Memorial Tournament

Muirfield Village Golf Club

The Loop

A Tournament Worth Defending

OAKVILLE, Ont. -- The RBC Canadian Open once was regarded as nearly the equal of the four major championships, glory ruefully lost in perpetuity. But even as its storied past fades into the haze of history there is hope.

Last year, a tournament that was first played in 1904, and has featured a who's-who list of winners from Walter Hagen to Tiger Woods, was played without a title sponsor, forcing the Royal Canadian GA to dig deep into its reserves. But this year the Royal Bank of Canada has stepped up, helping return the event's equilibrium.

Then the game's youngest star came to its defense. Anthony Kim, 23, is one of only two of the top 20 players on the World Golf Ranking to play the event this week (defending champion Jim Furyk is the other) and he touched all the right notes in explaining why he was here, after enduring a difficult week at the British Open.

"There's a lot of history here," said Kim, who shares the lead with Chez Reavie going into Sunday's final round. "Chris Armstrong, my new agent [with IMG], is from this area. He told me what a wonderful golf tournament it was. And I saw that RBC was making a conscious effort to get people over here and to make the tournament as good as it can be. So I felt like this was somewhere I wanted to be."

A jet was chartered to bring British Open participants to Toronto, as an inducement to get them to play in Canada. Kim was among those on the plane.

"What they did to get us over here was amazing," he said. "We were treated first class. Obviously, the private charter was great, but those are just bells and whistles. They're running a first-class tournament out here."

He noted as well that it is a national championship, one in which he is privileged to compete, a refreshing attitude on behalf of a tournament whose honor is worthy of defending.

-- John Strege