July 18, 2014 8:00 am

Top players, course the lure for fans as RBC Canadian Open returns to Montreal

File photo: Graham DeLaet of Canada plays a bunker shot during a practice round prior to the start of the 2014 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2014. The RBC Canadian Open returns to the Royal Montreal Golf Club for the first time in 13 years.

Andrew Redington/Getty Images

The RBC Canadian Open returns to the Royal Montreal Golf Club for the first time in 13 years. With a field led by the likes of Canadian Graham DeLaet, fresh off the British Open, and stars like Matt Kuchar, defending champ Brandt Snedeker and Ernie Els, the legendary Montreal course, part of the oldest golf club in North America, is once again the setting for Canadian golf history.

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Scott Simmons, chief executive of Golf Canada, which runs the RBC Canadian Open, says the organization recognizes the support the game gets from Quebec, even though it hasn’t been back to the province with its national open since 2001.

“We’re really looking forward to hearing back to a great market that is so supportive of golf on every level,” says Simmons. “Royal Montreal is so important in the history of golf in Canada and that really makes it special.”

Other notable names in the field include big hitter Dustin Johnson, FedEx Cup leader Jimmy Walker, U.S. Open winners Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk, and English golf star Luke Donald.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: The RBC Canadian Open on Globalnews.ca

Canadians playing the tournament include rising amateur Taylor Pendrith from Richmond Hill, Ont., Web.com winners Roger Sloan and Adam Hadwin, both from British Columbia, as well as PGA Tour regulars Mike Weir, Brad Fritsch, and David Hearn. Canadian Golf Hall of Fame inductee Stephen Ames from Calgary will also be in the field in what might be his final Canadian Open appearance since he has turned 50 and has access to the Champions Tour.

While tournament director Bill Paul admits it can be a challenge luring golfers to Canada given the event’s proximity to the British Open, he says there’s no doubting the quality of the field.

“It is a tough stretch of tournaments for a lot of players,” says Paul, noting that the Bridgestone Invitational follows soon after the Canadian Open, with the PGA Championship and the FedEx Cup playoffs in the weeks after. “But we have a lot of winners this year in the field, so I’m cautiously optimistic.”

One thing that has Paul enthusiastic is Royal Montreal. But the course is different from the one that held the 2001 Canadian Open, as architect Rees Jones reworked many elements for the 2007 Presidents Cup.

“There’s a lot of difference in the movement of the greens,” he says. “It has also been lengthened by about 100 yards, but that really isn’t very much.”

It was at Royal Montreal that Tiger Woods missed the cut in his rookie year in 1997. He returned to the club in 2001 to defend his Canadian Open title, where he finished 23rd. He won’t be in the field this year; since the Canadian Open was moved to the week following the British Open, Woods has not shown up in Canada with the exception of a couple of exhibition matches and the 2007 Presidents Cup.

The final field of the tournament will be announced July 18.

“In our case the Canadians—David [Hearn], Graham [DeLaet] and Mike [Weir]—are really important,” Paul adds. “They are big, but if they are winning or playing well like Graham and David, it can make a big difference.”

Global’s pre-game show

The tournament will also see Global Television broadcast two live hour pre-game introductions to the weekend rounds.

Starting at 2 p.m. EST, Global’s sports insiders, PGA Tour winner Ian Leggatt and Calgary sports anchor Kevin Smith, will host 60 minutes of insight into the tournament, including interviews and analysis of the tournament. It is the second consecutive year that Global has televised a live pre-game show dedicated to breaking down the action heading into the final rounds of the tournament.

The RBC Canadian Open will air live on Global from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. EST Saturday and Sunday, and on the Golf Channel and TSN for the first two rounds.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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