Monday, March 30, 2015

Weir, DeLaet hoping to end home drought

MONTREAL—It was 60 years ago that Pat Fletcher won the Canadian Open.
No other Canadian has won the national open golf tournament since then, but that could change when the PGA Tour event returns today to Royal Montreal—the tree-lined course that hosted the 2007 Presidents Cup.

Mike Weir, Graham DeLaet, and David Hearn are among the 19 home-grown players looking to end the losing run.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been 60 years,” Weir said yesterday after playing only nine holes of a rain soaked pro-am event.
“We have more capable players in the field now and I think we’re going to see it going forward.
“It’s going to end at some point, so hopefully, if not myself, it’s another Canadian that gets it done this week,” Weir added.
“It would be nice to get the streak over so we don’t have to talk about it any more.”
Winning the Canadian Open has never been more accessible thanks to a less-than-desirable date—just after the British Open, which ended with Rory McIlroy’s impressive victory Sunday at Royal Liverpool.
Most top golfers don’t want to play the week after the British, although the Canadian Open helps those who do by laying on a charter flight to get them in early to readjust to the Eastern time zone.
Only eight of the top 50 players on the Tour’s FedEx Cup standings are in the field, although they include third-place Dustin Johnson and fourth-place Matt Kuchar.
McIlroy is not there. Neither are 2000 Canadian Open champion Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson.
But thanks to RBC’s sponsorship of Tour regulars—Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, last year’s winner at Glen Abbey, two-time champion Jim Furyk, Ernie Els, Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald, and others—and the presence of nine past champions, there is at least a competitive field.
For Weir, an eight-time Tour winner, winning at home would be a dream.
“This is my 24th Canadian Open so I’ve been at it a long time,” said the 44-year-old.
“But ever time you come back it’s special.
“It was the first professional event I watched live as a kid,” Weir recalled.
“I still remember doing a junior clinic with Andy Bean and Tom Kite, and being one of the kids on the range that got to walk up there and get close to those guys.
“That really spurred my interest in professional golf,” he added.
A strong showing would boost Weir’s chances of making the FedEx Cup playoffs. He is 128th with four weeks left in the playoff race and needs to get into the top 125.
DeLaet’s pro career, meanwhile, may have been saved by a victory on the Canadian Tour in 2008 at St-Raphael—a short drive from Royal Montreal.
Now he hopes to get a PGA Tour title in the same neck of the woods.
“My game feels a lot closer [to top form] than it probably looks,” said DeLaet, currently 31st in FedEx Cup standings.
“You always know deep down when you’re playing well, and hopefully I can just clean that up a little and this can be the break-out week.”
Furyk, who won in 2006 and 2007, is coming off a 65 on Sunday to finish fourth in the British Open.
But now he has to play on a different continent and a very different course.
While Royal Montreal often is called “traditional,” Furyk said that only fits the tees and the fairways.
The recently re-done greens he considers modern and could be a key factor once play begins.
With heavy rain yesterday, the course will be soft and scores may be low.
“What this golf course requires of you is the dead opposite of what you’d see in links golf,” noted Furyk.
“And the rain is going to spread the gap even farther.”

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