seventh hole at this to help celebrate Canada's love affair with hockey and the country's 150th birthday. "Rink-side" bleachers have been erected along and behind the boards that can seat up to 5,000 patrons. The tee markers on the hole will be replaced with goalie masks, and each volunteer marshal will don a hockey referee jersey. Any time a birdie is made at the 7th, a red goalie light will go off.
"It's really neat," DeLaet said. "There's been a lot of good buzz amongst all the players already, even guys that haven't been out there. It's cool. It's obviously nothing like 16 at Scottsdale but it's something that that evolved, and maybe that's something that could happen here, as well."
This is the eighth time since 2000 that the RBC Canadian Open is being contested at Glen Abbey Golf Club and the 29th time for the club to host Canada's national championship. Glen Abbey first hosted the RBC Canadian Open in 1977 (when it was won by Lee Trevino). It was the Open's regular host each year from 1981-2000, with the exception of 1997 (Royal Montreal GC).