Par 72, 7,253 yards
Last Week at Royal Troon –
Stenson Claims Claret Jug with Flawless 63
It was a superb battle between Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson in the final round of The Open Championship. They traded blows throughout the round with some accurate driving, superb iron play and great scrambling. Just when you thought one of them would drop a shot or two after a rare mistake, they would bounce back with in style. However it was Stenson who came out on top with four birdies in the last five holes that clinched the Claret Jug and gave us a nice 28/1 winner.
Glen Abbey hosts the RBC Canadian Open for the 28th time this year and was the first course Jack Nicklaus designed himself and first hosted Canada’s National Championship in 1977. Most recently, this event took place here in 2004,2008,2009, 2013 and 2015 so it will be worth checking for players with good course history. It is located near Lake Ontario and has four par 5’s, four par 3’s and 10 par 4’s and has nearly 100 bunkers and numerous water hazards. Three of the four par 5’s are on the back nine (13,16,18) which are three of the easiest holes on the course and will offer up some birdies and possibly eagles on the way in.
The opening nine holes are quite flat and shouldn’t be too much of a problem for the players to negotiate. However the back nine could be a little bit trickier with a distinguishing feature of the Glen Abbey course are the “Valley Holes”, numbered 11 through 15. On number 11, a par 4, players tee off a cliff to a fairway that is approximately 60 feet below on the valley floor. The second shot must clear Sixteen Mile Creek to the green. Holes 12, 13 and 14 all use Sixteen Mile Creek as a hazard in one form or another. Number 15 is a short par 3 with a sharply-sloping green, after which players climb out of the valley to the 16th hole. The winning score on this course has been between 16 and 18 under over the last few years so expect plenty of birdies.
The defending champion Jason Day proved that hitting fairways off the tee is not essential around here. He ranked T72 for driving accuracy but was second in driving distance and ranked fourth in strokes gained putting last year so that gives us a clue what to look out for statswise here. Key areas of focus here are GIR, strokes gained tee to green, driving distance, par 5 scoring and strokes gained putting. This course is quite short for PGA Tour standards so players with a bit of length along with good putting, scrambling and accurate iron play are worth considering here.
The World number two arrives in Canada after adding another top 10 finish to his season after finishing T9 at Royal Troon last week. He could have finished better last week in Troon but just didn’t make enough putts on those slower than average greens. The American has been in superb form recently finishing fourth in Riviera, third in Houston, T4 in Augusta, T12 at The Byron Nelson, third in Memorial, fifth at the St. Jude and back to back wins in Oakmont and Firestone.
Johnson was second here in 2013 and comes here in better form this time around. He ranks second in driving distance, 26th in GIR, 39th in strokes gained putting, 22nd in par 5 scoring and leads par 4 scoring. Favourites have a good record here over the years and after playing with such dominance over the last few weeks, Johnson has to be the man to beat here.
With the exception of the last two majors, Kuch has played great golf recently with five top 6’s in his last seven starts. He had a great week in Sawgrass finishing T3 and followed that with a solo third at The Byron Nelson, T6 at The Dean and Deluca Invitational, T4 at Memorial and T3 in Firestone.
He has played great here in the past finishing second last year and seventh in 2013. Statswise he ranks 33d in GIR, 22nd in strokes gained putting, 28th in scrambling and fifth in par 4 scoring. Kuchar is without a doubt one of the most consistent players on tour and I expect him to go well here.
The Argentinian started the season in style with and recorded his first win on The PGA Tour at the Frys.com Open. Lately he has three top 15’s in his last four starts and comes here on the back of a respectable T12 at The Open Championship in Royal Troon. He finished T17 at The Masters and followed that with a T11 at Memorial and a T14 at The WGC Bridgestone.
He played well here in Glen Abbey last year finishing in a respectable T22 for the tournament which included an opening round 64. He also ticks some statistical boxes here averaging just under 295 off the tee and ranks 30th in GIR and 34th in strokes gained off the tee. Grillo looks to have found some good form lately and could be one to watch here.
Knost has been in fine form over the last few weeks with three top 5’s and a top 20 in his last six starts. He played superb in Sawgrass finishing T3 which included an impressive 63 in round two. He followed that with a T4 at The Byron Nelson which included another 63 in round two, T18 at The St.Jude Classic and a solo third at the Barracuda Championship.
He started well here last year shooting 68,69 in the first two rounds but fell away over the weekend to finish T43. He leads driving accuracy hitting just under 75% of fairways off the tee and ranks 30th in strokes gained putting and 15th in scrambling. Knost is playing great golf lately and looks a very generous price this week.
The American won in Memorial a few weeks ago and played great golf throughout the tournament which included a superb third round 64. He has been playing well since mid-February finishing T20 at Riviera, T8 at The Honda and T9 at the RBC Heritage. He followed that with a T17 at The Wells Fargo, win in Memorial and a T7 at The WGC Bridgestone which included an opening round 64.
He has played well here in the past finishing T2 in 2013 shooting 69,67,68 over the weekend. He played here last year shooting 67,69,75,69 to finish T34, which would have been a lot better if it weren’t for the third round 75. Statswise he ranks 31st in strokes gained tee to green, 26th in strokes gained putting, 30th in driving accuracy and 17th in par 4 scoring.
Final Selections –
Dustin Johnson 3pts WIN 13/2
Matt Kuchar 1.5pts EW 14/1
Emiliano Grillo 1pt EW 40/1
Colt Knost 1pt EW 50/1
William McGirt 1pt EW 50/1
Total staked = 12 pts
Good luck and enjoy the golf,
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