TORONTO — Corey Conners is ready to hear the roar of Canadian golf fans for the first time in three years.
Conners, from Listowel, Ont., is currently the top-ranked Canadian in the field at this summer’s RBC Canadian Open. The national men’s golf championship has been cancelled the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but will return on June 6-12 at St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Toronto.
“I think the Canadian fans travel as well as anyone. I feel a lot of Canadian love week in and week out,” said Conners, who is No. 32 on the FedExCup rankings. “But to have the crowd made up of pretty much all Canadians is going to be amazing.
“I know the fans will be really behind all the Canadian players, and it’s something that I’m super excited about and I’ve certainly missed that the last couple years.”
A full Canadian contingent will join Conners at the only PGA Tour event north of the border. Former PGA Tour winners Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., as well as Adam Hadwin and Nick Taylor, both from Abbotsford, B.C., have already signed on.
Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ont., Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., Michael Gligic of Burlington, Ont., and Roger Sloan of Merritt, B.C., are also set to compete. Aaron Cockerill of Stony Mountain, Man., currently ranked No. 32 on the European-based DP World Tour, has been given a tournament exemption to compete at the PGA Tour event.
“It’s going to certainly be a lot of fans out there cheering us on,” said Conners, who noted that the tournament will be in Toronto for the first time in 12 years since St. George’s also hosted the event in 2010. “I think there’s going to be a lot of cool things for people to do away from the golf course.
“You know, we’re there to take care of business but you can explore the sights in Toronto. I think a lot a lot of people and families that travelled there with the players will be excited about that.”
LIV Golf, a new men’s professional golf tour that hopes to rival the PGA Tour, will hold its first-ever tournament the same week as the Canadian Open at the Centurion Golf Club outside of London, England.
Canadian Open tournament director Bryan Crawford said that the LIV event did not make it any more difficult to assemble a competitive field.
“We’re very fortunate to have a great home-field advantage with all of our Canadians that people come out to see and can win a tournament any given week,” said Crawford, noting that this year’s field is just as strong as the 2019 edition at Hamilton Golf and Country Club. “We’ve been able to attract the very best players in the world.”
World No. 4 Cameron Smith, No. 18 Matt Fitzpatrick, and No. 19 Tony Finau, were added to the event’s field on Monday.
They’re joining an already stacked field that includes defending Canadian Open champion and world No. 7 Rory McIlroy, world No. 1 and reigning Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and world No. 11 Dustin Johnson.
Mary DePaoli, executive vice-president and chief marketing officer of title sponsor RBC, said that more player announcements were to come in the weeks before the Canadian Open.
“I am very confident when I say this: any global golf fan who tunes into the weekend of June 9 through 12 to watch great golf is going to be watching the RBC Canadian Open that weekend,” said DePaoli.
The RBCxMusic concert series and The Rink feature hole, two staples of the Canadian Open weekend, will return in 2022. Flo Rida and Maroon 5 will perform after the second and third rounds at nearby Richview Collegiate Institute. The Rink, a featured hole that includes hockey boards around the tee box, will be at No. 16 at St. Georges.
“I think it’s a really cool feature, sort of a Canadian hockey reference and I think your fans will be excited, the players, I think, are going to like it,” said Conners. “I think the atmosphere there is really cool.
“It’s something a little extra special about the event and hopefully I get some good shots on the Rink.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 9, 2022.
John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press