OAKVILLE, Ontario (AP) – Mike Weir and the other Canadians in the Canadian Open field are well aware that it has been 59 years since a Canadian won the national championship.
“There is that added feel and pressure, no question,'' Weir said Wednesday, a day before the start of play at Glen Abbey. “It can be a good thing though to get the crowd behind you. Get some momentum going, and you can feed off the crowd.''
Pat Fletcher, born in England, was the last Canadian winner, taking the 1954 event at Point Grey in Vancouver. Carl Keffer is the only Canadian-born champion, winning in 1909 and 1914. Albert Murray, a Canadian also born in England, won in 1908 and 1913.
The 43-year-old Weir, the 2003 Masters champion, came close to ending the drought in 2004 at Glen Abbey, but lost a playoff to Vijay Singh.
“I think golf is healthy in this country,'' Weir said. “I think people enjoy playing. We have a lot of talent.''"
Canadian David Hearn lost in a playoff two weeks ago in the John Deere Classic, and Graham DeLaet is the top Canadian on the money list at No. 31 with $1,577,300.
“I truly believe that if I play good golf, I can be in the hunt, and that's kind of just the main thing,'' DeLaet said. “You never know if you're going to win or not, but I'd love to put four good rounds of golf together because I've never done that at the Canadian Open.
Matt Kuchar, a two-time winner this year, tops the field along with Brandt Snedeker, Graeme McDowell, Bubba Watson, Hunter Mahan, Dustin Johnson, Charl Schwartzel, Ernie Els, Luke Donald and two-time winner Jim Furyk.
Mahan thinks that Canadians are under more pressure to win the Canadian Open than Americans are to win the U.S. Open.
“I don't feel like there is a pride factor (in the U.S.) like there is in Canada,'' the American said. “I mean, being an American, you want to win the U.S. Open. It's obviously a great tournament, but I don't think there is that same connection between the Canadian Open and Canada.
“You know, when you have a drought that long, I think you have to start really wanting it and start hoping. It becomes a focus of everyone this week, so I think they have a great chance.''
England's Donald compared the experience to playing in the British Open.
“The one tournament I would love to win the most would be the Open Championship, the British Open,'' said Donald, who missed the cut last week at Muirfield. “Growing up there, having watched it, watched some of my idols throughout the years, (Nick) Faldo, and Seve (Ballesteros) win that great tournament, I'd dearly love to hold the Claret Jug one of these days, not just because it's a major, but because it is your home event.
“I think there is a little bit more pressure that comes with that. The expectation and almost the pressure you put on yourself wanting to win it. You're thinking too much results oriented instead of just going through the process of playing each hole as it comes.''
The Jack Nicklaus-designed course is hosting its 26th Canadian Open.
“(The rough) doesn't look deep out there, but the ball is sitting down enough that it's going to cause some problems,'' Weir said. “So I think getting in the fairway is really important, and the greens are firming up and getting a little faster. So I think the key is just being in the fairway.
“You can attack some of the pins from the fairways, and they're going to still receive a shot from the fairway, but out of the rough, it will be a little more difficult, so I think that's the key.''