Oh Canada…

Okay, okay…I know what you’re going to say, so I’ll just save you the trouble;

“Derek, you bonehead…how could you NOT have chosen Louis WHOsthuizen to win The Open Championship???  How can you possibly call yourself a Fantasy Golf Expert after this epic blunder, you poseur?” 

Fair enough…I hang my shaggy head in shame.

And while I’m at it, I’ll first take the hat off my head first, to salute the skill and grace under pressure that Louis Oosthuizen displayed last weekend on the Old Course at St. Andrews. 

It certainly isn’t unusual for an unknown to come out of the pack and turn in the clubhouse lead after the first or second round at The Open Championship.  In fact, we see that almost every year.  BUT, for a player like Oosthuizen to have not only survived, but actually thrived with the pressure of the Open Championship lead on his shoulders for almost 50 holes…well folks, that’s REALLY something! 

While the world’s best succumbed to the weather and the course and found countless ways to crumble, young Louis went about playing his game, as calm, cool and collected as if he had joined up with you and your buddies for a $2 Nassau on Sunday afternoon. 

I can’t even begin to imagine the kinds of thoughts that were swirling around in his head, let alone how he might have managed to fight off the inner demons and stay in his happy place while the golfers he’s probably in awe of imploded all around him.

Amazing stuff!  Disney could make a movie out of this story.  Actually, since gap-toothed Oosthuizen’s nickname is “Shrek,” I guess DreamWorks should be the company making the movie about it.  Sorry Mr. Spielberg!

Now then, let’s see how amazing (or not) our selections were for the playing of the 139th Open Championship:

Derek’s Picks                                                            D&D’s Picks (Daughter & Dartboard)

Justin Rose Cut   Paul Casey T3  $    394,238
Lee Westwood 2  $    767,996 Jean Hugo Cut  
Ernie Els Cut   Thomas Levet Cut  
Graeme McDowell T23  $      64,512 Loren Roberts Cut  
This Week’s Total    $    832,508 This Week’s Total    $    394,238
Season Total    $ 3,853,353 Season Total    $ 2,657,501

Rose and Els both miss the cut.  Whodathunkit? 

And while the golfing gods were watching the magic of the Oosthuizen clinicm with their collective jaws scraping through the heather and gorse, 10 hours, an ocean and the width of a full continent away, the Tour regulars were duking it out in the high desert and picturesque mountains of Reno-Tahoe.  Here are the results from the Reno-Tahoe Open:

Derek’s Picks                                                            D&D’s Picks (Daughter & Dartboard)

John Rollins T50  $        7,305 Mathias Gronberg T3  $    174,000
Alex Cejka T5  $    101,700 Roger Tambellini T67  $       6,150
Ryan Palmer Cut   Josh Teater 54  $       6,960
Chad Campbell T15  $      51,000 Nicholas Thompson T55  $       6,810
This Week’s Total    $    160,005 This Week’s Total    $    193,920
Season Total    $ 4,013,358 Season Total    $ 2,851,421

This Week

I have to admit that Canadian Open week is always a bittersweet point in the golfing year for me.

First, I have a strong sense of national pride, which can’t help but come to the surface when our great country is in the spotlight for a major event.  The Canadian Open is a top notch event in every way…and the team of professionals and volunteers who put it together every year do an absolutely fantastic job and should make us all proud.

Plus, I have accumulated LOTS of fond memories of being at the Canadian Open over the years.  Back in the old days, when the championship was contested in September, it was perfect timing for me to take my dad out for a very special birthday treat.  I’ll never forget the look on his face, or the spring in his step the year he not only saw, but actually spoke with Jack Nicklaus…and then followed that up with a shake of the hand and a chat with Greg Norman just 15 minutes later!  MasterCard summed it up perfectly…priceless!

The flipside for me, the part that makes this whole week a tough pill to swallow, is the way our National Championship has been treated by a lot of touring pros over the past several years.  Or should I say neglected.

I read with great interest and an agonizingly familiar sense of disappointment Robert Thompson’s column earlier this week…rhyming off the players who never had any intention of coming, plus the previously “confirmed” players in the field who decided to withdraw at the last second.

Mickelson, Woods, Furyk, Els, Rose, Stricker, Johnson, Watson, Fowler.  The list goes on and on…ad nauseum.  It’s nauseating!

Another aspect that makes this week a bit tough is what inevitably happens in the golf pool I’ve been running since the late 17th century.  I can predict, with startling accuracy, when I’ll hear from 5 or 6 of our long-time members, asking me to reconsider the point structure assigned to the Canadian Open.

You see, in our pool, The Canadian Open is considered a Major. 

I got my first e-mail on the subject Sunday night.  Right on time.

In the past 5 years I’ve held not one, but two referenda on this issue, posing the question “should we continue to count this event as a major?”  I have my own very strong opinion on the subject, but always held it in check to see what the members had to say.  It’s a pool, not a dictatorship after all…and keeping the members happy is job one for me.

And so I’d cut-and-paste the arguments presented, verbatim, in a special referendum e-mail, so the entire field could decide the issue for themselves. 

I’d love to show you the incredibly bitter and sarcastic comments that came back the year one of my close friends called it “The Canuckistan Open,” but I’m sure the powers that be at wouldn’t care to see that kind of language surface on their website.  It did make for some hilarious reading though!

Anyway, to make a long story linger, I’m proud to say that both times we put it to a vote, the overwhelming response from our almost 200 poolsters went something like this; “Derek, I don’t care about the field, this is our National Championship…and YES we should count it as a major!!!”

And so, the Canadian Open is a major in our world.

Patriotism aside though, I absolutely DO see the argument to change that. And every year when the final, confirmed list of participants is published, it only serves to make the argument to downgrade the event that much stronger.

What a damned shame!

THIS tournament used to be the THIRD most prestigious event in golf, after the Open Championship and the US Open.

It was where Arnie scored his first professional victory…and started building his legendary army.

It’s the one BIG tournament Jack Nicklaus still regrets not winning.

The list of past champions is a who’s who of golf, eclipsing almost every other tournament in North America: Hagen, Armour (x3), Snead (x3), Nelson, Locke, Palmer, Trevino (x3), Weiskopf (x2), Strange (x2), Norman (x2), Price (x2), Woods, Singh, Furyk (x2).

I applaud the stars who recognize this tournament for the greatness it represents…and who respect the rich history of the event, our fans and our country by continuing to make the Canadian Open a priority in their golf schedule.  

The names are worth mentioning: current greats like Goosen, Clark, Crane, Kuchar, Villegas, Haas, Bohn, Barnes, Mahan, Donald, Verplank, Casey and O’Hair.  

By the way, I think it’s well worth mentioning that EVERY one of these guys was at St. Andrews last week and they still honoured their commitment to hop on a plane and come here!

Plus hall-of-famers and future inductees who still show up because they know what the whole Canadian Open experience is all about: Couples, Azinger, Janzen, DiMarco, Duval, Elkington, Faxon. 

They’re not here for the money…they’re all filthy rich.  They’re here because they get it…and they’d love the chance to turn back the clocks for 4 magical days and win our National Championship.   

Yes, yes…I know all the arguments why players say they can’t come to the Canadian Open.  It’s too close to the Open Championship. It’s too close to the PGA Championship too. They need to recharge their batteries and spend time with family. 

To me, these excuses all sound a bit too close to “I just washed my hair” on the credibility meter.

It’s not like they had to row back from St. Andrew’s!  In fact, the Canadian Open has been flying players back, on the tournament’s dime, to ensure they’ll play!

Meanwhile a lot of these no-show wankers will glibly appear in a few weeks at the Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia.  Oh the prestige!!!

And, of course, just a few weeks after that, a lot of players who casually dismiss our National Championship and then find themselves suddenly tugging at their collars because they’re too close to missing the top 125 for the year will be more than happy to play in the First Confederated Income Tax Preparation and Lawn Mowing Corporation Invitational in Frozen Groin, Wisconsin.

Gimme a break.

You know what….I need to stop here and just give you our picks for the week.  I’ve obviously re-opened several internal wounds I’ve been carrying around and it feels like I could go on for years on this subject. 

For the two of you who are still reading, it probably feels like I already have gone on for years.  Sorry about that!

The RBC Canadian Open – Derek’s Picks

Retief GoosenComing hot off a top 10 performance at the Old Course, and with a T2 at last year’s Canadian Open, the soft-spoken South African has to be one of the favourites this week at Royal St. George’s.   

David Frost and Nick Price (another old favourite of mine) were dominant in this tournament back in the early to mid-90’s…then an almost non-stop stream of Americans took over the taking of the hardware.  Since ’94 only two non-Yanks have won; Vijay in ’04 and defending champ Nathan Green last year.

I think it’d be really great to see a South African to take home the Canadian Open prize money once again this year…and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy than Retief.

Paul CaseyAnd why not?

After his fantastic performance at the Open Championship last weekend, I have to believe that Casey is primed to win something…and soon.    

This year is Paul’s first visit to Canada to play in our National Championship and I’m excited to see him here…along with tens of thousands of other golf fans.

I think marking him for a win this week is a pretty good bet…and it would be really cool karma if he walked away with the trophy after coming so close at St. Andrews a few days ago.

Brandt Snedeker – Granted, he’s not one of the 20 hottest players on the planet right now, but I think young Brandt actually has a pretty decent chance this week.

He’s tour-tested.  He’s shown that he can handle a lead all the way to the end.  

He’s also developed a nice track record up here in the Great White North in his relatively short career…posting a tie for 5th last year and a tie for 7th two years before that.

With names like Chez Reavie and Nathan Green adorning the trophy in the past two years, there’s something about Snedeker’s profile that tells me this might just be the event that lands him back in the winner’s circle.

Tim Clark His second appearance in Canada could easily hit pay dirt in my books. 

I know I’ve chosen him a few times in the past couple of months, and might be starting to sound like a bit of a broken record on the guy, but in a field like the one we have here, there aren’t too many compelling cases I can think of for not picking a guy with Clark’s talent and success.

Based on what I’ve read about the Royal St. George’s layout, Tim Clark’s game has all the necessary attributes to fit the course very well.  All he has to do is make sure his “A game” clears customs and he should be a legitimate threat this weekend.

Okay then, now that I’ve had my say, let’s see what the Daughter and the Dartboard managed to conjure up this week.  

By the way, she was experiencing a little bit of extra pressure with these tosses.  We had company over…and for some reason that escapes me, they decided to make a bit of a big deal out of our little weekly father-daughter ceremony.  To her great credit, and my pride, she ignored the gallery entirely and lobbed four hammerheads right into the pairings sheet.

D&D’s Picks (Daughter & Dartboard

  • Henrik Bjornstad
  • Kevin Stadler
  • Luke Donald
  • Mike Weir

Just for the record here, and to give some insights into how the whole Derek/D&D thing works, Luke Donald was on my original list of picks for the Canadian Open.  I normally pick 6 or 7 players, then put them in order of preference.  BUT, if daughter manages to lob a dart at one of my top picks, I surrender it to her.

Now one more thing before I go; for those of you who checked out last week’s article, you’ll recall I had a nauseatingly cutesy theme to explain my strategy for St. Andrews, “Yanks, No Thanks.” 

No doubt, after seeing my picks this week, you’ve pulled the sword out of the stone and uncovered the theme for this week’s selections…which is quite similar in nature.

As much as I regret it, my roster is completely devoid of homegrown talent.  I would absolutely LOVE it if Mike Weir or another of our domestic stars were able to claim our national prize this weekend.  Who wouldn’t?

But the facts are the facts, and disappointing as it is, none of our players are showing the form needed to be considered contenders this weekend.  Graham DeLaet’s third round performance out west last weekend showed some real promise for sure, but with the incredible pressure on a Canadian to win the Canadian Open it’s hard to give him the nod to seal the deal this weekend.  I would truly love to be wrong, but I doubt that’s going to be the case.

So, in keeping with last week’s Longfellowian prose, the theme for this weekend, regrettably, is “Canuck…No Luck.”

And that’s it for this week folks.  I’ll be at the Open this week, rooting for our Canadians like crazy to prove me wrong…and cheering on all the stars who still make The Canadian Open a priority stop in their schedule. 

Enjoy the tournament!



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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Hey Derek, nice article on our open. I am glad to see the RCGA improving the championship with the course selections lately…St.Georges, Hamilton, etc.. if some of the “stars” of the PGA choose not to come, THATS THEIR PROBLEM!

    • Thanks for your comments Ref…and thanks VERY much for reading my article. I appreciate both.

      I agree with your sentiments…but can’t help but feeling that WE lose when our National Championship doesn’t attract the very best players on Tour. The fans don’t get to see the field calibre they deserve…and a bit of shine is taken off our trophy in the process.

      Having said all of that, the field this year IS very good (I hope I didn’t imply it wasn’t)…and I’m really looking forward to being at the course to watch some great players, playing great golf.



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