MONTREAL (AP) _ The hand-numbing cold and harsh, gray clouds piled in the sunless sky at Royal Montreal Golf Club made the Canadian Open feel like a late-season tournament where jockeying for postseason honors is the main concern.

The thick, tangled rough _ described by Davis Love III as ``similar to Winged Foot'' _ made it feel like the national championship that it is.

And the field _ including five members of the U.S. Ryder Cup team and Greg Norman _ made it certain there would be a spirited four days of competition starting Thursday.

``The question this week,'' said Paul Goydos, one of the 156 players competing for the $270,000 first prize, ``is what's going to be higher _ the wind chill factor or the rough.''

The best the mercury could do for Wednesday's pro-am was climb to 51 degrees, a bone-chilling figure that felt more like the 10 degrees it registered on the Celsius scale used in Canada.

``Man, you should have felt it at 7:30 this morning,'' said Steve Duplanis, caddie for Jim Furyk, one of the American Ryder Cup players. ``It started to rain at one point and I really thought it was going to snow.''

The harsh weather _ which promised slight improvement as the week continued and served as a reminder why the Montreal Expos play baseball indoors _ and the U.S. Open-style rough virtually guaranteed no one would tear up the course.

``It was a long, hard golf course today,'' said Love, the PGA Championship winner, after teeing off at 7 a.m. and shooting a 78 in the pro-am. ``It will be a great test this week.''

Love and Furyk joined U.S. Ryder Cup team members Tiger Woods, Mark O'Meara and Justin Leonard in the Canadian Open, which was first played in 1904 on this Royal Montreal course.

With the four major championships and qualifying for the Ryder Cup over, much of what remains this season is nailing down player of the year, the top 30 spots on the money list that qualify for the lucrative season-ending Tour Championship and the top 125 who keep their PGA Tour cards.

Unless Leonard or Ernie Els _ who is not in Montreal this week _ win two more times, Woods almost certainly will be player of the year.

``Player of the year is very important to me because it's voted on by your peers,'' Woods said. He has four victories this year, including the Masters. No one else has won more than twice and, among those, only Leonard and Els won major championships.

The most glaring names well out of the top 30 right now are Nick Faldo and Fred Couples, and they both skipped the Canadian Open.

``The 30th spot this year has already won more money than what qualified for the Tour Championship last year,'' Goydos said. ``And there are still eight more tournaments to play.''

Goydos is in 60th place with $294,999 and a victory this week would put him just below the 30th-place figure of $589,458 by David Duval.

Not to be lost sight of is the tournament title at stake.

``A national Open is always a big deal,'' Woods said. ``This is one of the biggest tournaments in the world.''

And if Woods is victorious he would have won the only major national championship to elude Jack Nicklaus, a seven-time runner-up in the Canadian Open.

Divots: Woods has switched drivers from his Cobra to a Titleist with a titanium head and steel shaft. ``It's good but not consistent yet,'' he said. He still plays Mizuno irons. ... Woods needs to finish seventh to become the first person to win $2 million in a single season. ... In the 53 weeks since Woods turned pro, he has won six times and no one else has won more than twice on the PGA Tour. ... Scott Hoch's victory last week at Milwaukee extended his streak of at least one win to four years. Norman at six has the longest active streak. Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer won at least once 17 years in a row. ... David and Kevin Sutherland, both in Montreal this week, have won a combined $635,596 this year, the most by brothers since Lanny and Bobby Wadkins won $857,998 in 1991.