Ben Boudreau of Longueuil, Que., recalls playing with another relatively unknown player at the time when he first qualified to play in the Canadian Open back in 1994.
“That year, Mike Weir won the CPGA,” said Boudreau. “Wednesday, the day before the event, I was with him at the driving range and we were watching Nick Price hit balls. That year, Nick Price won this tournament.
“Mike told me, `I don’t have exactly what I need to beat those guys.’ After that, I know the rest of the story,” said Boudreau.
The rest of the story is that Weir is the focus of many eyes this week. A Masters victory and eight wins overall on the PGA Tour will do that to a guy.
Boudreau, on the other hand, is attempting to make it to the Champions Tour at the age of 51 and he says the combination of qualifying school experience and his first Canadian Open appearance 16 years ago is good for the task ahead this week at St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Toronto.
“I worked hard for the last four years to be in the position to play better,” said Boudreau, who won the Titleist and FootJoy Canadian PGA Club Professionals Championship in a playoff against Vancouver’s Jeff Buder to earn his ticket into this week’s Open.
He arrived at St. George’s on Sunday and had the course to himself for a practice round. “You’ve got to feel comfortable to be here,” he said.
“If you feel comfortable, you will go out and play a good game. If you’re not, if you think it’s not your place, the mind is different, the mental part’s different. I feel pretty comfortable here,” he said.
He does admit that St. George’s will be a stern test and that his four iron will get more use that it usually does this week.
“It’s not a driver-pitching wedge golf course,” he said, adding that while the greens have been getting a lot of attention, the rough might be the under-rated aspect of St. George’s.
“If you miss the fairway, you’re going to pay for it,” he said.