Plenty of local talent at Open

IAN HUTCHINSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

Clearly, its spot on the calendar right behind the British Open is still an obstacle in luring top-10 players, but the RBC Canadian Open has done an enviable job with the field, with more names yet to be announced.

Sean O'Hair, Retief Goosen, Bubba Watson, Brian Gay, U.S. Open runner-up Ricky Barnes, Scott Verplank, defending champ Chez Reavie, Corey Pavin, Lee Janzen, Trevor Immelman, Camilo Villegas, Luke Donald and Fred Couples are among the golfers appearing at Glen Abbey, July 23-26.

The speculation is that John Daly and his technicolour pants are on their way as well, but Big Bubba is reported to be nursing a rib injury. Let's hope that doesn't give him reason to withdraw as he has been known to do in the past if he gets the exemption.

The field is definitely the strongest it has been since the PGA Tour saddled the Open with those brutal dates prior to the 2007 event, but even with the number of high-profile tour players committing, there's another aspect of this year's national championship that's difficult to ignore.

"I've found there's more of a buzz about Canadians than the last three or four years," tournament director Bill Paul said.

Canadians have some legitimate home boys to follow this year. Besides the usual suspects, Mike Weir and Stephen Ames, NCAA champ Matt Hill of Bright's Grove, Ont., and Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., the low amateur at this year's U.S. Open, add lustre to the Canadian contingent, but they're not the only ones.

More Canadians will be announced this week and expect Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., to be among them, as a result of his standing on the Canadian Tour money list.

DeLaet, 27, won the ATB Financial Classic in Calgary a week ago and was sitting in third place on the Canadian Tour money list going into the Telus Edmonton Open, which concluded last night.

DeLaet had a two-shot lead going into the final round in Edmonton yesterday.

"He's doing okay on the Canadian Tour," Paul said. "He had a great number of events in South Africa (including two runner-up finishes earlier this year). He's somebody that we've got our eye on."

DeLaet's results have been overshadowed somewhat by the exploits of Hill and Taylor, but he had a win late last season at the Desjardins Montreal Open before representing Canada at the World Cup.

Dustin Risdon of Strathmore, Alta., has been flirting with a PGA Tour card all season and stood 29th on last week's Nationwide Tour money list, while Chris Baryla of Vernon, B.C., was 41st and Belleville's Jon Mills was 62nd.

It remains to be seen if those Nationwide Tour players would play at Glen Abbey or choose to stay on the Nationwide Tour in their quest to make the top 25 on the money list at the end of the season and move on to the PGA Tour full-time in 2010.

That wouldn't apply to Victoria's Jim Rutledge, who turns 50 in August and will try the Champions Tour Q-School later this year. Rutledge was 91st on last week's Nationwide Tour money list and in contention in Edmonton yesterday on a visit back to the Canadian Tour.

Great One heads north

This week's Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic, being played at The Georgian Bay Club and Raven at Lora Bay near Collingwood, will also have a heavy Canadian contingent from the Nationwide Tour.

Risdon, Baryla, Mills, Rutledge, Ian Leggatt of Cambridge, Guelph's Bryan DeCorso, Adam Short of Vineland, Brantford's David Hearn and Aurora's David Morland IV are just a handful of Canadians taking part.

Celebrities include No. 99 and his wife Janet, Charles Barkley, Donovan Bailey, Cassie Campbell and Brett Hull, among others.

Volunteers needed

The Roxul Jane Rogers Championship is seeking volunteers for a variety of roles, including caddies, when that Canadian Tour event takes place Aug. 6-9 at Greystone Golf Course in Milton.

All net proceeds will be donated to the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada and the Trillium Health Centre Oncology Unit.

For volunteer and ticket information, see the website, www.janerogerschampionship.ca.


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