After being unable to be staged for the last two years because of the pandemic, the Canadian Open returns to the PGA Tour this week when it gets held in Ontario on a week where the tour could do with a really good event to distract from what is happening elsewhere in the world.
You may be forgiven for forgetting that it was Rory McIlroy who was the last winner of this tournament. That is because he won it three years ago. He is back to defend and does so on a different track to the one he won on and against a very good field all things considered.
2019 – Rory McIlroy
2018 – Dustin Johnson
2017 – Jhonattan Vegas
2016 – Jhonattan Vegas
2015 – Jason Day
2014 – Tim Clark
2013 – Brandt Snedeker
2012 – Scott Piercy
2011 – Sean O’Hair
2010 – Carl Pettersson
We return to the St George’s Golf and Country Club for the tournament this week. The last time the Canadian Open was held here was in 2010 so there aren’t many who are teeing it up who will have experienced the track on a competitive week before. Even those who have will see a different looking course because the bunkers have been moved in line with the excessive power gained by players over the course of the last 12 years.
The greens here are famously small and there is talk of the rough potentially growing to six inches this week. There is also rain forecast the longer the event goes on so that rough could be quite wispy. The undulating greens are said to be raised in most places this week so accuracy is going to trump power on this par 70 which stretches to 7.014 yards. A decent short game sounds like another recipe for success but with the green complexes new to most I wouldn’t rule out poor putters.
There has been a lot of attention given to who isn’t here in light of those teeing it up in England for the breakaway event but enough of it should also be given to those who have supported the PGA Tour this week because a really good line up has been established, headed by the world number one Scottie Scheffler. The defending champion Rory McIlroy is a big name in his own right and then the recent USPGA Championship winner Justin Thomas adds to the elite nature of the field.
The top class nature of the field doesn’t end there though as The Players champion Cameron Smith also tees it up this week as does the recent Charles Schwab Challenge winner Sam Burns. Shane Lowry, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Tyrrell Hatton are among a number of Ryder Cup players with a tee time this week, while Corey Conners and Adam Hadwin will be among those who will be looking to give the home crowds something to cheer about.
The betting market is pretty cramped at the top this week and it is the world number one Scottie Scheffler who is the 9/1 favourite to come out on top. You’d have to be a brave man to oppose Scheffler in the form he has shown in 2022, although since The Masters there has just been the odd sign of him not quite being on the form he was in the lead up to that and during Augusta week. He’s still that good that in that time he has been beaten in a play-off at the Charles Schwab. I wouldn’t put anyone off him but his price is tight enough given the depth in the field and the doubts over whether he is quite at his very best.
The defending champion Rory McIlroy and the USPGA Championship winner Justin Thomas both tee off as 10/1 shots this week. I’m no fan of taking defending champions, especially on different courses to the one they won on, and I’m not changing that this week particularly when McIlroy has appeared on a number of interviews. Thomas would be more to my liking but I am always wary of a player who has recently won a major. I’ll pass both these over.
Cameron Smith is a 12/1 shot this week. You would think he would be perfect for this test with his short game but I’ve had a hunch that there is an Augusta hangover within the Australian. That short game and usually classy putter has cost him a couple of tournaments recently. If he had it with him at the USPGA Championship he’d have lapped the field and the same could be said last week. I respect Smith but he isn’t quite finishing the deal at the minute so at a cramped price I’ll leave him alone here.
Sam Burns is 16/1 to follow up his win at the Charles Schwab Challenge a couple of weeks ago with another here. Burns is a real class act but there was a feeling that he kind of stole the Colonial event with a Sunday from nowhere. That was his second win in two months though and he was second alongside Billy Horschel at the Zurich Classic between those two wins. The fact he won last week might further inspire Burns. I wouldn’t put anyone off him either but the price feels about right for him too.
I can’t say I’m massively enthralled by the price of Shane Lowry this week but I do think he ticks all the boxes to have a very good week here. The important thing for the Irishman this week is he sits third in bogey avoidance on the PGA Tour and over the last couple of months nobody in this field have scrambled better than him. His long game has been good for most of the year as we saw at places like The Honda Classic and at Augusta and Hilton Head, all of which he finished in the top three. The short game is expected to sort the men from the boys this week and few match up to Lowry in that department so he’s my first main bet.
The other main bet comes in the form of Brendon Todd, who with a bit more luck could have been heading here as the Charles Schwab Challenge winner at Colonial a couple of weeks ago. He was heavily involved in the Sunday of that event but couldn’t quite get the job done. I think he can come again here though. He is a clever player who knows he can only excel on tracks where length isn’t an issue. It isn’t an issue this week. Todd has a decent short game and is good into the greens and as we saw at Colonial he is putting nicely. He’s my other main bet this week.
I’ll take a stab at a couple of English outsiders this week. This test should suit Aaron Rai nicely. He has a brilliant tee to green game and he has improved so much in the short game department. He has won on a course not too dissimilar to this on the DP World Tour and what interests me this week is that he led the field in putting at Muirfield Village last week. They are firm and fast greens, not like the ones Rai would have played on for much of his career. Usually the week before a major the course tries to replicate the test ahead so he could get firm greens here. With a very good long game and a now underrated short game I think Rai could go very well here.
Luke Donald is another who has always had a good short game and he has shown that in three of his last six starts when he has been in the top 16 for strokes gained around the greens. Donald has been offering signs of a return to form without putting four rounds together but he is one of the few in the field who was here in 2010. Not only was he here but he finished third so the test isn’t out of reach for him. At the Valspar, Donald ranked fourth for strokes gained on approach and he was third in that discipline at the Wells Fargo Championship. If he has that level of iron play with him here this is a course he can contend on. I’ll pay to see if he has four rounds this week.
Back S.Lowry to win Canadian Open (e/w) for a 1.5/10 stake at 19.00 with William Hill (1/5 1-8)
Back L.Donald to win Canadian Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 201.00 with William Hill (1/5 1-8)
Back them here:
Back B.Todd to win Canadian Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 56.00 with Sky Bet (1/5 1-8)
Back A.Rai to win Canadian Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 101.00 with Sky Bet (1/5 1-8)