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.”

Just Posted

Backlog of irregular asylum claims has ballooned to over 28,000

OTTAWA — The backlog of asylum claims from irregular migrants awaiting a… Continue reading

Canada Post asks for halt to international shipments as parcel backlog grows

OTTAWA — Canada Post has asked its international partners to halt mail… Continue reading

Killer wildfire, bar shooting draw Trump to California

WASHINGTON — The killer wildfire in Northern California and the recent country-music… Continue reading

Georgia derailment leads to town’s evacuation

BYROMVILLE, Ga. — A small Georgia town has been evacuated after a… Continue reading

Trump visits as California struggles to locate 1,000 people

PARADISE, Calif. — President Donald Trump heads to Northern California on Saturday… Continue reading

UK leader fights back against critics amid Brexit upheaval

LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May fought back against critics of… Continue reading

Workers at Quebec-run liquor stores begin 3-day strike, shutting down most outlets

MONTREAL — A labour dispute that began with stickers on store windows… Continue reading

Trump’s heated rhetoric not in line with U.S. actions: American senators

HALIFAX — Two outspoken U.S. senators — one Republican and one Democrat… Continue reading

B.C. government to bring lower transgender surgery to the province

VANCOUVER — Gwen Haworth says she always knew her gender identity, even… Continue reading

Action needed to reverse Canada’s wildlife decline, conservationists say

MONTREAL — Canada may be known for its wide-open spaces and wildlife,… Continue reading

Vancouver lawyer who prosecuted Khmer Rouge leaders welcomes genocide verdict

OTTAWA — A Vancouver lawyer who helped prosecute two of the Khmer… Continue reading

Trade war between U.S., China shows no sign of abating amid tough talk at APEC

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea — Leaders from the world’s two biggest… Continue reading

Most Read