Canadians jump into Open fray at Hamilton Golf and Country Club

If patriotic passion rules the day, Canadians will have no shortage of favourite sons at next week’s Canadian Open. The Royal Canadian Golf Association was all smiles Wednesday when it confirmed 13 Canucks will join the field for the PGA Tour event at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club, September 4-10.

While 2003 Master champion Mike Weir of Bright’s Grove and this year’s Players Championship winner Stephen Ames of Calgary are the national headliners, the balance of competing Canadians could surprise.

Weir has banked $1.8 million this golfing season and Ames has taken almost $2.4M away with him.

Ian Leggatt, from neighbouring Cambridge, has won $274,116 this year going into this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston. Victoria, B.C.’s Jim Rutledge has played well enough to pocket $225,000. Brantford’s David Hearn has picked up $87,300 and change.

Joining them will be David Morland IV of Aurora; Chris Baryla of Vernon, B.C.; Brad Fritsch of Manotick, Ont. They will also be competing by virtue of winning the Canadian Open qualifier a few weeks ago at Angus Glen Golf Club in Markham, Ont.; Danny King of Milton, will also participate having claimed the Canadian PGA Club Pro Champion exemption offered to the Canadian Professional Golf Association.

Also joining the field from the RCGA’s Pathway to Champions are the winner and runner-up from the recent Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship held at the Mississaugua Golf and Country Club. Richard Scott of Kingsville, Ont. will be competing in his fourth Canadian Open after having claimed his third career Canadian Men’s Amateur title while Calgary’s Todd Halpen earned the Canadian Amateur runner-up exemption.

Former amateur standout James Lepp of Abbottsford, B.C. will be making his fourth career appearance at the Canadian Open and first since turning professional earlier this season.

“We are very proud to welcome each of these Canadian golfers to the Canadian Open,” said Bill Paul, RCGA Tournament Director. “These players are representative of the depth of talent we have in Canada and they are all looking forward to competing at our national open championship. I know they will be favourites with the fans at Hamilton Golf and Country Club.”

Six more exemptions will be given out to Canadian Tour players following this weekend’s Canadian Tour Championship at the Horseshoe Resort Highlands Course in Barrie, Ont. The top six on the Canadian Tour money list following the event will earn a spot directly into the Canadian Open field. Four more exemptions into this year’s field will be available through the qualifier set for Monday, September 4th at Hidden Lake Golf Club in Burlington, Ontario.

All will be in elite company in the field of 156 competing for $5M US in prize money. John Daly, Stewart Cink, Mark Calcavecchia, Mark O’Meara, Jim Furyk, and Nick Price are some of the PGA’s name players to commit to the Canadian Open.

Tiger Woods opted to pass because of an already heavy playing schedule.