Taking Ames at Open win

TODD SAELHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

It’s that time of the PGA season for a Canadian call to arms.

Stephen Ames, please step up.

Mike Weir, where’s that 2003 Masters form?

Graham DeLaet, can you be our national golf hero?

Whatever name is engraved Sunday on the RBC Canadian Open Trophy, the hope is it’ll be a Canadian one.

“It’s a different location this year,” said Calgary’s Ames, of the US$5.1-million Canadian Open venue at the St. George’s Golf & Country Club in Etobicoke, Ont.

“It’s not the typical Glen Abbey, which everybody knows. It’s new for everybody on the PGA Tour, so it might be better for us Canadians, because a lot of us have played St. George’s. “Absolutely, it suits my game,” continued the Calgary golfer.

“It’s the kind of course you have to shape it off the tee and think about what club you want to hit. And then going into the greens, you can’t attack them because of the location of the pins. It could be a really, really good test for us.”

Ames himself admits to having an up-and-down season with just one top-10 finish on the tour. He was sixth at the Transitions Championship in March to pocket $187,650.

“Average year. Very average. I’ve played well in spurts but haven’t been able to put four solid rounds together,” said Ames, who ranks 67th on the PGA money list with $732,866 this season.

“But physically, I feel very good about my golf swing. The only thing that’s still lagging behind a little bit is the mind.”

The mental aspect of the game must be especially sharp beginning Thursday in Etobicoke, since the pressure is ever-constant on a Canadian to be crowned champ. No Canuck has won the event since B.C.’s Pat Fletcher in 1954.

“The Canadian Open week is a very long week itself, especially for the Canadians,” said Ames, 46. “We have to do a lot of entertaining with RBC being the sponsor, and it takes away a lot of our time.”

Fortunately, there will be at least a dozen other Canadians to help divide face-time at St. George’s this week.

Included are the PGA Tour’s other full-timers this year — Ontario’s Weir, Canada’s face of golf with $513,092 in 112th place, and Saskatchewan’s DeLaet, a newcomer who finished third for $336,400 at the Shell Houston Open in April.

Another PGA fresh face, Calgary native Chris Baryla, however, will miss the tournament due to injury.

“It’s too bad,” Ames said of Baryla. “Chris is a great player, but lack of experience is probably what’s holding him back more than anything else.

“And Graham? He hits the ball extremely well, but his putting might be a little suspect right now.”

Strathmore native and Nationwide Tour star Dustin Risdon was offered exemption but turned it down, while Calgary-born Ted Brown, another Nationwide Tour regular, has accepted one of a handful of exemptions into the event.

Perhaps getting a taste of the PGA limelight at this year’s Canadian Open can further provide motivation for up-and-coming talents such as Brown and Team Canada’s past and present stars, Matt Hill and Nick Taylor.

“For a country with a lot of ability in a lot of the kids,

I think we should have five to 10 players on tour, especially when we are neighbours with the biggest nation for golfers,” Ames said.

“That’s the role Golf Canada has to start working towards so we can get more elite players on the PGA Tour. I think that starts with programs like the RCGA Centre and expanding that and growing golf throughout the country.”


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