Wednesday, July 31, 2013


RBC Canadian Open-2013

For more than a hundred years, golfers from around the world have chased little white balls up and down the fairways in quest of the championship of Canadian golf. From tee to green, they have left their marks, and their divots, hoping to raise the trophy, and pocket a few Canadian dollars in the process. Incidentally, this year’s prize for winning the championship was a little more than one million dollars.


After all was said and done, an American, Brandt Snedeker rose to the top and became the champion. He was most grateful to another American golfer, Hunter Mahan. Mahan led the tournament after two rounds. With two more to play, he opted to pull out of the tournament to attend the birth of his daughter. Snedeker was most grateful, and promised to send a nice gift to the baby. He also acknowledged that Mahan was playing really well, and it was unlikely that he would have been overtaken had he not chosen to leave.


                                                            Andrew Georgiou
The road to the championship is a rocky one for all competitors. There are literally millions of golfers, worldwide, and every one of them would like to be in position to win a title or two on the world stage. Many of the game’s best golfers played at Glen Abbey in Toronto, with a few notable exceptions. The problem lies in the fact that the Canadian Open has been sandwiched between the British Open and the PGA Championship taking place later this week. As a result, it remains a valid gem in the golfing world, but could use a better date.

Andrew Georgiou is one of those golfers who is making his way in the golf world. He is still paying his dues, at 27 years of age. He is from South Africa, and knows of the great players from his country who have made a name for themselves on the world stage through golf: Gary Player, Ernie Els, and Peter Oosterhuis, good examples.


Georgiou spent a couple of hours on a practice round with another PGA player, Tag Riding. There is no clock on players in the practice rounds, and they have the opportunity to learn as much as they can about the course. They check the wind, and the distances to the hole, and the undulations of the greens. Knowledge of the course, and its nuances, are critical to the outcome. Club selection is also very important, especially on shorter par three holes. “Have you got a five iron?” Georgiou asked Riding as they waited to tee off on the 4th hole. There was a stiff breeze blowing from left to right which could affect club selection.


Both players tested the greens by dropping four or five balls in various locations to test the rolls. They threw head covers on the green, then chipped at them from the sand traps to check the hold of the greens. They hit a couple of tee shots occasionally. Mike Weir readjusted his driver with a key to try to find the perfect setting. Practice is practice, and nobody was keeping score.


                                                      Mike Weir, checking the distance

Many players stop and chat with the gallery, sign autographs, spend a fairly relaxed day. Some are not as accommodating as others. One particular player refused to sign golf balls, a common request on practice rounds.


Georgiou spent his youth on the links in South Africa, then headed to the United States to play at Columbus State University in Georgia. It was a wise decision, as he excelled on the American turf. Four times he gained All American status at the university. He returned home to play in Africa in 2009 on the Sunshine Tour. One of the highlights of his career came in 2012, when he qualified in Johannesburg to play in the British Open. Fellow countryman Ernie Els won the Open that year.

                                                Andrew Georgiou and Ernie Els 

This year, he has opted to play on the PGA Canada circuit. He has seen the country. With stops in British Columbia, and Saskatchewan, Fort McMurray and Calgary in Alberta, and Winnipeg, Manitoba, he has received a taste of the country. The tour continues into Nova Scotia, then heads back to London. From August 25th to September 1st, Andrew will tee up in Peterborough at the Wildfire Golf Club.


He qualified for the Canadian Open by shooting a sparkling 64 at Heron Point. My friend Al Stitt knows a thing or two about golf courses, and he raised an eyebrow when I told him about Georgiou’s score at that course. “It’s a difficult course,” Stitt added. “That’s an excellent round.”


Georgiou told me that his grandparents on his Dad’s side were from Cyprus. In fact many Cypriots landed in South Africa following the turmoil there after the Second World War. “Do you know any Cypriot golfers?” he asked me as he moved to another tee. “Can’t say as I do,” I replied. He added: “I need a partner for the next Olympics. I’d like to represent Cyprus.” That was food for thought!


I plan to catch up with Andrew in Peterborough. An excellent opportunity for all of us to see some fine golf!


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