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O'Hair, Mahan and Goosen Coming to RBC Canadian Open

The Announcement

The RCGA will host a conference call tomorrow to announce a couple of key players for the field in a couple of week’s time — these include Sean O’Hair, #13 in the world and likely the top-ranked player in the field; Hunter Mahan, #39 in the world; Nick Watney, currently #33 in the world, Dustin Johnson at #47, and former U.S. Open winner Retief Goosen. Apparently there could be several other notable players announced in coming weeks as well — likely some veterans, and I’m hearing a couple of interesting names being tossed about. Could one be the formerly fat long hitter who now wears crazy pants? John Daly, for the record, has the Canadian Open listed on his website as an event he’s playing. Update: the RCGA says there has not been an exemption offered to Daly — though JD has asked to come to the event. Tournament director Bill Paul has said he expects a decision made next week. RBC chief marketing officer Jim Little said he has reached out to several key names — like Geoff Ogilvy, Sergio, etc. — last week at the Skins Game in Quebec City.

So what have we got — by my count that’s 8 of the Top 50 in the world (though I wonder if Immelman will have to bail given his injury), which is a big leap from past years, when there might be two of the Top 50 with the exception of Stephen Ames and Mike Weir. In O’Hair and Kim you have the future of the PGA Tour. In Watney you have a bomber and Mahan is the tactician. Goosen is great to have there, and he’s been playing well of late. All of this means it could be the best field in a decade. I’ll await the full field before making that final — but it looks strong, and if the other names I’m hearing come through, then it will be the best hands down. The only one I can think that rivals it was 2004 when Mickelson played — and that was because the Ryder Cup was down the 401.  Is Tiger coming? Nope. He told a bunch of rich fat-cats at Fox Harb’r that he wasn’t coming until the date is changed. But that didn’t make the crappy TSN special. Of course I’m hearing the date is likely to change — before the tournament heads to Shaughnessy in 2011. As for Woods, Little says he has not heard specifically that Woods is not coming to the Open, saying Tiger would like to come, though the date is a big issue.

The Canadians

So who else should be there? I think Saskatchewan’s Graham DeLaet will be there based on his win on the Canadian Tour last weekend, but he should have been there for representing Canada on the World Cup team, as should his teammate, Wes Heffernan. Currently the Top 10 Canadians in the world rankings are:

 1    Mike Weir,  Can (24)    3.46    173.13    50    -75.72    78.04  
  2    Stephen Ames,  Can (50)    2.32    109.13    47    -59.44    41.48  
  3    Graham Delaet,  Can (202)    0.86    34.49    40    -5.62    27.65  
  4    Dustin Risdon,  Can (481)    0.32    12.76    40    -5.38    6.99  
  5    Jon Mills,  Can (515)    0.29    17.69    61    -18.51    2.52  
  6    Bryan DeCorso,  Can (551)    0.25    10.95    43    -5.52    2.42  
  7    Wes Heffernan,  Can (558)    0.24    9.62    40    -7.27    0.00  
  8    Chris Baryla,  Can (578)    0.23    9.10    40    -1.75    7.89  
  9    Stuart Anderson,  Can (681)    0.15    6.06    40    -1.28    2.78  
  10    David Hearn,  Can (718) 

As for the Nationwide Tour guys — I think Risdon, who made the cut last year, should be in without question. As should Chris Baryla, ranked #41 on the Nationwide Tour, despite playing a handful of events. He’s made the cut at the Open in the past as well. Jon Mills? He’s having an average year — but it would make sense. What about the struggling David Hearn? He’s not been very sharp throughout the year. The wildcard would be London, Ont.’s Alan McLean, who is finalizing his citizenship, and would be the fourth ranked Canadian on the world list. McLean plays the European Tour.

Oh and in case you’re wondering about our so-called “open,” you’ll be interested in knowing that the qualifying is oversubscribed by 50 players. Though practically every other PGA Tour event has two qualifying rounds — and the Canadian Open did until last year — the RCGA still can’t get this one right. What happened to that “best in class,” stuff being spouted? RCGA ED Scott Simmons says he’s looking into it. Don’t look for too long…

Update: Other names announced include Brian Gay, Ricky Barnes, Charlie Hoffman, JB Holmes, Bubba Watson, Scott Verplank, Jerry Kelly, Todd Hamilton, Corey Pavin, Bob Tway, John Rollins, Steve Flesch — RCGA ED Scott Simmons says the field has 15 of the 30 top leaders in the FedEx Cup and a strong number of winners from this year, “which means we have the guys with the hot hands,” he added. Paul said Vijay Singh hasn’t “ruled it out.” … the charter service is still running

Simmons said ticket sales have been strong, but high-end hospitality is lower.

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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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