108th RBC Canadian Open Preview

07-26-17

It’s back to Glen Abbey Golf Club for the third year in a row and fourth time since 2013.

Jhonattan Vegas defends his title but his recent form suggests gamers should take a deeper look.

108th RBC Canadian Championship

 

Glen Abbey Golf Club

Oakville, Ontario, Canada

 

Yards: 7,253 per the official scorecard;

Par: 72 (35-37);

Course Architect(s): Jack Nicklaus (1976)

Greens: Creeping Bentgrass at 11.5′; 5,600 square feet on average.

Rough: Kentucky bluegrass, perennial rye grass at three inches.

Bunkers: 90

Water Hazards: 12

Purse: $6 million; $1.080 million (winner) plus 500 FEC points.

Defending Champion:  Jhonattan Vegas fired a final round 64 to make up a five-shot deficit to win for the second time on Tour.

Notes: 156 players; top 70 and ties play the weekend.

Notes II: This event rotates but is the third consecutive season on this track along with 2013, 2009 and 2008.

 

2016-17 PGA Tour Winners

Frys.com: Brendan Steele,

CIMB: Justin Thomas

WGC-HSBC: Hideki Matsuyama

Sanderson Farms: Cody Gribble**

Shriners: Rod Pampling

OHL Mayakoba: Pat Perez

RSM Classic: Mackenzie Hughes**

SBS TOC: Justin Thomas

Sony Open: Justin Thomas

CB Challenge: Hudson Swafford*

Farmers: Jon Rahm*

WMPO: Hideki Matsuyama

AT&T Pebble Beach: Jordan Spieth

Genesis Open: Dustin Johnson

Honda: Rickie Fowler

WGC-MC: Dustin Johnson

Valspar: Adam Hadwin*

Arnold Palmer: Marc Leishman

WGC-Match Play: Dustin Johnson

Shell Houston Open: Russell Henley

Masters: Sergio Garcia

RBC Heritage: Wesley Bryan**

Valero Texas Open: Kevin Chappell*

Zurich Classic: Cameron Smith* & Jonas Blixt

Wells Fargo Championship: Brian Harman

THE PLAYERS: Si Woo Kim

AT&T Byron Nelson: Billy Horschel

Colonial: Kevin Kisner

Memorial: Jason Dufner

FESJC: Daniel Berger

U.S. Open: Brooks Koepka

Travelers: Jordan Spieth

QLN: Kyle Stanley

Greenbrier: Xander Schauffele**

John Deere Classic: Bryson DeChambeau**

The Open Championship: Jordan Spieth

 

*-First-time winner

**-First-time winner AND rookie winner

 

Recent Winners

Glen Abbey has hosted 28 previous events. The routing from 2008 when Chez Reavie won is no longer in use so I’m throwing that out. The course also changed their greens from Poa annua to Creeping Bentgrass before 2016.

2016: Jhonattan Vegas, -12

2015: Jason Day, -17

2013: Brandt Snedeker, -16*

* – not playing this week

 

The Particulars:

The last two winners have been T-55 and 73rd in fairways hit so I’m not worried about accuracy off the tee this week.

Day was T-16 in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green while Vegas was T-3 in GIR and gained almost a whopping 11 shots Tee to Green last year.

In 2015, Day racked up 23 birdies and did not lead the field (T-2). Vegas also made 23 birdies last year and that mark was tied for the most on the week.

2015 saw GAGC give up the second most birdies on Tour after TPC Louisiana.

Last year saw a dried-out, windy GAGC hold its own as the 36-hole lead was just seven-under-par and the winning total of 12-under was the highest in the last five trips to Oakville.

With four par fives, including three on the inward nine, and not even 7,300 yards I’m loading up on guys who can score and hit the average sized putting surfaces. Average green sizes will allow decent putters to have a chance and that will open the field up even more.

The parkland routing of the course will meander through the valley of Sixteen Mile Creek as it runs through the pines which serve more as decoration than deterrent. Nicklaus designs at Montreux and Muirfield Village could have handy clues for this week as well.

Many will ask about those who played in The Open and how that will affect them. Jetlag is the worst from east to west so it shouldn’t be an issue. Also, these guys make their schedules well in advance and are prepared to tee it up the week after a major. Take a look at the top finishers the last three or so years and they mainly all played the week before on Tour or in the major. They decompress by making birdies and doing what they love: playing golf.

Weather:

It looks like an average summer in Ontario so nothing to worry about on that front regarding drought or sodden conditions. There’s a chance of some gnarly late in the week but the weekend looks excellent. As noted above, wind will be the biggest issue in keeping scores in line or expect bushels of birdies as usual.

 

Facts and Figures:

 

  • Third-longest running tournament behind The Open and U.S. Open.
  • Multiple winners in the field: Jim Furyk (2).
  • Last to defend: Furyk (2006-07); before that was 1950-51.
  • Another week on Bentgrass on the greens is the fifth in six weeks on Tour in the Western Hemisphere.
  • Course record GAGC: 62, John Merrick in 2013 on Poa annua greens.
  • Course record GAGC Bentgrass: 63, Geoff Ogilvy, Brian Harman and George Coetzee ALL on Sunday last year.
  • Tournament record: Day, -17, 2015.
  • First time event winner: Chez Reavie, 2008.
  • First time Tour winner: Reavie.
  • Only six players in the OWGR top 50 playing this week.

 

The Field

Favorites

In order of preference for this week and tournament only. Rankings vary week-to-week based on event, course, life, etc.

 

Dustin Johnson: He’s played this track twice (2013, 2016) and he’s never finished worse than T-2. He’s 24-under-par during that stretch so four rounds at a major hardly bothers him as preparation. His best is the best in the field evidenced by his No. 1 ranking in SG: Total, Off-the-Tee, Tee-to-Green and GIR. His 64 on Saturday at Royal Birkdale interests me more than the 77 on Sunday.

Matt Kuchar: I can argue that Kuchar is the safest play in the field and should be slot in at No. 1. My gaming brain suggests that he’ll be happy to get right back on the horse, especially on a track he’s dominated recently to the tune of 34-under-par the last three events GAGC (T-9, T-7 and T-2 in 2013). He falls to No. 2 as he hasn’t won since 2015 but another top 10 should be on the cards. His only finish outside T-16 since April was at THE PLAYERS.

Tony Finau: Remember when all the experts were on him at Memorial, another Nicklaus design? I see absolutely no reason to abandon that theory again this week as his T-40 at MVGC is the only finish in his last seven outside T-29. He sits ninth in par five birdie-or-better and eighth SG: Tee-to-green.

Charley Hoffman: Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V. He’s not finish worse than T-22 at the majors including T-20 at Royal Birkdale last week. He’s cashed in 16 of 20 weekends in 2017 and his last four starts have registered in T-20, T-39, T-3 and eighth. He’s played GAGC three times and has improved each time (T-28, T-16 and T-7).

Ian Poulter: Ok, I’ll bite. He’s been making cuts for fun including eight in a row. He gave it a sniff at Royal Birkdale after a top 10 at Dundonald. He’s currently 11th SG: Tee-to-Green and that’s helpful this week. With this being his first visit, it should have his full attention and will keep the focus he’s already demonstrated the last two week.

Scott Stallings: There’s nobody hotter on Tour currently after posting 34-under over his last eight rounds with TWO ROUNDS OF EVEN PAR. History buffs will point out that Vegas shot 60 at the Barbasol last year and didn’t win. Stallings matched him this year as his 60 on Saturday got him into position but he finished third. Of his last eight rounds on Tour, on two of the easier courses, he’s posted 60, 64, 64 and 65 during that stretch. Giddy up hot horse!

Bubba Watson: He’ll test gamer’s patience this week but having him listed here only illustrates the lack of depth in the field this week. Watson has always struck me as a “reason” guy in fantasy golf. He needs a reason to play and I need a reason to select him. His wife’s parents live in the area and his last four times in this event have been at GAGC. He was also sixth at Memorial, another Nicklaus design, for his only stroke-play top 10 of 2017. I’ll point out he missed a playoff by a shot the last time he was here in 2015 to Jason Day. He roasts par fives, can usually make plenty of birdies and is coming off a solid week at Royal Birkdale with T-27.

Anirban Lahiri: I haven’t lost my mind this week but I’m going to find guys who make birdies and he qualifies (6th on Tour). He played his final three rounds 12-under-par at Memorial to finish T-2 and followed that up with 63 in round two at the Travelers. His MC at The Open just gave him more time to get here and get prepared.

Danny Lee: His WD at JDC was preventative medicine in case he got the call to be an alternate at Royal Birkdale last week. The call never came so he has had essentially two weeks off to rest and practice. Before his WD he was on fire with four top 10’s in his previous seven tournaments. He closed with 66 last year in his first visit so he figured something out.

Patrick Rodgers: As you read in my JDC preview column I admitted my homer-ism for P-Rod and suggested that you keep that in mind. Rodgers did everything but win at the JDC and finished second. The next time he’s in that spot I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he closed the deal. This will be his third consecutive season at GAGC and his best score was his final round last year, 67.

Ben Martin: Another week he should bring the wheelbarrow as he’s cashed now nine times in a row including top 10’s in half of his last four. His T-6 at Barbasol and T-5 at QLN are his best of the season and in those four starts he’s gone 66 or lower in each of them.

Chad Campbell: The scariest intersection in fantasy golf is when course form meets current form and Campbell is front-and-center this week. The Texan cashed T-16 here in ’13 and backed that up with the 36-hole lead in 2015 before fading to T-11. His collected another top 30 last year with T-26. His last three events on Tour are T-18, T-12 and T-9. As many GIR he hits it’s hardly a surprise.

Sung Kang: I’m going to lean on his par five scoring record this week (15th, birdie-or-better) and he posted 68 to open and 66 to close last week at Royal Birkdale. It doesn’t hurt he’s made eight of nine weekends and had a T-5 at QLN. In skinny fields it can be amazing what stands out.

Kevin Tway: He should be under the radar since his T-12 at JDC seemed forever ago. He’s been consistent as he’s cashed in 13 of his last 15 and 10 of his last 11. Like Vegas he’ll be able to overpower this place but he’ll need a big week with his irons.

 

 Supporting Cast

Just missed and should make excellent support staff for deeper games/tickets.

Patrick Cantlay: Okay, now I’ve lost it, you’re right. There’s something refreshing about a dude who does it his way on his time. He’s picking and choosing his moments of when he feels comfortable. You’ll notice the last time he teed it was at another Nicklaus design, MVGC and finished T-35.

Adam Hadwin: His recent record would make you question my sanity and you’re probably not incorrect. It is his national championship so I’ll stretch for a guy who’s arguably his nation’s best player throughout the bag. Unlike some of the others he’s tasted victory on Tour before so that’ll help if he’s in it come Sunday.

James Hahn: I keep drifting back to his 65-69 finish at Memorial (T-6) and his T-11 last time he was here.

David Hearn: If you like the “unfinished business” angle this Canadian is right up your alley. He was the 54-hole leader by two in ’15 before Jason Day turned on the class. With four top 27’s or better in his last six including a pair of top 10’s, I can see why.

Mackenzie Hughes: Like Hearn he’s also an Ontario native and he’s a fantastic putter. Day showed the field in 2015 that eating up strokes on the greens can also result in birdies and a dash up the leaderboard.

Shane Lowry: I should probably have him higher up the board as he’s excellent tee-to-green and sits 28th in SG: Total.

J.B. Holmes: The last two winners have suggested that driving accuracy takes a major back seat to driving distance. A decent week with his wedges could see him climbing the leaderboard.

Keegan Bradley: The last time he teed it on a new track he finished T-5 at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm. This will be his first appearance at GAGC.

Chez Reavie: The 2008 champ returns to the site of his first and only Tour victory on the back of five in a row and seven of eight. He’ll play out of the middle of the fairway all week and won’t mind the track playing under 7,300 yards.

Cameron Tringale: He’s too all-or-nothingy but I’m willing to parlay his T-6 last week at Barbasol in deeper formats. Of his last 10 weekends he’s hit the top 10 three times.

Harris English: Panning for gold this week leads me to English who’s played the weekend in five of his last six. Of those six, four have gone for T-29 or better. His length won’t hurt and neither will his short game.

Luke List: He co-led with DJ last year after 18 and 36 before a third round 77 sunk his chances. He rallied on Sunday with 67 to snare T-14. Of his eight rounds here six are in red figures lending credence that power works here.

Seamus Power: Speaking of Power…he makes tons of birdies on par fives and there are four of them this week. It’s probably not a coincidence that his three best finishes are on some of the easier courses on Tour (RTJ, PGA West, and TPC Deere Run).

 

Range Jockeys

Long shots, no-names with names, trending, event jockeys and everyone else with a few warts.

Jim Furyk: He’s the horse for the course this week but his best finish in calendar 2017 was T-23 at Erin Hills.

Rory Sabbatini: Back-to-back top 20’s halted with T-55 at Barbasol. Even though he MC last year he was T-11 in ’15 and T-12 in ’13 as he closed with 67 both years.

David Lingmerth: His run of T-26 or better in five events was broken with T-64 at Greenbrier of all places. He decided to pack up and play Dundonald links the following week and MC. He played in the final group with Brandt Snedeker here in 2013 and shot a million. He’s also won at Memorial. Hmmmmmm…

Nick Taylor: The Canadian enters the week MC, T-9 and T-29 in his last three but ranks in the top 60 in birdies or better on par fives and SG: Tee-to-Green.

Steve Wheatcroft: His last three big finishes in a row were last year when he went T-5 (Barracuda), T-20 (Barbasol) and T-5 (RBC Canadian). Although the order is different this year he’s already racked up T-15 at Barbasol. He led the field in fairways last year and was tied for the lead with two holes to play before he found water late.

Chris Kirk: T-14 and T-21 in two starts at GAGC. Do NOT look at his recent form.

Brandon Hagy: You’ve seen him mentioned in here on in the gaming columns recently. He’s back again this week because he mashes it and scores well on par fives. He’s quietly made 12 of 18 cuts but nothing better than T-14. I’m patient.

Trey Mullinax: Classic bomber who can hole a few putts, Mullinax jumped onto the scene with T-9/T-18 FESJC/U.S. Open double. He MC the following week at Travelers but has since ran off four in a row.

Michael Kim: His steadiness throughout the bag removes the wonder in why he’s made 14 of 19 cuts on the season.

Harold Varner, III: Last year as a rookie he killed short courses with his length and was a big player in par five scoring. If he’s gonna bust it out, this could be the week. His best finish is T-19 at Memorial so I’ve connected those dots.

Jared du Toit: EVERYONE and their hockey stick will be on this Canadian after he played in the final group last year. He’s going to be a very nice player but I’m not going to call this ASU product Jon Rahm just yet!

Alex Cejka: He’s 17-under in his last seven rounds over the last two years. He snuck in for T-9 at Greenbrier and was T-15 at Barbasol last week.

Peter Malnati: Seven in a row with his best finish last week at Barbasol.

Jonathan Randolph: I like that he’s cashed in nine of his last 11 including the U.S. Open. He’s trending the wrong way but his current streak is four in a row.

Geoff Ogilvy: He’s won at Montreux and closed with 63 here last year.

Jhonattan Vegas: Gamers love defending champs. Gamers need to be aware Vegas hasn’t made a cut since AT&T Byron Nelson in May.

 

Fades:

Not this week

Grayson Murray: Let him enjoy his win from last weekend. You never know the motivation with the first-timers so I’ll sit back and see how HE reacts.

Chad Collins: He’s made four cuts this season in 19 events and two have gone for top 10’s. I’m going to back the house here.

Sean O’Hair: For those of you who love playing former event champs, he qualifies. He’s also MC, T-62, MC and MC since his win.

 

Next:

 Wednesday I’ll present my gaming angles for the week so keep your eyes peeled at @MikeGlasscott and mikeglasscott.com for more information.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

 

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