The Canadian Open—which begins Thursday at the Angus Glen Golf Club in Markham, Ont.—has been sadly reduced to second class status.
Squeezed into perhaps the worst spot on the golf schedule—between the British Open and the Bridgestone; and opposite the Reno-Tahoe—the second oldest non-major has attracted only two of the world’s top players: Jim Furyk, the defending Champion, and the everpresent and seemingly inexhaustable Vijay Singh. The two deserve kudos for making the effort to play.
Other top American players are understandably recuperating after a pair of flights over the pond, while the Europeans are involved with the Deutsche Bank Players Championship. All told, only 17 of the world’s top 100 are in the tournament.
Even Davis Love, whose firm recently redesigned Angus Glen, won’t show up.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
The biggest names are stars on the decline such as John Daly, Lee Janzen and Steve Elkington. Bob Tway also will appear.
With a nod to history, I think the Canadian Open deserves better. It’s the second oldest non-major, following the Western Open (now the BMW, but don’t get me started on that one.). And when you consider that the Western could rightly have been considered a Major until the Masters, the Canadian only rises in status. Some have written that as a national championship, it followed only the US Open and Open Championship in stature.
The list of past champions is impressive: Woods, Singh, Norman (Greg, not Moe), Price, Strange, Trevino, Casper, Palmer, Nelson, Snead, Hagen, Armour. Interestingly, it was never won my Nickaus. It may well be the most prestigious tournament not won by the Golden Bear.
The tournament has in the past been held in September, but the Royal Canadian Golf Association had lobbied for a summer date. Tournaments in the fall—and especially with the new FedEx Cup schedule suffer from a lack of starpower. Once the majors are over, the big guns go into hibernation. The RCGA’s thinking was that a summer date would improve the situation.
It won’t, for in the current slot it will never attract a big name (was that intentional on the Tour’s part?).
The bad scheduling and lack of stars also may have had an impact on the Canadian Open’s bottom line. The championship has no title sponsor and the RCGA is dipping into its rainy day fund to offer the purse.
Rick Desrochers, the RCGA’s CEO has said that the Presidents Cup, which is a PGA Tour-sponsored event held this year in Canada, drained about $1 million in sponsorship money away from the Canadian Open.
“But (Tour commissioner) Tim Finchem is well aware of that,” he said.
Unfavorable scheduling by the PGA Tour has resulted in the death of at least one tournament (the International). It would be awful to see the Canadian Open go the same way.
Given its history and its standing as the other North American national championship (ok, Mexico has one, but its not the same), there’s no reason that the PGA Tour could not have worked with the Canadians to find a better slot.
The 100th Canadian Open will be played in 2009. It would be great if the PGA Tour could maneuver things to give the Canadian Open a better chance.