Canadian amateurs put putts aheads of pucks

Thu Jul 23, 2009 9:37pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

OAKVILLE, Ontario (Reuters) - In a country where golf courses spend a good part of the year under snow, you might not expect to find Canadians Nick Taylor and Matt Hill top of the Royal & Ancient's world amateur golf rankings.

Taylor and Hill, however, are out to prove the Great White North produces more than ice hockey players as the world's two top-ranked amateur golfers compete in the 100th Canadian Open.

No Canadian has won the national championships since 1954 and while local hopes ride with former-U.S. Masters champion Mike Weir, Taylor and Hill possess resumes that do not rule them out.

Taylor, ranked number one by the Royal & Ancient, was the best amateur at the U.S. Open earlier this month and runner-up at the U.S. Public Links Championship last week.

Hill, ranked right behind Taylor, was the dominate player on the U.S. college circuit winning eight tournaments to lift NCAA player of the year honors and an invitation from world number one Tiger Woods to play in his event at the Congressional.

"When you come to these events, you're not trying to change anything you're doing," said Hill, who grew up in the same tiny hamlet of Bright's Grove, Ontario as Weir. "The courses we play in college are tough out there too.

"So you just come in and play your own game."

Weir has been the standard bearer for Canadian golf for more than a decade and admits he is surprised that so few of his compatriots have been able to make the jump to the PGA Tour, though believes Hill and Taylor possess the talent that will allow them to succeed.   Continued...

<p>Sean O'Hair of the U.S. watches his approach shot to the 14th hole during the first round at the Canadian Open golf tournament at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario, July 23, 2009. REUTERS/ Mike Cassese</p>