RBC Canadian Open Fantasy Preview

What a great weekend of golf over in Scotland. Lee Westwood finally learned how to putt and appeared primed to finally get that Major, only to fall short like he has so many times. Tiger put himself in position, but couldn’t put together anything on Sunday. Adam Scott made his usual Majors-push but it was Phil Mickelson who came from the back of the pack to steal the victory and win his first Open Championship. Mickelson shot a 5-under on Sunday, a truly remarkable feat considering how difficult Muirfield was playing.

Unlike the U.S. Open, there wasn’t as much bitching and moaning about how hard the course was. There was still a few comments, but generally players seemed to blame the weather more than the R&A for the course setup. Now we head back to North America, but take a detour in Canada before returning to the United States. This week is the RBC Canadian Open, and nobody will be complaining about how hard this course it set up after watching or playing at Muirfield last week. The tournament will be played at Glen Abbey Golf Course in Ontario, Canada. The course is set up to play about 7,250 yards and is the same site of the 2009 and 2008 Canadian Opens. If you are a course history buff, then take an extra look at those years when you are making your picks this week.

Canadian Open

Overall, I would suggest ignoring most of the course history since this tournament has rotated to numerous venues over the years. Instead of leaning on course history this week, I would suggest taking a look at four key stats: Par 4 Scoring Average, Adjusted Scoring Average, Scrambling, and Strokes Gained Putting (in that order).

One theory I would like to address is players doing poorly after playing in the Open Championship the week before in Europe. I took a look at the last three years and 83 players have played in the Open Championship as well as the Canadian Open. If these players supposedly do so poorly after playing the Open, how do you explain 22 of these players finishing in the Top 25? That is 26.5 percent that finish in the Top 25. These aren’t all premier golfers that played in both, so 26.5% is a very solid percentage. There will be a few exceptions, like Ernie Els last year who struggled and missed the Canadian Open cut after winning the Open Championship. Overall, golfers that played last week are fair game, and should not be ignored or devalued. Lets pick away:

Group A

Brandt Snedeker: After a mid-season injury slash struggle, Snedeker is returning to form and has three consecutive Top 25 finishes. A healthy Sneds means a competitive Sneds, and that makes him for favorite to win for the week.

Chris Kirk: Chris Kirk is a birdie machine, and can scramble his ass off. All his stats are too good this year to go winless. 1st in Par 4 Scoring, 1st in Scrambling, and 1st in Bogey Avoidance. Kirk has made 15 of 18 cuts this year, and I see no reason why that won’t be 16 of 19 after this week.

Chez Reavie: Chez won at Glen Abbey back in 2008 so that gives him a big boost. He is also made big strides this year to get back to his old form. Chez is 8th in Par 4 Scoring and Top 50 in Adjusted Scoring. The success at Glen Abbey plus great form makes him a very tempting option this week.

Group B

Graham DeLaet: You may give Graham a natural boost in your mind this week since he is Canadian. Afterall, this is the Canadian Open. You should probably think again. DeLaet is from Weyburn, Saskatchewan which is a 21 hour drive to Ontario. Giving him a boost just because he is Canadian would be like giving Zach Johnson a boost for a tournament played in Florida, just because Zach from the United States. I still think Graham is a legitimate contender due to overall game improvement this year… not because he is Canadian. No Canadian has won the Canadian Open since 1954, just sayin’.

Matt Kuchar: Mr. Kuchar is a perfect 16 for 16 on the year in cuts made. Not only does he make cuts, but he can finish on Sunday as well. Taking a look at Golfmanna’s handy Fourth Round Performance Stats, we can see Kuchar ranks 21st in fourth round scoring, and improves his tournament position an average 3.7 spots on Sunday. Kuchar should be as safe as they come this week.

Bob Estes: Bob Estes loves Glen Abbey. He finished 14th and 8th respectively in 2008 and 2009. He is also playing like a young man again: He is 3rd in Scrambling, 2nd in Bogey Avoidance and 32nd in Adjusted Scoring. It’s hard not to like Bob this week.

Hunter Mahan: Mahan has a strong track record at the Canadian Open, making a perfect 8 for 8 in cuts made since 2003. He tied for fourth at Glen Abbey back in 2004, but didn’t play in 2008 or 2009. Mahan is a candidate for exhaustion after playing in the final group last weekend at Muirfield. That is a big dropoff in pressure playing in the final group at the Open vs. the RBC Canadian Open, and you have to wonder if his state of mind will be “all there”.

Group C

Hideki Matsuyama on the riseRyan Palmer: Ryan Palmer is my one-and-done pick this week. I don’t expect to use him again this year and he seems to like playing in Canada. Palmer has finished Top 25 four of the last five Canadian Opens that he has played in, including one Top 25 at Glen Abbey. Palmer is playing the best golf of his career so trot him out in your lineups with confidence.

Charl Schwartzel: Schwartzel made his rounds on the internet last week with his club throw out of frustration at the Open that led to a broken 6-iron. Charl should welcome the return to easier golf, so he can continue his Top 25 dominance that he’s had all season. Charl has finished Top 25 in 9 of the 12 tournaments he’s played in this year. Most of them have been on courses he’s never played at before this year, so this week will be no different. Chalk him up for another Top 25.

Hideki Matsuyama: Since turning pro, Matsuyama has played 10 tournaments since turning pro, and finished Top 10 in nine of those! Most of them have been in Japan vs. inferior competition, but it also includes Top 10′s at the U.S. Open and the Open Championship. Matsuyama is the real deal but can he bring the same intensity to a regular PGA Tour event that he does to a Major? We are about to find out this week. If I didn’t like Charl and Palmer so much this week, Matsuyama would be my next in line as far as Group C is concerned.

Keepers

ExpertKeeperWhy the Pick?YTD
The 19th HoleBrandt SnedekerDefinitely cooled off some after being red hot earlier this year, but he is still one of the best all-around golfers in the game.
Avg Finish: 46th
Future of FantasyBrandt SnedekerSneds is back in form, and ready to resume what he started earlier in the year... Winning. Avg Finish: 37th
Jake GaerBrandt SnedekerSmallish greens and mediumish length course. Sneds is playing well as of late..Avg Finish: 33rd

Sleepers

ExpertSleeperWhy the Pick?YTD
The 19th HoleDaniel SummerhaysHe is playing great golf over his last three starts and is in good form coming into this week.Avg Finish: 59th
Future of FantasyRyan PalmerFour Top 10s already this year. 6th in Birdie or Better percentage. Ready to go low this week. Avg Finish: 51st
Jake GaerChris StroudHot to Trot lately. Avg Finish: 49th

Top 15 for the 2013 RBC Canadian Open

1. Brandt Snedeker
2. Matt Kuchar
3. Luke Donald
4. Charl Schwartzel
5. Bubba Watson
6. Jim Furyk
7. Ryan Palmer
8. Bob Estes
9. Billy Horschel
10. Chris Kirk
11. Hunter Mahan
12. John Rollins
13. Hideki Matsuyama
14. Morgan Hoffmann
15. Graham DeLaet

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