Better date for Canadian Open?

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:42 AM ET

These are uncertain days, to say the least, on the PGA Tour.

Dramatic schedule changes have left a lot of tournament organizers, including those of the Canadian Open, scratching their heads about how to survive and thrive in the era of the FedEx Cup, which is the centrepiece of the new, shortened tournament season.

When the dust settled on PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem's new golf landscape last fall, the Canadian Open was awarded its long-sought summer date but there wasn't a lot of cheering at Oakville's Golf House, home of the RCGA. Slotted in the week following the British Open, the Canadian Open will be lucky to draw a field comparable to the ones they have been attracting in September.

WITHIN REASON

The RCGA's well-reasoned position has been to make the best of a difficult situation, put on the best event it can on the dates provided and hope that by being a part of the PGA Tour's TV package they could be rewarded in the future with a better position on the schedule, as befits the second-oldest event on the PGA Tour.

The aforementioned golf landscape is very likely to be somewhat fluid over the next couple of years simply because so much change all at once is bound to create situations that are unsuitable to some tournament operators.

Just this week, events unfolded in Denver that may very well have some impact on the Canadian Open, especially if the RCGA is politically nimble enough to take advantage of a potential sea change.

Apparently Jack Vickers, the hugely influential 82-year-old former oilman who runs the classy International tournament at Castle Pines, just outside Denver, is not at all happy with the situation facing his tournament in Finchem's new world order.

The International is a unique tournament that has, in the past, been played in early August, normally a week ahead of the PGA Championship. The format is a modified Stableford scoring system that can create huge lead swings and entices players to go for birdies and eagles, rather than play conservatively.

Vickers has been seeking a World Golf Championship designation for his event. He was offered a FedEx Cup playoff tournament instead but that would have required a shift to a September date, when football is king in Colorado and weather could become a disastrous factor in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Vickers declined that opportunity and The International, which, like the Canadian Open, doesn't have a title sponsor, was slotted into the first week in July, the spot vacated by the Western Open, which has become a FedEx Cup playoff event and will be played early in September in Chicago.

FUMING

Whether that involves a date change, or a World Golf Championship designation, or help in getting a title sponsor, it's not known. What is known is that The International is not happy with its spot in the schedule.

Where the Canadian Open comes into the equation is that the first week in July is exactly the slot the RCGA wants: encompassing the Canada Day celebrations, two weeks after the United States Open and two weeks ahead of the British. It's also a week that Tiger Woods has played in eight of the past nine years. If that date suddenly comes open, the RCGA should be ready -- and no doubt will be -- to mount its argument at a moment's notice.

Such a date, with its obvious benefits to the tournament, could also hasten the signing of a title sponsor. To this point, nobody has been willing to step up to the plate and commit $7 million a year for, say, five years to a tournament that is going to be buried behind the British Open on the PGA schedule.

Then again, it could all amount to nothing. The developments in Denver may turn out to have no bearing at all on the Canadian Open. Only time will tell. But you can bet RCGA officials will be paying very close attention.


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