- Posted July 26, 2014 by
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Executive Sports Co: What about the Canucks?
Every year around this time, that question gets trotted out once more, one which Kyle Gaspari articulates: When will a Canadian win the RBC Canadian Open?
It's a difficult question that has no answer, really, says the founder and owner of Executive Sports Co in Burlington. It will happen when it happens. To give it some perspective, a Canadian hasn't won on the PGA Tour since Stephen Ames captured the Children's Miracle Network Classic in 2009.
So perhaps the first question we ask should be - when will the drought of a Canadian winning anywhere on the PGA Tour end,” asks Gaspari, founder of Executive Sports Co. in Burlington, ON and Toronto, ON. Gaspari has seen his share of professional golf tournaments as his company is and elite ticket and hospitality provider for many of the world's top sporting events including The British Open, the Masters Tournament, The Super Bowl, and Formula One Racing.
“For a Canadian to win the Open at home, it means having his game peak on one particular week, on a course they may or may not like, while being pulled in many different directions by media, sponsors and friends while defeating a field of international stars that won't be laying down just because a guy has a maple leaf on his bag,” he says.
It's a tall order, for sure.
"I've played I think 100 tour events, or 99 tour events in my career," said Graham DeLaet, the highest ranked Canuck in the world, "and I have yet to win one so I guess it would have to be a little bit of luck for it to happen here, but I feel like I'm close to my first win and there'd be no better place to do it than here."
"I think winning a PGA Tour event is difficult let alone to do it here in Canada for a Canadian," added David Hearn. "That being said, this would be a wonderful place for it to happen. Such wonderful history at Royal Montreal. It would be an amazing achievement and something special. So if it's not me I'll be pulling for another Canadian to do it as long as I'm not the one in second."
Yup, there is some symmetry with all this. The last Canadian to win the Open on home soil was Pat Fletcher, who spent much of his career as the head professional at Royal Montreal. And this club was where this tournament started, back in 1904 when just a handful of professionals and amateurs teed off in the pouring rain.
Canadians have come close in the past. One of the first Opens I covered was in 1988, when Dave Barr tied for fourth. He was the leader in the clubhouse on Sunday afternoon when a massive thunderstorm rolled in and stopped play. When it resumed on Monday morning, the temperature dropped about 10 degrees and the wind was howling. I didn't think anyone could get in the house and defeat Barr's score but Ken Green did it to win.
In 2004, Mike Weir came about as close to winning as possible when he lost in a playoff to Vijay Singh. That was in front of a ramped-up crowd that more or less expected it to happen. It was as if there was a hockey game going on at the 18th green.
Weir understands perhaps better than anyone what it would take for a Canadian to win.
"To end it, you just have to play great golf," he said. "There's good competition here and great players and you just have to play four solid days and you have to do what you can do as a player. You have to know your own game. You have to know your strengths and weaknesses and try to minimize the mistakes, but you have to have fun too."
In 2011, the unheralded Adam Hadwin shocked just about everyone – including himself – by nearly taking the title. He was just a PGA Tour Canada member at the time. He says that the attitude every player needs to take is that anything's possible.
"Why not?" he asked. "It's not impossible, that's the way you look at it. Obviously, like you said, I don't think anyone expected me to do what I did in 2011, maybe including myself. I might have surprised myself back there at Shaughnessy, but if you put it together, why not?"
But perhaps to get a different perspective, we need to go outside the Canadian perspective.
Jim Furyk won his national championship but says that for a Canadian to do it would be massively more difficult just due to the outside pressure that gets put on them.
"It's hard to win a national open, it's hard to win a big tournament," he said, "but any time one of those guys gets close it becomes such a focus, it makes it that much more difficult."
However it's not as if the non-Canadians wouldn't like to see it happen. Brandt Snedeker won last year's RBC Canadian Open and his caddie, Scott Vail, hails from Oshawa, Ont. He saw the joy on his bag-toter's face after they combined to capture the Open.
"I can imagine winning a US Open what that would feel like to me," he said, "talking with Scott after last year, winning his national Open. It would mean the world to Graham or David or any other Canadian up here so if I can't win I'm pulling of a Canadian to win because it's a big deal for them and I know it would be special to see that get done."
Will it happen this week? The odds say it's difficult, but not impossible. But if nothing else, I'd love it to happen so I don't have to ask the question again next year.