Why is Victor Ciesielski Not at the Canadian Open?

The field at the Canadian Open, at least as far as Canadians go, is mainly set. That was concluded yesterday after the final round of the Canadian Tour stop in Winnipeg. The Top Six on the Canadian Tour land spots in the Open at Angus Glen.

Those include:

1. Spencer Levin Elk Grove, CA $71,919 7
2. Adam Bland Australia $56,566 10
3. Derek Gillespie Oshawa, ON $48,239 11
4. Wes Heffernan Calgary, AB $46,992 10
5. Alan McLean London, ON $42,096 9
6. Mike Grob Billings, MT $41,911 10

Gillespie is in after rebounding this year. He had largely been written off last year, lacking a sponsor or an agent heading into this year. McLean, who I’ve written about a lot in the past, is a relocated South African who married a Canadian girl and is on the verge of finalizing his Canadian citizenship. He’s been playing very well the last few weeks and now doesn’t have to put himself through the arduous task of qualifying.

One name missing from the list is Cambridge, Ont.’s Victor Ciesielski. The kid was the hit of the Canadian Open last year, and is on the RCGA’s national team. But he hasn’t been given an exemption into the event.

Even though he hasn’t been invited (I suspect he’ll try to qualify, as he did last year), that hasn’t kept the Royal Canadian Golf Association from using the kid for its marketing, on radio and on video the official site for the tournament (“an amateur underdog fighting for his life….

G4G reader Chris had this to say:

Wow, it gets better. I just went to the Canadian Open site and they include Ciesielski in their montage of great Canadian Open highlights and have an indepth account of his amazing week last year. If I had bought tickets based on him being in the ads I would be a little ticked right now.

I must admit I don’t understand the process of how the RCGA picks those that get in and don’t get in to the tournament. McLean has told me stories about being told he had to go through pre-qualifying and Monday qualifying, despite playing on the European Tour at the time. Tournament director Bill Paul has said there are three members of the exemption committee — and apparently those three don’t speak with the marketing staff that is using Ciesielski as one of its calling cards for the event.

Why not make the Canadian Open as Canadian as possible, especially given the date its been pushed into by the PGA Tour? Why not invite Ciesielski, one of the few great stories from last year’s event?

Interestingly, Richard Scott, James Lepp and Andrew Parr have all been invited this year — and rightfully so. But this demonstrates just how arbitrary the process of exemptions is.

I’ve always been confused by this process, which doesn’t seem to have any consistency. In 2003, Chris Baryla became the first Canadian amateur in 20 years to make the cut at the Canadian Open. The following year, after turning pro, he didn’t receive an invite to play.

Let’s hope Ciesielski plays his way in to the Canadian Open — he deserves to be there.

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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.

5 CommentsLeave a comment

  • You didn’t quite tell the whole story, again.

    Let’s look at the whole story. Victor’s most recent tournament was the Ontario Amateur, where he placed third, eight behind the winner. While that is a good result, I would hardly think that the placement in a provincial amateur would suggest that he should be placed in the field. Let’s be serious.

    Now on to your other distorted point. The theme of this year’s advertising campaign is ‘…expect the unexpected….’ The point of the pitch is to suggest that the unexpected happens at the event–an underdog Canadian fighting against seasoned professionals. I don’t think the advertising indicated that Victor would be in the field.

    Obviously RCGA exemptions are limited. Not everyone will be get into the event; many will be disappointed. What else is new. Again, you are distorting the story, to fill a column. What else is new. I am frankly surprised that with your history of distorted stories the RCGA would decide to place any advertising at all on your blog.

  • I’m growing increasingly fond of someone who tosses out opinion without having the guts to put their own name on it. I don’t suspect that will change.

    I think the Canadian Open is a great event, and I’m hopeful the RCGA’s problems can be turned around. I think Garry West has done good things for the organization and I’ll give Scott Simmons the benefit of the doubt.

    However, I do think the exemption process is arbitrary.

    As for my “history of distorted stories,” I’m hoping you can point me to the pieces you are referring to.

    Oh, and when you do, why not be big enough about it to put your name on it.

  • Another Distorted Blog(ger)

    Here’s a fact for you. Victor C accounted for more walk-up ticket sales for the weekend last year than Mike Wier and Stephen Ames combined, since neither played on the weekend.

    If you think that the casual golf fan listening to the radio ads or checking out the Open site for tickets aren’t expecting him to be in the field you are dreaming in technicolour. At least they didn’t make the mistake of mentioning Tiger Woods in the radio ads, instead just referring to the triple crown being “dusted off”. If they had used his name there would have been many that would have shelled out some coin before finding out he wasn’t coming.

    Who cares what Ciesielski did in the Ontario Am? He was by far the best Canadian story of last years Open and he’s getting as much face time as the big names in this years advertising. If his game’s not good enough he’ll miss the cut badly and we won’t have to worry about the situation next year. Based on what he did for the tourney in 2006 he deserves a spot.

  • RT

    I am just using your technique, that you use so often. You usually don’t quote your sources’ names. You like to hide behind a well placed source, an industry insider, etc. You don’t have the guts to reveal your sources, yet you demand that your bloggers shouldn’t be nameless. What else is new.

  • Sources are a pretty well established part of journalism these days. I know who they are and quote from them only when I think they have something to add to my columns or blogs.

    Of course exemptions are limited. You, apparently think it is alright to not offer Victor C an exemption despite using him to promote the tournament.

    I think Canada has many fine golfers. But let me ask you this — why Andrew Parr, Richard Scott and James Lepp this year (when all have turned pro), but not Chris Baryla in 2004, when he turned pro? The exemptions seem arbitrary and if you have so much insight into this, why not give me some sense of the rationale for the decisions? Make a case instead of taking potshots, my fine RCGA friend.

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