Bright future for Canadian Open

IAN HUTCHINSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

Tiger Woods, Mike Weir and Stephen Ames were playing Doral in a World Golf Championships event, but strangely enough, something seemed missing the past few days.

That's it. RBC didn't make an announcement that related to golf and its association with the Canadian Open. It has been almost a whole week since the bank announced that its logo would be on the golf bag of rising star Anthony Kim.

It has been exactly a week since RBC and the Royal Canadian Golf Association announced that the Mike Weir Foundation would become the charity of choice for the Open and that the new Mike Weir Charity Classic would contribute added star power to the event.

The Weir announcement came on the heels of RBC's announcement that it would sponsor the Stephen Ames Cup, an international junior event between Ames' homeland of Trinidad and Tobago and his adopted country of Canada.

RBC has been busier than a packed media room at an event in which Tiger is playing, so it seems strange when the bank is quiet, but that offers a moment to reflect on the impact of the above-mentioned announcements.

Naturally, there's a business aspect to all of the above. RBC has shrewdly targeted countries and regions in which it is hoping to step up its interests, so Kim is important to the bank's U.S. interests, Weir in Canada and Ames in both Canada and the Caribbean.

The tactics now being employed by RBC are precisely the reason that the bank was one of the few ideal companies to take the Open sponsorship because of its reach beyond Canadian borders.

While many people in this country understandably complained about the lack of Canadian content on an American network, the CBS coverage of the PGA Tour was actually the perfect vehicle for RBC to get its message out to those in other countries, so it's a trade-off.

Canadian golf actually wins in this deal in several ways.

For one thing, RBC has demonstrated that golf events can be used as a business platform if a corporation or business is willing to go beyond just sticking its logo and name on a tournament.

With RBC getting behind Kim, that pretty much assures the presence of a dynamic, young star at the Canadian Open each year.

The Weir Classic, played the Monday of tournament week, looks at this point like it might draw more players to the Open field, not to mention the marquee value of someone like Canadian NBA star Steve Nash, who was the first non-golf celebrity to commit to playing.

The end result is that the Canadian Open is rising in stature on the PGA Tour in the eyes of the administration and the players who decide whether or not to participate.

"I think it's getting easier to sell (the Open's) message to the players," said Weir. "I'm not out there telling guys to come up and play. It's more the guys are coming up to me."

Each step that the tournament takes up the pecking order, the closer it gets to obtaining better dates than the ones it now holds right behind the British Open.

That change in dates could come sooner or later, depending on what happens with the economy and other tournaments and their sponsors.

For now, the Canadian Open is positioning itself well for better times, but those are already here, judging by these recent announcements from RBC and the RCGA.

Just think of where this tournament was two years ago before RBC came on board.

Well-deserved honour

It will be announced later today that former du Maurier Classic chief Jocelyne Bourassa is the latest recipient of the Trainor Award, which was established 10 years ago in honour of Duramed Futures Tour founder and former president Eloise Trainor.

The award is presented to those who make a significant contribution to women's golf and Bourassa certainly fits that description.

She is well-known as the last Canadian to win an LPGA Tour event on home soil and while her work with the Classic, a former major championship, was high profile, her work in developing young pros through programs such as the du Maurier Series is a lasting legacy.


Videos

Photos