It’s a good thing that RBC Canadian Open tournament director Bill Paul has broad shoulders, particularly at this time of year.
For years, he endured the repetitive question of whether Tiger Woods was coming to the tournament, although I suspect that has eased up considerably as people gave up on that wish, particularly when our national championship was moved behind the British Open.
One topic that will never go away for Paul or any of his predecessors is conflicting opinions on tournament exemptions, of which he has 24. Paul unveiled many of those exemptions on Tuesday at Hamilton Golf and Country Club, the site of this year’s Open in a couple of weeks.
The reaction to the exemptions this year was actually quite tame, although Bob Weeks disagreed somewhat in his ScoreGolf blog here.
Actually, there have been bigger firestorms in the past over exemptions that are usually a matter of opinion and/or philosophy, more than they are a case of right or wrong.
Weeksy was surprised that more established pros such as Matt Hill, James Love, Michael Gligic, Nick Taylor or Derek Gillespie weren’t offered exemptions over Eugene Wong, who just turned professional, and Albin Choi, who is playing at Hill’s alma mater, North Carolina State.
I’m not sure why Weeks is on about Gligic because he’s only $837 short of the second exemption that is available through the Canadian Tour Order of Merit. Those two exemptions will be named after the Players Cup in Winnipeg, but Victoria’s Cory Renfew holds down top spot right now.
Personally, I would have no objection to Hill and/or Taylor receiving an Open exemption, but they did receive exemptions when they were fresh pros after magnificent collegiate careers. just as Wong enjoyed at Oregon before turning pro recently.
In other words, Wong is receiving a benefit that both Hill and Taylor received a few years ago. In Choi’s case, he’s still in school, a member of the national team, which is important from a Golf Canada perspective, and preparing for the World Amateur later this year.
I have no problem with a top-ranked amateur getting in. Look at the fun we had with Beau Hossler at the U.S. Open.
Taylor has played the past four Opens and Hill the past three and they still have outside shots at getting into the Open through the two exemptions available through the Canadian Tour Order of Merit. Hill is currently fifth and Taylor, seventh.
They also had the opportunity to participate in regional qualifying, as did the others that Weeksy mentioned, so they had the chance to qualify and still do.
Both Hill and Taylor are playing well this season, which makes it difficult to exclude them, if that should be the case, but with every point you make for them, somebody has a counterpoint for another guy who deserves a shot, based on philosophy.
Some might even say that Mike Weir shouldn’t get the exemption he’s received, based on his struggles this season, but I expect most would say that after all he’s accomplished, Weir can play in the Open as long as he wants to, within reason. I would agree.
Even if I don’t agree with some of Weeks’ thoughts, it is fun to jaw about exemptions, which is an annual tradition. If it gets the chatter going, so be it. That’s only good for golf.