RCGA did all it could do

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

The Royal Canadian Golf Association gets snubbed more often than a pimply-faced geek at a Supermodel convention.

And this year is no different.

The RCGA has bent over backwards to try to attract the world's top golfers to the Canadian Open, which is being held this week at Angus Glen in Markham.

The purse, $5 million US, ranks up there with most of the non-major events on the PGA tour. On top of that, time and money was invested into modifying and improving the course, a redesign led by PGA standout Davis Love III.

The RCGA even went as far as to charter a jet, full of first-class seats, to fly players direct from Scotland, site of last weekend's British Open, to Toronto on Sunday night. Even the courtesy cars for the players at the tournament this week have been upgraded to top-of-the-line BMWs.

But nothing it seems, short of revamping the PGA schedule itself, will prompt the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson to return to the Canadian Open. The tournament only has attracted two top-10 players this year: No. 3 Jim Furyk and No. 7 Vijay Singh. Furyk is said to be here mainly because he is the defending champion from last year's event held at the Hamilton Golf & Country Club.

Heck, not even Love, who was so instrumental in the improvements at Angus Glen, bothered to make the trip.

Actually, the ultimate insult was that, reportedly, a number of players jumped on the jet chartered by the RCGA in Edinburgh, Scotland, and then, upon touchdown in Toronto early Monday morning, fled for parts unknown.

Still, Calgary's Stephen Ames said yesterday that the RCGA is on the right track in its efforts to attract the world's top players -- eventually -- particularly with the move to charter from Scotland to Toronto.

"It was just a good show," said Ames, who, along with Mike Weir, will attempt to become the first Canuck to win the Canadian Open since Pat Fletcher won it in 1954.

"It was a little late, but other than that, it still made a big difference rather than getting in the Monday afternoon," Ames said. "We got in (Monday morning) about 12:30. I mean, we're now in bed at 2 (a.m.), so it's perfect. We didn't lose half the day, or most of the day. We could have come up (Monday) if we wanted to."

In actuality, the RCGA's hands were completely tied in their hopes of attracting most of the top players in the PGA this year because of the scheduling on the PGA Tour. The Canadian Open immediately follows the British Open and precedes next week's World Golf Championships at the Firestone Club in Akron, Ohio. One week after that is the PGA Championship, another major, at Southern Hills in Tulsa.

"I don't think I've seen Tiger or Phil play four in a row ever on tour," Ames said. "So, obviously, with the fact that the British Open, Canadian Open, World Golf championship and then the PGA Championships (are on consecutive weeks), yeah, the Canadian Open's going to be the one that suffers in the stretch of four. It's unfortunate."


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