Furyk's in, but who else?

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

ANCASTER -- The Canadian Open said goodbye to September last evening and enters a brave new world today, a world that reminds us of the old saying "Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it."

There was an autumnal nip in the air at the end of the proceedings yesterday, a reminder that when the Canadian Open field next convenes at Angus Glen in 2007, it will be in the dead of summer.

The Open moves to a new date next year, near the end of July. After years of lobbying the PGA Tour for a warmer spot on the golf calendar, the move should be good news for the RCGA.

Unfortunately, that's not entirely the case. RCGA officials are maintaining a stiff upper lip and they will do whatever they can to make the very best of their new circumstances, but the new date, which falls one week after the British Open, does not look promising.

Most players have not yet even started to consider their 2007 schedules but those who were questioned about the juxtaposition of the Canadian Open, not only in relation to the British, but also to the Bridgestone World Golf Championship which follows a week later, and the PGA Championship another week on, were not hopeful.

The realization struck Jim Furyk earlier this week before the Open began.

"It's a difficult date, no doubt about it," Furyk said on Wednesday. "I didn't realize the Bridgestone and the PGA were wrapped right in behind it. So the British and PGA are only three weeks apart? Wow. It's going to be difficult. I mean, you've got two majors and a World Golf Championship surrounding you. Three of the biggest eight events we have in a year."

Now that he is the Canadian Open champion, this becomes more than just a mental exercise for Furyk. As champion, it's his reality and he wasted no time in stepping up to accept what he considers his obligation.

"It's a tough date but I've never won a tournament and not showed up, so I'll be here," he said.

"I probably would not play the tournament (next year) if I hadn't won but I think it's a point of honour. I know there are times when there are extenuating circumstances and guys don't make it back but in this situation, I feel I should be here so I will be here."

That is just about the best news Bill Paul, tournament director, could have received last evening. He faces a tall order in attracting a decent field going forward. Having Furyk, this year's No. 2 man on the PGA Tour money list and No. 3 in the world rankings, is a great start.

The field this year was as good or better than it has been since 2001 and the main reason was the golf course. Despite having its defences down as a result of soft conditions caused by rain, Hamilton Golf and Country Club was every bit the star of the show in the same way it was in 2003.

"I looked at the schedule and the events coming up (in advance of the Ryder Cup) and I'd heard so much that was good about Hamilton, so this was a perfect fit," he said.

"Now, by saying that this was preparation for the Ryder Cup, it sounds like a slight against the tournament and the golf course. Had this event been in October or in June, I was coming."

Long before he decided to come, he'd heard nothing but great things about Hamilton.

"At this year's Players Championship, we were talking about some changes to how (TPC at Sawgrass) is to be set up and Hamilton was mentioned," he said.

"One of our scoring officials said 'You know I never saw so many guys come into the scoring tent having shot 75 or 76 and raving about how good a course is.' Now all we do usually is piss and moan but what that told me it was a tough but fair golf course."

The RCGA has been blessed to have Hamilton for two of the last four Opens. It'll be awhile, perhaps quite awhile, before they come back this way again.

Next year, it's Angus Glen. In 2008 it's at Glen Abbey in Oakville. A new course, Terrebonne, just outside Montreal, is tentatively scheduled for 2009. The earliest return to Hamilton could be 2010.

The Open faces a tough grind in the coming years. At least with Furyk on board for next year, they've got at least one name to put on the marquee. It's both a good ending, and a good start.


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