Canadian strength at our Open
The world’s top-ranked golfer highlights a field ripe with homegrown talent at this year’s RBC Canadian Open in Oakville.
Dustin Johnson will contend with more than a dozen Canadians, including Dundas’s Mackenzie Hughes, for the national championship at Glen Abbey later this week.
The 33-year-old from South Carolina was a runner up at the tournament in Oakville last year and in 2013, while Hughes has won a Web.com Tour event, earned his PGA Tour card and won a PGA Tour event — all in the past 12 months.
The pair joins the likes of Adam Hadwin, Graham DeLaet, David Hearn, Brad Fritsch and Mike Weir at this year’s competition, which kicks off Tuesday with an opening ceremony attended by golf legend Jack Nicklaus. The tournament itself starts Thursday, with roughly 160 players expected to compete for the $6-million U.S. purse.
Other Canucks teeing off include Jared du Toit, the 22-yearold from Calgary who played his way into the final pairing as an amateur a year ago, and NHL referee Garrett Rank. The Elmira native earned his third consecutive Canadian Open exemption with a win at the Canadian Men’s MidAmateur Championship.
Two more Canadians — Riley Wheeldon and Drew Nesbitt — were awarded exemptions at the Final Qualifier in Ancaster Monday. They both shot a 5-under 66 at Heron Point Golf Links to tie for first, while Burlington’s Blair Hamilton finished a stroke behind in a six-way draw for third. The 23year-old, who qualified as an amateur in 2015 and 2016 and turned professional last fall, failed to make it three in a row when he lost in a playoff.
The top four finishers at the Final Qualifier earn a spot.
Last year’s Canadian Open winner Jhonattan Vegas will be back to defend his title alongside twotime Master’s champion Bubba Watson and 34-time PGA Tour winner Vijay Singh. The entire RBC team, including Hadwin, DeLeat, Hearn, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker and others, is also expected.
One Canadian missing from the field is British Open standout
Austin Connelly. The 20-year-old from Nova Scotia declined his invitation in favour of a tournament in Germany, where he’s looking to secure his European Tour card.
It’s been more than six decades since a Canadian won the national championship, which is returning to Glen Abbey for a record 29th time. Pat Fletcher was the last to do it in 1954.
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson will be teeing it up at Glen Abbey.