It’s the age-old question – when will a Canadian return to the winner’s circle at the RBC Canadian Open?
Every year we wonder who will supplant Pat Fletcher as the last native winner of our national championship and this year is no different.
What is different that coming into the tournament at Glen Abbey this week is that we have a number of title pursuers in fine form. Even Mike Weir, who nearly became the answer to the trivia question after losing a playoff in 2004, is coming off a double digit under performance at the John Deere Classic two weeks ago. He did miss the cut last week in Mississippi but again, he was under par – it was not a high blowout MC which has been so common for him since his injury in 2010 and well-chronicled on-course struggles.
“The confidence level and the way I’m playing from a year ago is a big change,” Weir told the media on Wednesday. “I feel confident when I tee it up on Thursday every week now. It’s not quite where I want it to be, but I could say that about weeks that I’ve won before the week started and then things can kind of come together and you end up winning a tournament.
So I’m hoping this week I feel good about my game, and I think if I can get some momentum going early in this tournament and get rolling, I’ll have a good chance.”
Unlike many years when Mike Weir was the marquee Canadian hope, this year brings a Canadian Open that is not just ripe with Canadian talent, but blessed with a number playing fairly well.
In recent weeks a trio of Canadians have found themselves near the top of PGA Tour leaderboard with Graham DeLaet and David Hearn genuinely contending for their first PGA Tour victories.
While Stephen Ames had admitted to driver struggles of late his sweet swing always puts him in the mix.
As for the last of the regular PGA TOUR member from Canada, Brad Fritsch, he might just be ready for his breakthrough moment. Fresh off a t-26 finish in Mississippi the Manotick, Ontario native looked sharp during practice this week. As he walked the fairways at Glen Abbey on Tuesday he told Flagstick that he is feeling healthy (back issues plagued him a couple months ago) and he is also getting a little more comfortable on the greens. Alignment issues were bothering him over the last few weeks but based on watching play nine holes, they look to be somewhat resolved.
Fritsch’s length will work to his advantage at Glen Abbey where the par fives are short and he can use three wood off the tee to keep the ball out of the juicy rough without giving up much yardage.
Backing up the PGA TOUR regulars from Canada is a squadron of fourteen other nationals taking to the Glen Abbey fairways. Keep a close eye on players like Riley Wheeldon, the PGA TOUR Canada money leader from Comox, B.C., who was brimming with confidence when we spoke with him Wednesday.
It all adds up to renewed hope that a Canadian will have a legitimate shot at winning the National Open Golf Championship.
Canadians in the field at the 104th RBC Canadian Open: