David Hearn Wants to Write Different End to Canadian Open
OAKVILLE, ONT. – Last summer, David Hearn came agonizingly close to supplanting Pat Fletcher as the answer to a trivia question.
Namely, that tired, old query that crops up around this time every year: Who was the last Canadian to win the Canadian Open? Everyone knows, yawn, it is Fletcher who has held on to that title for more than 60 years.
Hearn took a serious run at making Fletcher a historical footnote last year at Glen Abbey — he led by two shots after three rounds, giving the entire country a glimmer of hope — but wound up third, two shots behind winner Jason Day. The 37-year-old from Brantford, Ont., didn’t fall out of first place (alone or tied) until the penultimate hole of the final round.
Still, Hearn thinks he can draw on that experience, the boost he felt from the roar of the partisan crowd, this time around and finally put the Fletcher question to bed.
“It feels great to be back here,” Hearn told Postmedia. “There’s so many great feelings and emotions from when I was here last year. I feel very good about my game and hopefully good memories will bring back that play I had last year. Hopefully, I can write a different end to the story.”
Hearn’s biggest challenge to unseat Fletcher will likely come from the pride of Weyburn, Sask., Graham DeLaet, although 12 other Canucks will tee it up this week. Adam Hadwin, another Saskatchewanian, could be in the mix, too, but he’s only had one top-10 finish (The Memorial in June) on tour this year.
GATHERING OF THE (GRETZKY) CLAN?
Dustin Johnson is optimistic he will get a chance to see his 18-month-old son Tatum this week.
Young Tatum didn’t travel to Scotland for the British Open so this will be the first time in nearly two weeks Johnson, a first-time father, will get to see him. It also means Tatum’s mom (and Johnson’s fiancee), Paulina Gretzky, should make an appearance.
At least one Gretzky — that would be Walter, the Great One’s pop — has already made the trip to the Abbey. Johnson’s, uh, grandfather-in-law (is that even a term?), was here for the Pro-Am Wednesday and the two had a chance to chat.
“I get to see Walter a couple of times a year,” Johnson said with a smile. “He’s always good fun to be around, listen to his stories.”
THREE-TIME WINNER STAYS GROUNDED
Dan McCarthy, a three-time winner on the Mackenzie Tour–PGA Tour Canada this summer, occasionally draws a few yuks from his fellow competitors when he steps up to the tee box.
McCarthy, a 31-year-old from Syracuse, N.Y., frequently plays his tee shot off the ground, rather than teeing it up. It’s a strategy born out of necessity he says — the south Florida winds play havoc with balls that stay aloft too long — but it has become a go-to shot, even if it does give his opponents the giggles.
“Usually they just ask me if I’m out of tees,” McCarthy said. “I think a lot of the guys have seen it now so they are used to it. Some of the guys have been caught off guard a bit and they will ask me about it.”
Depending on how much the wind is blowing this week — it was darn blustery on Monday — having that shot in his arsenal could be a real advantage.
And that’s nothing to laugh at.
BANK ON IT
We may not know where the RBC Canadian Open will be contested beyond next year — right here at Glen Abbey, the third year in a row — but we know who will be sponsoring it.
RBC announced Wednesday that it has extended its title sponsorship of the Open for another six years, through the 2023 tournament. The agreement also covers a second PGA Tour event, the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, S.C.
The announcement may not be earth-shattering news but it does keep the Canadian Open, and the Heritage, on solid financial ground.
“RBC’s support of the game itself, from the grassroots right up to the elite level here in Canada, is unprecedented and I can say, matter of factly, that the game in this country would not be where it is today without the support of RBC,” said Golf Canada CEO Scott Simmons. “You couldn’t ask for a better partner.”
THREE TO FOLLOW
If there’s a threesome to follow for the first couple of rounds, it would be the grouping of Jason Day, Brant Snedeker and Ernie Els.
That’s two former Canadian Open champs in Day (2015) and Snedeker (2013) and, well, the Big Easy. Sure, Els isn’t the same player he was in his heyday but, heck, the guy has won four majors and that counts for something.
Day, Snedeker and Els have morning tee times for Round 1 and go off in the afternoon Friday.
A couple other groups have a whole lot of cachet, too, and they head off one after the other in the afternoon.
Johnson has been paired with Jim Furyk and Billy Hurley III while Graeme McDowell is with a pair of up-and-comers, Tony Finau and Emiliano Grillo. DeLaet is playing with Sean O’Hair and Morgan Hoffman.