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Canadian Open Day Three: Furyk hits fairways, Basillie signs autographs

Day three of the Canadian Open was a strange one for me. I was scheduled to caddy for Pengrowth CEO Jim Kinnear in the pro-am as part of my Going for the Green book. Jim, as usual, showed up just in time to tee off with Jim Furyk, and I ran down the fairway of the first hole at Angus Glen after switching Kinnear’s rental clubs with another set. I must admit, the Angus boys have done an especially good job this week, and were really helpful.

Here are my thoughts:

  • Furyk may not hit the ball a ton, but he sure hits it bloody straight. I don’t think he missed a fairway all day, and hit plenty of greens, but I don’t recall him making many putts, which accounts for the fact our group was only 10-under.
    Furyk said the only reason he came to the Canadian Open last year was Hamilton Golf and Country Club. Growing up in Pennsylvania he said, “I was used to playing course that opened between 1900 and 1930. I guess I like the classic old courses.” Who doesn’t? He said Angus Glen’s North Course was “fine.” And he didn’t mean that as a putdown — just a description. “There are some interesting shots out here,” he said.
  • Mike “Fluff” Cowan remembered my encounter with him from Monday when he was trying to nail down a round at Hamilton. “Oh, it is you Robert,” he said to me on the second hole, which was kinda cool since he recalled my name. Fluff is 59 and has a 4-year-0ld, which means he plans to caddy for a long time yet. “Five or six years?” I asked. “At least that long, or as long as my legs hold up,” he said. He also commented on being “fired” by Tiger Woods. “I knew it was coming at some point,” he said. “I knew from the start I wouldn’t be his only caddy.” Fluff is a prince, and I can see why he’s worked for good people (like Furyk and Peter Jacobsen).
  • BlackBerry baron Jim Balsillie was in our group today as a guest of Pengrowth CEO Jim Kinnear. Balsillie, who is trying to bring an NHL team from the U.S. to Canada, signed tons of autographs and got tremendous support from the crowd. He even posed for pictures with admirers.
  • RCGA Pres Garry West is heading to St. George’s on Friday and really would like to bring the 2009 Canadian Open to the course. There are a lot of hurdles, but West said it could still get done.
  • I saw Ian Leggatt on the range with the boys from Taylor Made today. He was hitting some old school Taylor irons that I never recall on being on the market. Said he put them in the bag “yesterday.”
  • Speaking of the Taylor guys, they were admiring the new sporty shoes launched by Footjoy and being worn by Daniel Chopra. “They are trying to crack the 360 market,” said Taylor marketing guru Paul Davies. The shoes looked like they almost didn’t have a sole, and I couldn’t imagine walking in them. I’m probably wrong on this one though.
  • The usual parade of suspects came through the media tent today — Furyk, Mike Weir and the like. Speaking of Weir (who is 37, not 35 as listed in today’s Post story), he is on CBC with Peter Mansbridge tonight. Mansbridge was on the range doing a sitdown with the Canadian star.
  • Following his round, Balsillie joined Kinnear, Ron Joyce, some folks from Bell, RBC and a bunch of other companies for a roundtable discussion on the state of the Canadian Open. Media wasn’t invited, but I have it on good authority that the meeting was very positive. Richard Zokol, who was also at the meeting, stopped by to talk to me about it after and seemed genuinely enthusiastic about what he heard. “Now let’s see what happens next,” Zokol said. “That will be the telling bit.”
  • Garry West confirmed the RCGA will lose as much as $3-million by running the Canadian Open this year. He said the organization would likely do it again next year if a sponsor can’t be found. Beyond that would be anyone’s guess.
  • I also spoke at some length with Grant Waite today for a story that will be in tomorrow’s post. Waite, who bounces between the Nationwide and PGA Tours, was smart, articulate and interesting. He recounted in great detail the impact of the loss to Tiger Woods in 2000 and never seemed to grow tired of my questions. A class act.
  • Speaking of guys who almost won the Canadian Open, Neal Lancaster, who lost in a playoff in 2002, withdrew today.

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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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