As the PGA Tour’s seasonal changes continue to kick in there is a big move for the RBC Canadian Open. It has recently become something of an Open Championship after-party, becoming a warm-up act for next week’s U.S. Open. After a four-year residency at Glen Abbey GC, the tournament is also returning to an old favourite.
In addition to all of this the promoters have done a great job securing Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy - the latter needing to bounce back from a missed cut last week in The Memorial.
Hamilton G&CC in Ontario is old school. A Harry Colt design that dates back to 1914, it features very small greens and doesn’t require a brainless smash from the tee. In the 21st century Bob Tway (2003), Jim Furyk (2006) and Scott Piercy (2012) have won this tournament here.
William McGirt, the runner-up in 2012, said: “I love old traditional style golf courses and this is definitely one of those. The key is to drive it in play.” Piercy added, “It takes the driver out of my hands. It’s about playing for pars and waiting for the birdies.”
It might be worth noting for PGA Tour betting fans that Tway and Furyk are past winners at Harbour Town, while Piercy has finished third there this season. This track is more undulating than Harbour Town, but both have tiny putting surfaces and require a smart game plan from the tee.
The 34-year-old has a sensational tournament record but it is entirely down to his fondness for Glen Abbey where he has twice been runner-up, was then eighth in 2017 and the winner last year.
This will be his debut at Hamilton and the notion of taking the driver out of his hands would, at first glance, seem to somewhat neuter him. That said, ahead of this year’s Heritage at Harbour Town he said: “It’s tight, but if I’m playing well and hitting the ball where I want to it doesn’t matter what sort of course it is.”
He somewhat backed that up by earning a one-shot 54-hole lead before a final round 77 saw him limp home in T28th. He was, however, a winner of the WGC Mexico Championship this season on a tight and traditional course and that either side of that near miss in the Heritage he was second at both the Masters and the PGA Championship.
It's the first visit to Hamilton for the 33-year-old but lots of reasons to feel that he’ll thrive on this challenge. First of all, he’s notched five top 20 finishes at Harbour Town down the years and was second there in 2013.
Just as appealing is his sensational record at Sedgefield in the Wyndham Championship. Another classic design, but crucially, perhaps, a little more hilly than Harbour Town, he has seven finishes of T11th or better there including a win in 2011.
Fifth at the Masters, T29th in the PGA Championship, he added a pair of top 20s in between so his form is solid without signposting himself too much to the compilers. He’s 20/1 with BetVictor.
Canada has been a happy hunting ground for the American. Indeed no less than five times he has finished in the top eight in this tournament, including twice in his last two starts. He was also a winner in 2013.
Admittedly, his only visit to this course reaped T34th but a closing 66 suggested that he was far from inconvenienced by the challenge. He’s a past winner at Harbour Town (2011) and he’s running nicely into form, finishing T16 in the PGA Championship and then T19 at Colonial. 888Sport rate him a tempting 45/1 shot.
Back in 2012 Greg Owen likened this week’s test to “an English parkland course." If Lowry’s eyes see the same thing, it could be good news for the Irishman who was T12th in this event 12 months ago and third at Harbour Town in May.
In England he has six top 15 finishes at Wentworth alone, was second at Woburn and seventh at Close House. His second at Valderrama last year further enhances his reputation when faced with tight tee shots. He was also T8th last time out in the PGA Championship. He’s 50/1 with 888Sport.
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