Canadian Open Gets Jetshare

Well, maybe not, but according to one U.S. report, the Canadian Open is sharing the Dallas Mavericks’ jet with the John Deere Classic. That means four, no maybe five, golfers will take the jet to the U.K. and eight, only six of which will play, will take it back from the U.K. to play at Glen Abbey. Jim Furyk has one seat — who are the others?

Seriously, considering the reports of Steve Stricker, Jerry Kelly, Carl Petterson, Ryan Moore and Boo Weekley all jumping on last year’s plane and not playing, I wonder if any of them will be in the field. After all, letting them fly was supposed to be a good will gesture. Let’s see how far it goes.

Here are the details, according to writer Steve Elling:

Anyway, in an attempt to build the field strength, tournament officials have taken the Deere by the horns and chartered a jet plane for a Sunday-night redeye flight to Manchester, promising to ferry for free the players and their families to the British in time to practice on Monday morning. Tournaments have been in an all-out arms race to out-hustle one another with gifts, spa treatments, free food and the like, but this is a novel idea that just might boost one of the weaker fields of the regular season.

From the sounds of it, the jet seems downright posh. Clair Peterson, the Deere tournament director, said they have lined up a 100-seat 767 that will be parked at the Quad Cities Airport, warmed up and ready. All the seats are first class, he said, and it should arrive by 8 a.m. in England.

“It’s a big deal,” Peterson said. “Obviously our date and our location have made it difficult for players to get to the British Open. We had eight players last year that played here and made the trip over. Our expectation is that we’ll at least double that this year.

“The key points to the offer is that a player has automatically three seats in his name that he can use as he sees fit. If his wife is going over, and obviously the caddies will be an important part of the team going over, agents may be going over. But there are three seats guaranteed.

This charter ain’t cheap, BTW:

The jet has frequently been used by Mark Cuban’s NBA team, the Dallas Mavericks, and is going to run more than $300,000, a Deere tournament official said. Rather than choosing to dump the money into the purse, where it wouldn’t have attracted much attention from the players, they figured the jet service would make a splash.

The $300,000 charter tab was quoted to the event before fuel costs spiked, so it could escalate to an even higher figure with gas approaching $130 per barrel. The same plane will ferry players from the British back across the pond to the Canadian Open, to be staged the the following week. Players will receive two meals on the flight to Manchester and a shuttle service to the Royal Birkdale course upon arrival.

Anyone want to place an over/under number on the total players in the Top 50 in the world that are in the field. I’ll say four — Furyk, Weir, Ames and Vijay Singh. In other words, the same as last year.

Apparently the RCGA, with new sponsor RBC, will have a conference call on Monday. Perhaps there will be more info then.

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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.

8 CommentsLeave a comment

  • It may be one less than you think as Weir is currently ranked 42 and could fall out of the top 50 unless he gets some good results on the board. I believe he only has one top 10 this year and that was the first tournament of the season.

  • Good article Rob !! Agreed on your 4 players and add Hunter Mahan as Golffan222 posted.
    Very sad situation.
    Will this B class tournament ever return to its previous glory……..???
    Perhaps you can do an article in the near future on what it will take to get the big names back to the Cdn Open. Obviously a date change is number #1. Can this be done………what are the behind the scene politics going on……….??? I am sure your readers would enjoy such an article.

  • There a fundamental flaw in the logic of supplying this “air taxi” for players. The players who will “strengthen” the field are the name brand athletes that Canadian golf fans will pay to see tip it up. They have names like Woods, Mickelson, Els, Garcia, Furyk, Goosen, Singh, Weir and so on and all of them have a team of “people” who frequently set up charter flights for them when they really WANT to be somewhere. Unfortunately, I do not believe this incentive/concept will ever draw any real volume in terms of these brand names. With all due respect to the Jerry Kelly’s of the world, I do not see any real value if Jim Furyk is the lone “brand name” participant of such a concept. In terms of “From Ottawa” commenting on date changes, it seems there are a shortage of premium dates available and the event is either where it is now, feeling the effects of the Open Championship, or in September when Ryder Cups, President’s Cups and other fall events will impede strengthening the field. In terms of looking at positives, The Abbey is a strong layout, offers great corporate and spectator viewing, and has the infrastructure issues that challenge other sites well in hand. Ironically, it also offers proximity to the largest ticket base in the country. In terms of dates and the host course specifically, late summer dates have always meant a season’s worth of rounds having tramped over the Abbey’s smallish greens and the course (particularly the valley) having felt the effects of summer. Providing Mother Nature is somewhat cooperative, the earlier season dates certainly afford an opportunity to have the golf course in great condition…one of the selling points for participants.
    Beyond that, it’s up to the powers that be to “sell” the event to all concerned…
    Cliche as it sounds, “Build it and they will come.” Invest in growing a purse worthy of a national championship and onsite incentives, and leave booking flights and “air massages” to the “people” that do that sort of thing.

  • Here is one way to get the big names to show up.…urd—erni-els

    Follow Dubai’s example and double the purse…………..

    “Leading golfer Ernie Els has described as “absurd” the amount of prize money to be offered for a new European Tour golf event to take place in Dubai.

    The tour, being announced in Dubai next week, is expected to have a prize purse of between $8m and $10m, higher than any other competition in the world.

    The European No 1 runner-up told The UK’s The Telegraph newspaper that he would have to take part. “I’ll play – you can’t afford not to,” he said.”

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