- 2012 – Scott Piercy (-17)
The RBC Canadian Open returns to Hamilton Golf and Country Club, and with only two Canadian Opens held there this millennium there is a very small statistical sample that bettors will face this week.
Here’s how the leaderboard shook out at the top, based on Strokes Gained for the week.
The statistics show that Scott Piercy rode his short game and putting to the victory at the 2012 RBC Canadian Open, as he gained 2.67 shots on the field per round on and around the greens. That was the most of anyone in the field. In fact, the Top 5 overall had great putting weeks, and putting drove scoring at a higher rate than the average PGA Tour stop.
But when you look at this group of golfers overall and what they did in 2012, you’ll actually find that these golfers were some of the longest players on the PGA Tour that year. That also showed up when looking at driving distance stats on the week, with 9 of the 14 golfers in the Top 10 averaging more than 300 yards/drive. Only Gary Christian, Nathan Green and Kevin Kisner finished outside the Top 25 in driving distance on the week.
This group of golfers also offered a mixed bag of both good and bad putters on the PGA Tour in 2012, despite collectively putting very well overall for the week. For every player who putted well in 2012 like Scott Piercy, Bo Van Pelt and Kevin Kisner, there were others like Robert Garrigus, Josh Teater and Scott Stallings who all ranked well outside the Top 100 that year.
The golf course was broke down in the tournament preview, but given the layout it is primed for a long, elite ball striker to bring Hamilton Golf and Country Club to its knees. Yes the golf course is less than 7,000 yards long and offers some fairly deep rough off the fairways, which seemingly would favor shorter, more accurate hitters. But it’s a misguided notion that narrow fairways with penal rough somehow penalizes long and inaccurate players off the tee. With how far they hit the ball, it simply doesn’t matter that much if their tee shot finds the rough when they can hit a wedge or a 9 iron out of it. Many of the golf course’s defenses that may have given golfers from another generation trouble are no longer a concern for this new group of players.
Here’s who I like this week (with odds courtesy of mybookie.ag):
Dustin Johnson – 5.5/1: Woah, really going out on a limb here, huh? Picking the tournament favorite to win the event. How bold.
Listen, betting any golfer to win a PGA Tour event at less than 10/1 is always a terrible bet, no matter how strong or weak a field is. Golf is so unpredictable and there’s no knowing how motivated a guy will be, especially the week before a major. Is he just using the tournament as a warm up for the following week? Is he only there for his sponsors? There are a lot of off the golf course reasons why a seemingly dominant player that should win a tournament won’t.
But given how this golf course sets up and his recent play, it just feels like a week Dustin Johnson wins. While he faces stiff competition from the likes of Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas, he seems to be the one most likely to keep it in high gear and cruise to a win. While Brooks called the tournament “Canada’s major”, I don’t see him being fully locked in. Justin Thomas is still trying to shake off course rust and showed no signs at the Memorial he was ready to reemerge as a dominant force. And since Rory won the Players Championship, he just hasn’t seemed to be firing on all cylinders.
That leaves Dustin Johnson, who will treat this tournament just like any other and won’t take any reps off. Some of his most recent victories have come against weaker fields around majors, such as the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic and the RBC Canadian Open last year. While it’s not a good bet at all, my gut tells me he’ll win this week and overtake Brooks Koepka as the oddsmaker’s favorite to win the U.S. Open next week.
Sergio Garcia – 25/1: I can’t quite pinpoint why Sergio has struggled in the spotlight this year. Last year when he missed the cut in all four majors his form was absolutely dreadful. But statistically he’s back to being the Sergio we all know him as, and yet he’s not only failed at both of the majors this year, but hasn’t really been close to making the weekend. At pretty much every other stop on the PGA Tour this year, however, he’s played tremendous golf.
While the top of the field features some big names, overall the talent pool at the RBC Canadian Open is pretty shallow, and that should give Sergio a chance to have a good finish on the leaderboard. Statistically he has all the tools needed to play well this week – he’s long off the tee, hitting his irons well from all distances, and before his catastrophic performance at Bethpage Black he had been putting well. The one area of his game that needs to be better this week is his scrambling, something he’s struggled with this year.
It would be very fitting for Sergio to win this week and create a ton of buzz ahead of the U.S. Open at a golf course that should suit his game. That would probably be a good time to fade him, but for this week I like his chances of notching his first win on the PGA Tour since the 2017 Masters.
Bubba Watson – 35/1: Maybe it was Bubba’s disastrous performance at Bethpage Black, a golf course he theoretically should have played well at, that made his odds this low for the Canadian Open.
Still, given Bubba’s length he should be a good fit for Hamilton Golf and Country Club, and he has the ability to hit towering tee shots over trees and bunkers to give him very short yardages into the greens. As discussed in the tournament preview, Bubba will have a huge advantage on one of the hardest holes on the golf course, Hole No. 11. He should be one of the only players in the field capable of cutting off the corner of the dog leg to have an approach shot almost fifty yards closer than others will have on the week.
Having an advantage on one hole of 18 isn’t enough to win a tournament. But excluding the PGA Championship his ball striking statistics looked very good and he remained as one of the better scramblers on the PGA Tour. His putting will need to show up this week, but if it does there’s no reason to think he can’t win the tournament.
Shane Lowry – 40/1: Lowry’s season long ball striking statistics look pretty bad, but lately he’s started to play like the golfer who rose to a career best 17th in the world back in 2015. Over his last two tournaments he’s recorded a T3 and T8 finish at the RBC Heritage and PGA Championship, respectively, and gained almost 1.7 strokes per round on the field in that stretch, primarily on the strength of his driving. Though he hasn’t played in enough events to qualify on the PGA Tour, on the year he’s averaging 298 yards off the tee, more than long enough to be considered one of the biggest hitters in the field this week.
Given his overall struggles on the PGA Tour this year, 40/1 is probably a little high for him. But his recent form suggests he’s playing like a guy that should be more like 20/1 to win the event. As a golfer who’s won big time tournaments in his career, he won’t be phased if one of the top favorites is breathing down his neck on Sunday afternoon.
Others to Consider:
- Joaquin Niemann – 80/1: 2019 has been a serious sophomore slump for Niemann, who showed so much promise in his rookie campaign in 2018. He’s shown ball striking in 2019 suggesting that he can be a weekly contender on the PGA Tour, but his putting has been brutal. He’s been much better on the greens lately, at least by his standards, so maybe this is the week of the breakout.
- Nick Watney – 80/1: The reasons why Nick Watney should play well this week was included in the DFS column, but along with his price point in that format he also is worthy of a long shot bet to win the tournament.
Nick Watney -155 over Kramer Hickok: If you’ve read all the tournament previews this week, you already know the reasons why to like Watney. As for Kramer Hickok, between poor recent form and a poor fit for the golf course he seems overmatched. He’s a short hitter off the tee and hasn’t struck his irons particularly well this year. He’s missed the cut in two of his last four events with a high finish of T17 at the AT&T Byron Nelson – one of the weakest fields this year and on a golf course a far cry than what Hamilton Golf and Country Club offers this week. Watney should best Hickok one on one.
Justin Thomas -120 over Webb Simpson: Justin Thomas is trying to shake off some course rust and did not play well last week at the Memorial. Nevertheless, I expect him to play with a little more sense of urgency to try and get some momentum ahead of the U.S. Open. He’s a superior player than Webb Simpson, who has cooled off over the last few months and has seen his tee-to-green stats bolstered primarily from his play around the greens. Other than that, he’s been fairly pedestrian in all other aspects of his game. Thomas should beat Simpson one on one this week.