By Dave Shedloski
The third-oldest tournament in golf, the RBC Canadian Open, once again follows the world’s oldest event, the British Open. It returns to a familiar setting this week, Glen Abbey Golf Club, a Jack-Nicklaus designed course near Toronto.
Opened in 1976, Glen Abbey will host Canada’s national championship for the 27th time. The $5.8 million event features five of the top 15 players in the world, including Jason Day, who fell one stroke shy of the three-man playoff won by Zach Johnson in the British Open at St. Andrews, in Scotland. Day is one of 27 players who competed last week at the Old Course. Others include Jim Furyk (a two-time Canadian Open champ), Matt Kuchar, Ernie Els, Luke Donald and Graeme McDowell, all sponsored by RBC and part of the advertising initiative known as Team RBC.
A recurring annual storyline worth following: no Canadian-born player has won the tournament since Pat Fletcher in 1954. Another is that only five weeks remain in the FedExCup regular season on the PGA TOUR.
Veteran CBS Sports on-course reporter Peter Kostis looks at the field and what to expect as another national championship is contested.
The Canadian Open is such a special event, a national championship with a long history. But it comes at a difficult time as players make their way back from the United Kingdom and the British Open. There’s a great field, but it’s always a challenge.
This part of the schedule is really an extended crunch time for these guys, going through September and into the Presidents Cup. To see 27 players from the British Open come to Canada is a testament to the tournament, and it’s obviously great to see. The charter (plane) from John Deere to the Open obviously helped John Deere, and the return charter from St. Andrews to Toronto helps the Canadian Open. It’s a win-win.
Of the 27 in the field from St. Andrews, one is Jason Day, who coming off his second straight near-miss in a major. How does a player like Jason collect himself and prepare for another tournament so quickly after a huge disappointment?
That’s always the issue from week to week. If you’ve given your all, you should be exhausted both mentally and physically, and the challenge is, how do you recuperate by the next Thursday? How do you get your energy level back up to peak level? It’s extra hard for those guys who played at St. Andrews, because they are working on a short week with the Monday finish.
What kind of players do you look for to have success at Glen Abbey?
It depends on the setup and the weather. The last few years we’ve had a lot of rain. Glen Abbey is the kind of golf course that, if the rough is down, it might favor a longer hitter. But you look at the last few years, it hasn’t favored the longer hitters: Brandt Snedeker, Chez Reavie, Nathan Green… they weren’t bombers. It’s a typical U.S. Open slash Canadian Open-type course where hitting fairways and greens is more generally rewarded. We’re seeing setups of late where the rough is fairly penal, and that puts a premium on getting the ball in play, or you pay a hefty price.
Tim Clark, the defending champion, had visa troubles that prevented him from competing in the Open Championship at St. Andrews. Will he have even more incentive when the gun goes off to defend his title this week?
I think the biggest thing with Tim is his physical health. He might be a little bit rusty having not played very much recently (this will be his third start since January). But I think what you’re swapping out is one set of problems for another. The problems of jet lag and getting back to Toronto and having to compete again right after a major championship are all big challenges. But playing after having not been in a competitive environment for a while is a challenge, too.
Give us your favorites and dark horses.
For starters, when it comes to favorites, I have to look at some of the Team RBC players. I think that has helped enhance the quality of the field. I would go with Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar. Luke Donald is prototypical of what you’d like to see in a player at Glen Abbey. Graham DeLaet is a really good ball-striker, and the top Canadian player. I’m not sure he could be classified as a dark horse, but I think if he can make some putts this week he could be there at the end.
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.