No pressure, Mike

Mike Weir is so familiar with the storyline that he answered the question before it was even asked.

Mike Weir is hoping this is the year that he finally breaks through and wins the Canadian Open.

OAKVILLE, Ont. — Mike Weir is so familiar with the storyline that he answered the question before it was even asked.

It’s simply impossible for the lefty from Bright’s Grove, Ont., to arrive at the RBC Canadian Open and avoid talking about what it would be like to become the first Canadian-born player to win this event in 95 years.

Karl Keffer is the only man to accomplish that feat with victories in 1909 and 1914. English immigrants Pat Fletcher (1954) and Charles Murray (1906, 1911) each lived in Canada when they won the event.

There’s no need to remind the country’s most prominent player of that history.

“It’s our national championship, and all us Canadians, we want to put to rest that it’s been so long since one of us has won one,” Weir said Wednesday.

Fifteen of them will tee it up at Glen Abbey today.

That list includes Weir, Calgary’s Stephen Ames, Canadian Tour standout Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., and the two top-ranked amateurs in the world — Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., and Matt Hill of Bright’s Grove, Ont.

“The odds are pretty much stacked against us,” said Ames. “There are (15) of us playing this week against a field of 156. . . .

“And it makes things difficult to some extent, but at the same time we have what we call the 15th club in our bag with the crowd all there behind us.”

The list of challengers includes defending champion Chez Reavie and just eight of the top 30 players in the current FedExCup standings. Anthony Kim, Camilo Villegas, Retief Goosen, Luke Donald and Sean O’Hair are the most prominent among that group.

Weir is also in that category and should view this week as a major opportunity. Not only has he been in contention the last two times the Canadian Open was played at Glen Abbey, he also shot a lights-out 9-under 28 on the back nine during his pro-am charity event here on Monday.

“Just one of those things that I got on a nice roll,” said Weir. “I wish I could do that in a tournament. I haven’t done that in a tournament in a long time, but it was fun to do it Monday.”

There have been a few changes to the course since last year’s event.

The front nine has been re-routed in an effort to increase the flow of play and starts with what was formerly the fourth hole.

The 16th will be played off the back tees and has been changed to a par-5, making Glen Abbey a par 72 for the first time since 2000.

Players also noticed a few other unfamiliar things during their practice rounds this week.

“The difference from last year to this year, the rough is unbelievable,” said Kim. “There was a couple times I hit it probably four or five yards off the fairway, and it was impossible to advance it more than 120 yards.

“The rough is very penal, so driving the ball is going to be important.”

A major wildcard will be the weather.

More than 200 millimetres of rain fell during the Canadian Open week last July and left the softened course almost defenceless. Reavie ended up winning with a score of 17-under 267 — a number Ames believes could be matched again if the forecast is correct and more rain falls again.

“If it stays this soft, yes, easily,” he said. “The greens become a dartboard.”

Just Posted

More than $25k raised for Red Deer firefighter who is recovering in hospital

‘I think the support he’s getting is because of the person he is’

Lacombe backs Blackfalds stormwater plan

Stormwater management plan will open up more land for development in Blackfalds

Two men facing charges in alleged abduction

RCMP issued alert for woman on Wednesday morning who was found safe later that day

Red Deer RCMP seek public assistance to identify suspect in indecent acts

Red Deer RCMP are looking for a man believed to be responsible… Continue reading

WATCH: Two weeks away from Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer

In just two weeks, Ponoka’s Shayna Weir will compete with the best… Continue reading

Leon Draisaitl has overtime winner as Edmonton Oilers down Boston Bruins 3-2

EDMONTON — Connor McDavid set up Leon Draisaitl for the overtime winner… Continue reading

Edmonton girl guide sells out of cookies in front of cannabis store on first day

EDMONTON — She’s being called one smart cookie. As people lined up… Continue reading

New vacuum needed: Calgary family adopts three bonded St. Bernard buddies

EDMONTON — Three adult St. Bernards who couldn’t be separated because they’re… Continue reading

Film with Fan Bingbing, Bruce Willis cancelled after tax case

BEIJING — The director of “Air Strike,” featuring Chinese actress Fan Bingbing,… Continue reading

Michael Buble shuts down rumours of retirement from music

LOS ANGELES — Michael Buble is shutting down rumours that he’s going… Continue reading

After Canada legalizes pot, industry eyes rest of the world

MONTREAL — Cam Battley is a top executive at one of Canada’s… Continue reading

Facebook’s election ‘war room’ takes aim at fake information

MENLO PARK, Calif. — In an otherwise innocuous part of Facebook’s expansive… Continue reading

Military to overhaul morale-boosting trips after review finds serious problems

OTTAWA — Canada’s top general is overhauling military morale-boosting tours after an… Continue reading

Most Read