Canunks eye end of 60 year drought at RBC Canadian Open


From one national open to another, the focus shifts from Royal Liverpool to Royal Montreal for the Canadian Open, where Graham DeLaet, David Hearn and Mike Weir lead a contingent of 19 hometown hopefuls on a quest to end a 60-year drought.

Watch coverage of the first two rounds live on TSN and TSN GO on Thursday and Friday beginning at 3pm et/Noon pt.

The weight of becoming the first Canadian winner since Pat Fletcher in 1954 will remain at the forefront of the tournament until the streak is broken, but the consensus among the Canucks, as Weyburn, Sask. native Graham DeLeat so eloquently puts it, is to “just play golf.”

“I think a lot of times we put a little too much pressure on ourselves so maybe this year I can just let it all go … and be contention,” he said. “That’s all you can ask for and hopefully we get it done Sunday afternoon.”

DeLaet, the highest ranked Canadian on the World Golf Ranking at 38, was anything but close to ending the drought last year at Oakville, Ont.’s Glen Abbey golf course. He shot a 1-over in the first two rounds to miss the cut.

David Hearn and Mike Weir fared much better, finishing at 4-under and 3-under, respectively.

Weir has sniffed PGA victory on home soil before, falling in a three-hole playoff to Vijay Singh at the 2004 Bell Canadian Open – the closest any Canadian has come since Fletcher.

“I was very close one time and not too far away a couple of other times, so I’d like to just get myself in that position again and see if something wood be different this time,” Weir said.

“I’d love to do it and if I don’t do it, I want one of the other Canadians to do it but it is in the back of our minds, we’d like to break that streak.”

Hearn looks to have the most going for him as far as his game is concerned. He was a late inclusion into last week’s British Open – his first appearance – after former champ Mark Calcavecchia was forced to withdraw due to travel issues.

Although the Brampton, Ontario native wasn’t close to Rory McIlroy’s winning score of 17-under, his 3-under was an honourable showing for a first foray into Open Championship waters.

“It was pretty exciting for me to get that opportunity last week and be in my first Open Championship,” Hearn said. “The spectators and the fans over there were unbelievably receptive. The golf course was truly unique for me and unique experience to play something so different.”

The change of scenery from the treacherous links to luscious parkland golf could be troublesome for some golfers, but Hearn isn’t interested in focusing on course specifics.

“Good golf is still good golf and good shots get rewarded, so I feel like, myself, I’m playing really good golf and I controlled my ball really well last week and if I do a lot of those things again out here this week I think it’s going to be a good week,” Hearn said.

And even if Hearn was interested in discussing the intricacies of playing at Royal Montreal, his frame of reference may be a little small. Well, actually, non-existent.

“I’ve heard great things. … The last time the Open was here was 2001 and I had just turned pro, so I wasn’t playing in the event yet,” Hearn said. “From what I understand it’s a very traditional golf course – very narrow off the tee and small greens – so all of those things suit my game very well.”

As for the streak, Hearn wasn’t getting into specifics on that either.
“I think there’s a tremendous amount of talent on tour right now. Graham, myself and Mike have been really close within the last couple of years for winning an event. Outside of us there are still a tremendous number of players behind that that have the ability to win a tournament any given week,” he said.

“You just never know who’s going to be good that week and we’ve got enough Canadians in this field that it’s going to happen soon.”