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6 picks to win the RBC Canadian Open

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The year’s first three majors are out of the way, and a week after the American golfing public shifted its attention over to Scotland, that focus remains outside of the United States.

That’s because the tournament on hand this week is the RBC Canadian Open. And as the name would imply, it’s held north of the border. The event rotates courses and in 2015 the site is the Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario.

Even after The Open Championship lasted a full extra day, DraftKings is giving this national open its just due.

The contest this week is a $350,000 pool with the winner capturing $100,000 and anyone within the top 100 earning $100. The usual $3 entry fee remains intact, and even a 30,365th place showing will earn you cash.

Enter the $350,000 contest here!

Some enticing money to go for. Here is my tournament breakdown that might help you earn some of it.

The Course

www.nicklaus.com

www.nicklaus.com

Kind of like last week, we have an interesting situation with the host course. Glen Abbey was the sole home of the RBC Canadian Open for several years until the event moved to a rotation system in 1997.

As I noted last week, a long time span deters me from creating a results-based sample to profile the course. Twenty years is a lot of time for change, which meant I couldn’t do a St. Andrews sample of the four Opens played in that time. It’s arbitrary, but a sample over a 10-year period would have been fine, but there were only two Opens in that time.

The difference this week is that four Canadian Opens have been contested at Glen Abbey in the past 11 years, and with that smaller time frame, I felt comfortable that the sampling would be useful.

Before I get into the sample, though, here are the general course characteristics and assumptions.

Glen Abbey was considered a more wide-open track before a large renovation ahead of the 2004 event that saw fairways generally narrowed from 32 yards to 26-28 yards and the implementation of a new rough that was juicier and could be grown out higher.

The course, a 7,253-yard par-72, is already a short track by PGA Tour standards, so with these changes, an accurate driver has been coveted at this venue, while distance hasn’t been viewed as mattering much.

The greens at Glen Abbey are tiny surfaces and a few are quite narrow as well. Consequently, the focus has been put on good approach players to perform well at this venue. And it’s good ball-strikers with high ball flights that are said to be advantaged (in Jim Furyk’s words), as only the most precise, softest shots will hold these greens.

Did these assumptions hold up in the sample?

I’d say pretty much. Approach play and short game proved most important, which makes sense, as it’s imperative to hit these tiny greens, and when players do miss, there are severe short game challenges to face for these well-protected putting surfaces. Driving and putting meanwhile were secondary but not unimportant.

Off the tee, length didn’t really matter at all, while accuracy mattered to a degree. Frankly, long-hitters don’t have much of an advantage here, but the premium on finding the fairway may not be as large as some think.

The high ball flight thing is bogus, as there was no discernible advantage there over low-ball hitters.

Overall, look for good approach play and short game players this week. Tend toward more accurate drivers, although not too much, and don’t pay attention to distance.

Six-Man Roster (Last Week: 422.5 points, 33,535 of 171,750, WON $25!)

  • Luke Donald, $9,600 
  • Brooks Koepka, $9,300
  • Graham DeLaet, $9,000
  • Scott Piercy, $8,500 
  • Rory Sabbatini, $7,100
  • Ollie Schniederjans, $6,200 

A resurgent player is a dangerous player and we have two in this lineup that qualify for this category.

LukeDonald

Donald and Piercy have simply recaptured their form of late. The Englishman posted T7-T12 in his last two starts after toiling through a season where he only had a pair of high finishes at his favorite courses. Piercy has put together a T29-T14-WIN stretch after what I referred to as a bloodbath in the previous two months.

Donald’s on-form game (moderate tee box accuracy and astounding approach, short game and putting play) probably suits Glen Abbey better than Piercy’s. At the very least, though, Piercy does have the memory of a Canadian Open win, albeit at a different course.

Koepka simply has played extraordinary golf of late, with a T3-T18-T10 stretch in his past three events. Add on his supreme talent, and this is an easy pick.

There are 14 Canadians in the field this week, and the odds on favorite to be the homeland hero is DeLaet.

I mean that solely on ability, because DeLaet’s form of late has been consistent but merely average (fourth at Travelers sandwiched between six finishes between T22 and T68). Also, before last year (when he placed T7), DeLaet’s record at his national open was abysmal. He had missed three of five cuts in the event with his best finish a T46.

That being said, DeLaet has the incentive to win for his country, and it seems like it’s about time that he really starts to build a stellar record at his home country’s PGA Tour event. Glen Abbey isn’t a great fit for his game (his short game is poor and his tee-to-green excellence is more based in his driving), but realize how motivated he must be to win his first PGA Tour event and end the Canadian drought at the Open (no home winners since 1954) at the same time.

I whiffed on Sabbatini at the Greenbrier, but a missed cut won’t deter me. His specialities tend to be approach play and short game. That showed in a T12 at Glen Abbey two years ago, and his recent play has still been quite robust with three consecutive top-30s prior to the missed cut.

As for Schniederjans, this will be his professional debut. What a week it was for him at the Open (a T12 in his final event as an amateur). He’s obviously inexperienced to the PGA Tour grind and will have less time to practice this week with the Open finishing on Monday. Still, Schniederjans is quite the talent, a former World No. 1 amateur, in fact. He’s already proven his mettle in the majors this year (he also made the U.S. Open cut) and his game is in the best place it’s ever been. Definitely take him at this price for the rare time you can.

Enter this week’s $350,000 contest here!

Random Roster via two non-golf fans (Last Week: 475 points, 5,903 of 171,750, WON $50!)

The duo did well last week. Here are their picks for this week and the reasoning behind them:

Aaron Baddeley: He looks like a boy-band wannabe. That is a reason to pick a player, apparently.

Luke Donald: Same reason as always. (Hint: My friends are Northwestern grads.)

Jim Furyk: As I’ve said, the duo does have a tiny bit of golf knowledge. One of them felt Furyk played well at this event last year and he was right (Furyk finished second).

Tom Gillis: As one is from Iowa and the other sees it as an adopted home, they do know what happened at the John Deere Classic (you can’t believe how big that event is covered in the state). They feel bad for Gillis that he lost in a playoff, so they are picking him.

Retief Goosen: I told them that he gets “Goooose” shouts, and they liked that.

Jerry Kelly: See here. (Hint: Has to do with his photo.)

Alternate Six-Man Roster (Last Week: 281 points, 163,505 of 171,750)

  • Jason Day, $11,600
  • Hunter Mahan, $8,800
  • Jason Gore, $8,000
  • Kevin Chappell, $7,300
  • David Hearn, $7,100
  • Carl Pettersson, $6,500

Day could have an Open hangover and also suffers from less time at Glen Abbey because of the Open’s Monday finish. But the Aussie is one of the most resilient out there, I expect him to put a lot of his focus into getting right back on track this week.

HunterMahan

Mahan is a risk to me. For a guy with his ability, his 2015 season is really pedestrian. He seems to love Glen Abbey though with a T4 in 2004 and his stellar 36-hole performance before his famous withdrawal in 2013. I’m going to trust his record at Glen Abbey to come out over his form.

Gore has a lot of good play of late with a T10, T16 and T29 in three of his past five starts. It helps that this course is a snug fit for his game, but I mainly just like the way he is performing.

Hearn has been VERY streaky, but the highs have been quite luminous. He’s Canadian as well, which should get him pumped for this event. If not, instead go with Adam Hadwin as the second-most promising home son this week.

Chappell is low-key one of the hottest players on Tour with seven consecutive made cuts and three top-20s in that stretch. His great ability from approach play is another plus.

With Pettersson, it’s more of just a feeling. His Canadian Open record isn’t great, but in his streaky performances of late in 2015, he has a fifth and a T12. I’ll take the risk that another peak is appearing this week.

Enter this week’s $350,000 contest here!

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Kevin's fascination with the game goes back as long as he can remember. He has written about the sport on the junior, college and professional levels and hopes to cover its proceedings in some capacity for as long as possible. His main area of expertise is the PGA Tour, which is his primary focus for GolfWRX. Kevin is currently a student at Northwestern University, but he will be out into the workforce soon enough. You can find his golf tidbits and other sports-related babble on Twitter @KevinCasey19. GolfWRX Writer of the Month: September 2014

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Kevin Casey

    Jul 23, 2015 at 3:20 am

    URGENT!!!: So there’s a really dumb thing I did and I just realized it earlier tonight was putting Carl Pettersson in a lineup. I check diligently with every name before I pick to ensure there’s no injury that’s popped up or withdrawal that just posted. I have no idea why, but I missed Pettersson’s WD on Monday. It certainly wasn’t noted like Snedeker’s but I checked on every player I picked. I checked on Pettersson Monday, but it must have been before he WD’d and I forgot to double-check Tuesday morning.

    Hopefully nobody put him in a lineup on my advice or they have noticed by now that he is out and acted accordingly. That’s just a really bad mistake on my part that I won’t make again. I did my due diligence there but something slipped through the cracks. Inexcusable error and I apologize deeply for that. I pride myself on knowing as much as possible on any potential pick each week, so that gaffe is really a nightmare come true, especially not being able to fix it in time to warn people.

    Anyway, there’s absolutely NO WAY that is ever happening again going forward. Anyone can disagree with my picks, but at the very least I need to properly ensure that they are all at least playing so that I don’t mislead anyone. For reference, my replacement pick is Scott Langley at $7,100. He’s been playing very well of late, and has a solid game for this course (somewhat accurate off the tee, decent iron and short game player).

    Overall, if the Pettersson pick turned anyone off to this, I of course understand. Whatever that mistake implies, though, I do put a lot of time and effort into this in order to give an informative course guide and offer my best potential picks based on reasoning (or in some cases, lack thereof). It’s fair game to criticize, mock or yell at me for the Pettersson error. All I can say is, I’m sorry and I won’t let this happen again.

  2. Gus

    Jul 21, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    >driving distance isn’t crucial
    >driving accuracy over distance
    >focus is on approach shots and short game
    >ball strikers do best
    >putting is secondary
    >you listed these things and didn’t pick furyk in any of your 6 mans
    opinion discarded tbh

    • Kevin Casey

      Jul 22, 2015 at 11:55 am

      I won’t disagree that Furyk fits my course criteria very well (and it’s certainly something I noticed when I was deciding on picks).

      However, I’ve been honest from the beginning of this column back in March that I won’t strictly follow my course criteria on every single pick. And I’ve probably become even more liberal on that point since the beginning. The course profile I construct is certainly something that guides me and I tend to lean toward players that fit it well. But I won’t totally eschew players who are only an OK or mediocre fit for the course. And on rare occasions, I feel I will pick a player who is a terrible fit for the course. I’ve taken the approach that golf is somewhat random and tough to predict, which means I’ll only use logic up to a certain point in picks. On certain picks, the logic will be scarce or non-existent because sometimes in golf a high performer for the week may be somebody who makes no sense and a low performer might be someone who looked like a lock to be high on the leaderboard that week.

      Furyk more falls into the latter case. He really fits the course, has a great history at Glen Abbey (T9 and T14) and has played decently well of late. Certainly seems like a very good player to pick. I just for some reason am a little bit hesitant on him this week. I certainly don’t think Furyk will miss the cut but I don’t trust him as a headliner to contend like I do with Day and Donald. Again, no real logic there. It’s just a feeling I have. It’s risky to trust that feeling, but I believe what I believe. I’ve avoided obvious candidates before with success (most notably Bubbas at the Masters) but this of course could backfire, as some of the obvious picks I avoided did indeed play well. So you are right that Furyk looks like a great pick this week. Against logic, I’m not picking him. I’m assuming you won’t follow suit, and this not going for Furyk certainly could backfire on me. But I don’t play conservative, I’m trying to offer the rosters I think will finish highest and that means taking risks from time to time.

      • Gus

        Jul 23, 2015 at 12:47 am

        well i guess you’re “feelings” are probably why you’re writing for this website. keep up the picks i really enjoy reading them, i just was a little taken aback when you started describing a course tailored to furyk and didn’t have him lol

        • Kevin Casey

          Jul 23, 2015 at 2:58 am

          Appreciate that! And hey, fair enough. If Furyk does play well this week, I will be the first to say it was dumb of me to ignore the signs haha.

          Also, hopefully you didn’t pick Pettersson in my advice. I’ll explain in a general comment above, just an unbelievably dumb mistake on my part there.

          • Gus

            Jul 26, 2015 at 5:25 pm

            looks like we were both right lol

            • Kevin Casey

              Jul 26, 2015 at 6:11 pm

              Haha I feel like you are being too kind, Gus. You were definitely right on this one.

              It was nice for Day to win, but in order for me to be justified in not picking Furyk as a headliner, Day and Donald would’ve had to have performed roughly as well as him. Obviously Day did but Donald wasn’t close. Furyk played great and his fourth place certainly means he was a correct DK pick. Course definitely fit him and you were smarter than me in not going against his other good signs too. Well done, Gus!

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