RBC Canadian Open Day One

 Took some time getting here this morning — the drivers seem to have no sense as to where they are going and you have to wonder if they’ll get it squared away or whether this will turn into a gong show of sorts. The security guard who stopped us — and then admitted he didn’t know where the van was supposed to go — looked like he might be of legal age — in seven or so years. And to get to Islington Golf Club, where the range is, one just jumps in the awaiting cars with the players and caddies. That could be a huge issue, but we’ll see.

Anyway, the Weir Celeb deal is underway, with Samuel Jackson, Kevin Dillon, and Rick Nash out on the course. I know they worked really hard at beefing this up, but it looks a little limp and it is only the second year.

Around the media:

Lorne Rubenstein confirms what we already knew — Rickie Fowler isn’t coming. But he adds that Fowler is heading to the Scandanavian Masters for a big appearance fee after telling Golf Canada that he’d play at St. George’s. Can you say bad form?

Fowler, a 21-year-old Californian and a hot property on the PGA Tour, where he’s been playing some great golf, was supposed to play the Canadian Open at St. George’s. He told tournament director Bill Paul that Golf Canada could release his name as a participant. Golf Canada then announced on July 8th that he planned to play. But he wasn’t in the field when Golf Canada released it on July 16. Tournament director Bill Paul told me today that Fowler withdrew and will play the Scandinavian Masters in Stockholm instead. You can bet he’s getting a healthy appearance fee. This sort of thing has to drive Paul and RBC Canadian Open officials crazy.

Furyk also dropped out and there are rumors that tax issues with past Canadian winnings helped facilitate that decision. As for Fowler, it looks pretty poor when he commits and then takes the cash somewhere else. There’s lots of time for the Justin Bieber-look alike to cash in — did he have to start looking like a money-hungry sports star so soon?

The Toronto Sun tracks down Bob Charles, who won at St. George’s in 1968, the last time the tournament came to Canada:

Jack Nicklaus and Bob Charles stood on the 18th tee at St. George’s Golf & Country Club with the Canadian Open on the line.

Nicklaus, coming off a runner-up finish at the U.S. Open the previous weekend, was one shot back and, now, had his sights set on our national Open.

Charles, the 1963 British Open champion, was in the difficult position of trying to keep an ornery Golden Bear at bay.

A massive drive down the middle by Nicklaus and a modest drive by Charles meant the slim lefty from New Zealand was first to play his approach shot from the 18th fairway.

“I had a seven-iron to the green,” says Charles on the line from Scotland, where he is enjoying the champions events at this weekend’s British Open. “I hit it two feet from the hole and with that, Jack Nicklaus promptly missed the green with his wedge — it was a tournament winning shot.”

As expected, St. George’s provided plenty of drama for golf fans in the summer of 1968.

More than four decades later, the exclusive St. George’s Golf & Country Club in Toronto is back in the mix hosting the 2010 RBC Canadian Open. And a mix is a good thing according to the 1968 champ.

“One thing I did enjoy was going to a different city every year,” said Charles. “In all the years I played in the Canadian Open it moved around the country from Vancouver to Toronto and Montreal. We played down in Windsor at Essex. We enjoyed every year going to a different city, it was great.”

After a steady dose of Glen Abbey in the ’80s and ’90s, it seems Canadian Open organizers are beginning to come to the same conclusion. The tournament has made recent stops in Hamilton and Montreal and next year will head west to Shaughnessy in Vancouver.

“An Open championship should go on a rotational system to different cities,” adds Charles. “I think it’s a step in the right direction.”

Score’s Jason Logan picks Luke Donald to win at St. George’s and notes the threat of thunderstorms keep Bill Paul up at night:

Canadian golf fans: say your prayers this week for a rainless RBC Canadian Open at St. George’s G&CC. Without question, the event deserves one •• On that note, we spoke with tournament director Bill Paul on Saturday morning’s Fairways radio show on the FAN 590 where I was filling in for Bob Weeks. As he’s been since St. George’s was announced as host, Paul was direct in his acknowledgement that thunderstorms (such as those that rolled through the area very early Monday morning) are an absolute nightmare scenario this year and he said his crew has been through every scenario imaginable – including course evacuation – probably 100 times

All I can say is if it rains at St. George’s, this place could be a disaster. Keep your fingers crossed for dry weather, though rain is already predicted for tomorrow. Now off to see some pseudo celebs bat the ball around…

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Jeff Lancaster

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