Finchem offers boost to Open

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:22 PM ET

OAKVILLE -- PGA commissioner Tim Finchem provided a ray of sunshine for RBC Canadian Open fans yesterday on a wet and grey day at the Glen Abbey Golf Club.

In an effort to attract more of the world's top golfers to the Open, which has seen a dearth of quality players in recent years, Finchem said that the PGA is considering implementing a "flex schedule," likely starting in 2013, which would mean that some PGA tournaments would be moved around on the schedule, allowing events, such as the RBC Canadian Open, to be placed in a better position during the season to attract the best players.

The primary reason the historic RBC Canadian Open has seen so many of the best players skip the event is that it is now held right after the British Open, and just a few weeks before the PGA Championship. Many of the world's top golfers, including Tiger Woods, take a week off after playing a major. Woods hasn't played the Open since 2001 at The Royal Montreal Golf Club. He won the event in 2000 at Glen Abbey.

"It's something we're looking very carefully at," Finchem said. "We've had some very preliminary discussions with the RCGA and (title sponsor) RBC (and) we'll be talking about that more over the next six months."

Colombian player Camilo Villegas, at 13th in the world, is the highest-ranked player at this year's Open. Even Jim Furyk, the 2006 and 2007 champion, decided to take a pass this year.

Finchem said the other key to attracting the best players is to hold the Open at courses which the players appreciate. Glen Abbey has received mixed reviews over the years from the players. Next year's event will be held at St. George's in Etobicoke and the event will be at Shaughnessy Golf Club in Vancouver in 2011 -- historic courses that have held the Open before and have received high marks from the players.

"Creating this backdrop for the (Open) that's played only at great golf courses I think is a very positive thing," Finchem said.

Fred Couples, a 15-time winner on the PGA Tour, withdrew from the Open yesterday with a back injury. Defending champion Chez Reavie is here, as are last year's runners-up Billy Mayfair, Steve Marion and Sean O'Hair and, of course, Canadian stars Mike Weir, who finished tied for fifth last year, and Stephen Ames.


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