As if organizers of the RBC Canadian Open hadn’t had enough during the 100th national championship, eyes once again turned skyward yesterday, not to assess when rain would arrive, but to examine a curious yellow ball that had suddenly appeared over Glen Abbey.
Just as mysterious was the colour of the sky, a blue deeper than the spirits of the players each time they were called off the course when lightning, thunder and torrential downpours forced the horn between Thursday and Sunday leading to the first Monday finish since 1988.
Perhaps, it was this water torture that erased the recall of anybody at or near the Abbey, but the sun and blue skies that prevailed on Monday are supposed to be part of summer in Southern Ontario. These favourable conditions just arrived a touch too late to prevent the 2009 Open from being called unique.
Unique. That’s a politically correct word, but not one used by numerous players this week about weather conditions usually associated an event that comes just before Canada on the schedule, the major advantage being that the British Open is a major, so players are happy to deal with rain, wind and cool temperatures.
When the British Open was chosen to precede the Canadian Open a couple of years ago, it had a dramatic effect on the quality of field, as the popular theory goes, but will the soggy weather of the past two years at Glen Abbey magnify that problem in future years?
The slew of WDs that took place during Saturday’s rain delay should answer that question.
“They were all injuries of one sort or another. It came from the players. What are you going to do, right?” said tournament director Bill Paul, with an obvious hint of sarcasm in his voice.
“I’ve been doing this a long time. They’re going to do what they have to do or what they want to do. The bottom line is you don’t say, `Suck it up and get out there.’ It’s their right to withdraw,” he added.
The truth be told, most of the players who withdrew weren’t exactly of the marquee variety and, at the time, less players on the course was probably a good thing, but don’t go checking hospital emergency rooms to see if they’re okay and you know if they checked into one of our hospitals, they’d still be there.
That’s not to say all were using injury as a feeble excuse to bail on a tournament that kept stalling, but it would be fair to say it does illustrate the grumpy mood inside the locker room as the tournament wore on, according to reports. Paul doesn’t believe it will affect attendance at next year’s Open at St. George’s.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “People’s memories are short-lived. It will combated with going to a great golf course. For everyone who’s said that (about the weather), I’ve heard more say that `I hear the course next year is unbelievable.’
“I think they’ll go home and, in a week’s time, (the 2009 Canadian Open) will be a distant memory as far as the tournament goes and we’ll begin selling 2010 as soon as this one’s over,” said Paul.
Tour veteran Jerry Kelly agreed that weather shouldn’t become an issue.
“I’d say no, just because there’s a real good buzz about St. George’s next year. The golf course sometimes is what really makes a golf tournament,” said Kelly, who was also pleased to hear that the 2011 Open will be at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club in Vancouver.
Oddly enough, the first dry Open could possibly be played on the west coast of all places, but Kelly says those golf courses mean a lot to players.
“You know, you’ve got me for the next two,” said Kelly.