Day Five of Canadian Open week for me was intriguing. For the past two days my roll was to cover the Canadians, so I walked with David Hearn and Mike Weir.
Weir is intriguing. He said he hit the ball badly — but largely looked pretty solid for the eight holes I watched. Now I missed his poor tee shot on the 11th — a reachable par five where he dunked it in the water. But he recovered nicely, and made a fine recovery on the 16th, a tough par four, after hitting his tee shot into the rough.
His putt on the 18th was a different matter. Having lowered his score to 2-under par, he had a 30 foot putt for birdie on the final hole. He ran it just by, but missed the comebacker, a two foot uphill putt. Typical of most tour pros, Weir said he had a “tuft of grass” between the hole and his ball that led to the miss. Blame is a big thing with tour players — their mistakes are never their fault, but always the fault of the course, their caddy or the crowd. On Thursday Billy Andrade freaked out on the crowd after missing a short putt — “I hope whoever needed to open that can enjoyed it,” he said complaining to the crowd.
Hearn, on the other hand, struggled most of the day, but remained the low Canadian in the field. Overall, despite surprisingly calm conditions, Angus Glen’s North Course didn’t get too beaten up. Hunter Mahan came back to the field and unknown Steve Allen made a big move.
But if I were a betting man — and I am — I’d expect to see Vijay Singh or Jim Furyk at the top of the leaderboard on Sunday with scores around 16-under par.
- Four Canadians are playing the weekend, including Chris Baryla, who shot 66 on Friday; Stephen Ames, Mike Weir and David Hearn. My story on the Canadians for the Post is here. Weir is generally a bad post-game interview for reporters because he doesn’t give a lot of himself. He’s generally pretty reticent with the media, which is fine, but it also means his quotes are quite generic. Baryla, on the other hand, is ususually a bit more expressive — he says pretty much what he feels.
- Speaking of Weir, I had a good chat with a golf industry type yesterday about Davis Love’s involvement with Angus Glen. The individual couldn’t figure out why Angus owner Gord Stollery and the RCGA would have hired (No) Love when they could have had course designer Doug Carrick work alongside Canadian Mike Weir to do the changes. At least Weir shows up at the tournament every year, and surely Carrick’s redesign would have offered similar changes to Love’s. And since Mike is asked to sell the tournament each year, it would have given him something new to pitch to the players.
- The Star’s Dave Perkins has a good story about Dave Alexander, a 69-year-old who was plucked from the crowd on Thursday by Jay Williamson, who fired his caddy with four holes left to play. I most like the description of what happened after Williamson fired his caddy: “At the 14th hole, Williamson hit it over the green and he and his caddy started having words. It got hotter and hotter and hotter. I was talking to the caddy’s girlfriend and she started giving me the background music and I thought, `Uh-oh. This isn’t good. At the 15th tee they went at it again and Williamson fired him on the spot. The caddy then threw a handful of golf balls into the lake and stormed off. Said he’d see him in the clubhouse, that kind of thing. Williamson turned to us “ there were maybe five of us “ and asked who wanted to go to work.” The full Star story is here.
- The crowd for Thursday’s Canadian Open seemed pretty sparse. Only 15,000 people showed up, down 3,000 from five years earlier when the last Canadian Open was held at Angus Glen. Friday seemed similar. I can’t quite figure this one out, other than to say fans were worried about weather or were not thrilled by the field. This will surely hurt the bottom line of the RCGA. All of this is a bit of a shame because Angus Glen, with its ample nearby parking, is pretty easy to get to. But given the fact that many of the holes are miles — literally — from the clubhouse, there is often the strange feeling at the tournament that there aren’t many people around.
- I watched some of the Golf Channel’s coverage from both of the last two nights. The coverage is sharp enough, with few screwups and lots of focus on Mike Weir. However the sparse crowds and no-name players often make the event feel a bit like you’re watching the John Deere Classic. Lorne Rubenstein apparently spent the day watching TV — I didn’t see him around yesterday — and writes about it for the Globe. I had no idea that a Canadian telecast of the tournament had been produced every year since Palmer won in 1955.
- I’m off to PEI tonight to write a magazine story on Mike Weir, so I’m going to miss the final two days of coverage. Like many of you, I’ll catch it on TV.