RBC Canadian Open Plays Prep for U.S. Open

By Brady Kannon  () 

The RBC Canadian Open finds itself sitting adjacent to a major championship once again on the PGA Tour schedule. This year, however, it will not be in its traditional slot of following The British Open but rather it will precede the U.S. Open, which takes place next week at Pebble Beach in California. This is Canada’s National Open and it is one of the oldest events in golf with this being the 110th edition. The tournament has taken place at a number of different venues around Canada and this year we are back at Hamilton Golf & Country Club in Ontario for the sixth time and for the first time in seven seasons. With it being positioned the week prior to a major, the field is pretty strong as players attempt to make one final, competitive tune up before the U.S. Open. Canadian Open defending champion, Dustin Johnson, and Brooks Koepka top the odds board. Koepka comes in looking to make it three straight U.S. Open championships next week. Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Matt Kuchar, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson round out the top tier. Scott Piercy is currently listed at 25/1 and won here at Hamilton the last time it hosted the Canadian Open in 2012.

The course was designed by Harry Colt in 1914. It is a Par 70 and is just a tick under 7,000 yards in length. It is a classic, parkland style layout with tree-lined fairways, and smaller, undulated Poa Annua greens. There has been a good amount of rain in the area lately and we may get a shower here and there over the four days this week. Because of this, the course will be soft and the rough will be thick.

I feel like Driving Distance and Driving Accuracy will be minimized this week. The shorter, accurate hitters will be able to hit fairways as they always do and the longer players will hit a lot of 3-woods and irons off of the tee. Whether it be a bomber or a short knocker, I believe the leaderboard will eventually show players that are faring well on approach, hitting greens in regulation, sticking wedges, scrambling, and setting up a lot of birdie opportunities on these Poa Annua surfaces.

FULL TOURNAMENT HEAD TO HEAD MATCH UP

Dustin Johnson (-135) over Rory McIlroy

Not only do I feel like Johnson is the better player for this course but I also think he has more to play for. He’s the defending champion and he likes to impress north of the border in front of family, Wayne Gretzky. This will be the Canadian Open debut for Rory, who has cooled off since his win at The Players in March, and missed the cut last week at The Memorial. I feel like this is more of a tune up for him for next week at Pebble. Johnson is one of the best putters in the world on Poa Annua greens and I like his short game better than that of McIlroy’s, from wedge in, to scrambling, and finally putting. Let’s also note that Johnson has twice before won in the week leading up to the U.S. Open, including last season. We usually see prices on DJ well above -135 in head to head match ups and I think we are getting a pretty good deal here.

A FAVORITE, AND TWO LONG SHOTS

Dustin Johnson ( 550)

It is an awful short price but I believe DJ comes in with a head of steam. He squandered away his chances of overtaking Brooks Koepka in the final round of The PGA Championship last month and hasn’t played since. Now he comes to a tournament at which he’s won at before and finished 2nd twice, prior to the U.S. Open which he’s won before, at a course in Pebble Beach that he’s won at twice and finished Top 10 an additional six times. He ranks 17th on Tour in Strokes Gained: Approach, 17th in Scrambling, 12th in Birdie Average, and is 2nd in Par 4 Scoring. If he doesn’t win, I can’t imagine he won’t be especially close.

Jim Furyk (40/1)

The rebirth of Jim Furyk’s game continues in 2019 as the former U.S. Open champ has recorded three Top 10 finishes and eight Top 25’s this season, including a 2nd place at The Players Championship. The Canadian Open courses are perfect for Furyk’s game as he’s won this event twice and taken Top 15 on five other occasions. He ranks 14th on Tour in Strokes Gained: Approach, is number one in Driving Accuracy, and is 6th in Scrambling.

Ryan Palmer (50/1)

Palmer has played this event 12 times and finished 19th back in 2012 when it was last held at Hamilton. He’s also only missed one cut here in his last 10 visits. Palmer has five Top 10 finishes this season, including a 6th two weeks ago at Colonial. He’s 11th on Tour in Greens in Regulation, 8th in Par 4 Scoring, and 11th in Birdie Average.

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