Taking Ames at title

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:59 AM ET

VANCOUVER — Stephen Ames is rarely at a loss for words.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Calgary-based golfer let his facial expression tell the story.

Asked for an assessment of Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club, site of this week’s RBC Canadian Open, Ames’ eyes grew as wide as the golf balls he’d just finished smacking on the practice range.

“I think it’s tougher than it was in 2005. The rough is up, which everybody is complaining about, to some extent,” Ames said. “But I think it’s nice that it comes down to the fact that a good drive is rewarded by being in the fairway and you have a chance at going for the green. And when you miss it, you have to chip it out and go from there.

“It’s going to be grinding.

I think this will probably be, in retrospect, a U.S. Open this week. Because the U.S. Open in Washington was nothing like this.”

By many accounts, the rough at Shaughnessy might be just a wee bit thicker than it was at Congressional Country Club for Rory McIlroy’s historic victory at last month’s U.S. Open.

The wicked rough has been punishing the pros and was nothing short of overwhelming for the 9-to-5ers in Wednesday’s Canadian Open pro-am. Ames has been busy with sponsors’ commitments and played his only pre-tournament round Wednesday morning, saying he “didn’t need to beat my head against the wall.”

It’s not like the 47-year-old doesn’t know his way around the 7,010-yard track. Ames finished as the top Canuck the last time Shaughnessy hosted the Canadian Open, earning a share of seventh in 2005 with a four-day total of 1-under 279.

He figures the winner this week will be a guy that pelts fairways. During a lengthy practice session with swing coach Sean Foley — yeah, the same guy that tutors Tiger Woods — on Wednesday afternoon, Ames hit a pile of tee-shots in preparation for Thursday’s opening round.

“You have to drive the ball straight. I think that’s something that everybody would like to do better, and that’s what I’m working on — trying to drive the ball a little straighter,” Ames said. “I think it’s just understanding why you do certain things certain ways. That’s opened my eyes a little bit more, and I know what I have to work on. It might not happen this week, but I have something to work on for down the road.”

Ames is paired with Americans Ben Crane and Ryan Moore for the first two rounds.

Strathmore’s Dustin Risdon and Red Deer’s Mitch Evanecz are also in the field for the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.


Photos