Plenty to watch at Canadian Open

DAVE FULLER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:38 PM ET

A few days removed from gap-toothed Louis Oosthuizen’s splendid, seven-stroke victory at the British Open, I’m thinking Tiger Wood’s tabloid-ian fall from grace wasn’t a bad thing for golf.

I’m not upset this time that Woods and his forever grinning rival, Phil Mickelson, blew off another Canadian Open.

Woods may be a fantastic golfer, but he’s a far lesser god than we thought.

Now when we watch Saturday or Sunday afternoon golf, we’re spared the annoying Tiger this and Tiger that chatter — the breathless “Boy, wouldn’t we all love our sons and daughters to be like Him” drivel.

When David Feherty gushes, it’s usually about someone else, now. Lately there seems to be so many exceptional golfers. There always were, we suppose. We just hadn’t noticed — preferring to fixate on the Incomparable One or Mickelson, his arch protagonist.

Not that their Tour-mates were completely guilt-free, for far too often we watched them wilt whenever Woods was ahead or worse, slipped into their rear-view mirror. It was so darn predictable.

Only now Tiger doesn’t win so much, he’s less invincible.

The PGA Tour is a free-for-all again, and that’s got to be a good thing.

A Ryan Palmer wins one week, a Bill Haas the next. Dustin Johnson, Ben Crane, Hunter Mahan, Camilo Villegas, Matt Kuchar, Ryan Moore, Jerry Kelly — they have each won tournaments in the past 365 days, and they are all here at Toronto’s St. George’s this week to compete in the $5.1 million RBC Canadian Open.

“The last 10 years we’ve been in the Tiger era,” British pro Paul Casey said on Tuesday. “He’s been phenomenal. It’s taken away a lot of opportunities for a lot of guys. Phil as well.

(But) he’s not playing the golf he wants to play and we’re getting better.

“It’s never really about us against the other guys. It’s about us against the golf course. We’re getting to a stage now where we’ve got the skill level, we’ve got the mental requirements to win major championships.”

Meanwhile, Golf Canada’s Scott Simmons figures this week’s Open field “is one of the strongest on Tour this year” and we tend to believe him.

It does not lack in drama, either.

There is, of course, the “first Canadian to win the Open since 1954” storyline.

There is the eternally young and dangerous Fred Couples, who at 50 came so close to winning the Masters in April.

How will the aforementioned Casey respond after stalking, but ultimately failing to catch Oosthuizen at last week’s British Open?

How will beautiful and serene St. George’s hold up, with all its logistical challenges? It’s not often a major golf tournament is held in the downtown core, where real estate is at such a premium, both for players and spectators.

We’ll wager, though, that the 2010 Canadian Open will turn out to be one of the most interesting in recent history, because of the course, because of the players and because there’s no Tiger, no Phil, to distract us.

This week, like it should be every week, it mostly will be about the golf.

dave.fuller @sunmedia.ca


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