Ian Baker-Finch On RBC Canadian Open: ‘It Means A Little More’

By Dave Shedloski

This week is the renewal of L’Omnium Canadien, the French term for the tournament otherwise known as the Canadian Open. Now sponsored by RBC, the Canadian Open is the third oldest continuously running event on the PGA Tour. Only the Open Championship and the U.S. Open are older.

The first Canadian Open was held in 1904, but it’s 1954 that matters to most Canadian golf fans. That was the year Pat Fletcher triumphed, the last Canadian-born player to win the championship.

This week’s RBC Canadian Open returns for the 28th time to Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario, where the Royal Canadian Golf Association is based. No other venue has hosted the event more than the Jack Nicklaus-designed layout, which opened in 1976 and represents the first solo design by the Golden Bear. The course measures 7,253 yards, par 72.

World No. 1 Jason Day is the defending champion, rallying past Canada’s David Hearn last year to begin an impressive run for the Aussie that included his win in the PGA Championship. He and world No. 2 Dustin Johnson lead a field that includes five of the top 15 in the FedExCup standings and nine of the top 30.

CBS Sports golf analyst Ian Baker-Finch provides insight on what to expect this week.

Thirty-five players are competing after playing at Royal Troon. How will that impact them?

Honestly, what we saw last week was inspiring, that battle between Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson. There’s going to be a carry-over this week as players are pumped up about it and they’re going to be ready to go. Plus, I play the national-open card here. It’s one of the most important events in golf. It means a little more than some others.

Is it actually a benefit to the Canadian Open to be smack between major championships?

It’s better than [having] a few weeks between the majors. It’s more immediate. Guys are not in recover mode from the Open Championship but [interested] in keeping their form. And it’s not far from Toronto to Newark for Baltusrol. And we have a great field at Glen Abbey. The competition is going to be fantastic.

Check out other golf expert interviews.

Talk about the host venue, Glen Abbey. Which players might it favor?

I’m not sure it favors anyone. It just requires good all-around golf. But you look at the players who have won there. It produces great champions: Greg Norman, Tiger Woods, Jason Day … great players. So that says a lot about the venue when it produces great champions and great champions want to play there.

David Hearn led after 54 holes last year. Mike Weir also came close to winning. Which Canadian player has the best chance to break the drought?

It would be nice to see David Hearn get right back in contention again. Graham DeLaet is coming off a strong finish last week (at the Barbasol Championship). Adam Hadwin probably has a good chance as well.

Give us your favorites and long shots.

Long shots would have to include Emiliano Grillo … He has a really good swing, and nearly made top 10 at Troon. I also like Colt Knost, who is a good driver of the golf ball. The favorites, you have to look at the top two players. Jason Day is the defending champion and No. 1 in the world. Dustin Johnson leads the FedExCup and has 11 top 10s this year.

Journalist and author David Shedloski of Columbus, Ohio, has been covering golf since 1986, first as a daily newspaper reporter and later as a freelance writer for various magazines and Internet outlets. A winner of 23 national writing awards, including 20 for golf coverage, Shedloski is currently a contributing writer for Golf World and GolfDigest.com and serves as editorial director for The Memorial, the official magazine of the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio. He is the author of three books and has contributed to three others, including the second edition of “Golf For Dummies,” with Gary McCord. He’s a fan of all Cleveland professional sports teams, the poor fellow.

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