A new date for Canadian Open?

IAN HUTCHINSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

TORONTO - Wouldn’t it have been grand to start the RBC Canadian Open at St. George’s with flag-waving last Thursday on this country’s 143rd birthday?

Don’t go lighting those fireworks and sparklers just yet, but the Canada Day long weekend is one of the preferred dates of Golf Canada, a.k.a. the Royal Canadian Golf Association, and RBC when the PGA Tour starts tinkering with the schedule in 2012.

That prime spot was open back in 2007 when the International in Colorado fell off the schedule, but the Tour inserted the new AT&T National, which concluded yesterday. The inaugural event began exactly three years ago at Congressional.

Back then, the Canadian Open was floundering when it was played at Angus Glen a few weeks after the AT&T, which had more going for it than a powerful sponsor.

A fellow by the name of Tiger Woods was tournament host and his foundation was the charitable benefactor of the tournament, which also established close ties with the U.S. military, so flag-waving was granted to the Americans on or around the Fourth of July near the nation’s capital.

Of course, with Tiger’s influence and the tournament sitting right between the U.S. and British Opens, the AT&T seemed certain to draw strong fields. Circumstances have changed.

This year’s AT&T drew just three of the top 20 players in the world to a golf course nobody knows much about outside of Philly.

AT&T pulled its logo from Tiger’s bag after the revelations of his zipper dropping more than his putts and he’s no longer tournament host, although his foundation is still the benefactor. Of course, Woods’ game lately has more people checking to see if he’s making cuts than predicting he’ll win.

The Canadian Open, on the other hand, has made remarkable strides forward since those dark days of 2007. RBC wields considerable clout and has gone beyond the Open with the sponsorship of players and the PGA of America.

Since coming on board as title sponsor, RBC and Golf Canada have introduced a concert series and the Mike Weir Charity Classic, as well as installing Weir’s foundation as the national charitable benefactor.

The Open has raised its stature and its field is strengthening each year, but a move from those dates behind the British Open is a priority, although Golf Canada and RBC prefer to say they’ll just work with what they’ve got for now.

They’re doing that, but the topic of a date change will be a hot one as 2012 approaches and Canada Day will be one of the options they’ll pitch in the reshuffling of a schedule that has little wiggle room in the summer.

The main stumbling block in that proposal is that a Canada Day event could run right into the Fourth of July. How willing would the PGA Tour be to have it out of the U.S.?

The other consideration is how many of the top American players would want to be out of the country on July 4. If this year’s AT&T is any indication, those top players want to be at home with their families, even if it is being played in the U.S.

The AT&T is scheduled to go beyond 2012, so we’ll see what happens. One possibility that hasn’t been discussed much is that both tournaments could fall into a flex schedule that is being considered by the tour.

The flex schedule would see certain events rotate their dates each year rather than having set dates. It’s an interesting concept and Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said last week that it is a possibility.

Canada Day is a cool option, but not the only one, but wherever the Open lands or whatever system is in place, the celebration can begin with the mere knowledge that status quo will not prevail on the current dates.


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