RBC Canadian Open
It was a disappointing week for us both at the Open Championship and over in Kentucky at the Barbasol.
I’m happy to admit when I’ve get it wrong and there’s no doubting that I did on this occasion with my decision to take on Molinari in a match bet with Grace and indeed in my overall view that his current form would not count for too much when confronted with a style of golf that he had never had much success in before!
A definite case of current form out trumping course form/suitability.
In the end all we had to show for the week in Carnoustie was an e/w return on our headline pick Justin Rose and a good/profitable performance from our trader Chris Wood.
Over at the Barbasol two of our picks Romero and Jaeger had solid weeks and Romero was in with a definite place chance and even outside win chance as he came towards the end of his front nine on his final round.
Unfortunately though a D Bogey via the water on the 8th hole derailed him completely and he limped home fairly tamely after that.
Anyway the beauty of golf betting is that there’s always another event to get stuck straight in to and so we move on with a healthy seasons profit to date still in the bank.
So after the excitement of the Open Championship it’s straight to another historic national Open, the RBC Canadian Open.
The RBC Canadian Open was first played in 1904 and has been played continuously since, bar a couple of breaks during WWI and WWII.
The event is the third longest standing on the PGA Tour calendar behind the US Open and Open Championship.
Since 2007 the event has been played the week directly after the Open Championship.
From 2019 as part of the revamped PGA Tour schedule the event is going to move to a new date and will take the spot currently held by the Fedex St Jude [which is becoming a WGC and taking the Bridgestone’s spot if you’re still with me!], and will be played the week directly before the US Open.
The event has historically hopped around different courses in Canada however since 2013 it has been played at Glen Abbey GC in Oakville, Ontario every year apart from in 2014.
Prior to that it was also played at Glen Abbey 2000, 2004, 2008 & 2009 this century.
The market this week is headed up by world No 1 Dustin Johnson who will be trying to ‘right the ship’ after a rare missed cut at the Open. Also in the field are Brook Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood, Bubba Watson, Segio Garcia, Tony Finau and two time defending champion Jonny Vegas.
As some readers may already be aware RBC has sponsorship arrangements with several leading players both on the PGA and LPGA tours.
Those on the PGA tour that they work with and who will be teeing it up this week are Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Ryan Palmer and Brandt Snedeker, as well as Canadian players Adam Hadwin and David Hearn.
Glen Abbey GC is a par 72 measuring just over 7250yds.
The greens are Bentgrass.
The course was designed by Jack Nicklaus in 1976.
Other Nicklaus designs used on tour include Muirfield Village, home of the Memorial, PGA National [Honda Classic], The Tournament Course [Careerbuilder] and Montreux G&CC [Barracuda].
The course features 4 par 5s as per normal for a par 72, however three of them come on the back 9 at the 13th, 16th & 18th making this stretch the real scoring opportunity of the course.
Whilst the fairways are tree lined Glen Abbey can be considered a pretty ‘gettable’ course and scoring tends to be low.
So let’s take a look at the last ten winners since 2008. I have noted when the event was played at a venue other than Glen Abbey.
The winners of these events have been as follows;
2017 J Vegas
2016 J Vegas
2015 J Day
2014 T Clark [Played at Royal Montreal]
2013 B Snedeker
2012 S Piercy [Played at Hamilton G&CC]
2011 S O’Hair [Played at Shaughnessy G&CC]
2010 C Pettersson [Played at St George’s G&CC]
2009 N Green
2008 C Reavie
The first thing I chose to look at with these winners is how many of them had played in the Open championship the week before and if so how had they performed.
The answer to this is that four of them, Vegas [in 2017] Day, Snedeker and O’Hair had tee’d it up the week before at the Open.
Of these four two of them Vegas and O’Hair had missed the cut whilst Day finished 4th and Snedeker 11th at the Open.
Of the other six winners three of them had played in the opposite field event on the PGA Tour the week before [Vegas in 16, Green & Reavie] whilst the other three had taken the week off.
As you can see from this on the balance of things being in the thick of the action in the Open Championship the week before is understandably not ideal preparation with Day and Snedeker being the only players in the past ten years to have had a top 20 finish at the Open the week before going on to win.
One other interesting fact which came to light when looking at this is that prior to Vegas defending his title last year all of the previous five winners of the event had all finished 11th or better in their previous start on tour. These were as follows;
2016 Vegas 4th at Barbasol
2015 Day 4th at Open
2014 Clark 4th at John Deere
2013 Snedeker 11th at Open
2012 Piercy 3rd at John Deere
Now lets take a bit of a closer look at the editions played recently at Glen Abbey and in particular the type of player that frequents the leaderboard there.
In 2017 the final top 10 included Vegas, Woodland, Finau, Garrigus, Hagy, Chappell & D Johnson.
In 2016, Rahm, Johnson & Laird all finished in the top 5 and in 2015 Day, Bubba & Cink were all in the top 5.
What you probably don’t need me to tell you is that all of these guys are big hitters ranking high in the Driving Distance stats.
Now of course you can argue that DJ, Day, Bubba & Rahm can produce the goods on most tracks but once you start throwing in the likes of Hagy, Garrigus, Finau, Woodland and of course double defending champion Vegas the evidence conclusively shows that ‘bombers’ flourish at Glen Abbey.
The flip side of the coin though is that in amongst the bombers Poulter, Barnes, Cejka & Crane have all played well here of late so there is room for the shorter hitter, more accurate hitter here as well.
Basically there are two ways to get it done at Glen Abbey, ‘fairways and greens’ or bomb it down there.
Looking at the winning scores over recent years at Glen Abbey Vegas won with -21 in 2017 and -12 in 2016.
Quite a difference their obviously and this was down to 2017’s edition serving up soft conditions based on rainfall before the event. This will also no doubt also have helped the big hitters in the field.
In 2013 Day one with -17 and in 2013 Snedeker got the job done with -16.
Finally going back to the 08 and 09 editions Reavie and Green won with -21 and -18 respectively.
Predominantly we appear to be in for a dry week however as I type there is 60% chance of rain and a possible storm in the forecast for Thursday PM, there is also a similar chance for rain and a storm on Wednesday.
This means we could well see a soft golf course particularly on Thursday and Friday.
The wind is forecast for all four days to be negligible on the morning before gradually picking up to 10-12mph as the days progress.
The obvious question that faces us this week is how to view the two headline acts in the field DJ & Brooks.
Dustin in particular has to be a big threat based on his solid course form and the fact that he will have been stung by his performance at the Open.
Whilst a win from him this week wouldn’t surprise me he’s yet to get over the line here before and at the prices on offer I am happy to swerve him.
Similarly Koepka struggled over the weekend at Carnoustie and having I am sure put the clubs down after the US Open and fulfilling his obligations at the Travelers the week after that I am happy to pass him by.
On this basis I have gone with five players this week as follows;
BILLY HORSCHEL –50-1 - 1pt e/w 1/5 odds 1st 6
I remember when I backed Dechaambeau at the Memorial I said in my preview that I had made a mistake in not backing him at Bay Hill for reasons I mentioned at the time and that I was not about to make that same mistake again.
Well coming in to this week I feel the same way about Horschel.
As we all know Billy is a huge momentum player and when he performs one week it is always worth backing him the next.
My big mistake with Billy this season though was to not stick with him at the Zurich Classic on the basis that it was a pairs event…The rest as they say is history…
So Billy now arrives in Canada on the back of a 17th place finish at the Quicken Loans and a 2nd place finish at the Barbasol and that quite frankly is good enough for me.
I mentioned that there are two ways to get the job done at Glen Abbey with ‘fairways and greens’ being one of them. Well In Kentucky Billy ranked 8th for DA, 7th for GIR, 1st for Strokes Gained of The Tee and 4th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green.
Relatively speaking the only club that was lukewarm in the bag was the putter as he finished the week 21st in SGP.
Billy has made just one previous visit to Glen Abbey, which was back in 2013 and he finished 68th, however having won his first PGA Tour title earlier that year he had gone completely of the boil at that time and was arriving on the back of shooting 80 in the 2nd round of the Open to miss the cut.
In addition I am not too hung up on course form this week, after all until Jonny Vegas decided this was his favourite course on the planet he had one MC on a previous visit to his name.
In summary then I am happy to ride Horschel’s momentum this week and am confident that as long as he can hole his reasonable share that he can go really close to adding another trophy to his CV.
CHARLEY HOFFMAN – 33 -1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 7
Next up for us this week is UNLV grad Charley Hoffman.
Whilst I mentioned earlier that playing four rounds at the Open the week before hasn’t exactly been the best prep for success in Canada I am happy to overlook that with the Hoff this week as he did exactly the same thing last year, finishing 20th at Birkdale, before going ever so close to victory at Glen Abbey.
In fact last year Charley played the John Deere, The Open, went back over the Atlantic to Canada for his 2nd place finish and then finished 3rd the following week at the WGC Bridgestone in Ohio.
Clearly therefore Charley enjoys racking up the air miles, the big finishes and the $ at this time of year!
Hoff’s high finish at Glen Abbey last year didn’t come out of the blue as he also finished 7th here in 2015, 16th here in 2013 and 28th here on his first visit in 2008. This is obviously therefore a course he loves.
It was a slow start to the 2018 year for Charley however he has now racked up three consecutive top 20 finishes on the PGA Tour and also played well in the Scottish Open.
Currently down in 90th place on the Fedex Cup standings Hoffman will be keen to make strides upwards ASAP.
In addition Charley got his first taste of team golf when he made the Presidents Cup team last year and he will desperate to try and make a late charge for a Ryder Cup spot.
Although he currently languishes in 23rd place in the standings Charley will be only too aware that a repeat of his form from this time last year will send him flying up the table.
Charley’s recent up turn in form leads me to think he may well be about to go on a run of form similar to this time last year and I am keen to have him on side this week as he returns to a venue he clearly loves.
BYEONG HUN AN – 50-1 –1pt E/W - 1/5 odds 1st 8
One player who must be licking his lips at the prospect of teeing it up on another Jack Nicklaus design is South Korean Ben An.
This is because so far this season An has played on two of them, PGA National for the Honda Classic and Muirfield Village at the Memorial.
At the Honda he finished 5th and at the Memorial he came ever so close to landing his first PGA Tour title before losing to Bryson Dechambeau in the play off.
Based on this form Ben has to be a man to look out for on Nicklaus designs and for that reason I am keen to have him on side this week.
Whilst Ben’s seasons stats do not mark him down as a player who falls in to the ‘fairways & greens’ category that can thrive here he most certainly falls in to the big hitters one and he currently sits 21st on the PGA Tour in driving distance.
More interestingly though, whilst Ben’s tee to green numbers aren’t that great on the PGA Tour this year one week he really did shine on that front was at the Memorial.
That week at Muirfield Village he finished 1st in GIR and 9th in DA.
I am confident therefore that whilst this is Ben’s first visit to Glen Abbey his liking for a Nicklaus design will bring out the best in him.
Whilst Ben did play four rounds at Carnoustie last week he was not in the thick of things at any point.
In addition Ben’s second place finish at Memorial came the week after he had tee’d it up at Wentworth for the PGA Championship and finished 15th so he has shown that he can handle the rigours of golf on either side of the Atlantic on consecutive weeks.
The PGA Tour has seen two winners of Korean heritage over the past three weeks in the form of Kevin Na and Michael Kim and you have to think that An will have taken some inspiration from this and I am optimistic he can add his name to that list this week.
KEITH MITCHELL 80-1 –1pt E/W - 1/5 odds 1st 8
I’ve mentioned already that driving distance and a recent high finish are two things that bode well for Glen Abbey and one player who ticks both of those boxes is Keith Mitchell.
Mitchell is coming towards the back end of his debut season on the PGA Tour and he is certainly having quite a year.
After a slow start to the season, saw nothing better than a 25th place finish before the back end of February he sprang to life at the Corales Puntacana Championship where he finished 2nd.
Since then he has racked up three further top ten finishes including last time out at the John Deere where he finished 7th.
As a result of this he currently sits 60th on the Fedex Cup standings with his card well and truly locked up for next year.
Mitchell is an aggressive playing birdie machine who currently sits 7th in Driving Distance on the PGA Tour.
He shot -14 to finish 2nd at the Corales and the same score to finish 6th in Houston. He then shot -19 to finish 3rd at the Byron Nelson and -16 to finish 7th at the John Deere.
Basically Keith loves a low scoring birdie fest, which we should get this week and In essence he is exactly the sort of player who has performed well at Glen Abbey over recent years.
DAVID LINGMERTH – 80-1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 8
For my final selection this week I am going to chance another Nicklaus course specialist, Swede David Lingmerth.
It’s been a quiet time for Lingmerth over the past 18 months or so as despite regularly putting a run of solid finishes together he has been unable to get everything to click for a really big week.
David arrives at Glen Abbey on another of these runs having made his last five cuts, which included a 15th place finish last weekend at the Barbasol.
If the Swede is to notch a really big week it may well come here as he has shown in the past with his performances at the CareerBuilder and the Memorial that he is a big fan of Jack’s layouts.
In his two visits to Glen Abbey he has finished 12th and 27th and in 2013 he was right in the hunt before a final round 75.
David’s main issue this year has been with his approach shots and this can be seen from the fact that he currently sits 176th on GIR for the season on the PGA Tour.
Encouragingly though David hit it a lot better at the Barbasol last week and if he can take that improvement forward to a course that obviously suits his eye it could well be the time for everything to click in place.
UPDATED 25th JULY
TRADER - SAM RYDER
CURRENTLY TRADING @ 240