‘Something money can’t buy:’ Rory McIlroy holds onto tradition at the RBC Canadian Open

TORONTO – Rory McIlroy couldn’t help but shake his head and sigh at the arrival of a new men’s professional circuit that has hopes of paring the PGA Tour.

McIlroy will defend his crown at RBC Canadian Open at St. George’s Golf and Country Club begins Thursday. It’s unfortunate, he said, that the inaugural event of the LIV Golf Invitational will be held across from the Canadian Open, the world’s third oldest continuous running golf championship.

“I consider myself a golfer, a historian, a traditionalist. Most of the oldest events in our game are at the national open,” said McIlroy, who said he has won five national openings, six if Hong Kong is included. “One of the great things about our game is that in a way you can compare yourself to historical figures, characters I’ve never met before.

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“I look at a trophy with my name on it and Walter Hagen’s name on it or Gene Sarazen or Byron Nelson or Ben Hogan or Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer or whoever, and I think that’s one of the coolest things about it. our sport. not many other sports can exploit. “

After McIlroy won the 2019 Canadian Open at Hamilton Golf and Country Club, the national championship is ready to return to Toronto. However, travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have derailed, with the tournament being canceled twice.

The LIV Golf Invitational will host its first event this week at the Centurion Club outside London, England. The Saudi-backed federation is offering guaranteed big bucks to some of the biggest names in men’s golf.

The most notable train jumper may be 2018 Canadian Open champion Dustin Johnson, who resigned his PGA Tour membership on Tuesday. Several outlets reported on Wednesday that major champions Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed may also be defecting over the weekend.

McIlroy said Wednesday that he’s not going to drop his money at the chance to play against the best golfers in the world.

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“You look at the Canadian Open and you look at the names on it. You’re writing your name down in history by winning this national championship,” said McIlroy, number eight in the world. “Honestly, it’s something money can’t buy or something money can’t give you.”

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Five of the top 10 tennis players in the world will tee off at St. George’s this week, including world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, No. 4 Cam Smith, No. 6 Justin Thomas and No. 9 Sam Burns.

Scheffler said that aside from Johnson, who had been the face of Team RBC until he was on the LIV event, he hadn’t really noticed anyone missing.

“The best players in the world are playing golf here and I look forward to playing against them this week,” said Scheffler. “I really don’t know what’s going on there, so I don’t really have much to say.”

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Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., the highest-ranked Canadian in the world at number 31, will join 19 of his countrymen in the field. No Canadian has won a national championship since Pat Fletcher made the feat in 1954 at the Point Gray Golf and Country Club in Vancouver.

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Conners said he believes Fletcher will soon be replaced as the most recent Canadian to win the national championship.

“I feel like now more than ever there’s a great batch of Canadian players and there’s 20 Canadians playing this week and more and more Canadians on the PGA Tour,” Conners said. “It’s been exciting to be a part of that group and I think it’s only a matter of time before someone changes history on that.”

If the Conners or another Canadian win the tournament on Sunday, McIlroy will be the first to congratulate them.

“Sixty-eight years. Corey Conners gets told every 5 minutes,” laughs McIlroy about the Canadian drought. “I feel it, I understand it. There’s more tension, there’s more anger, you’re almost trying too hard.

“It’s almost like letting go, going out and having fun.”

© 2022 Canadian Press

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