PGA players at Hamilton Golf and Country Club for pre-Canadian Open visit

It’s still a month away but already some of the PGA Tour’s marquee players have indicated their intention to play in this year’s Canadian Open at Ancaster’s Hamilton Golf and Country Club.

Attending a media reception today (July 31) to serve notice they are eyeing the 97th Canadian Open were Mike Weir, Vijay Singh, Mark Calcavecchia, Camilo Villegas and Mark O’Meara.

“The 2006 season has already proven that on a given week any PGA Tour player has a chance to come out on top”, said tournament direct Bill Paul.

“What we are seeing more of are new rivalries featuring a host of rising stars battling the established performers. Fans will be in for a premier showcase of golfing talent as the PGA Tour returns to the historic Hamilton Golf and Country Club.”

The Hamilton Golf & Country Club was host to the Open in 2003.

Weir comes into the Open, September 4-10, as the favourite son. The Bright’s Grove (Ontario) native sits on the 15th rung of career money winners and is 28th on the current PGA Tour cash list. To date, Weir has taken home $1,448,571 from the 17 events he has entered. He is, however, still looking for his first Tour win in 2006.

Weir holds seven career PGA tour titles, including his winning performance at the 2003 Masters at Augusta.

Right behind Weir on the money list this year is Villegas, a relative newcomer to the PGA Tour. He turned pro in 2004 and this year his $1,416,515 in earnings has him at 29th. The native Colombian has already posted his career best results this season with second place finishes at The FBR Open in February and The Players Championship in March.

Singh is currently ranked fifth on this year’s PGA Tour money list and ranks second amongst career money leaders. He has won over $48 million during a 24-year career. The Fijian-born Singh won the 2004 Canadian Open title – one of 29 PGA Tour career victories.

Calcavecchia returns to Canada as the defending champion. The Laurel, Nebraska, native won full marks for his win last year at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club in Vancouver B.C. He finished at five-under for the tournament to become the oldest Canadian Open champion (45 years, 2 month, 29 days). He is 127th on this year’s money list ($434,326).

O’Meara, a 26-year professional, has earned 16 PGA Tour victories during his career. The native of Goldsboro, N.C. was the 1995 Canadian Open champion. His $107,428 in earnings this season leaves him 203 on the list.

This year the Canadian Open will offer $5 million U.S. in prize money. The tournament, first held in 1904, is the third-oldest national open golf championship worldwide. Only the British Open and the U.S. Open are older.