Canadian Open gets it

IAN HUTCHINSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:15 AM ET

The starch has completely come out of the collars of those who run the Canadian Open these days, so let's take fun to a new level.

Now that Kevin Costner is playing in the Mike Weir Charity Classic the Monday before this year's tournament at Glen Abbey, the Royal Canadian Golf Association and RBC should invite Cheech Marin to revive the Tin Cup thing.

Invite Rene Russo too -- just because.

With its shot to the green over water, the 18th at Glen Abbey sets up a perfect Tin Cup II (can anyone answer who actually won the U.S. Open in the first one?).

Unfortunately, with the event's shotgun start, it isn't likely that Costner will be put in a position where he needs to clear the water for birdie to win, even with Marin pleading with him to lay up and go for a playoff.

Still, wouldn't it be fun to arrange an exhibition for whenever Costner does get to 18? Give him a dozen balls and let's see if he can put it on the green from a fair yardage, yet to be determined, with a 3-wood. There might be corporations that kick in with charitable donations if Costner is willing.

"If you want him to," said Jim Little, chief brand and communications officer for RBC, who I suspect was being a trifle insincere, but I'll even supply the dozen balls, any brand, if Costner is up for it.

The Open has joined Pebble Beach, with its star power and Bill Murray's monkey business, the Vegas event with its affiliation with Justin Timberlake, and whatever the FBR Open in Scottsdale, Ariz., will be called next year with its wild fans and raucous 16th hole, as events that get the importance of entertainment value.

"We're really focusing together on creating the experience of the week," Little said. "We want to do something interesting and surprising every year. It may or may not be exactly this, but we certainly are excited about what's coming this year."

RBC and the RCGA announced a full schedule of events for tournament week that includes another Pengrowth Concert Series that will include Costner and his band Modern West, Tom Cochrane and Red Rider and the legendary duo of Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings.

"This week-long schedule of events, I think, will appeal to all sorts of people, whether they're core golfers or not," said RCGA executive director Scott Simmons, saying the tournament has met or exceeded all of its goals since RBC came on board not even two years ago.

Those goals include getting the Open played on outstanding golf courses.

Next year's will be played at St. George's, with Shaughnessy in Vancouver on deck for 2011. Bet that Royal Montreal and Hamilton will soon be named as future venues.

Another important goal is reaching $5 million over five years for charity.

The main beneficiaries are children's charities supported by the Mike Weir Foundation, but there's also a local component with ROCK, a reach-out centre for kids in the Oakville area receiving funds this year.

"I think golf has demonstrated around the world that it can be a tremendous engine to raise dollars for charity," said Simmons, adding that enhancing the experience for spectators, sponsors and other stakeholders is another goal, as is getting the best field possible.

Simmons expects that the tournament will meet or exceed the $5-million target, so everything seems to be on target with tournament goals. Even the field is looking better, but would be even better if not for the Open's unfortunate date right behind the British Open.

However, the national championship has reversed the downward trend it was on just two years ago. While other PGA Tour events have faltered, especially in the United States, in a tough economy, the Open has strengthened.

"We're going to keep our eyes and ears close on what happens over the next 12 to 24 months with the PGA Tour and make sure that we're at the front of the bus for any enhancements that may come along," Simmons said.

That would mean a date change and, one assumes, an even-better field for a tournament that not long ago seemed to be dying, but has since elevated itself into the premier ranks of events on tour with the brand strength, marketing and financial clout of RBC and its interests in the United States.


Videos

Photos