There’s evidence of yet more shunting about of the PGA Tour calendar this week with the RBC Canadian Open moving to become the warm up tournament for the US Open. That is selling this historic tournament a little short but there’s no doubt that the big names in the field are all hoping to sharpen their games up ahead of next week’s trip to Pebble Beach.
The Canadian Open always attracts a host of star names and the list of those looking for some form ahead of next week is impressive. Sergio Garcia is among those given top billing for the Canadian Open and after some good play on the PGA Tour this season he could put on a show for the watching fans and claim an amazing 35th professional win at 28/1 with Ladbrokes.
The move in the schedule has coincided with a move in venue for the Canadian Open. The PGA Tour has moved from Glen Abbey Golf Course which hosted five of the last six renewals to Hamilton Golf and Country Club which is just south west of Toronto. It’s not quite the perfect warm up for Pebble Beach Golf Links but it will test the field’s shot making abilities as Hamilton is a classical Harry Colt design.
Hamilton comes in at a total of 6,967 yards. You don’t get many sub 7,000 yard courses hosting top level professional events and renovation work in recent times has taken Hamilton closer to the roots of the original Colt design. The removal of a number of trees has made the course even more exposed to the wind, the absence of which should provide plentiful birdie opportunities for a field of this calibre.
|Hamilton Golf and Country Club||Ancaster, Ontario||6,967 Yards||$7,600,000|
Glen Abbey has been a happy hunting ground for big hitters in recent years. Dustin Johnson and Jason Day bookended two straight wins for Jhonattan Vegas and all three men can shift it a long way off the tee. Those three and Tim Clark each had to beat the typically strong field that is assembled at the Canadian Open due to the number of players who have close ties to the title sponsor. Johnson is the only man in the last five renewals to win by more than one shot so there’s hopefully a dramatic finish in store of the 2019 renewal.
|Year||Winner||Course||To Par||Winning Margin|
|2018||Dustin Johnson||Glen Abbey Golf Course||-23||3 Strokes|
|2017||Jhonattan Vegas||Glen Abbey Golf Course||-21||Playoff|
|2016||Jhonattan Vegas||Glen Abbey Golf Course||-12||1 Stroke|
|2015||Jason Day||Glen Abbey Golf Course||-17||1 Stroke|
|2014||Tim Clark||Royal Montreal Golf Club||-17||1 Stroke|
Analysis: Big Hitters and Solid Putters to Contend
The RBC Canadian Open was most recently held at Hamilton Golf and Country Club in 2012. Although the shorter hitters in the field were able to keep up with scoring more than at some of the monster courses we see on the PGA Tour, big hitters retained an advantage off the tee as total distance proved more important than finding the fairways. The significant tree removal work in recent years has done little to change the in-built advantage that the most powerful players will have this week.
The other key element to consider is at the opposite end of the holes. The greens at Hamilton are very challenging to read and to execute quality putts on. Therefore, those who have the best week with the flat stick should have an advantage over the more average putters.
Garcia to Get Major Preparations Right
Talking to the media after the 2016 Ryder Cup, Sergio Garcia said that he was reminded very often by the American fans at Hazeltine National that he has not won a major championship. That all changed for the Spaniard with his win in the 2017 Masters, a win which will define much of his career and even his life (his daughter is named Azalea after the blooming flowers at Augusta National).
Garcia didn’t reach the levels required to become a Masters champion by being happy with his lot though and he’ll be far from happy with his performances in the majors since donning that famous green jacket. He’s missed the cut in the last seven majors and is determined to put that right at Pebble Beach.
Having taken some time out to recharge the batteries, Garcia is back to work this week and may just be able to head to California with some new found confidence. He’s played some very good golf this season (even if it’s been interspersed with some rubbish) ranking 11th for strokes gained from tee to green. He also loves a classical test so Hamilton may just be the place where a happy and refreshed Garcia gets back to his best with a win at 28/1 with Ladbrokes.
Snedeker Can Delight the Sponsors Once Again
Brandt Snedeker is one of a number of golfers in the field this week who are sponsored by RBC. He always tees it up at the tournaments that they host and made those connected with the bank very happy when he won the Canadian Open in 2013. That win came at Glen Abbey but he also played fairly well at Hamilton in 2012 and returns a much more experienced, better golfer.
Snedeker really thrives against the opposition when things get tough. The weather forecast suggests he’s unlikely to be able to show his prowess in the wind this week but he’ll certainly be able to remind everybody just how good he is on the greens. Snedeker’s patented pop stroke has earned him nine PGA Tour wins and countless millions. That quality on the greens should give him the edge over many of his opponents this week and could see him challenge for another win at 45/1 with Betfair.
Final Verdict: Sergio Garcia to Win
Sergio Garcia has more than enough power for Hamilton and has worked very hard on his putting over recent years so should be able to get a handle on the greens pretty quickly. His style of golf from tee to green looks a great fit for the course and he is very keen to start winning again which all makes 28/1 look like a very good price.
About the RBC Canadian Open
The Canadian Open is a golf tournament with a rich history, dating all the way back to 1904. The first ever edition of this tournament was won by Englishman John Oke at Royal Montreal Golf Club. The competition, which is conducted by Golf Canada, takes place on the PGA Tour every year. It’s the third oldest running tournament on the Tour behind only The Open Championship and the US Open.
Since 2019, the event was added to the Open Qualifying Series, which allows up to three of the top 10 to qualify for The Open Championship. The Canadian Open has been held at several courses in Canada over the years, mainly in Quebec and Ontario. Glen Abbey Golf Course in Oakville, Ontario has hosted the most Canadian Opens, with 30 to its name.
Over the years, the event has been called the Canadian Open, the Bell Canadian Open and, from 2008 to 2020, the RBC Canadian Open. The last tournament, which was held at Hamilton Golf and Country Club in Ancaster, Ontario in June 2019, was won by Rory McIlroy. In 2021, the tournament will be hosted at the St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Etobicoke, Toronto, Ontario.
Notable Canadian Open Champions
The Canadian Open has become a big tournament on the PGA Tour. There have been plenty of high-profile winners, with the likes of Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer and Jim Furyk lifting the trophy.
Leo Diegel, who was born in Michigan in 1899, remains the record winner of the Canadian Open, with four victories to his name. Diegel was a serial winner in the 1920s, winning the event in 1924, 1925, 1928 and 1929. Tommy Armour, San Snead and Lee Trevino – all Americans – each having achieved three tournament victories.
Three Canadians Tied on Two Apiece
The last home winner of the Canadian Open was Pat Fletcher, who won the tournament way back in 1954. Fletcher beat fellow Canadian Gordie Brydson and American Bill Welch by four strokes. Since then, players from the US have dominated this competition, though there has only been one American winner – Dustin Johnson in 2018 – since Brandt Snedeker’s triumph in 2013.
There have been a staggering 55 American winners, with the US bagging a total of 72 Canadian Open wins. England and Australia are tied second, with Canada in fourth with seven wins from four winners. Three Canadians have two Canadian Open victories to their name: Charles Murray (who was actually born in Nottingham, England), Albert Murray and Karl Keffer.
Canadian Open Winners By Nationality
|USA||72 Wins, 55 Winners|
|England||8 Wins, 6 Winners|
|Australia||8 Wins, 6 Winners|
|Canada||7 Wins, 4 Winners|
|Scotland||3 Wins, 3 Winners|
|South Africa||3 Wins, 3 Winners|
Close, But No Cigar
As mentioned, the Canadian fans have not seen a home winner of their Open since Pat Fletcher’s victory in 1954. However, a couple have gone close since then. In 2004, Mike Weir, who was the best Canada had to offer back then, had a three-stroke lead with eight holes left to go. Unfortunately for him and the Canadian faithful, Vijay Singh was too strong for Weir in a playoff.
It was David Hearn’s time to go close 11 years later in 2015. The Canadian had a two-shot lead in the final round of the tournament, but Jason Day’s excellent finish put paid to Hearn’s hopes. Day went on to win the 2015 Canadian Open, with Bubba Watson finishing runner-up.
Nicklaus’s Canadian Open Hoodoo
The Canadian Open is regarded as the most prestigious tournament never to have been won by the great Jack Nicklaus. The legend won just about everything else golf had to offer, but victory in Canada eluded Nicklaus, who won a staggering 18 major championships during his glittering playing career.
It was not for the want of trying, though, as the Ohio-born star finished runner-up seven times. Nicklaus finished second in Canada in 1965, 1968, 1975, 1976, 1981 (along with Bruce Lietzke and Andy North), 1984 and 1985 (along with Greg Norman). For one reason or another, Nicklaus was never destined to win the Canadian Open.
Jack Nicklaus’s Runner-up Record
|Year||Who Beat Nicklaus?|
|1965||Gene Littler – 1 Stroke|
|1968||Bob Charles – 2 Strokes|
|1975||Tom Weiskopf – Playoff|
|1976||Jerry Pate – 4 Strokes|
|1981||Peter Oosterhuis – 1 Stroke|
|1984||Greg Norman – 2 Strokes|
|1985||Curtis Strange – 2 Strokes|