Rory McIlroy is – finally – coming to Canada.
The world No. 4 will be coming to the RBC Canadian Open this summer, making it the first time the popular golfer has ever played in Canada. McIlroy’s inclusion in the field of Canada’s only PGA Tour event comes four days after he won the Players Championship, one of the most competitive events in men’s professional golf.
“It’s incredibly exciting,” said Bryan Crawford, the tournament director for the Canadian Open. “Rory is one of the top players in the world, has been one of the top players in the world for quite some time. He’s truly one of the global ambassadors for the game.”
McIlroy’s Players Championship win on Sunday was his 15th title on the PGA Tour. He’s one of only three players to win three of golf’s majors before turning 25, having victories at the U.S. Open (2011), the British Open (2014) and the PGA Championship (2012, 2014).
The 29-year-old from Northern Ireland has twice been named the PGA Tour player of the year (2012 and 2014) and has held the world No. 1 ranking for 95 weeks over his career.
“He’s a fan favourite everywhere, but he’s certainly a fan favourite among Canadians,” Crawford said. “To have him participate in the RBC Canadian Open for the first time is fantastic.”
Golf Canada, RBC and the PGA Tour have made a special effort to raise the stature of the Canadian Open starting with the 2019 edition of the 115-year-old event.
The Canadian Open was moved from August to June starting this year, taking the event out of the shadow of the British Open. The overall purse has been increased from US$6.4 million in 2018 to $7.6 million this year.
In November, the Canadian Open was named one of three qualifying tournaments for the British Open. The top three players at the Canadian Open, who have not already earned an exemption to play at the major, will earn a spot at the British Open.
On Tuesday it was announced that country duo Florida Georgia Line and Canadian rock group the Glorious Sons will have concerts on Friday and Saturday night at Hamilton Golf and Country Club when the course plays host to the Canadian Open from June 3-9.
“This effort began about 2½ years ago, when RBC was looking to renew its relationship with the PGA Tour,” said Mary DePaoli, executive vice-president and chief marketing officer for RBC. “One of the most important things about that renewal is that we had a shared understanding with the PGA Tour that we wanted this historic tournament to be elevated.
“It was extremely important to us that if we were going to move forward that we could move forward with an event that could regain a lot of its glory.”
Other players who have confirmed that they will play at the Canadian Open in 2019 include world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., Jim Furyk, Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker, all of whom are sponsored by RBC.
Johnson is the tournament’s reigning champion, while Furyk won in 2006 and 2007 and Snedeker took the title in 2013.