Pro golf looking good in Canada

IAN HUTCHINSON, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:31 AM ET

TORONTO - There were times in the past 10 years when what is now the RBC Canadian Open and CN Canadian Women’s Open reached low points on the PGA and LPGA Tours, respectively, but they’ve rebounded nicely to become premier events.

The Montreal Championship concluded yesterday and in its short two-year history, it too has become a popular stop on the Champions Tour, so Canada is seemingly enjoying a renaissance in professional golf with the arrival of a second LPGA Tour event in Waterloo.

That will begin next June at Grey Silo, with Manulife Financial on board for three years as title sponsor, with a two-year option.

With just 24 events on the schedule, luring top names is a good bet even if the $1.3-million purse is less than the $1.771-million tour average and Waterloo is the typical mid-sized city that the LPGA thrives in.

“I think sometimes people don’t realize just what the draw area is for this community. If you were to put the pencil here and just draw a circle, it’s a big community,” said Waterloo mayor Brenda Halloran.

“We’ve got London, Hamilton if you look at the big cities around. We have no doubt that we’re going to get a huge turnout for this tournament,” she said.

There are challenges. The host course, for example, will need renovations to prepare it for such an event.

“It does present some challenge from a spectators’ standpoint,” said Jon Podany, chief marketing officer for the LPGA. “We’ve had a lot of conversations about things we can do and perhaps, we’re considering a rerouting of the holes and so forth.

“It still requires a lot of work together to figure that out. We do think that there is a good plan that we can work towards to really make this a great venue,” said Podany.

That’s not the only unanswered question. A tournament director with knowledge of the LPGA wasn’t introduced and that person will have to get going this year. No information on ticket sales, website, pro-am sales and how the tournament will award exemptions was given.

The foundation is there, but the next year is critical before declaring the Canadian renaissance is continuing.

Yeah, we get it

About the only people talking about Rory McIlroy being the next Tiger Woods are the countless pompous pundits who repeatedly tell you McIlroy isn’t the next Tiger. The unwashed masses have mostly accepted the concept that the next generation isn’t about one-man domination, but parity, so why the repetitive lectures? Intervention may be necessary for the media’s Tiger dependence in his absence. His intimidation factor ain’t what it used to be … Three-time PGA Tour winner Anthony Kim, 26, put the state of golf into better perspective. “Golf has obviously become more international and a lot of the guys from overseas are coming over here to play on the PGA Tour. It’s exciting for golf and the young guys playing great is obviously motivating some of the other young guys,” he said. Kim missed a good chunk of last year because of a thumb injury that required surgery. With one top 10 and seven missed cuts in 18 events as of last week, Kim is in the RBC Canadian Open field and committed to the Telus World Skins Game in Banff, where the tree-lined fairways may cause problems. “I’ve basically been living in the trees,” said Kim. While the young guys are feeding off each other’s success, “I feel like I haven’t had any food in my stomach in a long time, so there’s nothing to feed off. I’ve been on my own and struggling with my golf game, but it’s starting to come back and obviously, I use their good play as motivation for me.”

The Izzy Tizzy begins

The Izzy Tizzy over the first woman to gain status on a men’s professional tour began with Isabelle Beisiegel missing the cut at the Canadian Tour’s ATB Financial Classic in Calgary. Beisiegel was one-under on Friday, but six-over for two rounds … This says something about the state of women’s golf. Yani Tseng, 22, won the Wegmans LPGA Championship by 10 strokes to become the youngest person to win four majors. The week before, McIlroy, also 22, won his first major at the U.S. Open by eight shots. Tseng was No. 1 in the women’s rankings last week, while McIlroy was No. 3 on the men’s side. Be honest now, would you even recognize Tseng? “I think she’s beginning to be more of a crowd favourite. Now that she’s winning more events, people are seeing her more as the kind of No. 1 player and she’s getting obviously more people following her and things,” said Scottish star Catriona Matthew, winner of the 2009 Richoh Women’s British Open. The positive side of Tseng’s anonymity is that columnists or bloggers aren’t repeatedly lecturing that she isn’t the next Tiger … Players such as Suzann Pettersen and Cristie Kerr were quoted as saying they would like to see a rotation of courses for the LPGA Championship, now played at Locust Hill Country Club near Rochester. With the number of tournaments on the LPGA schedule, the tour’s lack of corporate sponsors and a TV deal of any significance, do players ever look beyond their own bubbles into the real world and think that this may not be the time to be making demands?


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