Canadian Open Betting Tips: Four against the field including 125/1 shot in Ontario
Any hope of a final-round wobble from overnight five-shot leader Billy Horschel did not come to fruition. On a tough final day at Muirfield Village, where the wind and firming greens did for some of the lower scoring over previous rounds, Horschel never really looked like being passed, keeping Aaron Wise at arm’s length throughout, despite the former performing admirably and at one point getting to within two; before a superb eagle from Horschel on the 15th restored a 4-shot advantage from which he coasted home.
Not quite the drama of previous weeks but once again treated to a fantastic course, that played tough but fair and would’ve given many of the players in the field a good feel before heading to Brookline for the US Open in two-weeks’ time.
Canadian Open Tips
This week the PGA Tour makes its return to Canada for the Canadian Open. The first time this historied event will be staged in three years, cancelled in 2020 & 2021 because of the pandemic.
The Canadian Open is one of the oldest events on the PGA Tour calendar, having first been held in 1904. This year it returns to St George’s Golf and Country Club in Ontario, which will be hosting the event for the 6th time in its history and for the first time since 2010. A year that saw Sweden’s Carl Pettersson shoot a winning score of -14, defeating Dean Wilson by one stroke.
The last time we were in Canada, in 2019, Rory McIlroy ran out an emphatic seven-shot winner at Hamilton Golf and Country Club. He returns to defend his title this week and will be hoping for another good showing to take into the US Open as he searches for that first major victory since 2014.
St George’s Golf and Country Club measures 7014 yards and will play to a par 70 this week, as the 4th hole is converted from a par 5 to a par 4. Leaving a course made up of ten par 4s, five par 3s and three par 5s.
Designed by renowned Canadian architect, Stanley Thompson in the 1920s and often ranked as the best course in Canada and one of the top courses in the world, this classic tree-lined course has undergone multiple renovations.
The most recent of those came back in 2014 from the duo of Tom Doak and Ian Andrew, where the most telling changes involved the restoration of greens and bunkers previously renovated by other architects, back to being more in-line with Thompson’s original design.
There’s some real teeth in the par 4s around here, with seven of the ten at 450+ yards and the rest sub-400. This no more on show than over the closing holes, where the 486 yard 17th and 465 yard 18th will provide a stern test throughout the week, not least for anybody in contention on Sunday.
The par 3s are tricky, with four above 200 yards and possessing some of the toughest green complexes on the course, whilst also being hugely bunkered.
With the par 5s all presenting excellent birdie opportunities, the 15th hole the longest at 560 yards and the other two, holes 9 and 11 both under 540 yards.
The fairways are undulating, leaving plenty of uneven lies, along with being heavily tree-lined and appear tight, but there are plenty with generous landing areas. Though I prefer not to take too much from that 2010 version with the course alterations that have taken place since and the fact the game has changed a lot over the years that followed, I expect it not to have changed too much as a ball-striking test and fairways weren’t brutally tough to find in that edition.
Find them you must, as there are plenty of strategically placed bunkers awaiting errant tee-shots, along with some thick rough left to grow to give players a taste of what to expect next week in the US Open. With the difficulty these greens possess, you really need to be playing your approach shots from the short grass.
This is where the biggest difficulty on this golf course lies, on and around the firm, narrow and often elevated bentgrass greens. They’re severely undulating, with many steeply sloped and run-off areas around many. In addition to this, they are surrounded by bunkers, often below the level of the green, making getting up and down difficult.
This will not just put a huge amount of importance on quality precision iron play this week, but I also believe the short-game is going to be important, both on and around the greens.
Indeed, scrambling and putting were key in the 2010 edition. With winner, Carl Pettersson ranking 4th in putting and 12th in scrambling and runner-up Dean Wilson ranking 4th in scrambling and 6th in putting. More of the same on show for Luke Donald in 3rd, who ranked 3rd in scrambling and 25th in putting.
I expect this to be a solid test, where you will be punished for wayward ball-striking, though with the opportunities presented by the par 5s and some of these par 4s, if you’re finding the fairways and have the irons dialled in, you should be able to score.
Though we are not blessed with a bunch of recent renewals of this event at this course, there are still some rather obvious correlating courses.
The main one that jumps off the page is the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town. Appearing tight and heavily tree-lined, with undulating greens. This course requires accuracy, and we don’t need to look too hard to find clear form-ties, with both winner and 3rd place finishers in 2010, Carl Pettersson and Luke Donald possessing excellent records there. Pettersson a past winner and Donald with multiple top 3 finishes, including three as runner-up. We also find players like Matt Kuchar, too a past winner there and Bryce Molder, who has gone well at Harbour Town, featuring in the top 10 of that 2010 leaderboard.
Harbour Town is one of a bunch of courses that often tie in with one another, with Colonial Country Club, host of the Charles Schwab Challenge another with obvious ties.
Tree-lined fairways with well-placed bunkers and thick rough; and firm bentgrass greens, in which you need a decent touch around them. No fewer than six of that 2010 top 10 have strong records at Colonial. Tim Clark, Matt Kuchar and Charlie Wi all tied 4th here at St Georges in 2010 and have finished runner-up at Colonial.
I think Riviera Country Club and the Genesis Invitational can provide further clues. Tree-lined fairways, tricky rough, sloped greens, false fronts aplenty and elevation changes throughout. All of the top three here twelve years ago have good finishes there, each recording at least a top 10. Matt Kuchar and Jeff Quinney, who were both tied for 4th here in 2010 have recorded runner-up finishes at Riviera too.
Two more to consider are the St Jude Classic/Invitational at TPC Southwind and the Mayakoba Classic at El Camaleon. Both classic tree-lined courses, with some penal rough and heavily bunkered.
Bob Estes has won at Southwind, whilst Luke Donald and Bryce Molder have both finished 2nd. With two players in the top 10 here in 2010, Matt Kuchar and Charley Hoffman, having both won the Mayakoba.
It’s set to be a wet week in Canada, as rain is currently forecast to fall throughout the week, both before and during the event. Along with a constant breeze, the conditions could make this pretty tricky, though the rain should soften up these slick putting surfaces.
We are set to be graced by seven of the world’s best players, no doubt hoping to take some positivity into the US Open next week. This includes world #1, Scottie Scheffler and defending champion, Rory McIlroy, as well as recent PGA Championship winner, Justin Thomas. They are joined by a strong contingent of home players looking forward to teeing it up in their national open for the first time in three years, Corey Conners the highest ranked of these at #34 in the world.
Scottie Scheffler heads the market at 9/1 in this top heavy field, followed by Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy at 10/1. With Cameron Smith and Sam Burns coming next at 14s.
The week before a major, on a course unfamiliar to our TV screens over the last decade means I’m cautious about taking any of these at the very top of the market, who will obviously have one eye on Brookline next week. Though you don’t have to go too far down to find my first selection, as I’m taking Corey Conners to finally pick up his second PGA Tour title and what better place to do it than in his home open championship.
First and foremost, Conners statistical make-up meant he came top of my model this week. This superb ball-striker has had a solid year, with eight top 25s and a couple of top 10s to his name, though bar his 3rd place finish at the WGC-Matchplay, hasn’t really threatened.
He comes here off the back of a good performance at Muirfield Village last week in the Memorial Tournament. Opening and closing his week with rounds in the 60s. Most importantly from last week we saw the return of his usually high class iron play, that had gone missing on his two previous starts, as he led the field in approach. This more what we expect in this area of the game for the Canadian, who ranks 4th in GIR for the season and 37th in approach.
A rare poor couple of weeks with the irons is not something that we can say about him off-the-tee as he’s gained strokes with the driver in an incredible 32 starts in a row. Where he combines decent length with high accuracy, ranking 8th for the season off-the-tee and 27th in driving accuracy. He’s simply a ball-striking machine.
The short-game isn’t as strong and it’s this that hindered his progress last week. Though he has putted solidly for the most part this year, with the same being said about his scrambling, where he ranks 79th. If he’s on his best form ball-striking wise, particularly if able to reproduce the iron play from last week, he won’t need to be perfect on and around-the-greens.
His high-accuracy game should be well suited to St George’s, with strong records at both the RBC Heritage and Charles Schwab Challenge, where he’s recorded bests of 4th and 8th respectively, pointing to his suitability to the test.
Conners will want to improve on a poor record in his national open, where he’s only made one cut and that a forgettable 80th place finish. I’m confident he can put that record right this week with the way this course sets up for him and if hitting his irons as well as last week he can once again win the week before a major, picking up that 2nd title that much of his play over the last couple of years has warranted.
Chris Kirk has had plenty of strong performances this year and can add another one this week at a course that sets up well for him.
Just three starts ago he was finishing a superb 5th in the PGA Championship at Southern Hills; his best performance of the year, where he ranked 3rd in the field tee-to-green. Further to this he has a 5th place finish in the Honda Classic and 7th place finish in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, rounding off his top three results of the year.
We last saw him in the Memorial Tournament last week, where he finished down in 53rd, particularly struggling in approach, though I’m not putt off by one off week, such has been the quality of his golf this year.
The excellent tee-to-green showing at Southern Hills wasn’t a one-off as Kirk ranks 14th on tour this season T2G. The standout areas being around-the-greens, where he ranks 5th and off-the-tee, where he ranks 28th. He is also perfectly respectable in approach, ranking 55th, with last week’s poor showing only the third time he’s lost strokes in approach in his last eleven starts.
The putter is streaky, but he has putted well recently, which was the case last week after a poor first round and considering the solid performances on the greens on his two previous starts coming on bentgrass, we know he can putt these surfaces well.
I’m further encouraged by Kirk’s chances here as he has an excellent record at Colonial, as a past champion there and also possesses a 5th place finish. Indeed he finished a solid 15th there two starts ago. In addition to this he has top 10s at each of the Mayakoba Classic, RBC Heritage and at TPC Southwind in the St Jude.
Kirk has threatened to win a few times this year and at this course which should play to the strengths of his strong tee-to-green game, he can get that victory this week.
Last time we saw Brendon Todd he produced an excellent 3rd place finish in the Charles Schwab Challenge behind Sam Burns and Scottie Scheffler. After missing last week he comes here to another course that should suit his straight hitting and quality short-game, and I’m hoping he can go close once again.
That 3rd at Colonial was not just Todd’s best finish of the year but his best since winning the Mayakoba Classic in 2019. It wasn’t out of the blue, with Todd playing solidly this year on the whole, only missing four cuts in thirteen and recorded another top 10, when 8th in the Texas Open.
You know what you get with Todd, he’s one of the shortest hitters on tour but one of the most accurate, ranking 5th in driving accuracy this season. Despite that lack of distance even he will be able to reach the par 5s around here and with the quality of that short-game, where he ranks 6th in putting and 12th in scrambling, the length of this course gives him and players like him chances to score this week.
The straightness off the tee and quality on and around the greens has been complimented of late by some much better approach play from Todd, who has gained strokes with his irons on five of his last six starts. Adding further encouragement.
This is enhanced when looking at the courses he usually performs best on. Todd is a past winner of the Mayakoba, as mentioned and has a further top 10 there. Whilst his 3rd at Colonial last time out was his third top 10 in the event. In addition to this he has also recorded a top 5 finish at Harbour Town in the RBC Heritage.
Todd couldn’t quite get the better of Burns and Scheffler last time out, two players he meets again this week, though did little wrong in defeat, only missing out on the playoff by a shot. Teeing it up at another suitable setup this week, he’ll surely fancy his chances and have the confidence to produce another strong showing.
Tyler Duncan is the type of accurate ball-striking type that I expect to go well this week and if able to replicate the impressive performance on the greens he showed at Colonial on his last start, he can cause problems for some of the more standout names at the top of the betting.
Duncan’s year has been hit and miss but there’s been plenty of good stuff in there, with three top 25s to counter the six MCs. Look a little closer at the three top 25s and we realise why he’s so attractive around here, as all came at classic, tree-lined courses, not too dissimilar to this week’s venue.
The best of those is a 12th place finish in the RBC Heritage and then a 15th place finish at Colonial on his latest start, both courses mentioned in my correlating courses above. Further to this is a 25th place finish at the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook’s Copperhead Course. This type of setup just suits his game.
He’s playing excellently tee-to-green this season, ranking 46th, arguably playing better golf than he has in his PGA Tour career so far. Accuracy very much his bag, ranking 9th in driving accuracy, 38th in greens in regulation and has gained strokes in approach in five of his last seven starts.
The big issue has been the putter, where he ranks 166th, though he did produce his best putting performance of the year at Colonial, ranking 15th on the putting surfaces on those bentgrass greens. Something I’m hoping he can carry on into this week, on the same grass.
Duncan became a winner for the first time in 2019, winning the RSM Classic. With his rock solid tee-to-green game and coming off the back of a season beating putting performance last time out, he can make a run at that second title this week, whilst more illustrious names potentially have their eyes on next week.