Big pressure on home-grown golfers at 2013 Canadian Open

National opens always put pressure on the home-grown players, but the expectations are particularly high this week at Glen Abbey Golf Club.

Mike Weir is heading into the PGA Tour season with a new caddie on his bag.

Mike Weir is heading into the PGA Tour season with a new caddie on his bag.

OAKVILLE, Ont. — National opens always put pressure on the home-grown players, but the expectations are particularly high this week at Glen Abbey Golf Club.

There are 18 Canadians in the field for the 2013 RBC Canadian Open — one of the largest home-country turnouts in the modern history of the tournament — and they’re all looking to end a 59-year drought. No Canadian has won the event since Pat Fletcher of Vancouver in 1954.

If anyone can understand the high expectations it’s former Masters champion Mike Weir.

“There is that added feel and pressure, no question,” Brights Grove, Ont., native said Wednesday.

“It can be a good thing though to get the crowd behind you,” he added. “Get some momentum going, and you can feed off the crowd.”

Weir is joined by fellow Ontarians David Hearn from Brantford, Mackenzie Hughes from Dundas, Toronto’s Albin Choi, Ottawa’s Brad Fritsch, Peter Laws from Milton, Brian Hadley from Sarnia and amateur Corey Conners of Listowel.

British Columbia is also well represented at Glen Abbey with Abbotsford’s Adam Hadwin, Victoria’s Kevin Carrigan, Merritt’s Roger Sloan, Comox’s Riley Wheeldon, as well as North Vancouver’s Bryn Parry and Eugene Wong and amateur Adam Svensson from Surrey in the field.

Calgary’s Stephen Ames, Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., and Eric Banks of Truro, N.S., will also tee off Thursday on the 7,253-yard, par-72 course.

The added burden on the 18 Canadians has not gone unnoticed by others in the 156-player field. Hunter Mahan, from Dallas, feels that Canadians are under more pressure to win the Canadian Open than Americans are to win the U.S. Open, one of golf’s major tournaments.

“I don’t feel like there is a pride factor (in the U.S.) like there is in Canada . . . I mean, being an American, you want to win the U.S. Open. It’s obviously a great tournament — but I don’t think there is that same connection between the Canadian Open and Canada,” said Mahan. “You know, when you have a drought that long, I think you have to start really wanting it and start hoping. It becomes a focus of everyone this week, so I think they have a great chance.”

England’s Luke Donald compared the experience to playing in another major: the British Open, where he missed the cut last week.

“The one tournament I would love to win the most would be the Open Championship, the British Open,” said Donald. “Growing up there, having watched it, watched some of my idols throughout the years, (Nick) Faldo, and Seve (Ballesteros) win that great tournament, I’d dearly love to hold the Claret Jug one of these days, not just because it’s a major, but because it is your home event in a way.

“I think there is a little bit more pressure that comes with that. The expectation and almost the pressure you put on yourself wanting to win it. You’re thinking too much results oriented instead of just going through the process of playing each hole as it comes.”

Added Donald: “I think sometimes it can make it more difficult when it is your national open, but it’s also fun. It’s great to enjoy the home support, the crowd, the family support, all that goes along with that makes the event special.”

Mahan compared the pressure of playing in your home country to that of being one of the biggest names in golf.

“I guess you would feel like Tiger (Woods) every single week when you have so many people following you and critiquing every single shot you have,” said Mahan, laughing. “But it’s probably different because I think you can see the support that all the Canadians get when they’re here is great.”

“I remember playing on the Canadian Tour and this is pretty much the lone PGA Tour event I would play,” said Weir. “It’s a big purse, and you’re used to playing for this amount of money and all of a sudden I make the cut, I can really make some headway, so you’re thinking about all those kind of things when you’re a young man out here.”

That focus on money is something that frustrates Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, who believes that national opens are prestigious events that should be held with higher regard.

“We play for so much money around the world, events kind of lose their identity and their prestige,” said McDowell.

The purse for the Canadian Open is US$5.6 million with the winner taking home a cool million. Scott Piercy was the big winner last year.

National opens have been good to McDowell though, so he could be walking away with some cash Sunday.

“I won the Scottish Open, the Welsh Open, the Italian Open, the U.S. Open, the Korean Open, the French Open a few weeks ago,” he said. “National championships are very, very special and we should never forget the prestige . . . and history and tradition, names on a trophy. It’s great to come to a tournament like this one which has such a strong sense of identity. It’d be a great one to add your name to.”

South Africa’s Ernie Els believes national opens produce some of the best storylines in golf.

“You’ll see this week, one of the Canadian guys maybe the mainstream media hasn’t heard from will probably play well and he’ll probably be right there until Sunday,” said Els. “Those are the nice stories that normally come out of these national opens events that we play around the world and all of them are like that.

“You play the Italian Open or the Scottish, some kind of nice story comes out of it.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Former Innisfail town councillor breached code of conduct many times, says review

Consultants say 29 of 36 alleged breaches by Glen Carritt had merit

Members of the Red Deer RCMP downtown patrol monitor for drug activity and property crimes. (Advocate file photo).
Two peace officers are training to join Red Deer’s downtown police patrol unit

This “integrated” unit will be the first in Alberta

Students and staff at Gateway Christian School wore pink Wednesday in support of Pink Shirt Day, a worldwide anti-bullying initiative that was started in 2007. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Public Schools)
Students, central Alberta community celebrate Pink Shirt Day

Mayor of Sylvan Lake Sean McIntyre supports anti-bullying cause

City of Red Deer has nearly doubled its active COVID-19 case count since Feb. 10 and has 75.6 per cent of the Central zone’s active cases. (File photo)
Another new high: Red Deer hits 574 active COVID-19 cases

Province reports 13 new COVID-19 deaths, 430 new cases

A homeless shelter was promised Red Deer to help the city deal with downtown issues. The city and province finally released a signed agreement on what the facility will offer, a year after a $7 million commitment was made for the project by the province. (Advocate file photo).
City and province take next step in bringing a 24/7 shelter to Red Deer

It will include a detox and counselling services

Meteor spotted over Edmonton, Alta., on Feb. 22, 2021 by several, who took to social media to share their surveillance camera captures. (@KixxAxe/Twitter)
VIDEO: Fireball meteor streaks across sky, spotted by early-morning risers in Alberta, B.C.

Videos of the quick streak of light flashing across the sky before 6:30 a.m. MST

Purolator expanding rural facilities amid demand from remote workers

Purolator expanding rural facilities amid demand from remote workers

Trans Mountain pipeline owner asks regulator to hide identity of its insurers

Trans Mountain pipeline owner asks regulator to hide identity of its insurers

The Crescent Point Energy Corp. logo is shown in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Crescent Point vows to pay down debt from Shell acquisition with rising oil profits

Crescent Point vows to pay down debt from Shell acquisition with rising oil profits

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announces $43 million in repairs and improvements to provincial parks at a news conference in Calgary on Sep. 15, 2020. Two of Alberta's largest First Nations have written letters to coal companies saying they will oppose any new mine proposals in the Rocky Mountains. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
‘Serious concerns’: Alberta First Nations oppose coal expansion in Rocky Mountains

‘Serious concerns’: Alberta First Nations oppose coal expansion in Rocky Mountains

A street sign along Bay Street in Toronto's financial district is shown in Toronto on Tuesday, January 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Toronto stock market climbs on strong gains by energy and financials sectors

Toronto stock market climbs on strong gains by energy and financials sectors

A National Bank sign is seen May 30, 2016 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
National Bank sees profit rise as consumers save, invest more

National Bank sees profit rise as consumers save, invest more

Email editor@interior-news.com
Letter: Read up on tax report

The Advocate article published Feb. 20 about the Canadian Taxpayers Federation slamming… Continue reading

Opinion
Opinion: When Kenney promises no tax hike, does he mean it?

Premier Jason Kenney is trying to assure Albertans that there won’t be… Continue reading

Most Read