Frazzled previews the RBC Canadian Open from Glen Abbey Golf Club and he has selections of Jim Furyk, Alex Prugh, Camilo Villegas and Michael Thompson.
Event & Venue:
The 106th edition of the Canadian Open takes place this week and once again under the sponsorship of the Royal Bank of Canada it has attracted quite a high quality field, although there is a possibility of some withdrawals due to the fact that 15 of the field were playing in the final round of the Open Championship at St Andrews on Monday. The fact that huge events such as the WGC Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship are in the coming weeks does not help this event and some players may be mindful of this scheduling when considering to tee up in this event.
This is the 27th time that the Open will be staged at the Glen Abbey Golf Club, Oakville, Ontario. The Glen Abbey venue was the first solo design by Jack Nicklaus, completed in 1976 and opened in 1977. It hosted 22 straight editions of this National Open until the Royal Canadian Golf Association decided to rotate venues from 2010 onwards and it takes over from Royal Montreal Golf Club, which hosted the event won by Tim Clark last year.
Brandt Snedeker won here in 2013, when the headlines were grabbed by the decision of Hunter Mahan to withdraw, when seemingly in control of the event, as his wife was having a baby. Mahan is back this year and he could very much do with a big performance given that 2015 has been pretty disappointing for him so far. Snedeker does not defend his 2013 win this week as he has to get some rehab on his hip, which may explain his disappointing display when one of our selections at The Open last week.
Course Characteristics & Requirements:
Glen Abbey is a classic design with tree lined fairways of average width and has a number of elevation changes with "Valley Holes" on the back 9 between the 11th and 16th holes, including the "Sixteen Mile Creek" stretch between the 13th and 15th. It measures 7,253 yards and plays to a Par of 72. The course was renovated prior to the 2004 renewal of this event and was lengthened by over 100 yards and toughened up. However there are still plenty of birdies to be found but accurate tee to green play is essential given that the greens are below average size and are set to run to a faster 12.5 on the stimpmeter this week.
In addition and thanks to Rob Bolton's Power Rankings article HERE, we have learned that on 8 of the greens, the poa annua grass has been replaced with bentgrass after suffering damage during the winter and the remainder will be changed after this event. With the faster greens and the bentgrass / poa annua mix, it could be worth using events such as the Northern Trust Open, AT & T at Pebble Beach and Farmers Insurance as a guide, as they are played at venues (Riviera and Torrey Pines) where similar greens are encountered and Brandt Snedeker certainly backs this up, with an excellent record in some of these events.
Unlike the past few weeks, driving accuracy will be important this week, given that the course ranked as the 4th lowest in terms of fairways hit in 2013 at 51.14% and finding the small Greens In Regulation ("GIR") will be crucial. In addition, Par 4 performance is very important and Snedeker topped these charts in 2013.
In summary, we are looking for excellent ball strikers that excel from tee to green, with the hope they can have a solid week with the flat stick. This is an event that could throw up a few surprises in light of the events at St Andrews and we will certainly not be put off by bigger prices if the player fits the requirements.
Despite concerns about the Monday finish at St Andrews, Jim Furyk has proven in the past that this does not really affect him and his form in this event and suitability of this venue, makes him very hard to leave out of our bets this week. He may only be 16/1 but he has been in very good form this season and after proving fragile in many finishes recently, the win in the RBC Heritage earlier in the year was a huge boost for him.
Furyk is a dual winner of this event in 2006 and 2007 and he was 9th at this venue in 2013. He is perfectly suited to the shorter course and the tight fairways along with the difficult to reach greens and it is these type of technical venues where we would always expect some of his best results. He ranks 9th in Driving Accuracy, 15th in GIR, 39th in Ball Striking and 37th in Par 4 Scoring, which will all be very important this week. He was only level for the Par 4 holes in 2013 and this cost him, losing 11 shots on these holes to Snedeker and losing shots to everyone around him other than Dustin Johnson. He was terrific on the Par 3s however and if his normal Par 4 Scoring prevails this week, he should be hard to beat.
Our other picks are at much bigger odds and now that he has shown a little bit of form again and with the return to poa annua greens in his favour, we might see a much better display from Alex Prugh. Prugh was in excellent form earlier in the year with finishes of 5th in the Farmers Insurance at Torrey Pines, 10th in the AT&T Pebble Beach and he was a solid 30th in the Northern Trust Open.
His form dipped after this, but he did produce some very good golf in the Fedex St Jude Classic in June, with opening and closing rounds of 66 and 69 to finish 40th and that event and venue has thrown up numerous players that have occupied the leaderboard at Glen Abbey in recent renewals. In his two most recent starts he has finished 28th in the John Deere Classic and 23rd in the Barbasol Championship, with his final three rounds of 68-66-69 moving him up the leaderboard after a disappointing 72 in the opening round.
Prugh is very solid from tee to green and ranks 13th in GIR this season, 17th in Ball Striking and 22nd in Par 5 Scoring. These are among the easiest Par 5s on the Tour and if he can score heavily on these, he could put himself right in contention. He is also 83rd in Round 1 Scoring and his opening efforts include a 66 in the St Jude Classic and at Pebble Beach and with an early tee time of 7:20am when the wind will be at its calmest, he could get off to a fast start and he is worth backing in the First Round Leader market, especially as he may not be playing quite consistently enough hijack the Top 5 on Sunday.
0.5 points each way Alex Prugh - Outright win at 250/1 with Ladbrokes.
1 point win Alex Prugh - Top 20 Finish at 9/1 with 888 Sport.
Camilo Villegas and Michael Thompson are our two final picks to small stakes.
Villegas has not shown much form so far this year, but he has posted two Top 10 finishes in this event in the past and his two best efforts this season have been at the Jack Nicklaus redesign of PGA National at the Honda Classic, where he was 16th and after a string of poor displays he finished 18th in the Fedex St Jude Classic, which is an event where his other recent finishes have included an 11th, 10th, 3rd and 8th, many of which were when he arrived with his game not in great shape. He has an early 7:50am start and could raise him game this week.
Michael Thompson does not really have the stats to match this course, but like Villegas he is a former winner of the Honda Classic and he was 3rd in the St Jude Classic last month, which was his best display since he was 11th in the Farmers Insurance on the poa annua greens at Torrey Pines. He has managed to produce some of his best displays when seemingly out of form and they have also been at some of the tighter technical venues on the Tour, with a 2nd in the US Open in 2012 and solid finishes like 10th at Colonial, 11th at Quail Hollow and also 3rd in the McGladrey Classic.Thompson ranks 3rd in Round 1 Scoring Average this year and has posted 69-66-67 in the opening round of his last 3 events before fading afterwards. He also posted an opening 65 in the McGladrey earlier in the season before fading into 66th place and repeated the opening 65 at Torrey Pines.
With this in mind and an early 8:00am start for him, he is worth backing in the First Round Leader market, with a smaller interest in the outright market.
Emiliano Grillo is another of interest this week as the course should be ideal for him. He could challenge for a long period, but he is proving so weak in the finish that the frustration of seeing him in with a winning chance, only to fall out of the places, is enough for us to reluctantly leave him out of our bets in an event where a big price winner is very possible.
0.5 points each way Camilo Villegas - Outright win at 160/1 with Bet365