Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's RBC Canadian Open Tips 2022

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The week before the U.S. Open is always a fascinating scenario on the PGA Tour and in 2022 we see the long awaited return of the RBC Canadian Open, played in Toronto at St George’s Golf & Country Club. This week the field includes Cameron Smith, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Sam Burns, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tyrrell Hatton and Shane Lowry.

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Before we go into the detail surrounding the RBC Canadian Open, we always have new visitors to Golf Betting System. Welcome and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published every Tuesday of the golfing calendar), the Steve Bamford Golf Channel on YouTube and our hugely popular, +6,100 strong, private Group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

Course Guide: Pre-Covid pandemic we got used to the RBC Canadian Open being played at Glen Abbey, but with a course rota system now in play, the long awaited 2022 renewal sees Golf Canada take their national title to Islington in west Toronto to play the classical and short Par 70 at St George’s Golf & Country Club. This will be the sixth time that the course has hosted the Canadian Open, with Carl Pettersson (2010) winning here in the only renewal played in the recent past. At just around 7,000 yards in length, you won’t find too many shorter courses on the PGA Tour this season, but some severely tiered and contoured green complexes could potentially offer up some defence.

St George’s Golf & Country Club, Toronto, Ontario: Designer: Stanley Thompson, 1929, with Doak & Andrew 2014 + 2019 renovations; Course Type: Classical, Mid-Score; Par: 70; Length: 7,014 yards; Number of Holes with Water In-play: 3; Fairways: Bentgrass with Poa Annua; Rough: Kentucky Bluegrass with ryegrass 3.5″; Greens: 4,000 sq.ft average featuring Luminary Creeping Bentgrass; Tournament Stimp: 12ft; Course Scoring Average 2010: 70.10 (+0.10).

Course Overview: As we get used to these days on the PGA Tour, St George’s G&CC has received some renovation work since the last time we saw it in 2010. Tom Doak and Ian Andrew have managed the worked with tree removal, fairway widening and the greens being re-built and re-laid in 2014, allied to bunkering work as recently as 2019. Green surfaces have been enlarged, but the most striking aspect for us punters to understand is that the Bentgrass Poa Annua mix greens which saw Carl Pettersson win here in 2010, are now pure Luminary Creeping Bentgrass putting surfaces.

The course, as you would expect in the lavish Islington suburb of Toronto, is a parkland, tree-lined affair and is classical in nature. Space is at a premium, so the course only measures 7,014 yards to its tips. It’s also a hybrid specimen, a Par 70 which features 5 par-3s and 3 par-5s. A 34/36 set-up. Let’s start with the par-3s which are pretty unique as in they are very stringent – indeed 4 of them, namely the 3rd, 8th, 13th, and 16th, are between 200 and 215 yards long.

The 10 par-4s are intriguing too. 370-odd yard openers on both sides of the course will be taken apart, and there is also another sub-400 yard par-4 at the 12th. The other par-4s though all measure between 450 and 486 yards, which are lengthy enough.

On to the par-5s which at 538 yards (9th), 528 yards (11th) and 560 yards (15th) are pretty gettable. Carl Pettersson shot -10 across his 12 looks at the par-5s on his way to victory here 12 years ago, a feat matched by both Charley Hoffman and Webb Simpson. The North Carolina-based Swede won at -14/266, shooting a -10/60 on Saturday to jump 66 spots on the leaderboard. -8/62s were also available across Thursday and Friday, so I’m not expecting tough, technical scoring this week, unless weather conditions dictate.

And it’s not as if Golf Canada are averse to low scores winning their national Open title. Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jhonattan Vegas have won this title at -22, -23 and -21 respectively over the last 3 renewals across Hamilton G&CC (McIlroy) and Glen Abbey (Johnson and Vegas).

rbc canadian open tips

RBC Canadian Open Winners: 2019: Rory McIlroy (-22); 2018: Dustin Johnson (-23); 2017: Jhonattan Vegas (-21); 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 | Combined Stats.

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 10 of my published predictor are Justin Thomas, Cameron Smith, Shane Lowry, Scottie Scheffler Rory McIlroy, Sam Burns, Adam Hadwin, Matt Fitzpatrick, Justin Rose and Tony Finau.

RBC Canadian Open Winners & Prices: 2019: McIlroy 10/1; 2018: Johnson 7/1F; 2017: Vegas 125/1; 2016: Vegas 125/1; 2015: Day 9/1F; 2014: Clark 66/1; 2013: Snedeker 14/1; 2012: Piercy 50/1; 2011: Sean O’Hair 100/1; 2010: Pettersson 80/1. Past 6 Renewals Average: 57/1; Overall Average: 59/1.

Weather Forecast: Latest weather forecast for Toronto, Ontario, is here.

Expect a soft golf course with 30mm of rain falling pre-tournament week and rain highly likely on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evening. Precipitation during the tournament can’t be ruled out either on Thursday and Saturday. Temperatures will be 18-21 degrees Celsius across the 4 days. Light north-easterly breeze up to circa 15 mph will be a feature on Friday and Sunday only, so the green light for scoring will be on.

Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the RBC Heritage which includes both PGA Tour and DP World Tour events. Players’ rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Rory McIlroy; 2) Patrick Rodgers; 3) Tony Finau; 4) Matt Fitzpatrick / Tommy Gainey; 6) Chris Kirk; 7) Cameron Champ / Corey Conners; 9) Sam Burns; 10) Austin Smotherman; 11) Paul Barjon; 12) Justin Thomas; 13) Doug Ghim / Mark Hensby; 15) Hayden Buckley / Brandon Wu; 17) Trey Mullinax; 18) Rasmus Hojgaard / Scottie Scheffler; 20) Emiliano Grillo; 21) Jonas Blixt / Sebastian Munoz / Curtis Thompson; 24) Greg Chalmers / Scott Gutschewski / Brandon Hagy / Scott Piercy.
  • Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Rory McIlroy / Scottie Scheffler; 3) Robert Garrigus / Cameron Smith; 5) C.T. Pan; 6) Harold Varner III; 7) Matt Wallace; 8) Sebastian Munoz; 9) Shane Lowry; 10) Nick Taylor; 11) Sang-moon Bae / Sam Burns / J.J. Spaun; 14) Austin Cook / Justin Rose; 16) David Lipsky / Vaughn Taylor; 18) Alex Smalley / Justin Thomas; 20) Tyler Duncan / Matt Fitzpatrick 22) Tony Finau / Tyrrell Hatton; 24) Wesley Bryan / Stephan Jaeger / J.T. Poston.
  • Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) Rory Sabbatini; 2) Tony Finau; 3) Jonathan Byrd; 4) David Skinns; 5) Adam Hadwin; 6) Wesley Bryan / John Huh; 8) Justin Thomas; 9) Michael Gligic / Chris Kirk; 11) Vince Whaley / Danny Willett; 13) Luke Donald / Tyrrell Hatton; 15) Ryan Armour / Brice Garnett; 17) Matt Fitzpatrick; 18) Peter Malnati / Andrew Novak / Harold Varner III; 21) Stephan Jaeger / David Lingmerth / Justin Rose; 24) Bill Haas; 25) Henrik Norlander.
  • Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Rory McIlroy; 2) Tony Finau / Harold Varner III; 4) Cameron Smith; 5) Matt Fitzpatrick / Scottie Scheffler; 7) Shane Lowry; 8) Chris Kirk; 9) Justin Thomas; 10) Corey Conners; 11) Sam Burns; 12) Tyrrell Hatton / Scott Piercy; 14) Ryan Armour / C.T. Pan; 16) Adam Long / Sebastian Munoz; 18) Justin Rose; 19) Peter Malnati; 20) Patrick Rodgers / J.J. Spaun; 22) Doug Ghim / David Lipsky; 24) Rasmus Hojgaard; 25) Emiliano Grillo / Scott Gutschewski / Stephan Jaeger / Alex Smalley.
  • Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Scott Brown; 2) D.A. Points; 3) Robert Garrigus; 4) Tyrrell Hatton; 5) Ben Kohles; 6) Sam Burns / Shane Lowry / Callum Tarren; 9) Matthias Schwab / Justin Thomas; 11) Bill Haas / Johnson Wagner; 13) Patrick Rodgers; 14) Brendon Todd; 15) J.T. Poston; 16) Martin Trainer; 17) Jonathan Byrd; 18) Brett Drewitt; 19) Greg Chalmers / Hank Lebioda / David Lipsky / Sebastian Munoz; 23) Keith Mitchell; 24) Justin Lower; 25) Rory McIlroy / Justin Rose.
  • Top 25 SG Total: 1) Rory McIlroy; 2) Tony Finau / Shane Lowry; 4) Tyrrell Hatton; 5) Harold Varner III; 6) Cameron Smith; 7) Sam Burns / Justin Thomas; 9) Scottie Scheffler; 10) Sebastian Munoz; 11) Matt Fitzpatrick; 12) Corey Conners; 13) Rory Sabbatini / Patrick Rodgers; 15) Adam Long / C.T. Pan; 17) David Lipsky / J.T. Poston; 19) Robert Garrigus / Chris Kirk; 21) Justin Rose; 22) Brendon Todd; 23) Peter Malnati; 24) Scott Piercy; 25) Aaron Rai.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the winner here at St Georges G&CC in 2010 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this classical test:

  • 2010, Carl Pettersson (-14). 285 yards (57th), 73.1% fairways (9th), 68.1% greens in regulation (46th), 30’11” proximity to hole (26th), 60.9 % scrambling (21st), 1.63 putts per GIR (4th).

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:

  • 2010, Carl Pettersson (-14). SG Off the Tee: 36th, SG Approach: 20th, SG Around the Green: 33rd, SG Tee to Green: 14th, SG Putting: 3rd.

Let’s take a view from players as to how St Georges G&CC set up in 2010 and what skill sets the course favours:

Carl Pettersson (2010): “And then yesterday I drove the ball better, didn’t hit my irons great, but managed to scrape the round, shot 2-under, because it’s not that easy, if you don’t drive it well around here, it’s not very easy.

But what makes the scoring low, I think, is the par-5s; they’re all reachable, except for 15. The very long hitters can reach it, but the other holes I made two eagles today, and I think if you can play the difficult holes well and then score on the easier holes, that’s what makes the scoring good.

It’s a good golf course. I’m kind of stunned I shot 60, to be honest with you. Just the par-5s, you know, they’re all reachable. That’s where you can make your scores. And I’m surprised how low the scoring is this week. Me and my caddy thought 10-under would win the tournament at the start of the week. The greens were fairly soft. That’s what it makes it a little easier, and if the greens were firmer, it would be a different ball game.”

Luke Donald (2010): “I didn’t feel like I putted as well as I could have this week. The greens were tricky. With a lot of slope on them, the putts uphill were pretty slow and the putts downhill didn’t quite break, so it was tough to hole putts this week. But again, yeah, I think I’m going to come up a little bit short, which is disappointing, but all in all a great solid week.”

Mike Weir (2010): “Yeah. I can’t think of any that have, that can be this severe, and I think they’re a great greens speed right now for the slope. Otherwise, you know, it’s tough to find pins out there right now, so if you have any bounce here, you can really lose some pin placements out there.

So yeah, I can’t think of any. I mean Westchester Country Club that we used to play had some pretty severe greens, but there’s probably a couple greens out there that are semi-flat, and there’s probably 15 of them that are very severe. So I guess overall consistency of very difficult greens, I can’t think of any outside of really Augusta that are this difficult.”

Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the 2010 RBC Canadian Open winner here at St Georges:

  • 2010 – Carl Pettersson: Round 1: 100th, Round 2: 68th, Round 3: 2nd.

Shots From the Lead: Below are the shots from the lead during the tournament of the 2010 RBC Canadian Open winner here at St Georges in 2010:

  • 2010 – Carl Pettersson: Round 1: 9 back, Round 2: 9 back, Round 3: 4 back.

Form of RBC Canadian Open winners since 2010:

  • Rory McIlroy: MC Memorial/8th PGA/8th Wells Fargo/21st Augusta.
  • Dustin Johnson: MC Open/3rd US Open/1st St Jude/8th Memorial.
  • Jhonattan Vegas: MC Open/MC National/MC Travelers/MC US Open.
  • Jhonattan Vegas: 4th Barbasol/53rd Barracuda/44th Congressional/MC Memorial.
  • Jason Day: 4th Open/9th US Open/MC Memorial/MC TPC Sawgrass.
  • Tim Clark: 5th JDC/MC Greenbrier/MC Travelers/19th St Jude.
  • Brandt Snedeker: 11th Open/8th AT&T National/17th US Open/MC St Jude.
  • Scott Piercy: 3rd JDC/12th Greenbrier/ MC US Open/MC Memorial.
  • Sean O’Hair: MC Open/MC AT&T National/63rd Travelers/MC Memorial.
  • Carl Pettersson: MC JDC/6th AT&T National/34th Travelers/28th Memorial.

First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave and winning score at RBC Canadian Open since 2015. Full First Round Leader stats are here.

  • 2019 – Bradley – AM -7/63 – 60/1.
  • 2018 – Garrigus – AM -9/63 – 200/1.
  • 2017 – Chappell/Every/Hagy/Schniederjans/Swafford – 1AM/4PM  -7/65 – 50/1 250/1 125/1 80/1 100/1.
  • 2016 – D Johnson/List – AM/PM Split -6/66.
  • 2015 – Grillo – AM -8/64.

For the record, here’s the breakdown of pure Bentgrass green PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

  • 8 – Rory McIlroy.
  • 7 – Justin Rose.
  • 5 – Justin Thomas.
  • 3 – Ryan Moore.
  • 2 – Jason Dufner, Chris Kirk, Martin Laird, Patrick Reed, Jhonattan Vegas.
  • 1 – Sang-moon Bae, Jonas Blixt, Sam Burns, Jonathan Byrd, Cameron Champ, Luke Donald, Tony Finau, Dylan Frittelli, Bill Haas, Jim Herman, Charley Hoffman, Danny Lee, David Lingmerth, Ben Martin, Sean O’Hair, Rory Sabbatini, Scottie Scheffler, Brandt Snedeker, Brendon Todd, Camilo Villegas, Nick Watney, Danny Willett.

First off, we must remember that this week can be a nightmare for tipsters, punters and layers alike with U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying taking place on Monday around 9 locations in Canada and the United States. Naturally players having to expend their efforts in the US-based qualifiers will not be arriving in Toronto, Ontario until late Monday evening at the earliest. And expect WDs in the direct build-up to the tournament through Monday and into Tuesday.

Traditionally, the mix of winners across the tournament before the U.S. Open is a little confusing. Up until recently, this week always saw the annual trip to TPC Southwind in Memphis for the FedEx St Jude Classic. Memphis produced 4 maiden PGA Tour victors in the last 9 renewals post-2010. That could be something worth bearing in mind. One of those was Daniel Berger who won at TPC Southwind at 33/1 (2016) and 28/1 when defending his first ever PGA our title (2017). For both of his wins the Floridian was ranked within the OWGR top 50.

Indeed high-class winners who had already qualified for the U.S. Open have won the week before in 2008, 2010 (12/1), 2012 (20/1), 2016 (33/1), 2017 (28/1), 2018 (7/1F) and 2019 (10/1) – namely Justin Leonard, Lee Westwood, Daniel Berger (twice), Dustin Johnson (twice) and Rory McIlroy. They undoubtedly took the opportunity to land a PGA Tour title with no hesitation, as did Garrick Higgo last year who won at the one-off Palmetto Championship at 50/1. He entered the week in red-hot form on the European Tour (as was) and at 54th in the OWGR, before grabbing a PGA Tour win as a non-member.

So that’s an elite (I have extended to the OWGR top 55 when victorious) winner the week before the U.S. Open percentage of 62% across the last 13 renewals, when the U.S. Open has been played in June. Food for thought, when linked to the Tour maidens angle as well.

Cameron Smith 3pts EW 14/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

The front end of this Canadian Open betting heat is loaded. Rory McIlroy returns to Toronto to defend the title he won in 2019. He faces-up to World Number 1 Scottie Scheffler fresh from a play-off defeat at Colonial. Naturally Scottie has 4 wins in 2022, which so easily could have been 5. Justin Thomas is also in Canada fresh from his PGA Championship triumph, and he’s joined by the hot property that is Sam Burns who’s won 2 of his last 6 appearances, including that head-to-head playoff victory at Colonial last time out.

I’m putting my stake in the ground though and plumping for Cameron Smith on a course I think will suit. The winner at Kapalua and TPC Sawgrass so far in 2022, Smith has been a revelation jumping to 4th in the World Rankings – with any potential win this week taking him to World Number 2. And I think it’s more than possible.

2nd for Strokes Gained on Approach so far this season on the PGA Tour, I think his precise approach play and razor sharp short game will be perfect for St George’s which features a set of long par-3s together with 7 long par-4s. Green complexes here are the smallest we have seen for a long time at only 4,000 square feet on average, and for me that could well bring the best putters to the fore. 8th for Strokes Gained Putting this season, Cameron also ranks 1st for Birdie Average, 1st for Scoring Average, 2nd for par-4 Scoring Average and 1st for par-5 Scoring Average.

His Sunday performance at the Memorial Tournament was undoubtedly disappointing, but his eventual 13th place finish came at a track where previously he had 4 missed cuts, 68th and 65th from 6 appearances. And Cameron’s career record which includes 1st at Waialae (2020), 1st at TPC Sawgrass (2022), 4th at Riviera (2021), 3rd at Ridgewood (2018) 3rd at TPC Boston (2018); plus top 10s at Harbour Town, TPC Southwind, Sedgefield and TPC Summerlin, correlates beautifully with 2010 winner here Carl Pettersson.  Interestingly the Swede ranked 1st for Strokes Gained Putting and 2nd for par-4 Scoring Average on the PGA Tour when arriving at St George’s G&CC 12 years ago. RESULT: T48

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Shane Lowry 2.5pts EW 20/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

Shane Lowry interests me greatly this week at Canada’s National Open.

The 2009 Irish Open and 2019 Open Championship victor, Shane has also finished runner-up at both the United States (2016) and Canadian (2019) Opens in the near past. That’s by-the-by really, but I think the Irishman is a little frustrated at not winning in 2022 – a year where he’s been playing outstanding golf. Fact is though that he’s still winless since lifting the Claret Jug in 2019 and in North America since the 2015 WGC Bridgestone Invitational. He should have won the Honda Classic in February and had a great fortnight at the start of April, finishing 3rd at both The Masters and the RBC Heritage.

This week though in my opinion marks a superb chance for the World Number 25. The classical St George’s G&CC at 7,000 yards should suit Shane’s eye, and its contoured green complexes seemingly favoured great putters back in 2010. Shane ranks 14th for Strokes Gained Putting season-to-date on the PGA Tour and 2nd for Proximity to Hole – a great combination in my view. Runner-up behind Rory at the Hamilton-hosted 2019 RBC Canadian Open, which was the curtain-raiser to the Pebble Beach-hosted U.S. Open, I have no doubts that Shane will be 100% focused in Toronto to add a 3rd PGA Tour title to his collection. RESULT: T10

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Keith Mitchell 1pt EW 45/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

I’ll add Keith Mitchell as the final member of my 3-man Canadian squad. I’ve always liked Keith and believe he can break into the World’s top 50 players given time. He’s the sort who can drive the ball brilliantly and is a streaky putter when in form. He’s also the sort who is as adept on a short track like Waialae Country Club or Sea Island as he is at Quail Hollow, which should serve him well for the St George’s test this week. 34th at the recent PGA Championship was his best Major Championship finish in 7 appearances and he backed that up with a career-best 18th place finish last week at the Memorial Tournament, where he was 9th after 36 holes.

Mitchell’s strengths are his driver, his long approach play and he’s also decent enough around the greens as 34th for Sand Saves and 29th for Scrambling across the PGA Tour season testifies. Traditionally strong on par-3s between 200-225 yards and on par-4s between 450-500 yards, I think the World Number 73 will love St George’s especially as he ranks 4th for par-5 Scoring Average across the whole Tour season. Indeed he should be licking his lips looking at the 12 looks at the long holes, in combination with the rest of the course which really should suit his eye. And even the putter has warmed of late as Keith, in this field, ranks in the top 25 for Strokes Gained Putting across my 8-week tracker.

The 2019 Honda Classic winner, Keith’s game is shaping up well right now and the Bentgrass greens should hold no fears for a player who has already finished in the top 10 across TPC Deere Run (2017), TPC Twin Cities (2021), Liberty National (2021) and The Summit Club (2021) in recent times. RESULT: T7

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 17:45BST 6.6.22 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.