by David McPherson
With nearly 5.7 million Canadian golfers and 60 million
golf rounds played annually, it is no surprise that golf is
the number-one participation sport in the country.
A snapshot of the Canadian golf landscape reveals an
industry worth more than $14.3 billion annually to the
Canadian economy, numbers that reinforce the massive
financial, charitable, social, tourism and environmental
impact which golf has on communities across Canada.
In addition, Canadian golf facilities are a channel for major
charitable giving, with close to 37,000 events at Canadian
courses helping to raise more than $533 million annually
for worthwhile causes.
And, whoever says that golf is boring should have attended
the final round of this year’s Canadian Open. I had this
opportunity. This past July, I enjoyed the thrilling finish
at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ont. with my
nine-year-old son when this venerable venue hosted
our national championship for a record 27th time. The
perennial story of “will this be the year a homegrown
talent wins for the first time since Pat Fletcher in 1954?”
was aired and rehashed by media covering the event
(including yours truly).
This year, more than any other in recent memory, the
drought was nearly broken thanks to a strong Canadian
contingent. Six Canadians made the cut and PGA Tour
player David Hearn – hailing from Brantford, Ont. –
became the first Canadian to hold a 54-hole lead at the
Canadian Open since Mike Weir in 2004. Playing in the
final group with Bubba Watson, the 36-year-old showed
much confidence with the proverbial weight of the nation
on his shoulders. He strode to the first tee early on Sunday
afternoon with a huge gallery of fans hooting, hollering
and waving Canadian flags. (I had to put my son on my
shoulders just for him to catch a glimpse of the opening
drive.) Hearn nailed his tee shot and started birdie-birdie.
The fast start, unfortunately, did not lead to a fairy-tale
ending; Hearn finished third at -15.
“I’m real proud of the way I played, and I’m really proud
to be Canadian today,” he said. “It was a pretty special
day with all of the fans and the support that I had from
beginning to finish.”
Rather than homegrown hero Hearn, it was a day to
remember for Aussie Jason Day – who shot a four-under
68 on Sunday that included three consecutive birdies to
end his round; the exclamation point was a dramatic
15-footer on the 72
hole to seal the deal.
Even Day was impressed by the Glen Abbey crowds:
“I’ve never felt so much at home, and I’m not even from
Canada,” he said. “True golf fans, they understand what a
good shot is and what a bad shot is. It was just amazing to
play in front of the crowd that we had out there this week.
Some of the nicest people you’ve ever met. It’s amazing.”
Hearn was not only gunning for history, but also for his
first PGA Tour victory. The 36-year-old lost in a playoff
at the Greenbrier Classic in early July. While Hearn did
not win, the crowds and his play – along with that of
some of the other Canadians in the field – showed that
golf is alive and thriving in this country. We’ve got more
players competing on the PGA Tour than ever before and
there are even more knocking on the doors, playing on
theWeb.com, andMackenzie Tour – PGA Tour Canada.
O Canada, We Stand On the Tee for Thee
Jason Day wins the
David Hearn at the
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