SAINTE-JULIE, Que. - The 2012 Montreal Championship lost electricity both literally and figuratively on the eve of the third edition of the PGA Champions Tour's only Canadian stop.
A power outage at the Richelieu Valley Golf Club on Thursday followed on the heels of Mark O'Meara's withdrawal from the event due to injury.
O'Meara, the latest big name to fall out of the competition, decided to pull out from the 54-hole tournament after competing in a pro-am. The 1998 Masters and British Open champion hoped to return to action after being sidelined for three months with a cartilage injury to his lower right ribs.
"I just made the call on the third-to-last hole. I said, 'I don't think I can go,'" O'Meara said. "So, you know, it's a long trip. It's a big trip for me to come all the way up here and try to play and then realize I've got to pull out now.
"I'm not really happy about it to be honest with you, but it's something that I'm dealing with so it's not the end of the world."
Tournament organizers announced this week that Nick Price, Fred Couples, Kenny Perry and Tom Lehman had withdrawn from the tournament.
Price and Couples pulled out because of injuries and Perry withdrew for personal reasons. Lehman, who is second to Bernhard Langer in the Charles Schwab Cup standings, also pulled out for personal reasons.
Langer is competing this weekend in the BMW International Open in Cologne.
"I know the tournament's had a few withdrawals in the last week but that has no bearing on how great a tournament this is, and can be, and will be," said O'Meara, who won the 1995 Canadian Open at Oakville's Glen Abbey. "There are still a lot of great players in the tournament and this golf course is great. I enjoyed playing and I thought it was in great shape.
"I just wish I was feeling 100 per cent and I could go."
Michael Allen, the Champions Tour's money leader at US$1.071 million, and Larry Mize and John Cook — the two previous Montreal Championship winners — will be among the 81 golfers set to tee off Friday morning.
Cook, who is fourth in the Schwab Cup standings, won last year's tournament. The event was previously held at the Fontainebleau Golf Club in Blainville, Que.
Rod Spittle of Niagara Falls, Ont., who shot a tournament-record round of 62 on the final day last year, and Jim Rutledge of Victoria, B.C., are among six Canadians in the field. They're joined by Yvan Beauchemin of Louiseville, Que., Claude Tremblay of Blainville, Que., Marc Girouard of Mirabel, Que., and Jean Laforce of Saint-Jean-de-Matha, Que.
Joel Edwards was added to replace O'Meara, who would have made his Montreal Championship debut.
The new host venue Richelieu Valley club boasts two courses. The Rouville course hosted the 1971 and 1973 editions of the Canadian Open, a Skins Game in 1994 and the 1999 Canadian Senior Open.
The 2012 Montreal Championship will be contested on the 6,894-yard Vercheres course.
"I think it's a really wonderful golf course because it's a good driving course," O'Meara said. "You need to drive the ball well here. It's going to come down to who drives it pretty straight, and then the greens are in good shape, so like in any tournament, putting is going to be a key element."