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Canadians golfing around the world come home for RBC Canadian Open

HAMILTON — The RBC Canadian Open gives golf fans a chance to see the very best players, not just from the PGA Tour but also from some of the top circuits around the world.
Canadian Aaron Cockerill makes a shot on the sixteenth hole during the second round of the Canadian Open in Toronto on Friday, June 9, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Lahodynskyj

HAMILTON — The RBC Canadian Open gives golf fans a chance to see the very best players, not just from the PGA Tour but also from some of the top circuits around the world.

That will be evident Thursday afternoon when Aaron Cockerill, Matthew Anderson, and Richard T. Lee — the best Canadian golfers not currently playing in North America — tee off together in one of the final groups of the day.

"It's probably the best spot Canadian golf has been in for a while in terms of depth of number of guys," said Cockerill before hitting the driving range at Hamilton Golf and Country Club. "I wouldn't be surprised to see somebody up the leaderboard this week.

"And at this event it's super cool to have all the Canadian groups. Our golf is in a very good place right now."

Cockerill, from Stony Mountain, Man., is 20th on the Race to Dubai rankings, the points list for the European-based DP World Tour. The 24-year-old Anderson from Mississauga, Ont., was No. 1 in the Fortinet Cup standings, the points list on the PGA Tour Americas, after the Latin American swing of the third-tier men's golf circuit. Toronto's Lee is eighth on the Asian Tour's order of merit.

They're three of the 28 Canadians in the field, a modern-era record for the men's national golf championship and only PGA Tour event north of the border.

"A lot of good players and of those there's a lot of guys who have a chance to play well this week," said Cockerill. "I think it shows just how good the pro game is right now. It's fun to see and be a part of."

The Cockerill-Anderson-Lee group will be the last trio to tee off at No. 1 on Thursday afternoon. Another all-Canadian group of Michael Gligic of Burlington, Ont, Kevin Stinson of Mission, B.C., and Myles Creighton of Digby, N.S., will start their round at the same time from the 10th tee.

Anderson said he was excited at the prospect of six Canadians finishing off the first round of the national championship.

"That's going be an awesome group," said Anderson, who has never met either Cockerill or Lee. "I was really excited to see that pairing.

"Just some Canadian guys last off, just see we can do It'll be fun, for sure."

Reigning Canadian Open champion Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., and Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ont., — the highest ranked Canadians on the PGA Tour — are grouped with Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy for the event's first and second rounds.

"I was obviously super excited," said Pendrith when he learned of the grouping. "Get to play with Nick, defending champion, and Rory, who won (in Hamilton in 2019), so it should be fun.

"Feel bad for my parents who probably won't be able to watch me play golf, but it's OK."

Edmonton's Wil Bateman, Hamilton's Michael Blair, Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., Jared du Toir of Kimberley, B.C., Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., Cam Kellett of London, Ont., Vancouver's Jake Lane, Vancouver's Stuart Macdonald, Etienne Papineau of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., Marc-Olivier Plasse of Mercier, Que., Max Sear of Stouffville, Ont., Ben Silverman of Thornhill, Ont., Roger Sloan of Merritt, B.C., Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., and Canadian golf Hall of Famer Mike Weir of Brights Grove, Ont., round out the pro Canadian contingent.

Amateurs Jacob Cicoyne of Calgary, Justin Matthews of Little Britain, Ont., and Ashton McCulloch of Kingston, Ont., will also play in the event.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2024.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press