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Canadian Open Day Four: Hearn Takes Flight; Mahan's Eagle Opportunities

Day four at the Canadian Open finally came on Thursday as play started and we had the chance to see how Angus Glen’s North Course would hold up.

The truth turned out to be that lacking any wind in the morning, players went exceptionally low. But when the wind blew starting around 10:30, the course became much more difficult and few players shot great scores. This morning is calm again, but thunderstorms are expected to roll in this afternoon, so we’ll see how it effects play.

I spent part of the day wandering around with David Hearn. My piece on Hearn is here. Hearn played exceptionally well, especially on his 16th hole (the course’s 7th), when he hit it in a fairway bunker, punched it down to the green and managed a long running putt for birdie. It’ll be interesting to see whether Hearn can continue this level of play.

While walking with Hearn (I was the only golf writer who went out to see Hearn play), I ran into his father, Geoffrey, a Baptist minister, who had his son playing golf at the age of three. Geoffrey wanted to know whether I was one of those golf writers who was “dumping on the course.” I told him I could be classified as one of those writers, but that the players found the course “fine.”

The most amazing round of the day, of course, belonged to Hunter Mahan, who might be the hottest player in the world at the moment. He had three eagles — two from the fairway — enroute to tying the Canadian Open record of 62.

NatPost writer Jeremy Sandler went searching for player opinion on the course and got mixed messages.

“I don’t know that we’ll ever come back here and play again, let’s put it that way,” said Tom Pernice Jr. “It’s not the greatest designed golf course. But they’re doing what they can for it and, you know, it will be just fine.”

Steve Jones was more positive:

“It’s a good course,” Jones said after carding a three-under 68. “I mean obviously if they were going to have it here again, they’d probably want to narrow the fairways a little bit like they do at Royal Montreal.”

For another interesting take on the course, read Golfclubatlas.com’s discussion about Davis Love III’s involvement with the renovation of Angus Glen. Two of Love’s associates from the firm weigh in on whether their boss should have come to play. John McKenzie, who works for Love, had this to say:

I hesitated to respond, but the suggestion of a “take the money and run” scenario by Davis and our design company at Angus Glen is very disappointing to read about because it is the farthest thing from the truth. We were contacted by Angus Glen and the Royal Canadian Golf Association to make improvements to the the North Course based in large part to our successful renovation at Forest Oaks CC, host of the PGA Tour’s Chrysler Classic of Greensboro. The work we did at Forest Oaks was well received by the PGA Tour, the tour players, and most importantly by the club’s existing membership. We listened to all parties involved and provided a scope of work that accomplished everyone’s goals, and did so within the given budget and time frame- both of which were tight I might add.

The scenario at Angus Glen was similar to what was faced at Forest Oaks and we were brought in because we had a proven track record. I also believe that our reputation in the industry for delivering value to every project was a consideration and based on the owners’ response to the work we performed and how we performed it, I would say that reputation is in tact.

Now it would be naive to think these were the only reasons why we were hired at Angus Glen, as we all recognize the advantages to having one of the top tour players involved in this type of project, especially a guy that is still actively playing. But Davis never committed to playing in the tournament this week nor did the owner or the RCGA, to their credit, insist that he do so. It was understood that he would play if his schedule allowed and unfortunately, the new Fed Ex Cup schedule made for some difficult decisions. Believe me, Davis wanted to play this week because he likes the golf course, whether it is highly ranked or not, and he is pleased with all the hard work everyone put into the project.

Golf designer Ian Andrew was more blunt on the situation — he says Love should have played at Angus this week. Andrew contends people shouldn’t hire Love to rework tour courses if they are hoping he’ll play, because on two instances Love has shown that isn’t the case:

If I was another tour site considering his firm “ I would pass on him knowing that he didnt support his client “ and that may be the biggest reason he should have gone.

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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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