Best bets for the PGA Tour RBC Canadian Open

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RBC Canadian Open

Viktor Hovland, 20-1 on the odds board Monday morning, won his fourth PGA Tour event and first on American soil at The Memorial Tournament in a playoff over Denny McCarthy, cashing another outright winner for us (fifth on the PGA Tour and ninth overall in the 2023 golf season). Tournament host Jack Nicklaus even struggled to find the words to console McCarthy coming off the 18th green.

 

After leading the tournament for most of the final round, McCarthy bogeyed the 18th hole twice — first in regulation to fall into a tie with Hovland at 7 under par and then in the playoff. McCarthy, one of the PGA Tour’s best putters, led the field for Strokes Gained: Putting and probably should have won the tournament but had to settle for his career-best finish of second as he still seeks his first tour victory.

After Hovland birdied No. 17 and parred 18 to get within one shot of the lead, McCarthy hit his tee shot into the rough and then laid up to avoid catastrophe on the treacherous 18th green. He left his short approach shot 23 feet short and missed the putt.

In the playoff, McCarthy again was in the rough. His second shot landed short of the green and rolled down the hill and stopped 44 yards from the cup. He chipped to within 11 feet, 9 inches. But that par putt lipped around the left edge. Hovland made his 7-footer for par to win and looks like a top contender for the U.S. Open in two weeks.

OWGR No. 1 Scottie Scheffler also has to feel that he let a victory slip through his fingers last weekend. Scheffler finished outright third and was the leader in the clubhouse for a couple of hours. He led the field for Strokes Gained: Approach gaining over 12 strokes on the field and gained 21 shots tee to green, more than 8 1/2 strokes over his nearest competitor. However, the World No. 1 lost 8 1/2 strokes with his putter. That mark was dead last of all 65 players that made the weekend cut. Scheffler is the current favorite at next week’s U.S. Open at 15-2, but the short game will have to be better.

Before next week’s U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club, the PGA Tour goes north of the border to the Toronto area for the RBC Canadian Open. Rory McIlroy (9-2) looked like he was going to win last week as he was the co-leader with Si Woo Kim and David Lipsky after 54 holes. However, Rory’s wedge game betrayed him on Sunday, and he settled for a T-7 finish. McIlroy is the favorite this week as he is aiming to win his third consecutive RBC Canadian Open at three different venues.

Matt Fitzpatrick (14-1) quietly posted a top-10 finish (T-9) last weekend at the Memorial. Tyrrell Hatton (12-1) finished T-12 and has not finished outside the top 15 in any of his last four tour events.

Cameron Young (16-1) had recovered from a recent illness but missed the cut last weekend. Sam Burns (16-1) was T-4 in this event last year held at St. George’s.

Corey Conners (18-1) leads the Canadian contingent this week and has contended in his home open before, but there is extra pressure this week, as there always is, for a player to win in his home country. However, Conners, as well as Adam Svensson (66-1) and Mackenzie Hughes (90-1) have all won PGA Tour events this season. Adam Hadwin (50-1), Nick Taylor (66-1), Taylor Pendrith (90-1) and Aaron Cockerill (200-1) are also part of a group of 20 Canadian players in this 156-player field.

Justin Rose (18-1) also finished T-4 in this event last year.  Shane Lowry (20-1), along with the aforementioned Fitzpatrick, finished top 10 in this event last year. Like Rose and Lowry, Tommy Fleetwood (22-1) will likely provide veteran leadership later this fall for a European Ryder Cup team that will be younger than in previous years.

In all, 10 of the top 30 and 24 of the top 100 in the OWGR are in attendance this week near Toronto.

The Event​

The RBC Canadian Open, organized by national sanctioning body Golf Canada, was first played in 1904. The tournament has been held annually, aside from World Wars I and II (1915-1918; 1943-1944), and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021. This year’s RBC Canadian Open will mark the 111th edition and it is the third-longest-running event on the PGA Tour behind the British Open and the U.S. Open. Furthermore, it is the only national championship that is a PGA Tour-managed event. The British Open, the U.S. Open and the Canadian Open have been referred to as the “Triple Crown of the PGA Tour.” Only two players in history have held this Triple Crown in the same year — Lee Trevino in 1971 and Tiger Woods in 2000. Meanwhile, only six players have won all three national opens — Trevino, Woods, Tommy Armour, Walter Hagen, Arnold Palmer and McIlroy.

Celebrated Canadian Open winners include World Golf Hall of Fame members Leo Diegel, Walter Hagen, Tommy Armour, Harry Cooper, Lawson Little, Sam Snead, Craig Wood, Byron Nelson, Doug Ford, Bobby Locke, Bob Charles, Arnold Palmer, Kel Nagle, Billy Casper, Gene Littler, Lee Trevino, Curtis Strange, Greg Norman, Nick Price, Vijay Singh, Mark O’Meara, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.

The event has been held all over Canada with Jack Nicklaus-designed Glen Abbey (in Oakville, Ontario) being the most frequent host having served as the venue for 30 Canadian Opens. Royal Montreal Golf Club is second with 10. Mississauga Golf & Country Club and Hamilton Golf and Country Club have each hosted, while Toronto Golf Club and St. George’s Golf and Country Club, last year’s venue, has hosted five.

Oakdale Golf & Country Club will host the Canadian Open for the first time this year.

A Canadian player has not won the Canadian Open since Pat Fletcher in 1954.

The Course

Located in North York near the center of the Greater Toronto area, Oakdale Golf & Country Club will host the tournament for the first time in its history and will be the 37th course to host this national event.

The tournament will be held on a composite routing from Oakdale’s 27 holes, 18 of which were designed by legendary Canadian golf architect Stanley Thompson in 1926 with Canadian Golf Hall of Fame member Robbie Robinson adding the other nine in 1957. All 27 holes were renovated in 2018 by noted Canadian restoration expert Ian Andrew.

Oakdale is a classical, tree-lined, parkland course with undulating terrain, meandering fairways, thick bluegrass rough and tiered greens. It will be a unique setup as the front nine is expected to play significantly longer and tougher than the back nine.

Oakdale features three distinct sets of nine holes: the Thompson, named after the designer, the Homenuik (named for longtime pro and Canadian Golf Hall of Famer Wilf Homenuik) and the Knudson, named in honor of eight-time PGA Tour winner George Knudson. The course the PGA Tour will play this week is a hybrid, with holes taken from all three courses, including all nine holes from Knudson.

The track is of average length at 7,264 yards as a par-72.

There are only 59 bunkers and four holes with water danger as Black Creek runs through 200 acres of property that Oakdale was built on.

Oakdale lies on a great piece of rolling terrain with elevation changes throughout the property. Whether it’s the holes that play uphill, the undulating and slightly pinched fairways or the crowned greens with false fronts, there aren’t many flat sections on this course. Hitting from uneven lies will be one of the challenges that golfers face this week.

The layout features bentgrass fairways and greens with the putting surfaces having a touch (20%) of Poa annua mixed in. The rough is Kentucky Bluegrass, and by the start of the tournament will be allowed to grow to between four and five inches, making it one of the longest rough lengths in a non-major that players will see all year.

The greens average around 6,000 square feet, but there is a major variance between them as the fifth and eighth greens are less than 3,500 square feet while the 13th and 18th holes measure out at more than 7,500 square feet. They will also run an average speed of around 12 on the stimpmeter.

Correlated courses to Oakdale include last year’s RBC Canadian Open venue St. George’s, Detroit Golf Club, TPC Deere Run, Sedgefield GC and TPC River Highlands.

Recent History​

2022: Rory McIlroy (-19/261); St. George’s; 10-1

2021: No Tournament due to COVID-19

2020: No Tournament due to COVID-19

2019: Rory McIlroy (-22/258); Hamilton; 10-1*

2018: Dustin Johnson (-23/265); Glen Abbey; 7-1

2017: Jhonattan Vegas (-21/267); Glen Abbey; 125-1**

2016: Jhonattan Vegas (-12/276); Glen Abbey; 125-1

2015: Jason Day (-17/271); Glen Abbey; 9-1

2014: Tim Clark (-17/263); Royal Montreal; 66-1

2013: Brandt Snedeker (-16/272); Glen Abbey; 14-1

2012: Scott Piercy (-17/263); Hamilton; 50-1

2011: Sean O’Hair (-4/276); Shaughnessy; 100-1***

2010: Carl Pettersson (-14/266); St. George’s; 80-1

All-Time Canadian Open scoring record – *

Playoff win over Charley Hoffman – **

Playoff win over Kris Blanks – ***

Statistical Analysis

The greens at Oakdale have multiple difficult options for pin placements courtesy of the numerous crowns and tiers on many of the putting surfaces, so precision on approach will be crucial per usual.

Strokes Gained Approach (Last 36 rounds)