Carrying Canada's hopes

Stephen Ames is playing quite well and is ranked 25th in the FedEx Cup heading into the Canadian...

Stephen Ames is playing quite well and is ranked 25th in the FedEx Cup heading into the Canadian Open. SUN MEDIA/Dave Abel

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:57 AM ET

OAKVILLE -- That noise heard throughout the day at Glen Abbey Golf Club yesterday was a clock ticking.

That, and the heavy rain hammering the fairways. And the crashing thunder.

If they get the RBC Canadian Open underway this week without anyone drowning, the smart money is on a pair of Americans to float away with the title, either two-time defending champion Jim Furyk or 23-year-old Dallas native Anthony Kim.

Having won last year at Angus Glen, a course he doesn't even like very much, and the year before at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club, Furyk raises his game when he touches down in the Great White North, and is the odds-on favourite this week to become the first man ever to win three Canadian Opens in a row.

Kim also is a serious contender, having already won two PGA events this season and tying for seventh in his first British Open last week at Royal Birkdale. He is the fifth-ranked player on the Tour this year and the highest-ranked player here at Glen Abbey.

But other than Kim and Furyk, there are no players in the top 15 in FedEx Cup rankings competing at this Open -- the result of the event being held a week after the British and a couple of weeks before the World Golf Championship (and the PGA Championship right after that).

What all that means is that this year, this week, may be the last chance in a long while, for a son of the Maple Leaf to break the drought. As it has been documented repeatedly, Pat Fletcher in 1954 was the last Canadian to win his national Open.

Weir came within one stroke of winning in 2004 at Glen Abbey, when he lost a playoff heartbreaker to Vijay Singh, but that may have been, realistically, his best shot. The personable golfer is 38 and though he is still an icon in these parts, largely because of his Masters win in 2003, his game is not what it once was, having won on the Tour only once in the past four years and posting only two top-10 finishes this year, including a second at The Memorial.

Ames, the Trinidad-born Canadian citizen, still is playing quite well and is ranked 25th in the FedEx Cup. But he is 44 and no matter how fit he keeps himself in, it's inevitable that his game will begin to slow.

"There's going to be somebody, at some time, (that does) it," Weir said yesterday. "Whether it's my generation, the guys that are here right now, or the next crop of the young guys coming up. It would be great for the game in this country if one of us could do it."

Not for lack of trying or desire have Weir and Ames been unable to pull it off. Both golfers treat the Open as something special, a highlight of their season, even if most of the other top PGA pros certainly don't feel the same.

"I'd never miss it," Weir said, after shooting a one-under 70 in yesterday's pro-am, before the heavy rains began pouring down. "It's something I've watched since I was a kid, and dreamed of winning.

"For me, I approach it more like a Major championship than a regular event on the Tour. "

Ames, who was at two-over through 13 holes before the rain forced him off the course yesterday, finished tied for seventh in his best showing at the Open, in 2005 at Shaughnessy.

Furyk said he can understand both the passion and pressure Weir and Ames feel when they play at the Canadian Open.

"I know those two guys really look forward to this week and would love to be champions of the Canadian Open," Furyk said. "But I can understand how difficult that can be at times, as well.

It will take everything to fall together for Weir or Ames to win at Glen Abbey this week.

"It is a little bit like lightning in a bottle, you hope things jell, you hope your strokes are good, you're rolling it well, you're putting well, chipping well," Weir said. "To win on the Tour now, you can't have one aspect of your game off. I can't overpower a course. I have to be really on my game to win out here. (The same) with most of the Canadian guys.

"It's difficult to get your game together to win an event," Weir added. "It all has to come together. Unless you're Tiger and your winning all the time, it's hard to do."


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