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Canadian Open: Round Two Wrap Up

Mike Weir looked dejected, Scott Piercy played well despite not being a big fan of classic courses, and Ernie Els took the weekend off. In all, Hamilton Golf and Country Club played easier for some and harder for others. Tim Clark matched the course record apparently set the day before (depending on what course record you buy into), and Bud Cauley shot up the leader board. In all, the course was soft — and I’m surprised the scores weren’t better. There was talk that Hamilton is simply too short. Apparently Kyle Stanley almost drove the first green and the longest club Camilo Villegas hit all day was a 7-iron — and that was into 18. Is Hamilton a course that time has passed by? Interesting to consider because if that’s the case there aren’t many places in Canada left to play. Perhaps a longer, more modern course?

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Mike Weir missed another cut. Not altogether surprising and I’d think there would be some positives he could take away from the rounds, except he didn’t seem to think that was the case. Hand Weir a driver and it looks like you’ve asked him to drive the ball with a live venomous reptile. Which is a shame because he didn’t play badly otherwise — and his short game looks sharp. His post-round interview was brief, and Weir didn’t offer much on the state of his game:

Q.  Are there positives you can take away from the week?

MIKE WEIR:  Like I said, I’ll think about that in a few minutes once I get time to settle in and reassess it and go over my notes and kind of what I was trying to get out of it.

 Until Weir manages to fix his problems with his driver — or his head — I doubt he’s a factor. He’ll play next week and it wouldn’t surprise me if he doesn’t return until the fall, or even next year. There’s lots of work that needs to be done.
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Scott Piercy bombs the ball and is in the lead, but he’s not a huge fan of classic courses like Hamilton. He prefers the bomb and gouge courses. At least that’s what he told the single reporter who showed up for his press conference. Piercy did a scrum after his round, so no one expected him in the media room. But he showed up anyway, and Score’s Rick Young was the only one waiting for him. They had an interesting exchange on what Piercy likes, and doesn’t like, when it comes to courses:

Q.  When you get into a course like this and you get to a traditional, old style, design as this one is, does it get your juices flowing a little bit more, or are you just the type of guy that it’s golf, there is the green, there is the fairway, this is my number, go get it?

SCOTT PIERCY:  I will tell you this golf course for me takes the juices out of it for me, because it’s not an exciting golf course where you generally go hit driver.  It’s a lot of position off the tee, and it’s a lot of position into the green.  You want to be just to that first part of the green in the middle of the green, and putting into the corners.

For me, I like to be aggressive and shoot at things, but that’s really boring for me.  So I would say it’s the opposite, in my mind, anyway, you know, like the Phoenix Open.  You’re going out for birdies and everybody knows it.  Here it’s more playing for pars and hoping that the birdies fall.  Does that make sense?

Q.  So you’d equate the RBC Canadian Open more with a U.S. Open than you certainly would a Phoenix Open?

SCOTT PIERCY:  Yeah, this week.  You could hit driver all the way around this place and bring in bogeys and double bogeys and stuff like that.  But if you go no bogeys and two or three birdies every day, then you’re in a good spot.

Q.  I was more referring to a fun factor for Scott Piercy.  Like you’re going to have more fun at Phoenix than you are, say, at a U.S. Open, right?

SCOTT PIERCY:  If I win, I’ll have a lot of fun.  You know, this golf is boring golf for me.  I’m not going for it.  I’m not trying to put my foot on the accelerator.  I’m kind of touch and go.  Where at the end of the week, hopefully the next two days go well, and, hey, I finished top 10, I won.  I finished sixth.  It’s fun at the end of the week when you put it together.

Then you look back and it’s like fun.  But while you’re in the process of doing it, I call it boring golf.  If that makes sense.

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British Open champ never played particularly well at the Canadian Open. You’d think he’d be heading home to Florida after missing the cut. But his family is apparently still in England, and Els has a corporate outing in Toronto on Monday. So he’s staying     in the city, planning to go to the gym and find a place to practice. If anyone sees a 6-foot-3 South African walking around Yorkville, you are seeing things correctly.
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The Globe’s Jeff Brooke notes that Hamilton G&CC has been stripped of its main defence by the rain:

“It is really soft,” said Jhonattan Vegas, the powerful Venezuelan who was among the early pace-setters with a five-under-par 65. “There’s no question about it. You can really throw anything at the pins and it’s going to stop there. So, I mean, we gotta try to take advantage of that.”

Many did. The PGA Tour made scoring even easier by allowing players to pick up their balls from the fairways, clean them and place them back down on perfect lies.

Even as the wind picked up in the afternoon and the 98-year-old course dried out a bit, players kept their foot on the pedal.

 The Post’s Scott Stinson talks to Albin Choi, who made the cut as an amateur:

Ask any of the golf professionals at Hamilton Golf and Country Club this week about a playing strategy, and they will invariably tell you the same thing: “Fairways and greens.”

In that sense, Albin Choi, the 20-year-old Toronto amateur, is already starting to sound like a seasoned pro.

“I didn’t hit too many drives today,” he said after a 2-under round of 68 that left him at 3-under in the RBC Canadian Open, good enough to stick around for the weekend.

“We just figured it was better to be in the fairways than in the rough, right?” said Choi, “So I hit a lot of fairway woods and hybrids off the tee, which is unusual for me. But even if I was back a bit farther in the fairway, that was OK.”

Choi, who missed the cut in Vancouver last year in his only other attempt at the country’s national open, said he “felt kind of lost out there,” not comfortable with everything that comes with playing a PGA Tour event. This year, closer to home and in front of plenty of friends and family, “I’m having a great time,” he said.

Interesting to see a Toronto Star story about the 18th hole, which some pros like and some don’t. Many feel it takes the driver out of their hand because of a winding creek in the landing area. Robert Garrigus, who pounds the ball, says the creek won’t stop him if it is down wind. I only ever recall seeing John Daly try to carry the creek, which wanders back and forth and is surrounded by long round:

On the weekend, with the tournament on the line and large galleries packing the hill surrounding the hole as players hit up to the green, it promises to be a great spectacle.

With the creek about 285 yards off the tee and spanning 50 yards, driver is too dangerous a play, especially into the wind. But a straight layup on the edge of the water is also tricky because it affords an uneven stance. So, most players are hitting long irons or utility clubs and leaving themselves about 190 yards uphill to the green.

“It’s a very tough hole,” said Robert Garrigus, who made what he called “a good four” on No. 18 Friday. He hit a three-iron off the tee, a six-iron left of the back-centre pin location and had two putts to finish up a 4-under-par 66 and sit a shot back at 10 under.

But Garrigus, a resident of Scottsdale, Ariz., who made par on Thursday at No. 18 with the same strategy, said he’s hoping for a wind at his back so he can bring out the driver.

“If we end up getting into a playoff and it’s downwind, I’m sending it because it’s sand wedge (into the green) from up there,” he said. “I have to fly it 335 (yards) to get it to the fairway and downhill, downwind I can do that but into the wind I can’t do that.”

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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.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • SCOTT PIERCY: I will tell you this golf course for me takes the juices out of it for me, because it’s not an exciting golf course where you generally go hit driver.

    Unfortunately, the game is being pulled away from its essence when you actually hear comments like this from a player who is leading a PGA Tour event that represents the best players in the world… What a shame!

    This is a consequence resulting from the “guardians of the games” surrendering their post and responsibility to protect the game… the USGA, R&A and the PGA Tour capitulating in the Ping lawsuit.

  • I just hope they don’t over-react and lengthen the course with major changes. They would be smarter to turn down the Open.

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