RBC CANADIAN OPEN: The PGA Tour heads north this week for the RBC Canadian Open, a tournament that has been won by a who’s-who of golfing greats over its long, illustrious history and has managed to stay relevant despite being held the week after the Open Championship for the past decade. World number one Dustin Johnson made the trip over from Southport and will be teeing it up this week, as will Open runner-up Matt Kuchar, Bubba Watson, Charley Hoffman, J.B. Holmes, and others.
Johnson heads BETDAQ’s Win Market at 7.2, and before you balk at such a short price for someone who hasn’t won since March, you’d be wise to remember that he led this tournament last year at the midway point before eventually tying for second and he’s coming off a Saturday 64 at Royal Birkdale. He followed it up with a clunker on Sunday, but still: you get the sense that DJ is rounding back into form. It will be a surprise if he’s not a factor this weekend.
The venue, Glen Abbey Golf Club in Ontario, sets up perfectly for a bomber like Johnson: it isn’t particularly long at 7,253 yards, but it features four par-5s, and though the fairways are narrow the rough isn’t overly penal, so the course can be overpowered at times. The last two champions, Jason Day (’15) and Jhonattan Veags (’16), are both big hitters who triumphed while ranking outside the top-50 in driving accuracy for the week, and though we’ve seen the Brandt Snedekers and Chez Reavies of the world win at Glen Abbey as well, length off the tee will definitely be an advantage this week.
The field is a bit top-heavy, there’s no question about that, and the decision we have to make is whether we want to pay the price for one of the favorites. Day won as the market leader two years ago, but aside from that this tournament has produced a mixed bag of winners lately, and Vegas was a genuine longshot of better than 100/1 last year. I don’t think anyone will be shocked if we see another unexpected name emerge from the pack, but, frankly, that’s not what I’m expecting.
Here are my selections:
Recommendations to BACK (odds in parenthesis)
Dustin Johnson (7.2)- It’s never fun to pick the outright favorite, especially when he’s saddled with a price that doesn’t generate a whole lot of excitement, as is the case here. There’s no getting around it: Johnson has missed the cut in two of his past three starts, he hasn’t won since March, and he’s coming off a 77 in his last competitive round. But all that stuff may have created a bit of value here, as without the recent stumbles Johnson’s price would’ve been even shorter this week– considerably shorter, actually. That’s because Glen Abbey is the type of place that he absolutely eats alive, a parkland course with four reachable par-5s and straightforward green complexes. Not only did he finish runner-up here last year, but he was also runner-up on his previous visit, back in 2013. He’s now a combined 24-under par in his last eight competitive rounds at Glen Abbey, and this tournament isn’t exactly a birdie fest, as 12-under was enough to get the job done last year. And Johnson’s recent form is less of a concern, at least in my eyes, after watching his Saturday charge at Birkdale last week. He got a little taste of great golf again, and something tells me he’ll be hungry for more. Glen Abbey is just what the doctor ordered right now.
Danny Lee (50.0)- I’m sure many people will avoid Lee this week after he was forced to withdraw from the John Deere Classic a couple of weeks ago due to shoulder and wrist soreness. While it’s always a bit risky to back a player with injury concerns, Lee’s ailments are not believed to be serious and he would’ve played in the Open last week had he been eligible (he was an alternate). If he had played he probably would’ve played well, because he’s been playing well everywhere lately, logging five top-25 finishes– including four top-10s– in seven starts prior to the John Deere. He nearly won the Travelers Championship last month, finishing third, and he’s now shot par or better in 15 of his past 17 competitive rounds. He got his first look at Glen Abbey last year and seemed to get more and more comfortable as the week progressed, closing with a Sunday 66 to tie for 32nd. And that was in the middle of a terrible stretch of golf for Lee, a nine-tournament run in which he missed four cuts and finished 52nd or worse eight times, so it stands to reason that Glen Abbey is a good fit for his game. I’ll happily take a chance on an in-form Lee at a price like 50.0.
Alex Cejka (210.0)- Cejka is now a grizzled veteran at age 46, but when he’s on, his ball-striking is still elite. And he’s quietly shown signs of being “on” lately, finishing 15th in the Barbasol Championship last week and tying for 9th at the Greenbrier earlier this month, where he closed with a 64. Cejka has always been a “course horse” type who makes most of his money in the same events, and one of those events has been this tournament, the Canadian Open, where he’s made 6 of 7 cuts in his career and has challenged the lead at times. One of those times was last year, when he finished 5th, his best showing on the PGA Tour in 2016. Much like Lee, Cejka had been playing poorly heading into this event last year, which makes his excellent performance all the more noteworthy. If he finished 5th at Glen Abbey after not finding the top-50 for two months and missing the cut at the Barbasol, what can we expect when he’s coming in with a little momentum, having recorded two top-15s in his last three starts? I’ll tell you this: at a price like 210.0, I’m certainly willing to pay to find out.
TOURNAMENT MATCH BETS
Charley Hoffman (1.8) vs. Tony Finau (2.0)
Hoffman has steadily improved over the years and is now playing the best golf of his career, recording ten top-25 finishes this season, including all three majors. But Finau has been playing some pretty good golf himself, making the cut in 11 of his last 12 events and finishing 17th or better five times in that stretch. He played well at Birkdale last week, tying for 27th, and prior to that he broke 70 in all four rounds of the Greenbrier Classic, finishing 7th. Plus, Glen Abbey is the type of place that a bomber like Finau can really expose– his best finish in two appearances here is 22nd, and I have a strong feeling that he’ll better that this week. Recommendation: Finau at 2.0
Chez Reavie (1.91) vs. Jim Furyk (1.91)
Back in 2008 Reavie absolutely dominated Glen Abbey, shooting 17-under en route to his first (and only) PGA Tour victory. Though his career has been somewhat disappointing since then, he has continued to play well in this event, making the cut regularly and finding the top-15 a couple of times. He hasn’t been playing too well lately, however, recording just two top-20 finishes in his past eleven PGA Tour starts, and his record in this event pales in comparison to Furyk’s, who has won twice and had five top-10s to his credit, including a T4 in 2015 (he finished 13th last year). Furyk has been showing some signs of life lately, making three straight cuts since the U.S. Open, so he could be in for another big week at Glen Abbey. Recommendation: Furyk at 1.91