Golf champions gather for RBC Canadian Open at new course
Published Tuesday, June 4, 2019 5:48PM EDT
The stars are out at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club. "It's my first-ever time in Canada so I'm excited to be here," says nine-time PGA Tour Winner Justin Thomas.
Over a dozen major champions are in the field this week at the RBC Canadian Open.
"I like to play the week before a major, so this is great for me," says Henrik Stenson.
The 2016 Open Champion, like so many others, is taking advantage of the new date on the calendar.
The move from the week after the British Open, to the week before the U.S. Open, along with an increased purse, has added up the the best field in the event's 110-year history.
Stenson spent time practicing and greeting the fans during his Tuesday practice round.
"Being Swedish I'm spending time with family and friends that week after the British Open, so that other date wasn't good for me. But I'm happy to be here playing my first ever Canadian Open."
Thomas echoed that sentiment, "The fact that guys are willing to play the week before the US Open, speaks values for itself.. I'm excited to be here."
After Monday's qualifying, the number of Canadians in the field has jumped to 24.
The move from Glen Abbey to the second-ranked course in Canada has tour winner Mackenzie Hughes excited. It's about 20 minutes away from his hometown of Dundas, Ont.
"It's very rare to be so close to your childhood home and play in a PGA Tour event," says Hughes. "It's also great to see guys like Rory (McIlroy) and Brooks Koepka here. It's the right boost this tournament needed."
Mike Weir is playing his 28th Canadian Open.
"It's a great venue despite the weather," says the 2003 Masters champ. "My parents have been telling me it's been a wet spring here, but they've done a great job with golf course."
Tournament organizers wanted to make this event about more than just golf. They're calling it a sports and entertainment experience which includes a concert by Florida Georgia Line on Friday night.
"It's really been building momentum," says Tournament Director Bryan Crawford. "From the announcement of the new date, the new venue, and the purse and concerts.., the stake holders are committed to making this one of the greatest sports events in the country."