RBC Canadian Open
It was a great week for us at The Memorial as for the second year running we bagged the winner in the event in the shape of Patrick Cantlay.
It’s been a pretty open secret in the golfing world for a while now that Cantlay is the ‘real deal’ and the only criticism that could have been thrown at him was that, despite the raft of high finishes, he was yet to add a second win to his CV to go with his Shriners trophy in the fall of 2017.
The way he closed things out at Muirfield Village though was flawless and it is quite possible the floodgates will now open.
In addition to the win for Cantlay there was more good news for us in the form of the performance of our trader Kiradech Aphibarnrat who did us proud with a Saturday charge up the leaderboard, which saw him trade in the low 20s.
Finally we had time on the week to add a rare antepost bet to our portfolio for the US Open at Pebble Beach in the form of Martin kaymer at 150-1. [6 places e/w]
It is always a gamble backing someone antepost mid event based on the form they are showing that week as obviously they could flop over the weekend and tumble down the board, making your bet far less attractive. I’m pleased to say though that the German did not do this and despite [fortunately for us] coming up short on Sunday he had a great event to finish third.
The other problem with backing antepost for the majors these days is of course you are missing out on the eight or ten places e/w which will inevitably be offered in the week of the event. With Kaymer now a best price 80s though I am happy with the bet we have secured.
Martin is not in the field this week for Canada so he will go straight to Pebble where he finished eighth at the 2010 US Open in good heart and whilst I am not saying he will win a confident, resurguing Kaymer is a world class act and I will be disappointed[and surprised] if he doesn’t give a strong account of himself.
Anyway there will be plenty enough time to discuss the US Open over the next ten days so for now lets turn our attention back to more pressing matters in the shape of this week RBC Canadian Open.
This week is a brand new slot for the RBC Canadian Open, which since 2007 and prior to this year, had been played the week directly after the British Open Championship.
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.
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. This year however we move to Hamilton G&CC in Hamilton, Ontario, a venue which last hosted this event in 2012.
With the event coming the week before a Major Championship and particularly one, which will be played over on the West Coast on poa annua greens, you would perhaps expect a lot of the big names to be sitting this week out, however a combination of some elite players preferring to play the week before a Major, some choosing to play as they try to find form and some fulfilling sponsors obligations [as some readers may already be aware RBC has sponsorship arrangements with several leading players both on the PGA and LPGA tours] means that we actually have way stronger field than has been seen in this event in its old ‘post Open Championship’ slot for many a year.
This field is headed up by world No 1 Brooks Koepka, who is gearing up for his attempt at a historical US Open ‘threepeat’ at Pebble Breach next week, defending champion, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas, who was a late entrant as he searches for some form on his return from injury.
Hamilton G&CC GC is a par 70 measuring just under 7000yds.
The greens are poa annua and are there main feature are there slopes.
The course, which was designed by Harry S Colt opened in 1915 and this will be the sixth time it has held the RBC Canadian Open. The two most recent times the event was held here were 2012 & 2006.
An Englishman Colt has been responsible for many designs and redesigns in the UK including coincidentally the redesign of Royal Portrush in 1932, the host of this years Open Championship and Muirfield.
The course is described a classic parkland design and is situated on the edge of the Niagara Escarpment.
There are two Par 5s, the 4th and 17th, which at 542yds and 550yds respectively are both reachable, while the par 4 5th at 317yds is driveable.
With a new slot in the schedule and a course in play that has only been used once in the past ten years recent event form/history is probably worth little to nothing this week, however for what it’s worth I have listed the last ten winners of the RBC Canadian Open below.
I have highlighted in bold the one year the event was played here, 2012, when Scott Piercy was victorious.
The winners of these events have been as follows;
2018 D Johnson
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
Taking a closer look at the leaderboard from the 2012 edition that was held here and we see that finishing in joint second place there was Robert Garrigus and William McGirt. The rest of the top ten was made up of Josh Teater, Bud Cauley, Chris Kirk, VJ Singh, Bo Van Pelt and Scott Stallings.
At first glance you would think that there really is nothing playing style wise, which would link this list together, after all you couldn’t get two golfers further apart than Robert Garrigus and William McGirt! However whilst there is no real link that ties this list together from a ‘style’ point of view once I dug a bit further I did find something quite striking in relation to the form coming in to the week of those who made up the top five, which was that they were all right on top of there game at the time.
In the case of the winner Scott Piercy he had finished 3rd and 12th in his previous two starts. McGirt one of the co runners up had finished 5th last time out, while the other co runner up Garrigus had been 25th and 4th in his previous two starts. Furthermore the next players down the board Teater, Cauley and Kirk had finished 9th, 4th and 10th respectively in their previous starts.
Now we obviously need to be fairly careful how much we read in to this as it is only a one event sample [although 2006 winner here Jim Furyk did finish 3rd in his previous start to the event] but it may just be that the course is an all-round test, which just lends itself to solid play of guys who are ‘hot’ coming in to the week.
The other factor that we naturally need to take in to consideration this week is the events position in the schedule prior to the US Open and how this may impact things and to this end we may be best looking at recent Fedex St Jude winners, the event which used to fill this slot.
Looking at these we see that since 2010 alongside two wins for Dustin Johnson [one of, which came last year], there have been wins for Harrison Frazar, Harris English, Ben Crane, Fabien Gomez and Daniel Berger twice.
There are two things that stand out to me here. The first is that outside of the wins for DJ and to a lesser extent the highly thought of Berger there is, as we know already, clearly the opportunity for a shock result the week before a major.
The second and perhaps more interesting fact is that not since Harrizon Frazar hacked up in the US Open sectional qualifying the Monday before, has a player come through that qualifying and then gone on to win that weeks PGA Tour event.
What this tells me is that we either need to be looking for someone this week who is already exempt for Pebble Beach, or someone who fails to get in and is fully focused on this weeks task in hand, rather than someone who does get in at the last minute and is perhaps thinking ahead to next week re travel plans for him and his family and just the overall excitement of making the field for arguably the biggest event of the year.
Fingers crossed and particularly with a major championship coming the following week we look set for a fairly dry week, although there is the possibility of some showers on Thursday. In addition Tuesday and Wednesday show the possibility of showers also so the players could be greeted by a softer course on Thursday.
Temperatures look set to hover around the mid to lower 70s through the week.
The wind looks fairly calm for Thursday, however the remainder of the week shows for the potential of gusts in excess of 15mph.
Whilst I am reasonably keen on the idea of Dustin Johnson doing a form of ‘double defence’ as defending Canadian Champion and defending champion for the corresponding weeks event last year the Fedex St Jude, I can’t be getting involved at 6-1 and I will therefore pass on DJ, as I will the other market leaders who I expect to be tuning up for next week.
On this basis I have gone with six players this week as follows;
SHANE LOWRY –50-1 - 1pt e/w 1/5 odds 1st 6 - FINISHED 2nd
The first player who ticks a lot of boxes for me this week is the Irishman Shane Lowry.
I cant help but feeling based on Piercy being victorious here in 2012 and the likes of Cauley, Kirk and Stallings featuring high up on the board that this course could well suit ‘feel’ players who on there day possess a good touch on the greens and Shane fits this bill.
It’s been a funny sort of 2019 for the Irishman as after his early season victory in Abu Dhabi Shane struggled on the PGA Tour until his third place finish at Hilton Head and he then followed that up with a very impressive eighth place last time out at the PGA Championship.
What was particularly impressive at Bethpage Black for Shane was that after a disappointing opening 75 he finished the week with three sub 70 rounds and all of his stats for the week were really solid.
Another thing that draws me to Shane this week is that whilst the course is described as parkland, recent reports I have read state that many trees have been removed to return it more to the original feel intended by designer Harry S Colt.
From that point of view Colt, who was English by birth, was responsible for many redesigns of renowned links courses and the pictures I have seen of the course in general and particularly the sloping greens, have an element of a links feel to me and this of course should fit Lowry’s game.
It’s also worth noting that Shane has performed really strongly at another of Colt’s original designs, Wentworth, over the years.
I mentioned earlier that my preference this week is to either run with a player already exempt for the US Open prior to this week or one who has not qualified for Pebble and Shane ticks the former box here.
There is obviously a fair bit of speculation involved this week based on the fact that this course has been off the rota for seven years however the recent form of Shane, the type of player who won here last time round and the criteria of player I am looking for in relation to next weeks US Open, all lead me to think that the Irishman is in with an excellent chance this week.
BRANDT SNEDEKER– 45 -1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 6 - FINISHED 4th
When looking for someone who has good feel around the greens and putts well, particularly on the poa annua the players face this week, then Brandt Snedeker is always going to be near the top of your list.
Like Shane Lowry Sneds is naturally fully exempt in to next weeks Pebble Beach field and no doubt this four time winner on the Poa will be itching to get back to the California coast next week.
Before making the trip to California though Sneds should also be relishing a trip across the border to Canada to the Hamilton G&CC as my thought is that this week’s venue should be right up his alley.
Currently 15th on tour in putting and second on tour in Strokes Gained Around The Green the area that has been holding Brandt back from really delivering the goods this year has been his iron play, and he currently ranks 124th in SGATTG and 177th in GIR.
Since returning to his long time coach Todd Anderson in March though Sneds’ results have picked up and with the exception of a MC at Augusta he has played some really solid stuff.
16th at the PGA Championship and 18th last time out at the Charles Schwab should see Brandt arrive in Canada in good spirits particularly as at Bethpage he ranked 20th in SGATTG and 34th in GIR, while at Colonial he was also 35th for the week in GIR.
If we look at Sneds’ CV on the PGA Tour we will see that interestingly of his nine PGA tour wins six of them are from events he has won twice, The Wyndham, The Farmers and the AT & T Pebble Beach Proam, while the RBC Canadian Open is one of his three other trophy’s.
Therefore, while of course unlike those other three titles, this years Canadian Open is being held at a different venue to that which Brandt won this trophy on before in 2013, the fact that it is only 30 mins or so away from Glen Abbey, the scene of his past win, does appeal to me, as he is obviously comfortable going back to certain areas again as a former champion.
Like last year’s Champion Dustin Johnson, Sneds is sponsored by RBC and I can see him being keen, raring to go to put on a really strong showing this week, and am confident he can deliver it on a return to his favoured Poa greens.
JIMMY WALKER – 90-1 –1pt E/W - 1/5 odds 1st 7 - FINISHED 35th
Another player who has plenty of ‘previous’ on the poa and has shown some signs of life over recent weeks is Jimmy Walker.
40yr old Walker has struggled to rediscover any of his real old magic since coming through his well-documented battle with lyme disease.
His last two outings however have seen him post his best two finishes of the season, 23rd at the PGA Championship and 19th at Colonial, so it may just be that he is gaining some momentum and with three of his PGA Tour wins coming on the poa it may well be that the return to these greens gives Jimmy the impetus to now push on even further.
In addition to the fact that Walker is a proven winner on the poa another factor I like is that three of his PGA Tour wins have come on shorter circa 7000yd courses, Waialae twice and Pebble Beach, with Waialae, the home of the Sony Open being a 7000yd Par 70, which although different in character, is what the players face this week.
Jimmy like our first two picks is exempt in to next weeks US Open so his focus this week will I would like to think be 100% on improving his current precarious position of 144th in the Fedex Cup Standings, and I am optimistic for a big week for him ahead.
JONAS BLIXT 100-1 –1pt E/W - 1/5 odds 1st 8 - FINISHED 44th
I mentioned earlier that a route to success here back in 2012 was players who were bang in form coming in to the week having finished in the top ten on there previous start and this line of thought leads me to Swede Jonas Blixt this week.
It’s been a pretty grim few years for the two time individual PGA Tour winner, which was only punctuated by success in the Zurich Classic pairs event in the company of Cam Smith in 2017.
Until recently it didn’t look like the 18/19 season was panning out too much better for the Jacksonville resident however his last two starts have seen a significant upturn in form with a 20th place at the Byron Nelson followed by a fifth place finish last time out at Colonial, his best solo finish since he was third at the Pebble Beach Pro Am over three years ago.
At Colonial what particularly caught the eye with Jonas is that all parts of his game seemed to be in strong working order as he finished 4th in SGTTG and 5th in Strokes Gained Total and as I mentioned earlier based on the 2012 leaderboard it would appear that this weeks venue could just suit players in good, strong, all round form.
While it was a while ago now if we look back at that fifth place finish of Blixt’s at Pebble it is worth noting that it came a couple of weeks after he finished third at the Farmers and this is something that we saw a lot from him in his earlier years on tour, indeed his first win back in 2012 came the week after he was third at the Shriners.
The other thing to note from Jonas’ last two top fives on tour at Pebble and Torrey Pines is that they both came on poa annua greens.
Blixt like many was involved in Sectional Qualifying for the US Open on Monday and did not make it through. While this will naturally be disappointing for Jonas as I mentioned earlier if we look at the history of winners here I would not necessarily see this as a negative as his mind will be fully focused on this week’s task in hand and I can see him building on his fifth place last time out with a really strong week this week.
ALEX PRUGH – 250-1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 8 - FINISHED MC
While I mentioned earlier that I am erring this week towards players who were either already exempt for Pebble or who have not made it through qualifying I can’t resist one big price play on a man who did make it through Sectional Qualifying, Alex Prugh.
Prugh, pitched up on Monday at the scarily named Rattlesnake Point Golf Club in Ontario and sealed one of four spots available for next weeks trip to Pebble Beach by posting a -4 total ,before coming through a three way play off four two spots, and this should naturally see Alex come in to this week in a really strong frame of mind.
What made Alex’s success in qualifying for Pebble really stand out to me though is the fact that he was already on my radar for this week based on the fact that he isa poa annua greens specialist who has no less than six top ten finishes in California over the years on the PGA Tour.
Since securing his return to the PGA Tour via a strong 2018 on the web.com tour there is no doubt that Prugh’s 18/19 season has not quite gone as he would have hoped with nothing better than a 31st place to his name at the Wells Fargo in solo competition.
From a positive point of view though this finish did come in his last but one start and having also made the cut on his following outing, before then securing his place for the US Open there are glimmers that his game is turning around.
We have seen one very noticeable incident over the years, which I mentioned earlier of a player taking the momentum of qualifying for the US Open and then running with it later in the week, in the form of Harrison Frazar and my hope is that Prugh, who at 172nd in the Fedex Cup standings is in need of a big week, can take that momentum and run with it on a return to his favoured poa greens.
TALOR GOOCH – 150-1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 8 - FINISHED 35th
My final roll of the dice this week is Oklahoma man Talor Gooch.
Since I started looking through this week’s field, for some reason my eyes keep getting drawn back to the name of Gooch and whilst my reasons for liking him this week are reasonably flimsy in all honesty, I just have a hunch he could have a great week.
As mentioned earlier one thing I am looking for this week is players who have performed well on the poa greens so the first thing that drew me to Gooch is his early season form on the West Coast where he finished third at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. In addition Talor posted some solid results on the poa on the West Coast in the 17/18 season.
Following on from his great early season form, which saw Talor post back to back top five finishes unfortunately his season then got derailed somewhat with a thumb injury, which saw him sit things out from The Players through to the Charles Schwab Challenge a couple of weeks ago where he finished 29th on return.
Last week was not so good for Gooch as a pair of 76’s saw him miss the cut at Memorial to give him the weekend off.
One other thing that draws me to Gooch this week is his all round stats as he sits 35th on tour in Strokes Gained Total, which my hope is will tie in with my thought that this is a week, which will test all parts of the game.
Coming in to this week my thought is that a return to poa will potentially inspire Talor to recapture some of his early season form and I am hopeful he can pull of a big shock for us.
UPDATED 5th JUNE
TRADER - KELLY KRAFT - FINISHED 71st - LOWEST PRICE TRADED 280
In a week where i feel we could see another in the line of big priced shocks that we've been witnessing of late I wanted to roll the dice on a trader pick whose odds reflected this and the man i've chosen to go with is Kelly Kraft.
30yr old Kraft is undoubtedly a tough man to catch right but he has shown over his time on the PGA Tour that when a course fits his eye he can find his form out of nowhere and compete at the top level.
Ninth at the Genesis earlier this year when in no form at all when coming in, second at Pebble Beach in 2017 and back to back top 5s at the Greenrier over the past two years show that Kelly is definitely more at home on shorter courses, which require some plotting around and this weeks test would seem to fit that bill.
In addition of course the success at the Genesis and at Pebble Beach show that he is comfortable on poa greens.
Currently 132nd in the Fedex Cup standings Kraft is in need of a big week and as one of the shorter hitters on tour this will be a venue that he should be keen to get his teeth in to, and I am hopeful that he can produce a big week for us this week.
CURRENTLY TRADING @ 740+