By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Columnist
The 2004 RBC Canadian Open was Vijay Singh's first as the world's top-ranked golfer. He was in the middle of his career year that resulted in nine victories, one of which in a playoff over heartbroken native, Mike Weir, at Glen Abbey Golf Club.
Glen Abbey, which was Jack Nicklaus' first solo design (1976), was brutal on the field in September of that season. The rough was six inches in some places, no doubt exacerbated by over two-and-a-half inches of rain overnight before the opening round. The course was back in the rotation for the first time since 2000, and had been lengthened by 110 yards. Fairways were tighter.
While it deserved a national championship, it was also a recipe for high scores. Played as a par 71, the course averaged +1.731 strokes to par, making it the fifth-hardest track on the PGA TOUR schedule that season. It was the most difficult par 71 in a non-major in five years at the time. Singh led the field in greens in regulation and par breakers (one eagle, 23 birdies), but tripled-bogeyed the par-4 11th hole twice. He and Weir completed regulation in 9-under 275.
In the two editions since -- 2008 and 2009 -- the course has relented. Despite the 16th hole remaining as a par 4 (as it was in 2004 for the first time) and Glen Abbey listed as an overall par of 71, Chez Reavie posted 17-under 267 to emerge in what remains his only PGA TOUR victory. That was the week he cemented his reputation as a ball-striker, ranking fourth in fairways hit and T5 in greens in regulation. He also led the field in proximity to the hole, scrambling and par-4 scoring.
Nathan Green answered with his own breakthrough in 2009 at 18-under 270 when Glen Abbey returned as a par 72 with a par-5 16th hole. (It will be played the same this week.) The Aussie led his field in accuracy off the tee, ranked fourth in strokes gained-putting and second in scrambling. He was T25 in GIR, T5 in par-3 scoring and T4 in par-4 scoring. Neither Reavie nor Green swallowed worse than a bogey all week, and they kept those to a minimum of seven and six, respectively.