GO GET THAT! After an epic finish at The 146th Open, it’s time relax for a laid-back event in Canada.
Many golfers will be making the charter flight back from the Open to play this week. Part of that is due to sponsor obligations, plenty of the big guns are affiliated with RBC. Has the travel mattered in the past? Should we be fading anyone that just played in The Open? The answer is NO to both questions. Two of the last three winners at Glen Abbey Golf Club were right in the thick of things at The Open before flying to Canada and hoisting the trophy. One of those was Jason Day who co-lead after 54 holes at the 2015 Open before falling just short. He didn’t let that phase him too much as he took care of business at Glen Abbey the following week, which was actually a victory that sparked his stellar run of 4 wins in a 6-start stretch.
As you may have noticed from the paragraph above, Glen Abbey is hosting the event this year. It has recently hosted this tournament in 2016, 2015, 2013, 2009, and 2008. There have been slight alterations to the venue over the years, and last year we found out the course might not exist in 10 years. Most importantly, we’ve seen the grounds crew soften their stance on rough. Previously letting it grow to U.S. Open type lengths, but now cutting it around 3 inches. There was also weather issues that forced the greens to be transitioned from poa annua to bentgrass. Last year was the first year they were exclusively bentgrass, so keep that in mind if you’re leaning heavily on course history.
Before we reach the greens, what kind of skillset is required at Glen Abbey? Looking at hole-level stats we see that 12-of-14 driving holes allow a field average driving distance of 280 yards or more.
At the same time, 12-of-14 driving holes allow a fairway-hit percentage of less than 58.
When we get high driving distance but low accuracy, that generally means that golfers are gripping it and ripping it. It is very advantagous to be in the fairways here but some of the fairways are really tough to hit, whether you club down or smack it, so most golfers are going to choose driver this week.
The par 5s are where you need to feast this week. All four of the par 5s are under 560 yards, that is SHORT. Golfers with the best scoring versus the field on these short par 5s include: Dustin Johnson, Gary Woodland, Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, J.T. Poston, Ryan Brehm, Keegan Bradley, Luke List, Tony Finau, and Shane Lowry. A lot of firepower on that list, which should be very benefical to DFSers where birdies and eagles are crucial.
Glen Abbey is also a Jack Nicklaus design, one of his first, so you will hear a lot about a left-to-right ball flight this week. Looking at Nicklaus Design Specialists could prove worthy by week’s end. For other angles and quotes, check out the Fantasy Golfanac.
Given the course rotation at this event, I had a bit less data to work with but correlated course I found include: TPC Boston, TPC River Highlands, TPC Summerlin, Muirfield Village, and TPC Southwind. Any strong or consistent performances at those venues could be used as a tiebreaker this week.
Players to Watch
Dustin Johnson… Finally showed some signs of life after back-to-back MCs. His final round was a disaster at Royal Birkdale but this week’s course will suit him much better, allowing him to bomb-and-gouge to his heart’s desire. Kuchar may be the safer option if you want a cut made or a top 20 but DJ has the best winning potential in the field. Easily.
Matt Kuchar… Speaking of Kuchar, he is coming off a heartbreaking loss to Spieth last week. It was his best performance in a major, and likely his best chance to close the door in a major. Will he have a huge letdown week? I wouldn’t bank on it. I would actually use Jason Day in 2015 as a good comp for Kuchar this week. At that stage in his career, Day was still major-less and he just lost grasp on another chance (co-leading after 54 at The Open, finishing T4). He used it as positive momentum to launch his move up the world rankings, winning at Glen Abbey and also winning the PGA Championship that year. If Kuchar wins this week and finishes T12 at the Bridgestone, then we can just look in a win at Quail Hollow.
Stewart Cink… Didn’t even consider Cink at Royal Birkdale, but Glen Abbey is a much better fit for the aging bomber. Despite his age, he still keeps it up with the big boys off the tee and he’s been an absolute machine with his approach game this season. Adding to the seemingly good fit, he’s backed that up with finishes of T4 (2004) and T5 (2015) at this venue. Heyyyo.
Ricky Barnes… Speaking of old guys with some success at the course. Old Rickster has finished T11 and T5 here over the last two years. A nice boom-bust option this week, but he’s still lost strokes off-the-tee in more than 15 straight events.
Danny Lee … Made the trip to Royal Birkdale but got stranded as an alternate. His mid-tourney WD was killer for a lot of gamers but he’s still gained 6+ strokes over the field in 5 of his last 8 starts.
David Lingmerth… Another golfer that was on a heater before finishing T64 and MC in his last two starts. On top of that he has a clear love for Nicklaus Designs, with only three golfers in the field gaining more strokes on Nicklaus Tracks since 2014 (Kuchar, Furyk, McGirt).
Brandt Snedeker… Withdrew from The Open with an injury but now he’s going to tee it up here just to please his RBC sponsors? Sounds dicey, which is why he dropped way down my rankings to #20.
Chez Reavie… Glen Abbey is the site on his lone PGA TOUR win. He also has four straight top 45s (two inside the top 20). Trending converging nicely for Chezster but back in 2008 the rough was grown up to 4 inches here and the greens were poa annua. A slightly different version of the course that favored the straight shooters a bit more. Overall a good option but if he starts to gain too much popularity this week, he could be one to fade on FanDuel and DraftKings.
Charley Hoffman… Top 20s in three of his last four starts, including two on links-style courses which have traditionally been tough for Chuckles. Playing well when the course doesn’t fit is always great news. Don’t be worried about playing four days at Royal Birkdale, Hoffman should be heavily targeted this week.
Tony Finau… A bomb-and-gouge track with bentgrass greens? Sounds like a job for Tony. His old reputation for being boom-or-bust has long been shed as he provides some of the most consistent results from week-to-week, especially in a thin field like this one.
Patrick Cantlay… Wish I knew where he’s been for the last month and a half. Given his history of injury and lack of any status updates, I have to fade him as he makes his first start since June 4th. Could be a costly fade, because this is an event he could definitely win, but I will take my chances.
My Top 25 for the 2017 RBC Canadian Open
1. Dustin Johnson
2. Matt Kuchar
3. Charley Hoffman
4. Tony Finau
5. Stewart Cink
6. Bubba Watson
7. Jim Furyk
8. David Lingmerth
9. Danny Lee
10. Chez Reavie
11. Keegan Bradley
12. Ian Poulter
13. Shane Lowry
14. James Hahn
15. Gary Woodland
16. J.B. Holmes
17. Kevin Chappell
18. Chad Campbell
19. Harris English
Brandt Snedeker Sneds WD; Add Daniel Summerhays to the end of the list as #25
21. Sean O’Hair
22. Ben Martin
23. Ollie Schniederjans
24. Graham DeLaet
25. Anirban Lahiri