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Wet Thursday at the CanOpen: Weir Leads, and Lift, Clean and Cheat

Thursday witnessed some big crowds following an obviously relaxed Mike Weir at Glen Abbey. Interestingly Weir is usually a bit wound up at this event, but yesterday he seemed easy going and relaxed, hitting fairways and firing at pins. After his round the skies opened up — and it wasn’t pretty. It resulted in a six hour rain delay. I wandered into the clubhouse to talk with Richard Zokol about the practice of “lift, clean and cheat,” and ran into a handful of Canadian golfers chatting — Jon Mills, Ian Leggatt, David Hearn, and Wes Hefferman, as well as getting into a long discussion with Geoff Hearn, David’s father, about the state of the Canadian Open. Hearn, who has an eye for detail and is long on opinion, thinks the food needs improving, that the promotion of Toronto needs improving and that some of the stands at the tournament aren’t really good for spectators.

During the rain delay I went looking for a story — and found one in the practise of “lift, clean and place,” or as most of the players refer to it — “lift, clean and cheat.” I asked Anthony Kim about it during his press conference and the PGA Tour’s transcript of the interview removes any reference to “cheat,” as well as Kim’s response: “I like to think of it as lift, clean and ….” pause for dramatic effect, “place.” I’ve never seen a transcript censored. So much for the freedom of the press — damn, I had to transcribe it from my tape recorder!

The story is here. Note: Somewhere in the edit the final quote was attributed to Richard Zokol, though Ian Leggatt actually said it. Not sure how that happened.

I also had the chance to talk with Todd Hamilton after his round — and wrote a note about it, but it didn’t run. Here it is:

Todd Hamilton has become a regular playing partner for Mike Weir “ at least during the past week. Hamilton played in Weirs group at the British Open and the former British Open winner is again paired with the Canadian for the first two rounds at the Canadian Open. The pair talked animatedly while walking down the fairways yesterday.

I was usually saying to Mike, ËœNice shot, or ËœNice birdie, joked Hamilton following his round, which saw him finish at 2-under. Hamilton, who won the British Open at Royal Troon in 2004 said he will have conversations with his playing partners in some instances and not at all in others.

Hamilton is trying to regain his form that saw him win twice in 2004. Since that point hes struggled, though he says feels his game has improved dramatically this year. I dont know if Im playing better because Im enjoying golf, or if Im enjoying it more because Im playing better, he said.

It sounds like Hamilton needs a rebound. While most major winners take advantage of their newfound celebrity by cashing in through endorsements and lucrative corporate outings, that wasnt the case with Hamilton.

I dont think my management did a very good job then, he said. In fact, I know they didnt.

Another note was about Glen Abbey and the efforts to keep it (barely) playable:

With more rain in the Toronto area than any time in the last 28 years, Glen Abbey was once again hit with a lengthy weather delay yesterday that included yet another thunderstorm.

While players waited anxiously in the clubhouse, no one was more concerned than new course superintendent Scott Bowman. On Wednesday night, after a downpour filled fairways with streams of water, resulting in the cancelation of the second half of the traditional Wednesday pro-am, it was Bowman’s responsibility to make the course as playable as possible for the start of the event yesterday.

Bowman, who is in his first full year as superintendent at Glen Abbey, worked with a grounds crew of other local superintendents and staff until 3 a.m. to get as much water off the course and out of the bunkers as was possible. Even with the extra effort, there were still puddles throughout the course yesterday and that was before play was stopped by further rain and thunderstorms.

Players who managed to sneak in a morning round before more rain hit just after noon, praised the efforts of Bowman and his staff.

“The course maintenance crew did an amazing job,” said Anthony Kim, who finished his morning round before the skies opened again. “I didn’t think we were going to tee off on time after the showers we got yesterday. So for the bunkers not to have water in them and the greens to be holding and not tugging back too far, I mean they did a wonderful job.”

In other stories: Lorne Rubenstein wrote about DJ Gregory, the man with Celebral Palsy who is trying to walk all the competitive rounds on the PGA Tour.. the Toronto Star has an interesting note about the eagle Andrew Parr made on the 18th yesterday … The Star’s Dave Perkins says the RCGA has to be happy with Weir at the top.

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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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