The RBC Canadian Open kicks off this weekend at the Royal Montreal Golf Course. From Jack Nicklaus to a stolen cup, here are 7 things you probably didn’t know about this tournament.
1) The Royal Montreal Golf Club is the oldest golf club in North America
Although the development of golf in Canada has been comparatively slow, our Canadian neighbors introduced the sport to the continent. On Nov. 4, 1873, the Montreal Golf Club was established, making it the oldest golf club in North America. In 1884, Queen Victoria granted permission to use the “Royal” designation, thus establishing the name “Royal Montreal.” The first course was rudimentary, constructed on a piece of land near the city, but with the beginning of modern urbanization, it was necessary to find other grounds. A new golf course was constructed on Fletcher’s Field, a large common ground which was part of Mount Royal Park, lying just about a mile from the center of the city. In 1896 the club moved to Dixie, about nine miles from the city, where a 9-hole course of 2,500 yards was constructed. The last move was to Ile Bizard in 1959. Royal Montreal now has 45 holes and the Blue Course is ranked as one of the “100 Greatest Courses in the World.”
2) The Canadian Open is the Sixth Oldest Championship Worldwide
The Open Championship began in 1860 and is, of course, the oldest championship in the world. Members of the British Empire also initiated The Open of India in 1892, making it the second oldest. Third is the U.S. Open Championship, inaugurated in 1894, sharing its spot with The Australian Open, which began later that year. In fifth place, we find The Open of South Africa, which started in 1899, followed by The Canadian Open, in sixth place. The first Canadian Open was a simple affair, a one-day event at The Royal Montreal Golf Club’s Dixie Course, which was added to the already-established Canadian Amateur Championship. It was considered a fifth major to many golfers during the 1950s and 1960s.
3) Tiger Woods Missed the Cut for First Time since Turning Pro
In 1997, almost a year after turning pro, Tiger Woods missed the cut at the Canadian Open. It was his rookie year and, heading to Montreal, he was leading the money list on the PGA Tour. After a 70 in the first round, Woods shot 76, missing the cut by one. This was the first time he missed the cut since turning pro. Tiger won the championship in 2000 at Glen Abbey Golf Club, when he became the second player to ever win the Canadian Open, the U.S. Open and the British Open in the same year. He returned again the next season, looking to defend his title, but after scoring 65 to lead in the opening round, Woods shot 73 in the second round and finished tied for 23rd. The championship was won by Scott Verplank, who finished 10 strokes ahead of Woods.
4) After 106 Years, Record of Youngest Champion Still Holds
In 1908, Albert H. Murray became the youngest player to win the Canadian Open at 20 years, 10 months, and two days of age. This record has yet to be broken. Albert won the Canadian Open again in 1913, two years after his brother, Charles Murray, won the title for his second time.
5) No Canadian Player Has Won the Open Since 1954
Pat Fletcher, of the Royal Montreal Golf Club, was the last Canadian to win the Canadian Open. He won in 1954 with a 72-hole score of 4-under-par 280 (65-70-74-71) at Point Grey Golf & Country Club in Vancouver. He was followed by fellow Canadian Brydson Gordon, who tied for second place with Bill Welch of the United States. At the centennial Open in 2004, Masters Champion Mike Weir could have become the first Canadian in 50 years to win the championships but he lost in a sudden-death playoff with Vijay Singh.
6) Jack Nicklaus Never Won the Canadian Open
According to the Toronto Sun, Jack Nicklaus considers the Canadian Open “the one that got away.” The greatest golfer in modern history, who has won a record of 18 majors and is third in career PGA Tour victories with 73, just couldn’t win the Canadian Open. In a press conference Nicklaus said, “It seemed like everything I seemed to do at the Canadian Open turned out to be a second-place finish.” He continued to say, “Barbara said, ‘I’m going to keep sending you back until you do it right.’” Seven times Nicklaus was sub-champion but he never did win. He was second in 1965, 1968, 1975, 1976, 1981, 1984 and 1985. At Royal Montreal in 1975, he hit 3-wood off the 18th tee into the water, making bogey to tie with Tom Weiskopf. He lost the playoff. He has also finished in the top five 12 times.
7) The Seagram Gold Cup was Held Hostage in a Divorce Settlement
From 1935-1970, the Seagram Gold Cup was presented to each year’s winner of the Canadian Open. The champion is allowed to keep and enjoy the cup until the next year. He was also presented with a miniature cup to commemorate his victory. In 1950, however, the Canadian Open was almost without a championship trophy. According to the RBC Canadian Open, the Seagram Golf Cup was held “hostage” in the divorce settlement of defending champion Dutch Harrison. His estranged wife included the trophy as part of his assets. A judge ruled that it was not part of Harrison’s assets and it was returned just in time for the tournament.
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