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Congratulations to Jordan Spieth and the plenty amongst you who backed the 2017 Open Champion. Spieth's win at Royal Birkdale means that the 23 year-old has now captured 3 of the 4 Major Championships on offer and he has the chance to grab a career grand slam at Quail Hollow in a fortnight's time. He's a player who undoubtedly splits opinion, but his putting display on Sunday afternoon was simply on a different level. For me he's the modern day Jack Nicklaus, a strategist and pragmatist who knows how to peak for the big tournaments. His presence on top of Major leaderboards also intimidates opponents, but in the case of Matt Kuchar - who also played mightily well - that was not the case; instead Spieth simply grabbed the Claret Jug in that magical spell with the flat stick over the closing holes.
So on to this week then. Royal Bank of Canada's (RBC) sponsorship of the Canadian Open has seen a renaissance of sorts. Following on from the United States, French, Irish, Scottish and (British) Open Championships through the early summer, the Canadian derivative includes a Champions' list which includes Snead, Palmer, Trevino (3 times), Norman (twice), Price, Woods and Jason Day. All Team RBC professionals are at Glen Abbey Golf Course this week for the 108th running of the Canadian Open with Graham Delaet, Adam Hadwin and Nick Taylor amongst a number of Canadians in the field trying to become the latest home champion since Pat Fletcher in 1954.
Over on the European Tour, Paul Williams previews the Porsche European Open - you can read his thoughts on that event here.
RBC Canadian Open - Featured Bookmaker
For the eighth consecutive week on a PGA Tour event, Betfair Sportsbook have gone 7 places each-way at 1/5 odds at the RBC Canadian Open. They have also gone 6 places each way 1/5 odds at the Porsche European Open at the time of writing. Betfair have two promotions to choose from for new customers: £100 Welcome Bonus (UK only) or Bet £/€10, Get £/€30. T&Cs apply:
Course Guide: Glen Abbey Golf Club is a Jack Nicklaus design that has some unique aspects. The course plays with a 35-37 split with the inward nine featuring par-5s at 13, 16 and 18 - the 16th was converted into a par-5 for the 2009 renewal. At 7,253 yards the course is relatively short by modern standards, but tree-lined fairways give a classical feel and mildly undulating green complexes make this a reasonable if not overly taxing challenge. Glen Abbey also features recently laid Bentgrass green complexes and the course in 2017 has changed slightly with the removal of bunkers across the 1st, 8th, 17th and 18th holes.
Glen Abbey GC, Oakville, Ontario: Designer: Nicklaus 1976; Course Type: Classical; Par: 72; Length: 7,253 yards; Water Hazards: 12; Fairways: Bentgrass with Poa Annua; Rough: Kentucky Bluegrass with Ryegrass 3"; Greens: 5,600 sq.ft average featuring Bentgrass; Stimpmeter: 11.5ft; Course Scoring Average 2013: 71.60 (-0.40), Difficulty Rank 28 of 43 courses. 2015: 71.21 (-0.79), Difficulty Rank 34 of 52. 2016: 72.54 (+0.54), Difficulty Rank 14 of 50.
Glen Abbey Fairway Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for Glen Abbey and how they compare to recent courses that we've seen on Tour:
Course Designer Links: For research purposes other Jack Nicklaus designs include:
Course Overview: A circa 7,200 yard, Par 72 will always be attackable on the PGA Tour so with little wind forecast this week, expect plenty of red numbers. Course conditions will be softer than we've seen across the past 2 renewals and with rain expected on Thursday the course could get receptive. Fairways are some of the most difficult to hit on Tour, but this is a course where bombers can power their way into contention with little second thoughts for accuracy from off the tee. However it's also a course that rewards accuracy and a strong all-round game, hence the likes of Snedeker, Hearn, Furyk, McGirt and Bohn have all contended in the past 2 renewals. Both types of player be they a power bomber or a plotting short game specialist can thrive here.
5,600 sq.ft. average green complexes are small for a Par 72 and greens in regulation numbers are always quite low here, although that's likely to change slightly in 2017 with receptive conditions more than likely. With scrambling relatively simple here, look for players who can score heavily across a reachable set of par-5s, but ultimately in-form players tend to get the job done here in recent times.
Winners: 2016: Jhonattan Vegas (-12); 2015: Jason Day (-17); 2014: Tim Clark (-17); 2013: Brandt Snedeker (-16); 2012: Scott Piercy (-17); 2011: Sean O'Hair (-4); 2010: Carl Pettersson (-14).
Tournament Stats: We've published some key player statistics for this week's event that are well worth a look. Naturally they'll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Top 20 Finishes.
Published Predictor Model: Our published predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 5 of the predictor are Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Charley Hoffman, Scott Stalllings and Tony Finau.
Recent Player Skill Rankings: These rankings are based on a 10-tournament window that stretches back to the Wells Fargo Championship and includes PGA Tour and European Tour events. Players must have played in a minimum of 2 main Tour events to be included and rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:
Winners & Prices: 2016: Vegas 125/1; 2015: Day 9/1; 2014: Clark 66/1; 2013: Snedeker 14/1; 2012: Piercy 50/1; 2011: Sean O'Hair 100/1; 2010: Pettersson 80/1. Average: 63/1.
Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Oakville, Ontario is here. We should see Glen Abbey play in a softer state across 2017, as the area has had more rain in the build-up to the tournament and it looks more than likely that Thursday's play will be interrupted by thunderstorms. Friday looks a little breezy, but apart from that expect ideal conditions with temperatures over the weekend reaching 26 degrees Celsius.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the 6 winners at Glen Abbey gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:
Tournament Skill Averages:
So let's take a view from players as to how this track has set up in the past and what specific skills it requires:
Dustin Johnson: "Yeah, the golf course is in great shape. It's firm and fast. It's definitely tough to get the ball close to the hole. You've really got to land the ball on your numbers. With it being as windy as it was today, it was tough to do that. Yeah, I like this golf course. I think it sets up well for me. I like it off the tee. The conditions are really tough right now. The greens are really firm but they are rolling really nicely. So if you get some good looks at it, you can hold some putts. Yeah, I think that's part of the success. I enjoy the course. I like bent greens a lot. These are honestly some of the best we putt on every single year, and they're probably the best I've ever seen them this year. They're fantastic."
Jason Day: "I mean, for how soft the grass is on the fairway, I've never seen the balls bounce so high. It's 333 yards on one of the holes. I think it's 6, and I hit 3-wood nearly in the water. I mean, they're bouncing and rolling pretty quickly. I think the good thing about it is it's still playable. I think the conditions are set up perfect. The greens, the course superintendent and staff is doing a phenomenal job with the course set up. It was very tactical. You get out early, the ball wasn't bouncing as much. But as the sun heats up the ground, it's going to firm-up and start bouncing a lot more, not only the fairway, but the greens, which will make scoring conditions a little harder in the afternoon. But I still think with the winds that we have going on, if we hit it anywhere near the pin, the greens are so pure that you can just roll them in."
Hunter Mahan: "The small type of greens, that's going to make you focus on your distance control out there because if it's a little off, there is not much room for error on these greens, especially when the pins are tucked on the spot. The rough is at a good length where it's not super penalizing, because I don't think anybody wants to come off the British Open and the U.S. Open and shoot a couple over, you know? You make it a little bit too hard, and that's when you're going to start losing some guys."
Brandt Snedeker: "It's a lot of fun to play. If you're playing well, you're going to make a lot of birdies; if you're not, you're going to struggle. It's one of those courses where you know you've got to make birdies. It's actually kind of a comforting feeling because you know you have to be aggressive all day long."
Matt Kuchar: "It's got a lot of tight, difficult driving holes. There are a lot of holes where you step up and you've really got to hit a good drive or you're in the rough and most likely in the trees as well. So, if you're driving the ball well, it's a lot of shortish irons and very scoreable. If not, playing from the rough, this rough is not much fun to play from."
Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the winners here at Glen Abbey:
Incoming form of winners since 2010:
First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their group and winning score here at Glen Abbey since 2008. Full First Round Leader stats are here.
For the record, here's the breakdown of Bentgrass PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:
The RBC Canadian Open has been played here at Glen Abbey across the 2008, 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2016 renewals. The week after the Open Championship has produced some big priced winners since 2008, although we've also seen short-priced winners in the very recent past at Glen Abbey-hosted Canadian Opens where favourites Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker have won at 9/1 and 14/1 respectively. Glen Abbey does seem to be a course where the best players excel with Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, Dustin Johnson (twice) and Matt Kuchar all having contended in recent renewals. Scratch the surface though and there's value to be had. Naturally Jhonattan Vegas shot a final round -8/64 to grab the clubhouse lead last year and a -12/276 total proved too good even for Dustin Johnson to match. The Venezuelan captured his 2nd PGA Tour title at 125/1. Chez Reavie and Nathan Green (200/1) have also won previous Opens hosted at Glen Abbey. Carl Pettersson (80/1), Sean O'Hair (100/1), Scott Piercy (50/1) and Tim Clark (66/1) have all won this title (at other venues) at big prices. Then in terms of each way returns, David Hearn (100/1), William McGirt (125/1), Jason Bohn (200/1), Martin Laird (150/1), Ricky Barnes (175/1), Alex Cejka (250/1) and Steve Wheatcroft (200/1) have also filled the places at Glen Abbey across 2013/15/16.
Naturally the big question this week is whether contenders at Royal Birkdale will bring that form forward to Glen Abbey. Day, Furyk, Snedeker and Mahan have proven that it's more than possible for elite players to contend in back-to-back weeks. Dustin Johnson had always been a peripheral figure at Royal Troon, despite a 9th place finish in Scotland prior to arriving in Canada 12 months ago, although Jhonattan Vegas is worthy of note as he never played the Open Championship - instead holding the 36 and 54 hole leads at the 'alternate' Barbasol Championship before eventually finishing a disappointed 4th. He kept the positive momentum going in Oakville, like Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker before him.
Instead there's a case for backing some longer prices this week as the Canadian Open always features a number of players who are fighting for their PGA Tour careers. It's worth remembering that the majority of rank and file Tour pros only have 2 domestic tournaments after this week to capture a FedEx Cup top 125 spot before the 20th August. So I can't help but think a couple of longer prices from the depths of the current standings will contend at Glen Abbey.
Bookmaker Offers: Latest offers and extended each-way places are detailed below.
My selections are as follows:
Charley Hoffman leads the way for me this week and his fifth PGA Tour title can't be too far away as he's playing some exceptional stuff in 2017. 22nd at Augusta, when he went into the final round in 4th spot, 8th at Erin Hills when in the mix all week and 20th last week at Royal Birkdale highlight a player who's having a stellar year. 4th at Riviera, 2nd at Bay Hill and 3rd last month at TPC River Highlands again highlight Hoffman as a player to watch this week and on a potentially receptive, classical golf course where scoring is more than possible, I really like his chances this week. 28th here in 2008, improving results of 16th (2013) and 7th (2015) have followed and it's noticeable that Charley is particularly comfortable on the greens here with +1.10 (2008), +0.88 (2013) and +1.37 (2015) Strokes Gained Putting performances. Hoffman has always liked playing across the upper reaches of North American and naturally many of us remember his 2010 win at TPC Boston. 2nd (2012), 7th (2013) and 3rd (2017) at TPC River Highlands, 3rd at Congressional (2014), 7th at Deere Run (2010), 10th at Plainfield (2011), a further 3rd at TPC Boston (2015) , 5th at Atunyote (2007), 4th in this event at St Georges (2010) are a set of results which highlight that Charley likes these kind of 'up-state' tests. The Las Vegas man is one of those who tends to generate results over and over again on his favourite courses and with confidence high I can see him right in the mix this week. RESULT: 2nd, Lost Play-Off
Jhonattan Vegas won this last year after leading the Barbasol Championship after both 36 and 54 holes the week before in Alabama. Scott Stallings was the 3rd Round leader last week at Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, but as we know closing out PGA Tour titles is never easy and Stallings was treading water on Sunday as Grayson Murray and Chad Collins played some nice golf on the back 9. He still had a chance standing on the 18th tee, but an errant drive delivered a closing bogey and Stallings finished in 3rd spot. But as we've seen from Vegas and many others in the past, when players are playing well they often have bouncebackability. 5th at the John Deere Classic the week before highlights that Stallings is on a roll and, as we saw in 2013, the Massachusetts-born 32 year-old can string a number of contending performances together when hot - indeed Scott was 7th in the Canadian Open hosted at Hamilton in 2012 the week after winning at Annandale. A win at Torrey Pines in 2014 translates well to previous winners here and Stallings has also performed well at classical tracks such as Colonial (4th 2013) and Muirfield Village (4th 2013) in the past. It's rare to see a player such as him so high in the published Predictor Model and that clearly indicates that he's playing some great stuff and is suitable for the task ahead at Glen Abbey. RESULT: T62
We were on board Ollie Schniederjans as recently as Old White TPC and despite a very strange WD there for a scoring card signing infringement, I'm still very much of the opinion that Ollie is a player to watch right now. His last performance at the John Deere Classic was far better as he co-led after shooting a flawless -8/63 on Thursday and backed that up with a -5/66 to get back in contention. 6th for Greens in Regulation at Deere Run, the John Deere Classic is always likely to be a step too far for Ollie as it's a pure putting contest, but this week he returns to Glen Abbey where he finished a creditable 22nd in 2015. Back then he'd just got off the flight from Edinburgh Airport after finishing 15th at St Andrews at the Open Championship and was playing some great stuff. 11th after 54 holes, Schniederjans eventually finished 22nd but undoubtedly he liked the course, especially the greens where he finished 3rd for Strokes Gained Putting. That's clearly a huge upside for a player who ranks 47th for Birdie Average and 36th for par-5 Scoring Average this season. He's also landed 6th at Sea Island, 9th at Torrey Pines, 8th at Riviera and 3rd at Harbour Town so far this season. RESULT: T54
"I'm going to hold my head high and move forward and expect to win soon." Those were the words of Patrick Rodgers after his playoff defeat to Bryson DeChambeau at the John Deere Classic a fortnight ago. Sensibly Rodgers withdrew from the Barbasol Championship and has therefore had a fortnight to take the positives from the John Deere Classic where he shot 65 and 64 to hold the 36 hole lead. From there a solid 3rd Round 68 gave Rodgers a 2-shot lead over Daniel Berger and Scott Stallings going into the final round. A quality player from Stanford University where he was awarded the Ben Hogan Award and reached World Number 1 amateur, I have always like Rodgers on Par 72s and he also comes to life on soft golf courses where his quality ball-striking can come to the fore. 2nd at Quail Hollow to Rory McIlroy at the classical Quail Hollow in 2015 stands out, as does 6th at Silverado in 2015 and 4th at Torrey Pines this season from a classical tree-lined perspective. 3rd at TPC River Highlands in 2016 also encourages as 3rd in Connecticut and 2nd in Illinois highlights a player who will like Glen Abbey. Rodgers topped Greens in Regulation here in 2015 and shot a closing -5/67 in soft conditions to finish 32nd here last year. RESULT: MC
With course moisture levels looking up on previous years here, I'm also very interested in Gary Woodland who loves Par 72s, plays well up-state and showed some very positive signs at Royal Birkdale of all places that he's finding form in a season that has been overshadowed by his own family issues. Rounds of 71 and a cracking 70 on the immensely difficult Friday saw Gary in 6th spot going into Saturday. He fell away on a course that you would hardly classify as Woodland positive, but it's well worth looking at the 33 year-old closely this week. A winner for us at Montreux back in 2013, Woodland also finished 2nd there last season and there's no doubt that he's a Nicklaus design specialist. 2nd to Jhonattan Vegas at PGA West in 2011, 6th (2011) and 2nd (2017) at PGA National, plus 6th (2011) and 4th (2016) at Muirfield Village highlight a liking for Jack's work. Those finishes at Jack's Tournament were in Ohio and Gary has also played well in New Jersey and New York at The Barclays tournament where he finished 2nd at Liberty National in 2013 and 4th at the very classical Bethpage Black last August. Within the top 13 of this week's published Predictor Model, despite a lack of recent form you get the feeling that Woodland won't be at this kind of price for much longer, especially as he sits at 47th in the Official Golf World Rankings and will not want to leave the top table of world golf. RESULT: 4th
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