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Canadian Open round up — Wednesday — Foley, Els and Weir

I was busy yesterday, talking to Sean Foley for a GlobalGolfPost column, talking to Stephen Ames for the same story, and sitting in on a bunch of press conferences, including Ernie Els and Mike Weir.

Let’s start my round up of the coverage with my stuff. I spent some time looking at the whirl wind that has been Ernie Els’ life since Sunday. Turns out it wasn’t as tough as you’d think:

It might sound tough to be Ernie Els – but it’s not really that challenging. Sure he has been pulled in six different directions since his unlikely win at the British Open on Sunday. Yes, he skipped the charter back from England to Toronto for the start of the RBC Canadian Open, instead taking a commercial flight into the country on Tuesday and landing several time zones away. And once he got to Hamilton, he was almost immediately whisked away on a helicopter to go to a charity function in Toronto in connection with RBC, one of his sponsors.  And it is true that he hasn’t spent any real time on the golf course where the tournament will be held, choosing instead to play with RBC chief exec Gord Nixon at Rosedale in Torobnto this morning, as opposed to participating in the traditional Wednesday pro-am.

So when he arrived in the media tent to talk to reporters today, many sympathized with Els’ plight as the beleaguered overworked athlete with tons of demands on his time. Only Els wasn’t having any of it.

“I don’t know if it’s crazy,” Els said. In fact, when he describes it, his situation sounds, well, pretty comfortable.

“I went home Sunday night to London – we had a great party Sunday night, as you can imagine,” Els explained. “I slept quite late on Monday and spent the whole day with the kids, you know, either in the pool or just having lunch or chilling.”

Does that sound burned out to you?

The rest of the column is here. 

I also wrote a shorter piece on Mike Weir. Weir, whose game has all but deserted him, comes to this year’s Canadian Open just hoping to play all four days — something he has yet to do this year. During the press conference it almost sounded like he’s come to the understanding there is more to his life than golf — and that he could move on without it. Then he back tracked on that comment:

“I mean the expectations aren’t there,” Weir said this week. “But you know, it’s no fun to play poorly, but this week is ‑‑ I see some encouraging signs.  As I said, all the balls I’ve hit, I’m seeing some good things.  So you know, that’s the way I look at this week.  I gotta start seeing some good things on the golf course.  Hopefully it’ll happen.”

 

Canadian Press also covered the Weir story, as did Score’s Bob Weeks, who included some remarks by Jim Furyk and Ernie Els:

“I went to the grocery store yesterday and a guy wished me well in the tournament,” said Jim Furyk, who won the tournament the last time it was at Hamilton, “and in the very next sentence he said, ‘But I think this is the event Mike Weir pulls out of it and wins.’  I said, ‘I’ll be honest with you, I hope you’re right.  I think it would be great.’  It would be a great story.  I wish him well, and I know how hard a worker he is, and I believe he’ll play better and start playing well again.”

“Mike is a grinder,” said Open champion Ernie Els, “and I know he’s working hard, and I’d love for him to get back to we know how he can play.  So hopefully it happens this week.”

ScoreGolf’s Jason Logan tackled the issue of Chris Ross’ exemption into the tournament — something many feel was the incorrect decision by Golf Canada. Include CanTour player Derek Gillespie among those who felt Ross shouldn’t be here:

Reached for comment about not being considered for the spot, Oshawa, Ont.’s Derek Gillespie – fifth among Canadians on the Canadian Tour order of merit this season after a horrific car accident last April nearly ended his career – expressed extreme disappointment.

“I’m really, really upset,” Gillespie said Wednesday afternoon. “I need to get my head off this because I’m so upset. I have no problem with Chris Ross, but I’ve played consistently good golf on the Canadian Tour this year and to not even get mentioned for an exemption after missing the final stage of (PGA Tour) Q-School by a shot last year is really disappointing.”

Gillespie dropped from fourth to fifth among Canadians on the Can Tour money list following a T27 at the Players Cup two weeks ago in Winnipeg. He was in a top 10 position until taking a quadruple bogey on the 15th hole. He currently sits less than $400 behind Taylor in earnings and shot 77 in the Monday qualifier.

“I didn’t think there was any shot that I wouldn’t be playing the Canadian Open this year. I really felt I deserved a spot. I really did,” Gillespie said.

The Toronto Star takes a look at the challenges of Hamilton G&CC. Peter Robinson at CBC takes a more historic look at the course, talking about its connection to Bobby Jones, among others:

Bobby Jones came to Canada before the tournament for a team event and then played the Open, which was the only time he played here. Eventually he evolved into the game’s first true global star.  Just 17 at the time, Jones too was taken by Edgar’s play on the course and his general showmanship.

“There was a particular hole with the fairway bordered on the right by a fence,” Jones is quoted in To Win and Die, almost certainly referring to Hamilton’s second hole. “Over the fence was out of bounds. Edgar would play his tee shot out over the fence with a draw that brought it back into the fairway. The crowds just loved it.”

 And finally, for those interested in what it is like to interview Stephen Ames, check out the transcript of our back-and-forth after his pro-am round yesterday. I was following up Ames’ remarks after missing the British Open cut where he said he was going to fire everyone — including longtime swing coach Sean Foley. Ames is a beauty, and is fun to talk with though it is more of a verbal sparring than a conversation:

Q.  Do you think your motivation’s been waning at all?  No?

STEPHEN AMES:  No.  I still enjoy standing on the range and beating thousands of golf balls because I love the feeling.  Motivation wise.  Just on the golf course I’m having problems with it.  That’s all it is.

Q.  And when you see Foley here, can he identify‑‑

STEPHEN AMES:  Oh, yeah.

Q.  What’s he point to?

STEPHEN AMES:  A lot of it they’re trying to change the aspect of setup being that side of the golf ball rather than that side of the golf ball which is more target oriented.

Q.  That’s easy when you’re not hitting it well ‑‑

STEPHEN AMES:  But that part’s been very good.  That part is what’s killing me.

Q.  Really?

STEPHEN AMES:  Yeah.

Q.  So he thinks the swing is okay?

STEPHEN AMES:  The swing is very good.  When you put it on camera, it’s solid.  But through the ball it’s different.

Q.  Wow.  That’s a tough one.

STEPHEN AMES:  It is.

Q.  So are the expectations low, then, this week for you?

STEPHEN AMES:  Hard to say.  I don’t have any expectations.  Put it this way.  Playing well.  Monday and today I played really well.  The golf course is a great golf course.  It always has been.

Q.  How did you play here in ’06?

STEPHEN AMES:  I played nine holes.  I withdrew.

Q.  In ’03?

STEPHEN AMES:  I’m the same as you.  I can’t remember that far back.  I don’t remember.

Q.  Nine years ago.  Nine?  Is that all?

STEPHEN AMES:  Nine and three is 12.  I can’t remember.  I think I was 14th.  I don’t know.  I can’t remember actually.

Q.  You think you played well here.

STEPHEN AMES:  I do remember playing well.  Yeah.  I can’t remember.  You have to go look.  Let me know.  Please.

Q.  I mean what’s the key, then, for you this week do you think?  Can you turn off the head?

STEPHEN AMES:  Yeah, to some extent I have to turn off the head.  That’s what I’m trying to achieve here.

Q.  Isn’t that the story of your career?

STEPHEN AMES:  Whoa.  Very good.  Turn off the head.

Q.  And I mean that in the nicest, most positive way.

STEPHEN AMES:  You, nice?  Okay.

Q.  I’m so hurt.

STEPHEN AMES:  Yeah.  I’m sure you are.  Yeah.  That’s always the case.

 

 

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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