OAKVILLE, Ont.—Dustin Johnson pulled on the Edmonton Oilers jersey with “Gretzky 99” on the back, lined up his shot, and drove over the water and on to the green at No. 7 on Glen Abbey Golf Course.
American through-and-through, the RBC Canadian Open is Johnson's home tournament by marriage, with future father-in-law Wayne Gretzky growing up in nearby Brantford, Ont.
But playing in a pro-am tournament yesterday, Johnson was encouraged to embrace his extended family's sport of choice at Glen Abbey's seventh hole, which has a tee box surrounded by hockey boards and tournament volunteers stationed at the hole wearing referee's stripes.
“I'm sure Wayne had something to do with it,” said Johnson with a laugh.
“They wanted us to wear our favourite hockey jersey when we hit the shot on No. 7 so I had the Gretzky jersey on.”
Johnson leads a competitive field that also includes U.S. Open winner Brooks Koepka, two-time Canadian Open winner Jim Furyk, and top-20 players Tommy Fleetwood and Bubba Watson. Jhonattan Vegas, who has won the last two Canadian Opens, is also back.
As world No. 1, Johnson always draws a big crowd. But the added boost of having family ties to hockey royalty makes him extra popular at the Canadian Open.
“I get a lot of fans up here, thanks to Wayne. Thanks Wayne, I appreciate that,” said Johnson, who is engaged to Gretzky's daughter Paulina.
“I get a lot of fans and it's great. It's always fun to play for a big crowd, to have them cheering you on.”
Johnson will tee off with Watson and Canadian Adam Hadwin to start the first round today.
Hadwin, ranked No. 55, is the top Canadian on the PGA Tour this season.
Hadwin is one of 21 Canadians in the field at this year's tournament.