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‘Never mind the Masters’ – Gary Player explains why he ranks the Masters dead last of all the majors

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In an interview with Sportsmail, Gary Player spoke about which major championship he believes is the best among them. The 87-year-old won nine major championships, including the Masters three times and The Open Championship three times.

“But never mind the Masters, the Open is by far the greatest tournament on the planet.”

Interestingly, Player ranked the Masters fourth of the four majors.

“I rate the Open at one, the US Open two, PGA three and Augusta four,’ he adds. Four marvelous tournaments.”

When asked why he ranked the Masters after the other three, Player said it was because the others have been around longer.

“It’s the youngest of the majors. The others are steeped in tradition and history, and they still have to catch up. Nothing comes to the top without time.”

Speaking of The Masters, Player also spoke about Rory McIlroy’s quest for the career grand slam, of which he’s still one green jacket short. Player believes McIlroy will win and needs to do so sooner rather than later to cement his spot amongst the greatest players of all time.

‘He’s got the best swing in the world by a mile,’ Player says. ‘He’s won four majors but none since 2014. I think he will win the Masters because the course is made for him. I think if he does that, he’ll go down as one of the greats, but that’s something he has to do.

“I’ve always said my judgment of superstars is they have to win six majors. People these days say anyone who wins is a superstar. No. It’s not easily done, but I believe Rory can.”

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Vincenzi’s 2024 RBC Canadian Open betting preview: Breakthrough PGA Tour winner likely in Canada

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The PGA Tour is heading north of the border to play the 2024 RBC Canadian Open at Hamilton Golf and Country Club. 

This will be the seventh time that Hamilton Golf and Country Club will be hosting the Canadian Open. The previous six winners were Rory McIlroy (2019), Scott Piercy (2012), Jim Furyk (2006), Bob Tway (2003), Tommy Armour (1930) and James Douglas Edgar (1919). 

Hamilton Golf and Country Club is a par-70 measuring 7,084 yards and features greens that are a Bentgrass and Poa Annua blend. The course has been open since 1915 and is one of the oldest golf clubs in Canada. 

Since we’ve seen it last, the course underwent a $8.5-million restoration guided by Martin Ebert.

The RBC Canadian Open will play host to 156 golfers this week.  Notable players include Rory McIlroy, Sam Burns, Cameron Young, Shane Lowry, Tommy Fleetwood, Sahith Theegala and Alex Noren.

Past Winners at RBC Canadian Open

  • 2023: Nick Taylor (-17, Oakdale)
  • 2022: Rory McIlroy (-19, St. George’s)
  • 2019: Rory McIlroy (-22, Hamilton)
  • 2018: Dustin Johnson (-23, Glen Abbey)
  • 2017: Jhonattan Vegas (-21, Glen Abbey)
  • 2016: Jhonattan Vegas (-12, Glen Abbey)

In this article and going forward, I’ll be using the Rabbit Hole by Betsperts Golf data engine to develop my custom model. If you want to build your own model or check out all of the detailed stats, you can sign up using promo code: MATTVIN for 25% off any subscription package (yearly is best value).

Key Stats for Hamilton Golf and Country Club

Let’s take a look at five key metrics for Hamilton Golf and Country Club to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds.

1. Strokes Gained: Approach

The best metric to start with is Strokes Gained: Approach. Proficient iron play is a requirement anywhere, and this statistic will help target the hottest golfers. With the winning score likely being very low, players will need to be dialed with their approach shots. 

Strokes Gained: Approach Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Corey Conners (+1.14)
  2. Kelly Kraft (+1.06)
  3. Rory McIlroy (+0.88)
  4. Patton Kizzire (+0.87)
  5. Alex Noren (+0.76)

2. Good Drive %

Hamilton is a short golf course, so keeping the ball in the fairway, or just off, will be more important than bombing the ball this week. 

Good Drive % Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Kelly Kraft (+89.3%)
  2. Daniel Berger (+87.9%)
  3. Nate Lashley (+87.6%)
  4. Chan Kim (+86.6%)
  5. Aaron Rai (+86.1%)

3. Bogey Avoidance %

I expect golfers to go low this week, in order to compete, limiting bogeys will be crucial. 

Bogey Avoidance % Over Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Alex Noren (+10.6%)
  2. Brice Garnett (+10.6%)
  3. Aaron Rai (+11.3%)
  4. Kevin Tway (+11.4%)
  5. Henrik Norlander (+11.4%)

4. Strokes Gained: Total in Canada

This stat will boost the players who’ve done well in Canada over the past 36 rounds. 

Strokes Gained: Total in Canada Over Past 36 Rounds

  1. Rory McIlroy (+4.28)
  2. Tommy Fleetwood (+3.07)
  3. Aaron Rai (+2.91)
  4. C.T. Pan (+2.80)
  5. Gary Woodland (+2.21)

5. Strokes Gained: Putting

Shorter courses with a lot of birdies being made tend to turn into putting contests. I believe a good putter will win the RBC Canadian Open.

Strokes Gained: Putting Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Mackenzie Hughes (+1.04)
  2. S.H. Kim (+0.84)
  3. Matt Kuchar (+0.74)
  4. Ben Griffin (+0.72)
  5. Sahith Theegala (+0.66)

The RBC Canadian Open Model Rankings

Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Approach (30%), Good Drive % (25%), Strokes Gained: Canada (15%), Bogey Avoidance % (15%), SG: Putting (15%).

  1. Aaron Rai
  2. Rory McIlroy
  3. Sahith Theegala
  4. Patton Kizzire
  5. Justin Lower
  6. Shane Lowry
  7. Tommy Fleetwood
  8. Alex Noren
  9. Kelly Kraft
  10. Jhonnatan Vegas

2024 RBC Canadian Open Picks

Tommy Fleetwood +1800 (FanDuel)

Tommy Fleetwood was incredibly close to winning last year’s RBC Canadian Open. The Englishman took Canadian Nick Taylor to four playoff holes before losing on Taylor’s miraculous eagle putt from 72 feet.

Despite being at a different course this year, Fleetwood is still a great fit for this event. In his past 24 rounds, he ranks 23rd in the field in good drive percentage and seventh in bogey avoidance. The course is a shorter, plotters track, which will suit Fleetwood’s ability to hit it accurately from tee to green.

Tommy has gained strokes off the tee in six consecutive events. Those events include some big events such as The Masters, the PGA Championship and the Wells Fargo Championship. In those six starts, he has three top-15 finishes.

It’s been well documented that Fleetwood is yet to win on American soil and has looked like a different player when in contention outside of the United States. While it’s most definitely a mental hurdle that the 33-year-old will need to overcome, it doesn’t hurt that this event will be north of the border.

Martin Ebert, who redesigned Royal Liverpool and Royal Portrush, redesigned Hamilton as well. Fleetwood finished 2nd at Royal Portrush in 2019 and T10 at Royal Liverpool in 2023.

Backing Tommy has been frustrating at times, but I’m still of the mindset that betting on talent will eventually pay dividends.

Alex Noren +2500 (BetMGM)

Alex Noren is in the midst of one of the best seasons of his career. The Swede has an incredible eight straight top-25’s on Tour, with two of those being top-ten finishes. Noren has gained strokes on approach and around the green in all eight starts and has gained strokes off the tee in seven of eight.

Despite the strong results, the concern with Noren has been his inability to truly get into contention. However, this golf course feels like the right one for him to change that. He’s not incredibly long off the tee, so the shorter layout should help him. In his last 24 rounds, Noren ranks 6th in Strokes Gained: Approach, 8th in Good Drive Percentage and 3rd in Bogey Avoidance.

Noren’s ability to keep the ball in the ideal spots and limit mistakes should serve him well at Hamilton this week. In an event where accurate drivers should shine; he will have an advantage on the field. He hasn’t won on the PGA Tour, but the 41-year-old has ten wins on the European Tour. Being outside of the U.S. certainly won’t hurt Noren’s case.

Sam Burns +2800 (FanDuel)

Sam Burns had an excellent showing in Canada a few years ago, finishing in a tie for fourth place at the 2022 RBC Canadian Open a week after winning the Charles Schwab Challenge.

After a hot start to the season, Burns has struggled over the past few months, but has seemed to find some form with his irons in recent weeks. He finished T13 at the Wells Fargo Championship and gained 2.0 strokes on approach for the week. His irons were even better in the two rounds at the PGA Championship (+1.51 strokes per round), but a balky putter cost him the weekend, as he lost 5.1 strokes on the greens.

Burns is a player who can win an event with a hot putter and has done so in the past. He can make birdies in bunches and is one of the few players in the field that can win in both a difficult event and a shootout.

Robert MacIntyre +8000 (FanDuel)

Robert MacIntyre showed some life at the PGA Championship, finishing in a tie for 12th. For the week, MacIntyre ranked 16th in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and 18th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking.

The 27-year-old is a high upside player who has shown he can compete in big events. He’s also been putting great recently which I believe is one of the most important factors this week. In his past 24 rounds, he ranks 6th in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting.

We’ve seen MacIntyre play well at Open Championships and Martin Ebert, who redesigned Royal Liverpool and Royal Portrush, redesigned Hamilton as well. MacIntyre finished T6 at Royal Portrush in 2019.

Bobby Mac has gone toe-to-toe with some of the world’s best players at the Ryder Cup, and I believe has the right mentality to beat anyone if he finds himself in contention down the stretch.

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Man pleads for help after tornado destroyed golf clubs…Callaway come to the rescue

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On Wednesday, a tornado went through Iowa, devastating the town of Greenfield.

Among those impacted by the tornado was Bradley Gebbie, a golf enthusiast who lost his home, which of course included all of his golf clubs.

In an interview, Gebbie lamented the loss of his golf equipment.

“I lost a lot, including my golf clubs, I had like three grand into that.”

“I’d like to shout-out TaylorMade and Titleist and Callaway, I really need a new set. I lost it, and I just love golf.”

On Thursday, Callaway responded to Gebbie’s wishes.

Thankfully, Callaway was able to track down Gebbie’s contact info and sent him some new clubs.

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Delta Airlines issue apology after video of employees mishandling golf bags goes viral

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This week, a video of Delta Airlines employees mishandling the golf bags of the East Tennessee State men’s golf team went viral.

The official team X account posted the video, captioned “Nice of @Delta to handle our clubs with such care…”

The video already has more than 8 million views on X.

In response, Delta issued an apology to the golf team.

“We apologize to the ETSU Golf team and ask for a mulligan on how their equipment was handled. We’re in direct contact with the Bucs to ensure they have what they need to successfully compete in the NCAAs.” Anthony Black, Delta Airlines spokesperson.

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