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Fantasy Preview: 2018 RBC Canadian Open

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After an exciting week in Scotland, it’s off to Oakville, Ontario for the RBC Canadian Open. Despite the unfortunate slot on the calendar, a quality field has been assembled this week for this event. World No. 1 Dustin Johnson will no doubt be the main attraction at Glen Abbey as he looks to claim a title that he has come so close to winning in the past. Big names like Sergio Garcia, Brooks Koepka, Bubba Watson and Tommy Fleetwood are all in the field too, which should make for an exciting week in Canada.

After the difficulty of Carnoustie last week, Glen Abbey will play entirely different, and you can expect much lower scores. It’s a par-72 measuring over 7,200 yards, and length off the tee will hold a significant advantage this week. One of the reasons for this is the four par-5’s. each of which will be reachable for the longer hitters. There is plenty of room off the tee as well, which will give an even greater advantage to good drivers of the ball. Strokes Gained-Off the Tee and Birdie-or-Better Percentage will be key areas to focus on this week.

Last year, Jhonattan Vegas retained his Canadian Open crown when he defeated Charley Hoffman in a playoff after both men had posted a total of 21-under par.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Dustin Johnson 13/2
  • Brooks Koepka 11/1
  • Tony Finau 16/1
  • Tommy Fleetwood 16/1
  • Bubba Watson 22/1
  • Charley Hoffman 25/1
  • Matt Kuchar 25/1

His high salary and skinny betting odds are sure to turn some people off this week, but Dustin Johnson (7/1, DK Price $11,700) is the man to be on. Johnson has been knocking on the door at Glen Abbey for some time. The World No. 1 has twice finished runner-up here in the past, and last year he finished T8.

Johnson missed the cut last week at The Open Championship, which was his first missed cut on the PGA Tour in over a year. It was one of those weeks for the American, as every putt seemed to graze the hole. He also played the 18th hole dreadfully, dropping five strokes on the finishing hole in two rounds. Johnson may well be able to take his frustration out on Glen Abbey this week, where he has a scoring average of 68.58 over his previous 12 rounds.

Johnson’s play all year has been excellent, and it’s no surprise that over his previous 24 rounds he leads this week’s field in both Strokes Gained-Tee to Green and Strokes Gained-Total. The American is also ranked seventh in Strokes Gained-Putting over the same period. With the number of birdie chances he’s bound to give himself this week, it’s that excellent putting that could well give him the victory this week. Johnson is also No. 1 in the field for Birdie or Better Percentage on par-5’s, and with four gettable par-5’s in play this week, he should be able to take advantage and score heavily. Johnson is the rightful favorite here this week, and I’m taking him to put on an imperious display and finally win the Canadian Open.

Another man with excellent form at Glen Abbey is Charley Hoffman (25/1, DK Price $8,700). Hoffman has finished in the top-20 in his last three visits to Glen Abbey, and last year he came so close to capturing the title before succumbing to Jhonattan Vegas in a playoff. Hoffman will probably feel he should have taken the title, and recent signs are that he may be coming into form at just the right time to launch another attack on this championship.

Hoffman has been showing a resurgence with his game as of late, and he has now recorded four consecutive top-20 finishes worldwide heading into this event. Much of this has to do with the way in which he has been playing the par-4’s. Over his previous 12 rounds, Hoffman ranks fifth in this field for performance on par 4’s. Hoffman is also ranked fifth in this field for Birdies or Better Gained at Glen Abbey over his last 12 rounds, and he has always played the Par 5’s excellently at this event, ranking third in this field for Par-5 Performance over the same period. At $8,700, Hoffman looks tremendous value at a golf course he has always played well.

Keith Mitchell (100/1, DK Price $7,400) comes into this event having recorded a top-10 finish at the John Deere Classic. It was a performance where Mitchell dominated off the tee, and he led the field that week in Strokes Gained-Off the Tee, gaining a massive 5.3 strokes in that department. It’s an aspect that I believe will be of great importance this week, and Mitchell has shown that he can utilize these attributes to compete at Glen Abbey.

Over his previous 12 rounds, Mitchell sits 10th in this field for Strokes Gained-Tee to Green and 18th for Ball Striking. Mitchell has been able to use his excellent play off the tee this season to score on par-5’s, and the American sits 15th in Par-5 Performance over his last 24 rounds. Coming off one of his best performances tee-to-green at the John Deere Classic, it’s worth taking a chance on Mitchell this week on a golf course that should suit his game.

Recommended Plays

  • Dustin Johnson 7/1, DK Price $11,700
  • Charley Hoffman 25/1, DK Price $8,700
  • Keith Mitchell 100/1, DK Price $7,400
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Gianni is a freelance writer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Diploma in Sports Journalism. He can be contacted at gmagliocco@outlook.com. Follow him on Twitter @giancarlomag

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. JR

    Jul 26, 2018 at 3:45 am

    And here’s why you shouldn’t back DJ – 13/2 in a field of over 100. Agree on Hoffman, Koepke and Finau though. My best outsider is Abraham Ancer at 150/1.

    • Fin

      Jul 29, 2018 at 8:06 pm

      Ya missed out JR! Close miss on Ancer all the same.

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Podcasts

The Gear Dive: Golf marketing convo with Honma VP John Kawaja

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In this episode of The Gear Dive Johnny sits live with Honma Golf’s John Kawaja to discuss the benefits and challenges of marketing a new company in this fast and furious social media age.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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Mondays Off: Augusta National: start on the front or back nine? | Knudson’s Fujikura visit

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Would you rather start your round at Augusta National from the front or back nine? Mondays Off debates both after the most recent Masters had players starting from both. Steve gets some information on Fujikura shafts from Knudson’s visit last week and then Knudson confesses on how his first night of league play went!

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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The Wedge Guy: How many wedges?

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From the feedback I get, many golfers are not entirely confident…or are completely confused…about how many wedges they should carry. Those of you who know my work and writing over the past 25 years or so also know that I am a proponent of carrying a carefully measured “set” of wedges that give you the shotmaking control you need in prime scoring range. But what I’ve learned over those many years is that the number of wedges that is “right”, and the lofts of those wedges can be very different from one golfer to another.

The reason I think getting this right is so important is that your scores are more heavily influenced by your play from wedge range into the green, and your shotmaking around the greens, than by any other factor. The right “set” of wedges in your bag can make all the difference in the world.

As I repeatedly preach, taking your guidance from the PGA Tour players might not help you achieve your goals. These guys spend hundreds of hours each year perfecting their wedge play, and you simply cannot do that. The good news is that you can add some science to your wedge set make-up that can help you have more shot choices when you are in scoring range or trying to save par from a missed green.

My basic premise on the subject is that the answer can be approached scientifically for each golfer, and it is a multi-step process

  1. Begin by knowing the loft of the 9-iron and “P-club” that came with your set of irons, as optimum gapping begins there. The industry challenge of producing longer-hitting irons has led most OEMs to strengthen lofts throughout the set. Along the way, it was apparently decided to widen the gaps between the short irons to 5 degrees from the traditional 4 that stood for decades. What this does is increase the distance differential between your 9-iron and “P-club” from what I would consider optimum. For golfers of slower swing speeds, that 5-degree gap might well deliver a 10-12 yard differential, but my bet is that most of you are getting a difference closer to 15 yards, or even more. That just will not let you get the distance control precision you want in prime scoring range.
  2. The second step is to be honest with your distances. I am a big proponent of getting on the golf course or range with a laser or GPS and really knowing how far you carry each of your short irons and wedges. Hit a number of shots from known yardages and see where they land (not including roll out). My bet is that you will find that your distances are different from what you thought they were, and that the differentials between clubs are not consistent.
  3. Figure out where to start. If your actual and real distance gap between your 9-iron and “P-club” is over 12-13 yards, maybe the place to start could be with a stronger P-club. You can either have your loft strengthened a bit or make the shaft 1/4 to 1/2” longer to add a few yards to that club.
  4. Figure out what lofts your wedges should have. From there, I suggest selecting lofts of your wedges to build a constant yardage difference of 10-12 yards between clubs. Depending on your strength profile, that may require wedges at four-degree intervals, or it might be five – each golfer is different. Those with very slow swing speeds might even find that six-degree gaps deliver that distance progression.
  5. Challenge the traditional 52-56-60 setup. Those lofts became the “standard” when set-match pitching wedges were 48 degrees of loft. That hasn’t been the case in over 25 years. Most of today’s P-clubs are 45 degrees, which leaves a very large distance differential between that club and a 52-degree gap wedge. Some enlightened golfers have evolved to carry a wedge set of 50-54-58, which is a step in the right direction. But you can get whatever loft precision you want, and you should do that. At SCOR, we made wedges in every loft from 41 to 61 degrees, and our wedge-fitting tool prescribed lofts of 49-53-57-61 to many golfers, based on that 45* “P-club” and their stated distance profile. Those who took that advice were generally very happy with that change. We fitted and sold many sets at 49-54-59 as well. Though no company offers wedges in every loft, you can bend even numbers to hit your numbers exactly. Just remember, bending stronger reduces the bounce and bending weaker increases the bounce.

What many of you will find with this exercise is that it suggests that you should be carrying more wedges. That’s probably true for the vast majority of recreational golfers. I have come to realize that more wedges and less long clubs will usually improve your scores. After all, long or short by 25-30 feet is great at long range, but not acceptable in prime scoring range.

If you have more clubs at the long end of your bag (longer than a 5- or 6-iron) than you do at the short end (9-iron and up) then you should consider an honest self-appraisal of how often you use each club between your driver and putter. My bet is that it will be an enlightening analysis.

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