Success on the home front

CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:30 AM ET

This year's RBC Canadian Open -- it had more stops and starts than Charles Barkley's swing -- has finally been wrung out and hung out to dry.

Apart from Michael Phelps being as likely to win as Nathan Green -- it was that kind of weird with all the rain, eight holes-in-one and Mike Weir's he-didn't-make it move, yes-he-did bizarre ruling -- the feeling is our national championship has got some momentum going for it.

The introduction of Weir's charity pro-am with guys like Kevin Costner, Michael Jordan and Martin Brodeur created a buzz rarely seen on a Monday at a PGA Tour event -- never mind one in Canada -- and RBC's and the RCGA's efforts to make it "best in class" (Translation: Best without Tiger) are making the tournament more of an event.

Next year, they get to add another star: St. George's Golf and Country Club.

Taking the Canadian Open to St. George's -- despite the logistical nightmare of hosting the event in an urban area -- will kick up the buzz. As a private club, not a lot of Canadian golfers get to see St. George's which, in my mind, is right up there with the usual suspects (Th e National, Cape Breton's Highlands Links and Hamilton G & C.C.) as the top course in Canada. It's such a subjective thing, but it might be the best.

One great benefit to having St. George's host the Open is you will hear a lot about designer Stanley Thompson, "the Toronto Terror," who is to golf design in Canada what the Group of Seven is to Canadian art.

They all took Canadian landscapes and interpreted them in unique and stunning ways.

The pros will embrace St. George's and its old-school, other-world charm in the middle of the concrete of Etobicoke.

One big difference between St. George's and Glen Abbey is its pacing. The front nine at Glen Abbey is nothing particularly special. The land is unremarkable, winding through big, boxy houses. Back in 1977 when it opened, it had its cache as a Jack Nicklaus creation and the home of the Canadian Open, but now I think you can find a hundred courses in Canada that have nine holes at least as good as the front at the Abbey.

That's not an exaggeration: Th ere have been many courses worthy of attention built in Canada by designers like Doug Carrick and Tom McBroom in the 30 years since, not to mention the timeless excellence of those crafted from Th ompson's genius.

The drama at Glen Abbey is reserved for the Valley, holes 11 through 15, and for the potential for eagles on 16 and 18.

The Abbey's aura was foisted upon it by the association with Nicklaus and as the home to our national championship. There's nothing wrong with that: It was one of the first stadium courses and incorporated the demands of and infrastructure for major-league golf and it has served its purpose wonderfully in Canada's biggest marketplace.

But St. George's is a rare creation, a course that is relentless in its excellence, moving with the stamina of a marathoner over hills and valleys, every hole owning the ability to force you to take a deep breath when you arrive at the starting line.

Last week, when I had a chance to play the course, there were four cement trucks parked on Islington Ave., near St. George's clubhouse.

"They're here to get the greens ready for next year," I said to my playing companions as we entered the tunnel under Islington that connects the clubhouse to the course. It'll be that kind of test. Maybe the rain will have let up by then.

HEAR AND THERE

There was a lot of hearts fluttering with the talk of a date change for the Canadian Open in a flexible schedule being talked about by the PGA Tour, but be careful what you wish for. As much as some lament being stuck with the week after a major, especially the one overseas, the week before a major is no gift, either. The fact is the alternatives just aren't that great ... Hall of Fame Detroit rocker Bob Seger was to play with Tiger Woods at the pro-am at the Buick yesterday. I have a certain image of Seger, one that does not permit me to think of the guy who sings Night Moves playing golf at 7 a.m.

REVELATIONS

Among the people Stewart Cink was most proud to hear from after his win at the British: Players for the Atlanta Th rashers. He's a season-ticket holder for the Thrashers ... I liked the post from a hockey fan on the Th rashers message board: "We need to have him drop the opening night puck because nothing says Atlanta Thrashers hockey quite like golfing." ... Paul Casey played in the Fox Creek Challenge on Tuesday. His first Tweet from Moncton: "Th ey have the biggest mosquitos I've ever seen." Not exactly Chamber of Commerce- type stuff.

SPECULATIONS

St. George's should be a course that sets up well for both Weir and Calgary's Stephen Ames. They have both played well on tough tracks with firm, fast greens. One of Weir's most successful tournament stops was Riviera, where he won the Nissan Los Angeles Open in 2003 and '04, a great classic that plays more to Weir's strengths than the bomb-and-gouge approach of the routine Tour stop.

JUST WONDERING

Asking this question might qualify as treason, but how does Weir not get disqualified from the RBC Canadian Open? He signed for a score lower than what he had and lived to fight another day. Either it's case closed once the incident was reviewed and he signed his card or, if he really did cause his ball to move, he gets the Dairy Queen. Adding a stroke after the fact seemed to be a compromise to the geta- lifers who call in about rules infractions. Th e Rules of Golf are not about compromises. It's certainly not the case, but the whole thing leaves you thinking they didn't want to kick out the No. 1 attraction.

JUST SAYIN'

I have to believe the folks running the RBC Canadian Open were rooting big-time for a win by the "Iron Goose" in the playoff . Nothing against Green -- his paying his dues on the Canadian Tour and finally breaking through up here for his first win is a great story -- but when it comes to marketing next year's Canadian Open, who has more marketing juice?

PARTING SHOT

I think everybody else just made a hole-in-one at Glen Abbey.


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