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Golf

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

nd

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

Canadian Open

David Hearn at the

Canadian Open

Photo:Bernard Brault

Photo:Bernard Brault

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