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Focus will be on distance game at Canadian Open

The Canadian Press

7/24/2013 5:27:31 PM

OAKVILLE, Ont. -- Glen Abbey Golf Club's combination of small greens and thick rough is going to put the focus on accurate driving at the RBC Canadian Open this week.

Wednesday's pro-am gave the field a taste of what to expect, with many golfers noting that sticking to the fairways would be necessary to win a share of the $5.6-million purse.

"It's not going to be where you can fly it to the hole and let the ball stop there," said American Hunter Mahan. "The greens, I was surprised with how firm they were being early this morning. They still had a little bit of jump to them. ... You're going to have to focus on your distance control out there because if it's a little off, there is not much room for error on these greens, especially when the pins are tucked on the spot."

The 7,253-yard, par-72 course was originally designed by golfing legend Jack Nicklaus and has hosted 25 previous Canadian Opens. Although Wednesday saw a high of 25 C, rain is expected on Thursday and then temperatures are predicted to rise to 29 C by Saturday, then cool to 27 for the tournament's finale on Sunday.

"(The rough) doesn't look deep out there, but the ball is sitting down enough that it's going to cause some problems," said Mike Weir of Brights Grove, Ont. "So I think getting in the fairway is really important, and the greens are firming up and getting a little faster. So I think the key is just being in the fairway.

"You can attack some of the pins from the fairways, and they're going to still receive a shot from the fairway, but out of the rough, it will be a little more difficult, so I think that's the key."

England's Luke Donald agreed with Weir, saying that he was going to avoid the long grass.

"The rough is pretty juicy in spots. You know, it doesn't look too long, but the ball sits down and it's dangling. So it's going to be a big premium hitting it in the fairways this week, taking advantage of the par 5s," said Donald. "If the wind direction stays this way, the par 5s become reachable where you can make a couple of eagles to get even on (holes) 16 and 18."

Weather forecasts suggest the wind won't be more than 20 km/h during the four-day tournament.