Open letdown and locker-room thief steal Canadians’ thunder

Graham DeLaet, one of the last two Canadian standing at Glen Abbey, will start the final round of the Canadian Open 10 shots off the pace.
Graham DeLaet, one of the last two Canadian standing at Glen Abbey, will start the final round of the Canadian Open 10 shots off the pace.  (Nathan Denette / THE CANADIAN PRESS)  

The optimism was admirable. In the lead-up to Saturday’s third round of the RBC Canadian Open, Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum pointed out that Alan and Ted Fletcher — two sons of Pat Fletcher, the last Canadian to win the tournament — spent time at Glen Abbey Golf Club this past week.

“I’m hoping to make a call to them tonight to get them on the plane (Sunday) morning for the trophy ceremonies to award our next Canadian winner,” Applebaum said.

He spoke those words before the only two Canadians remaining in the field unfurled duelling duds on a soft-greened, sunny Saturday that saw plenty of low scores, including a course-record-tying 62 by Robert Garrigus.

Mackenzie Hughes, the PGA Tour rookie from Dundas, shot a two-over-par round of 74 that he said amounted to a case of “good shots going bad places.” Whatever the reason, he began the day four shots off the lead and ended up 11 shots in arrears.

Graham DeLaet, the eight-year tour veteran from Weyburn, Sask., wasn’t much better. A day after 15 of the 17 Canadians in the field missed the cut of four under par, DeLaet shot a one-over 73 that didn’t exactly do wonders for his place on the leaderboard. He’s 10 shots back heading into Sunday — oh, and 24 golf balls short.

“It was one of those days. I had a couple dozen balls stolen out of my locker before we got going, so I had to scramble to find many golf balls before we went out,” DeLaet said. “Hopefully tomorrow is a better day.”

Said Hughes: “It’s a hard game, and probably looked that way if you watched me play … It sucks to play poorly anywhere you play, but especially here where I want to do well so badly.”

Applebaum announced on Saturday morning that Glen Abbey will host the tournament again in 2018, but that, given the plan by the course’s owner to eventually develop the property into a residential community, Golf Canada will spend the coming months looking for a permanent site. While Applebaum paid homage to courses that have played host to the tournament outside the GTA — the likes of Royal Montreal and Shaughnessy in Vancouver — the CEO said the focus is on making the tournament a Toronto-area institution.

“Really, we feel as an operational staff, as a world-class facility, it’s really important to be in the central core of the GTA,” he said. “It’s really something that’s important fundamentally to our business and our partners, and so that’s our outlook.”

As for the bizarre news on Friday that tournament director Brent McLaughlin has been removed from the helm, Applebaum confirmed as much but declined to comment further, calling it a “confidential Golf Canada employee matter.” Bill Paul, who was replaced by McLaughlin as tournament director in 2015, has been installed on in interim basis, Applebaum said.