By Frank Pingue
TORONTO (Reuters) – Matt Kuchar will try to carry the momentum from his near-miss at the British Open into this week’s Canadian Open in Oakville where world number one Dustin Johnson hopes to rediscover the solid form he enjoyed earlier this year.
Kuchar, who on Sunday missed out on a maiden major title when fellow American Jordan Spieth engineered a closing stretch for the ages at Royal Birkdale, will no doubt be eager to tee it up on Thursday at a course where he has been consistent.
The 39-year-old has three consecutive Canadian Open top 10s at Glen Abbey Golf Club and could very well be in the mix on Sunday should he be able to overcome any lingering jet lag and disappointment following the year’s third major.
Long-hitting Johnson, fresh off a final-round 77 at Royal Birkdale that left him in a share of 54th place, will also be banking on a familiar course to help him regain the form that saw him win three straight events in February and March.
Johnson has twice settled for a runner-up finish at Glen Abbey, including last year when Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas stormed back from a five-shot deficit with a closing eight-under-par 64 to earn his second PGA Tour win.
Vegas, who has been grouped with Johnson and twice Canadian Open winner Jim Furyk for the first two rounds, has missed the cut in each of his last five events but is not letting that barren run shatter his confidence.
“I’ve had a horrible summer to put it the best way. But just coming here and refreshing the memory about the win last year, about a place that I feel really comfortable. I really like this golf course,” said Vegas.
“So definitely it’s a good refresher from the past couple of months that have been a bit of a struggle. But it’s golf and you have to keep a positive mentality and always think that you’re going to play your best.”
Adam Hadwin and Mackenzie Hughes are among the 13 Canadians in the field who are each looking to become the first homegrown champion since Pat Fletcher in 1954.
The course, situated about 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Toronto, will also have a Canadian twist with the par-three seventh hole having been transformed to resemble an ice hockey rink, complete with boards and a Zamboni ice resurfacing machine.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)