Yesterday was spent at Marine Drive Golf Club where the Golf Journalists Assocation of Canada had its annual awards lunch and golf tournament. I won two second place showings — one for this story on RBC’s involvement with golf on Sympatico.ca and a second for a magazine feature I did on Moe Norman and the battles over his estate following his death.
Then it was off to Richard Zokol’s Hall of Fame induction — also at Marine Drive. My relationship with Zokol isn‘t as long as others, and started when I called him “effusive” in a story in the National Post about the Canadian Open. When I called him for a magazine feature a year later he still recalled the effusive comment and took it as a slight. I had to explain that it wasn’t and eventually we began talking about golf architecture. Five years later I consider Zoke a friend, and have had the privilege of playing his Sagebrush Golf and Sporting Club a number of times. The two speakers at the event were journalist Lorne Rubenstein and Mike Weir. Both gave nice addresses to the crowd, with very different perspectives.
Today has been one of interviews, as it always is at the RBC Canadian Open. I walked and spoke with swing coach Sean Foley for a half hour this morning. Foley is limping — a problem with his leg, he said — and we spoke about a wide variety of things, including swing theory and why some golfers are constantly tweaking their swings, even if they’ve gone to the top with the game they had. Of course the talk eventually came to Tiger Woods. When asked if Tiger would be playing again this year, Foley said, “I can’t say.” I’m not clear whether he meant he didn’t know or wasn’t in the position to comment. Later, when the news of Tiger’s split with longtime caddie Steve Williams was announced, I spoke with Foley again. He said he wasn’t surprised by the news: “He’s been working with Adam [Scott],” Foley said, before adding that he never makes comments about these sorts of things without consulting Woods. “The e-mails and texts have been furious,” he added.
Spoke at some length with Mike Weir following a press conference today. Weir never seems comfortable at these things, despite having played 20 Canadian Opens. That said, I talked to him following the press conference and he was very talkative, just as he had been the night before at Zokol’s induction. We spoke about his recent move back to “Stack and tilt” instructors Mike Bennett and Andy Plummer after dropping them in 2009. He said with injury came the move to backing away on the downswing, and not shifting his weight to his front side. He said he became uncomfortable and wasn’t driving through the ball, causing all sorts of problems. There have been big improvements in the week or two he’s worked with Plummer and Bennett, Weir said, but he’s not 100% confident with it.
I don’t think he has big expectations this week, but he was actually in a positive mood and seemed comfortable.
The story at Shaughnessy is the golf course — and specifically the rough. Grown to 4 inches, players were comparing it to a US Open, saying that a winning score of -6 would be solid. Charl Schwartzel said the course was playing very long and relatively tight, making it a challenge. Usually, he said, you’d rachet it back and hit 3-woods, but the course was too long for that. His comments were echoed by everyone I spoke with. Stephen Ames, who placed in the Top 10 the last time the Open was at Shaughnessy, said it is a draw shot course and he fades the ball. The rough, he added, is nasty.
Luke Donald added: “The rough is extremely thick, probably the thickest we played all year. I’d say it is even thicker than the U.S. Open. So there’s a big premium on hitting the fairway and hitting greens.”
Speaking of Shaughnessy, my profile of the course can be found here, while my picks for the Open are found on Sympatico Sports here.