RBC Canadian Open At St George’s Won By Swede
by Scott A. Sumner
It has been my tradition to attend two major events in Toronto each July, the Honda Toronto Indy car race and the RBC Canadian Open PGA Tour golfing event. This year, both were held back to back which allowed me to spend 10 days in Toronto and even do some touristy type
Flying to Toronto is much easier with the arrival of Porter Airlines and their 3 flights daily to the Toronto Island Airport located just a short ferry ride away from Bathurst Street. In fact, it was only two blocks and two minutes over to my first stop, the Indy car race. Ontario Place had transformed itself into a street course for 26 Indy cars that weekend. When you travel and are in the media you never quite know what to expect. My first sighting at the Honda Toronto Indy media area was Michael Andretti, world renowned open wheel racer at a media press
The Andretti family will return to Canada this spring to Hamilton in order to support an event called Wheels Helping Wheels. This event raises funds to assist people to live in specially designed homes. Glen Barns, who lives in Able Living Care, is a quadriplegic who suffered a spinal cord injury. “I broke my neck diving into a pool when I was 23 years old in the Brampton area. Now I can use my arms but not my fingers. It was a big adjustment for me as a 23 year old man embarking on my career at a Mississauga high school as a teaching assistant. I had just finished university and wanted to get into teacher’s college. I was not sure of what to do after the accident but knew I wanted to live on my own,” said Glen Barns who now works for the
TETRA association that designs and build devices to help people. The association volunteers engineers and labour so the cost of the devices is very low with the only cost being for materials. “I do marketing and fundraising for them. We try to find people who will help us and the Andretti family has come on board.”
“ My spirits are good now. It took a while to get to this place. It changes your life 180 degrees in a matter of seconds. It is not easy at times as the world is not necessarily designed to accommodate people in wheelchairs. We are getting better but have a way to go. This event
will be amazing to raise some needed funds.” said Barns.The 2010 Honda Indy Toronto race was exciting and won by Wil Power of Team Penske. “ It was a long race.The last restart when I passed Justin Wilson, I knew it was important to win the race. It was a calculated risk but sometimes you have to do that. Avoiding the carnage was key to winning this race this year. I could have lost it in the first turn but backed off and stayed in the race,” said Wil Power whose win was the 150th all time open wheel win for Penske.
“You should win with a great team like Penske. To pay them back you have to win. Overall our series is a tough championship to win with the oval races and street courses. Changing conditions and bumps make for a driver’s course. Both tracks in Toronto and in Edmonton are tough tracks because of the changing surfaces.”
This year with some time to explore Toronto, I was able to take a city tour with Toronto Tours which I highly recommend. My brother- in -law who has lived in Toronto for almost 40 years learned quite a bit about the city as did I. For instance did you know Toronto is the fifth
largest city in North America with 5 million people living within 100 kilometers, behind Mexico City with 22 Million, LA with 12 million, New York with 9 million and Chicago with just over 5 million people. There are over 40 km of underground shops in Toronto. The city has had 3 city
halls in it's history and is one of the world’s most culturally diverse cities. Going up the CN Tower really gives you a bird’s eye view of this glitzy city. You will notice condo projects galore in Toronto. In fact there are some 250 projects going up right now. The cranes everywhere
reminded me of Dubai in 2008!
My next event in Toronto was the RBC Canadian Open PGA Tour stop this year to be held at the highly regarded St George’s Golf Club. This year’s location allowed me to take the subway each day on the Yonge and Bloor lines to the Old Mill stop and then get on a media shuttle to the course. It was quick and at times packed with people. The subway is a fun way to travel.
My first encounter at St George’s was with a familiar face dressed in a LA patrol outfit ready to hand cuff me. Erik Estrada of the television program CHIPS was working for Transitions Lenses educating people about eye care and how important it is to get your eyes examined. Using the transition lenses helps eliminate harmful UV rays. “ It is a positive thing. I have been with them for two years as an Ambassador and do media,” said the 61 year old Erik Estrada. “ I’ve got one new show in September coming out, World’s Funniest Moments and am shopping two other shows and taking a pitch meeting in New York. I will do a Spanish commercial shortly as well. Back then, with CHIPS it was more formula TV. Now you have more reality shows based on personality. I only like to play golf as an escape and not to knock you
out. I play when I am in the mood and the weather is good.”
The RBC Canadian Open was a spectacular event at a classic course. As is the case recently, a European, Carl Pettersson won the event after an amazing 60 on Saturday’s round. The logistics of holding the event were unreal such as closing down a section of Islington Ave for 3 weeks, shuttling golfers to another course for the practice range and accommodating 100,000 people in a small area to name a few. The event was perfect though and hats off to
Golf Canada and the RCGA for their efforts.My time in Toronto had come to an end and it was off to the new Porter terminal on the island for the return flight to Thunder Bay. When you get a chance, make sure you spend some time in Toronto. This world class city is just 1 hour and a half away from us!