RBC guarantees solid Canadian Open field

Royal Bank of Canada is the title sponsor of two tournaments on the PGA Tour and is in the unfortunate position of having both held the week after major championships.

The RBC Heritage is played at Harbour Town a week after the Masters. The RBC Canadian Open will be held this week at Royal Montreal, one week after the 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.

Since tournaments on the PGA Tour cannot offer players appearance bonuses, RBC went in another direction to ensure it has strong fields in both events.

RBC signed several top players as global ambassadors, and all of them play in its tournaments.

“RBC is a global player in golf, and I’m excited to extend our partnership as they continue to strengthen their stable of ambassadors, support charitable causes and expand grassroots golf programs in Canada,” four-time major champion Ernie Els said when he re-upped with the company.

Added Luke Donald: “I’m proud to continue to represent RBC on the international stage as they are a terrific partner, not only to me, but to the game of golf as well.”

Other members of the RBC team include Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, Jim Furyk, Graeme McDowell, Hunter Mahan and Canadians Mike Weir, Stephen Ames, Graham DeLaet and David Hearn, in addition to Morgan Pressel of the LPGA Tour.

All the men will be on hand this week at Royal Montreal, and each of the Canadians will be trying to become the first player from north of the border to win the tournament since Pat Fletcher in 1954 at Point Grey Golf Club in Vancouver.

“We are very pleased with the strength of our field,” tournament director Bill Paul said. “This is a testament to the commitment of our partners at RBC in delivering a world-class event experience, and that’s exactly what golf fans can expect when the world’s best players tee it up at the Royal Montreal Golf Club.”

Snedeker, who captured the 2012 RBC Heritage in a playoff with Donald, pulled off the RBC double when he won the RBC Canadian Open by three strokes over Kuchar and three others last year at Glen Abbey Golf Course in Oakville, Ontario.

“I’m very excited to be heading to the Royal Montreal Golf Club to defend my title at the end of July,” Snedeker told members of the Canadian press on RBC media day last month. “I’ve never been to the course, but everybody that I’ve asked has great things to say about this historic venue.

“It was very special to me to win Canada’s Open Championship last year especially considering it is sponsored by one of my partners in RBC. Hopefully I’ll be able to have another strong showing in 2014.”

It will be the 105th playing of the tournament, making it the third-oldest event on the PGA Tour.

Last year, Snedeker took the lead by shooting a 9-under-par 63 in the third round at Glen Abbey after 36-hole leader Mahan withdrew and went home to be with his wife, Kandi, who went into labor before giving birth to their first child, Zoe, the next day.

“Zoe will be getting a very nice baby gift from me,” Snedeker said after winning. “I can’t thank Kandi enough for going into labor early. I don’t know if I’d be sitting here if she hadn’t. But that is a way more important thing than a golf tournament. I missed a golf tournament when my first (child) was born, and it was the best decision I ever made. I’m sure Hunter would say the same thing.

“This is a tournament I said early on in my career I wanted to win just because my caddie (Scott Vail) is from Canada and it’s his national open. It meant a lot to him, meant a lot to me. Third-oldest tournament on tour, and it’s got some great history to it, and now to put my name on that trophy, it means a lot. I’m just happy to be RBC champion.”

Before being placed behind the Open Championship on the PGA Tour schedule, the Canadian Open always drew one of the strongest fields of the year, and its list of winners is impressive.

Included are Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Byron Nelson, Sam Snead, Walter Hagen, Lee Trevino, Tommy Armour of Scotland, Gene Littler, Billy Casper, Greg Norman of Australia, Nick Price of Zimbabwe, Curtis Strange, Tom Weiskopf, Bob Charles of New Zealand, Lawson Little, Bobby Locke of South Africa, Macdonald Smith of Scotland and “Lighthorse Harry” Cooper of England.

RBC is doing its best to keep that legacy alive.

–Story courtesy of The Sports Xchange, TSX Golf Editor Tom LaMarre

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