December 26, 2010
Number of Canucks on PGA Tour on the rise
By IAN HUTCHINSON, QMI Agency
The story of the year in golf has been analyzed, scrutinized and sensationalized with no resolution in the saga of Tiger Woods, who left us hanging in his quest for a return to form with a decent showing at the Chevron World Challenge.
After all the dissecting of on-course and off-course events, the story of 2010 now becomes the story of 2011 as even those who believe they have mystical insights into this subject can really only say see you next year, Tiger.
It’s a sad commentary when, no matter how he plays, you can predict that Woods will be the story of the year a full 12 months in advance. That’s the silliness of our celebrity-obsessed culture and don’t just blame the media because all things Tiger means big readership or ratings.
As a result, the current No. 1 player in the world is relegated to second banana and the fact that we’ll see less of Lee Westwood and charging youngster Rory McIlroy on this side of the Atlantic as they devote more time to the European Tour in 2011 becomes less of an issue.
Of course, Tiger is as big a story here as in the U.S. or anywhere else, but he can’t be classed as story of the year in Canadian golf for no other reason than citizenship.
Yet, here in Canada, we suffer from the same syndrome of not being able to get past a former Masters champion, who had his season cut short with a partially torn ligament in his elbow.
That injury, his amicable parting of ways with caddie Brennan Little, his decision to work on his swing for the most part on his own and his disappointing play has provided ammunition for the media to keep Mike Weir in the headlines.
We’ll simply relegate the “washed up” rant by colleague Steve Buffery at the RBC Canadian Open to the list of many indiscretions by the Beez, but Weir is in tough going into 2011, which will begin with five tournaments on a medical exemption in which he hopes to make enough money to keep his card.
As I said just after “L’Affaire Beez,” Weir has enough gas left in the tank to continue making a credible contribution. The Weir-watchers will be focused on how he makes out early in the season, while another regular, Stephen Ames, returns from late season back problems.
Just as McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson and others are lighting up their bright futures behind Tiger, Canadians have a tough time getting past Weir and Ames to look at their young countrymen getting a foothold on tour.
It’s getting crowded out there by Canadian standards as Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., goes into his second year on tour after three top 10s to finish 100th on the money list and keep his card.
Chris Baryla of Vernon, B.C., was to start his second year on a medical exemption after hip surgery, but he came out of Q-school with full status after a tie for 11th. The unknown is Matt McQuillan of Kingston, who also had a solid Q-school performance with a tie for 16th.
David Hearn of Brantford is back for his second go-round after placing in the top 25 on the Nationwide Tour, perhaps a little wiser and experienced since his rookie year in 2005. Baryla said after Q-school that more could be on the way.
“Canadian golf’s taken criticism on where the next (tour player) is coming from, but I’ve said for years that there’s a bunch of players out there — some you’ve heard of, some you haven’t — who, at any given time, can jump up to the next level. Matt (McQuillan), specifically, is a good example of that,” he said.
To see that doesn’t require ignoring the obvious such as Woods, Weir and Ames, just seeing past it in 2011.