Canadian Open lands Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson as headliners

OAKVILLE, Ont. — Bill Paul was like any other golf fan, watching as Brooks Koepka seized control on No. 16 at Shinnecock Hills to win the U.S. Open.

But as tournament director for the upcoming RBC Canadian Open, Paul was thrilled when he realized that four of the top five finishers at the major will be at Glen Abbey Golf Club next month. Koepka, runner-up Tommy Fleetwood, third-place finisher and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson as well as fifth place Tony Finau had all committed to play at the only Canadian stop on the PGA Tour.

“I was thinking ‘man, if this thing holds up, four of those top five guys are in our field,”’ said Paul on Thursday. “At that point Brooks hadn’t won, but he looked like he was going to be pretty steady and with that golf course it’s not like you weren’t going to run into a lot of birdies.

“So it ended up being great and we’ve got the U.S. Open champion which is pretty good.”

Golf Canada’s first list of entries for the July 26-29 event also includes world No. 13 Bubba Watson and No. 28 Ian Poulter of England.

Koepka is only the seventh player in history to win consecutive U.S. Opens, with Curtis Strange the last golfer to accomplish the feat 29 years ago. Koepka, Watson, Johnson and Poulter have combined for seven PGA Tour wins this season, with Watson winning the Travelers Championship last Sunday.

Players have until July 20 to confirm their entries for the event, which means Paul still has some calls to make.

One key player he’s already spoken to is Tiger Woods, who’s re-emerged as a threat in the PGA Tour this season. One of the early highlights of Woods’s career was his one stroke victory over Grant Waite in 2000 at Glen Abbey.

“Tiger, like with a lot of the guys, it’s not a hit-him-over-the-head kind of thing,” said Paul. “It’s a little bit of ‘What’s your schedule looking like? How are we feeling?’ Obviously, he has a plan on where he wants to play, and how he wants to do. If he’s not doing so well, everybody has an alternate schedule.

“Bottom line is it’s still a conversation and I suspect we’ll know what he’s going to do in the next week.”

Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., and Ben Silverman of Thornhill, Ont., have also confirmed that they’ll represent their home nation at the Canadian Open.

Paul expects there will be as many as 19 Canadians in the field, but he still has to figure out which players he’ll give exemptions to.

“One of the biggest challenges of my job now is exemptions, and I mean that in a positive way,” said Paul. “Never have we had the depth of Canadians playing golf at all levels — male and female, so we’ve had the same issues for the CP Women’s Open — but I’m speaking on the RBC Canadian Open now.

“The depth of Canadians on the PGA Tour, the depth of Canadians on the Web.com, Canadians that are overseas. (…) We’ve got a lot of decisions to make.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Mustard Seed to launch new wellness centre in Red Deer

A new service is coming to Red Deer to help the city’s… Continue reading

Penhold firefighters handle ‘difficult’ blaze

Penhold firefighters battled a “difficult” blaze Friday afternoon. Fire crews were called… Continue reading

Clearwater County firefighter recruitment campaign deemed a success

A firefighter recruitment campaign is being considered a success by Clearwater County.… Continue reading

Dems say oust Trump or he’ll betray again; ‘He is who he is’

WASHINGTON — Closing out their case, House Democrats warned Friday in Donald… Continue reading

Senators may have to rein in activism in minority Parliament: new govt rep

OTTAWA — Independent senators may have to curb their enthusiasm for amending… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: The basics you need for your body type

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Your community calendar

Feb. 1 A Jump Rope Competition will be held at the Abbey… Continue reading

Photos: Strong turnout for 38th annual Oilmen’s Bonspiel

The 38th annual Red Deer Oilmen’s Bonspiel is well underway at the… Continue reading

St. John’s, N.L., lifts state of emergency eight days after massive storm

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The City of St. John’s has lifted a… Continue reading

Former cabinet minister Peter MacKay announces Tory leadership bid

STELLARTON, N.S. — Former federal cabinet minister Peter MacKay says he will… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $17 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $17 million jackpot… Continue reading

French doctor: Virus from China seems less serious than SARS

PARIS — The lead doctor treating two Paris hospital patients for the… Continue reading

Trump lawyer says Dems want to ‘overturn’ last election

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s lawyers opened their impeachment trial defence Saturday… Continue reading

Democratic candidates pour into Iowa for last-minute push

DES MOINES, Iowa — Freed momentarily from the Senate’s impeachment trial, several… Continue reading

Most Read