September 11, 2006 — Canadian Open

By: samjack


Editor’s note: Gilles Samson and his wife, Suzette, always wanted to travel around the United States. So after retiring from their jobs late last year, the two Canadians decided to combine their wanderlust with their love of golf. The Samsons will be driving their RV across the country and attending every PGA TOUR event in 2006. While on that journey, they’ll be writing a diary for PGATOUR.com. This is their 35th installment.

From Boston to Hamilton, Ontario: A pleasant two-day drive across western Massachusetts’ Berkshires and through northern New York where sceneries were different at this time of the year than the ones we had seen in July while attending the B.C. Open at Verona. On the second day, we stopped at Niagara Falls to see Canada’s Horseshoe Falls and in the picturesque town of “Niagara-on-the-Lake”, where we visited a few renowned wineries and vineyards just about ready to be harvested — gorgeous and colourful — before reaching our campground in the Hamilton area. We had a great time at the Toronto International Film Festival and got in touch with friends we had not seen for a long time. For the first time this year, we had a hard time to find each other at the end of the tournament, missing an interview with the press and almost missing the last shuttle back to our parking. Quite an experience and definitely not to be renewed, at least until the end of our journey….

Canadian Open, Ancaster, Ontario: Jim Furyk came from behind to win his first Canadian Open and second tournament of the year (Wachovia Championship, Charlotte, N.C.). He was two shots behind the leader, Justin Rose, at the start of the final round on a very crowded leaderboard with 19 players within five shots of the leader, including Jonathan Byrd, Trevor Immelman, Steve Lowery, Sean O’Hair, Brett Quigley, Arron Oberholser, Camilo Villegas, Rory Sabbatini and Jesper Parnevik. He managed to play the best round of the day, a 5-under 65 in cold and windy conditions, winning by one over Bart Bryant. Jim was the highest-ranked player in the field and has a great season so far — moving to second in the world ranking with this win and finishing in the top four for the sixth time in his last seven tournaments. He also ranks second on the money list with over $6 million earned in 21 events. He joins an already impressive list of past champions like Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods, Nick Price, Greg Norman and Lee Trevino — to name but a few.

We have heard great reviews about the Hamilton Golf and Country Club course during the tournament. Furyk said he came to play this year to hone his game in preparation for the Ryder Cup but also because other players raved about the course following the 2003 tournament. Although the course is less than 7,000 yards (short by today’s standards), the century old Harry S. Colt-designed course requires keeping tee shots in the narrow fairways that are lined with pine trees. The rough is high, particularly around its rather small greens with plenty of undulation. It was one of the demanding walks around the course this year as far as I am concerned. The 18th hole, which was the third-toughest hole on the course for the tournament, offers a spectacular amphitheatre setting for the fans to enjoy and acclaim players at the end of their rounds. Despite the chilly temperature, the large and enthusiastic gallery demonstrated the proverbial Canadian hospitality to all the players.

No Canadian has won the Canadian Open since 1954 and our hopes were high that we would have some contending this year. Unfortunately, Stephen Ames — winner of THE PLAYERS Championship — withdrew and six professionals did not make the cut, including Mike Weir. David Hearn, who tied for 20th with a 5-under 275, and Ian Leggatt, who tied for 44th with an even-par 280, were the only Canadians to play over the weekend. Weir, who has made an impressive 18 cuts out of 21 events, is 27th on the money list this year but did not seem to feel comfortable at this event. Reading his diary, on the PGATOUR.COM website, at the beginning of the week, I must admit that I did not sense the level of confidence and preparedness required to perform well in such a competitive environment. Time is our best ally here, let’s hope that next year, the first year of the FedExCup — a new era in golf — will provide us with the ultimate sensation that all Canadians are looking for at the Canadian Open — a Canadian winner.

The Canadian Open will be held in July next year and it will be part of the FedExCup. Although it is scheduled in between major championships, it should be in a position to attract a very good field because of the significance of each and every event to qualify for the FedExCup playoffs. Furyk will lead the group as he already indicated that he will come to defend his title. The 2007 tournament will be held at the Angus Glen golf course in Markam, Ontario.

Toronto International Film Festival: We mentioned a few times in our previous issues that wherever the PGA TOUR was taking us, there also seemed to be another major event taking place in the area. Ancaster was no exception as Toronto was holding its annual International Film Festival. This festival is the most important one in Canada and features the finest films being made today, in all formats and genres. We saw four films in competition and our selection included films from four different countries dealing with four different subjects.

Bamako, by Malian film director Abderrahmane Sissako, is about a “trial” taking place in the capital city of Mali in which the case is the impact of globalization on Africa’s various countries. Poverty, the film insists, is not Africa’s curse but that Africa is a victim of its wealth. The anger expressed is anything but phony. A hard-hitting film that left us with a lot of questions unanswered.

Chronicle of an Escape by I. A. Caetano from Argentina is based on a true story of a rare quartet of survivors from the 30,000 who “disappeared” during Argentina’s military dictatorship in the 1970s. A historical reminder that torture is reprehensible and inhuman.

Half Moon, the fourth film from Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi, is a “cry of freedom” to celebrate the fall of Saddam Hussein and the end of his repression of Kurdish music. The film is overflowing with humour, evocative images, majestic but barren landscapes of Iranian and Iraqi Kurdistans and has also plenty of rousing Kurdish music. The director told us that his film was banned in Iran two days prior to the projection we attended to because it features women singing Kurdish music.

Woman of the Beach by Korean director, Hong Sang-soo, is an ordinary tale of love and life that reveals the complexity and the unpleasantness of human relationships beneath their candid surface. The magic of an encounter fades away, the man meets a girl that looks the same as the one who just left him. He wants to find out if they are the same “inside” since they look alike.

It was a real treat as we did not have the opportunity to see many films in the course of our trip. We have been fans of the Montreal International Film Festival for years and this was our first time at the Festival in Toronto.

Next week’s golf tournament will be the 84 LUMBER Classic in Farmington, Penn., another history-rich area.

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