Chez prays for hard rain

As the clouds opened up and a heavy rain started to pound Glen Abbey on Tuesday afternoon, only one player continued to hit balls on the driving range.

John Daly (right) chats to Nick O'Hern during a practice round at the Glen Abbey Course in Oakville

OAKVILLE, Ont. — As the clouds opened up and a heavy rain started to pound Glen Abbey on Tuesday afternoon, only one player continued to hit balls on the driving range.

It should be no surprise that it was Chez Reavie.

The 27-year-old American won an extremely wet and muddy RBC Canadian Open here last July and saw it as a good sign that the rain had appeared again. He was smiling while several pros around him sought shelter.

Reavie wouldn’t mind at all if the wet weather continues this week.

“It worked last year,” he said. “It might as well work two years in a row, right?”

Even though it’s unlikely that Glen Abbey will see anywhere near as much rain as the 200 millimetres that fell during last year’s Canadian Open week, there seems to be a good chance that the course will get wet in the coming days.

A hard rain fell for several hours on Tuesday and The Weather Network listed the probability of precipitation at higher than 40 per cent for three of four tournament days.

The only guy in the 156-man field happy to hear that news was Reavie.

A year ago, delays forced him to play 34 holes on Friday and he grabbed a lead that would eventually turn into his first PGA Tour victory. One of the other stars of last year’s event doesn’t remember it nearly as fondly as the champion.

It was an extremely tough few days for Scott Bowman, the superintendent at Glen Abbey, who oversaw the crew in charge of clearing the massive puddles from the fairways and making the course playable.

“I don’t remember what we did last year because it was literally a survival mode,” said Bowman.

He came into this year’s tournament hoping to have the course playing firm and fast.

Even though a cold spring gave him a late start on growing the fairways and rough, Bowman was happy with the conditions he saw during Mike Weir’s charity event on Monday. That round was played under sunny skies and looked awfully good to the superintendent.

“The fairways were starting to show that little tinge of purplish brown, which gets them very firm and fast,” he said.

That began to get washed away while Bowman answered questions in the media tent. The sound of rain began to bounce loudly off the roof during his interview.

“It’s going to be able to take this rain right now,” he said. “The greens are quite firm and it’s going to be able to take this. Hopefully it lets up within the hour.”

It didn’t happen.

The course is left with fewer defences against the PGA Tour pros when it plays wet. Reavie’s winning score of 17-under 267 last year was eight shots better than Vijay Singh’s championship total of 275 here in 2004.

All six golfers that finished directly behind Reavie in 2008 are back again to take another run at the third oldest championship in professional golf — Billy Mayfair, Steve Marino, Sean O’Hair, Scott McCarron, Nicholas Thompson and Weir, who headlines a group of 15 homegrown players.

The field also includes Anthony Kim, Trevor Immelman, Luke Donald, Retief Goosen, John Daly and Calgary’s Stephen Ames.

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