My latest Sympatico column went live last week — I just forgot to link to it. Here’s the first couple of paragraphs:
For years the Canadian Open has been considered the ugly stepchild of the PGA Tour
While other events were awarded better dates and in turn had bigger stars turn up, the Canadian Open was saddled with poor dates and worse fields.
The date may still be marginal in the eyes of most, but it is safe to say under the watchful eye of sponsor RBC, the Canadian Open is in the stages of a rebirth and revitalization. It started when it was announced this year’s tournament would go to St. George’s, one of the best courses not only in Canada, but in the world. And last week Golf Canada, the new moniker of the Royal Canadian Golf Association, announced an initial field of solid veterans and exciting newcomers. That means last year’s runner up, Retief Goosen, will tip it up alongside Fred Couples, while colourful rookie (in terms of play and style) Rickie Fowler will join twenty-somethings Sean O’Hair and Camilo Villegas. And of course there will be the stalwart Canadians – Stephen Ames and a struggling Mike Weir – alongside long-hitting Saskatchewan native Graham DeLaet.
Sure neither Tiger nor Phil will be in Etobicoke for the third week in July, but truthfully no one should expect them. Given all of his on-course and off-course woes, there was never a suggestion Woods would be coming for the event, which he last played in 2001. He’d previously told Golf Canada that he wasn’t playing the week after a major – Canada’s top event follows the British Open, after all – and that was before he had to fight off the paparazzi and the pull hooks. Mickelson, who last played in 2004, has rarely shown up in Canada. Given the continued difficulties facing his wife’s battle with breast cancer and his limited playing schedule, Mickelson was always considered unlikely. If you then take out Englishman Lee Westwood, who only plays a handful of North American events each year, out of the mix, the Canadian Open field is shaping up to be the strongest in recent years.
The rest of the column can be found at Sympatico’s golf site.