ANCASTER -- With 36 holes to play, this Canadian Open is anybody's game to win. Oh, wait. Not you, Mike Weir. Or you Stephen Ames.
Somewhere, Weir is kicking himself in the hind quarters for missing a golden chance to get that Canadian Open monkey off his back. Same for Ames if his bad back would allow him to bend over.
Canada's two top players won't be part of the free-for-all that is developing at Hamilton Golf and Country Club this weekend, and that's a shame.
Ames chose to withdraw after nine holes of his second round yesterday with a nagging back spasm and a ballooning score, neither of which were getting any better.
On Thursday, when the golf course was there to be plundered, neither Weir nor Ames got involved in the birdie barrage, each finishing at 71 on a day when 70 players scored in the 60's. Yesterday, when the golf course had some teeth, neither could muster a charge. Weir's 74 meant he missed the cut by five shots.
Weir wasn't happy and that's as it should be. This is his self-proclaimed fifth major. It's a golf course he loves and a golf course that suits his game, which is fairways and greens. He is correct to claim ownership of that failure.
All anyone had to do was make the cut this week to be in contention. The 77 survivors are sitting in a range from seven-under-par 133 to even par 140. With a little weather threatening today's proceedings, any of the early starters could post a low score and wait for the carnage to follow.
"I just didn't play well," Weir said. "On any tough golf course if you don't get the ball in the fairway, you're going to struggle. I just didn't get the ball in the fairway."
It was suggested to Weir that the pressure for a homegrown player to break through and win this event after a drought of 90 years can be a factor.
"There's some (pressure) there for all of us," he conceded. "But it's a tournament. Look, guys, I'm 36 years old, I've won all over the world. Won big tournaments. When I come here, it's the same. This tournament is the same feeling as a major championship. It's two rounds and I didn't play well."
This loss will sting, for sure, but Weir can't let his thoughts linger for long on what might have been. He's off to England next week for the HSBC World Match Play Championship. This is a 16-man tournament where even the first-round losers collect about $125,000 and get to ride around in limos. The champion will win about $2 million. That's the kind of thing that'll make you forget about a missed cut, even if it is your national Open.
"It's a big deal, yes," Weir reiterated. "I'm disappointed as everybody but life goes on. I'm going to work hard next week and get back and hopefully win something."
So the nation's best hopes will be on the sidelines but there will be plenty of locals to collect the cheers. Brantford's David Hearn, after a season of struggles on the Nationwide Tour, is playing lights out and sits just three shots off the lead.
Unheralded amateur Victor Ciesielski, of Cambridge, who is playing hooky from University of Waterloo this week, aced the sixth hole yesterday and made the cut by two shots. Three-time Canadian Amateur champ Richard Scott, is also at two under.
Cambridge's Ian Leggatt, finally healthy, is trying to make up for time lost and is one of those who finished on the cutline and could make some early noise today to get into contention.
"I think it will be exciting for me tomorrow," Hearn said. "There will probably be a lot of people out (to watch him). But I think it's disappointing that they (Weir and Ames) didn't make the cut. It's such a great golf course I'm sure they would have liked to have been here as well."
How much would they have liked to be here?
Well, consider this. Late yesterday afternoon, veteran pro Brett Quigley was tooling along at even par through four holes, right on the cut line. When his day ended 14 holes later, he was at six under and one stroke off the lead.
That's what's out there for anyone with a ticket into the game. But you can't win without a ticket.