Graham DeLaet steps in to role as great home hope at Canadian Open
Graeme McDowell in quality field with world number six Matt Kuchar and reigning FedExCup champion Brandt Snedeker
Graeme McDowell will tee off in Ontario today after his struggles at the recent British Open at Muirfield, Gullane, Scotland. Photograph: Rob Carr/Getty Images
Nineteen Canadians will tee it up today to begin what is quickly becoming an Andy Murray-esque pursuit and become the first home-grown winner of the Canadian Open in 59 years as the bid to crown a local champion of Canada’s national championship becomes a bigger storyline with each passing decade.
Only once in the last 99 years has a native son claimed the Canadian Open and that was back in 1954 when Pat Fletcher ended what was then a 50-year barren run with a victory at Vancouver’s Point Grey Golf and Country Club.
“Being an American you want to win the US Open . . . I don’t feel like there is a pride factor like there is in Canada, ” said Hunter Mahan, who will try to dash Canadian hopes by collecting his first win of the season this weekend. They haven’t had a champion since the 50s. You know when you have a drought that long you have to really start wanting it and start hoping. It becomes the focus of everyone this week.”
There will be no lack of support for the local contingent when the Canadian Open’s 104th edition gets underway at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Glen Abbey layout but the chance of a happy ending remains slim in a quality field that features American world number six Matt Kuchar, reigning FedExCup champion Brandt Snedeker and Ireland’s Graeme McDowell.
Of the 19 Canadians entered this week, only five play on the PGA Tour and among those Graham DeLaet (at 67th) is the sole player ranked in the world’s top 100.
A 31-year-old journeyman still chasing his first PGA Tour title, DeLaet has confidently stepped into the role of the “Great Canadian Hope”.
Statistically he has been among the best players on the circuit this season, making the cut in 17 of 20 tournaments while ranking number one in greens in regulation.
Mike Weir, Canadian golf’s long-time standard bearer but now ranked 586th in the world, is back at Glen Abbey this week.
He said: “The confidence level and the way I am playing from a year ago is a big change. I think I can get some momentum going early and get rolling.”