Canada’s David Hearn came achingly close to his first PGA Tour victory last season.
He’s had three top-10 results this season and feels ready to put it all together and finally hoist a trophy at the top level.
“I feel really close,” Hearn said Wednesday. “I got really close last year at the John Deere [Classic] just before the Canadian Open. I’m a little bit surprised it’s taken me quite as long to get back into contention.
“But I feel like everything is right where it needs to be to have a week where I know I could put it all together. I’ve improved a lot of little areas of my game and I feel like my game is consistently better.”
Hearn’s best career finish came at the 2013 John Deere Classic. He was tied with Jordan Spieth and Zach Johnson after regulation, but Spieth took the title by hitting a par putt on the fifth playoff hole.
The 35-year-old from Brantford, Ont., is enjoying a short break before ramping things up in July. He plans to play at The Greenbrier Classic early next month before returning to the John Deere Classic.
Entry in the British Open remains a question mark for now, but Hearn is locked in for the July 24-27 RBC Canadian Open at the Royal Montreal Golf Club. He has yet to play the Île-Bizard, Que., course but feels his game should be a good fit for the old-style, tree-lined layout.
“It’s a course, from my understanding, that keeping the ball in play off the tee is going to be at a premium,” he said on a conference call. “That’s something that my game is well suited for.”
Hearn will be joined in the field by fellow Canadians Graham DeLaet, Mike Weir and Stephen Ames. Golf Canada confirmed Wednesday that world No. 15 Dustin Johnson is also entered, along with Charl Schwartzel, Chris Kirk, Matt Every and Charley Hoffman.
They’ll join a field that includes defending champion Brandt Snedeker, Ernie Els, Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald, Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan.
Hearn, who celebrated a birthday Tuesday, said now that he’s in his mid-30s he feels more comfortable taking a little time off before busy stretches on the Tour.
“I think I’ve gotten a lot better at setting my schedule out and giving myself breaks when I need them, so when I do play I feel like I’m ready to compete each and every week that I do tee it up,” he said.
Hearn, who turned pro in 2001, finished tied for sixth at the Honda Classic last March and had another sixth-place effort last month at The Players Championship. However, he has missed the cut at six of his past 16 tournaments and currently holds the No. 90 position in the world rankings.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the last victory by a Canadian at the national open. Pat Fletcher was the last to do it in 1954.
The 2014 field for the $5.7-million (U.S.) event includes eight former champions in Snedeker (2013), Scott Piercy (2012), Sean O’Hair (2011), Carl Pettersson (2010), Nathan Green (2009), Jim Furyk (2006, 2007), Vijay Singh (2004) and John Rollins (2002).
Canadians Adam Hadwin, Brad Fritsch and Beon Yeong Lee will also be in the field. The rest of the tournament entries will be finalized in the coming weeks.