DeLaet and Hughes fall short at Canadian Open

OAKVILLE, Ont. — Graham DeLaet joked about the “Curse of Pat Fletcher” after he and Mackenzie Hughes were the only two Canadians to make the cut at the RBC Canadian Open on Friday. Two days later and the 63-year drought for Canadians at the national men’s golf championship continued.

Hughes, from nearby Dundas, Ont., fired a 4-under 68 to tie for 32nd at 10 under at the Canadian Open on Sunday as the low Canadian. DeLaet, from Weyburn, Sask., shot 1-under 71 for the fourth round to place 48th at 8 under.

Fletcher, from Victoria, was the last Canadian to win the national championship in 1954, finishing at 8 under with a four-stroke lead at Vancouver’s Point Grey Golf Club. Since then, not only has no Canadian won, but only Mike Weir of Brights Grove, Ont., has been a runner-up. Every year at the tournament Canadian golfers are asked about replacing Fletcher in the history books.

“You know, I don’t know if the curse is real but I just know it’s really hard to win a golf tournament, especially on the PGA Tour,” said Hughes shortly before being handed the Rivermead Cup as low Canadian. “That’s what I attribute it to and the fact that we’re trying to win this one and only one in Canada every year, there’s a lot of things that have to go your way.

“I don’t want to call it a curse yet but once I play in about 15, I’ll let you know.”

Fletcher moved to Montreal after his playing career to become the head professional at Royal Montreal Golf Club. His sons Allan and Ted Fletcher were in attendance at this year’s Canadian Open at Glen Abbey Golf Club for the first few days of the tournament.

Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum spoke Saturday morning about wanting to fly them back to Oakville to hand the RBC Canadian Open Trophy over to either Hughes or DeLaet, while both were four shots back of second-round leader Martin Flores.

But by the end of play Saturday there was no need for airfare. DeLaet shot a 73 and Hughes a 74 in the third round, taking them out of contention.

“You can’t get much done out here shooting par on the weekend,” said DeLaet on Sunday. ”It was pretty mediocre golf to say the least on Saturday, Sunday. But it was fun. We’ll be back again next year and hopefully somebody can get it done.”

Weir fell to Fiji’s Vijay Singh in a playoff in 2004. There have been other close calls recently, though.

In 2015, David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., had a two-stroke lead to start the fourth round, but Australia’s Jason Day sank three straight birdies to overtake him. In 2016, amateur Jared Du Toit of Kimberley, B.C., was in the final group and just a stroke behind the lead before Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas rallied to win.

Vegas struck again on Sunday, beating American Charley Hoffman with a birdie in a sudden death playoff after they tied for the lead at 21 under.

There were 17 Canadians in the field this year, including Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., who had a strong start to the season and was No. 13 in the FedExCup standings at the start of the week. But he was at even par after two rounds with the cutline set at 4 under.

“I think any time you play a home game, it can be — it’s great, and it can also be tough,” said Hughes, who had dozens of family and friends in the galleries each day. “That expectation and that hope to play well for everybody, and you want to get those crowds going.

“I let them down yesterday. I let myself down yesterday.”

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