Normally the week after a major championship, you can expect a very watered-down field at the following PGA Tour event. This week that stop is the national championship of Canada, the RBC Canadian Open at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club in Vancouver. And while many of the top Europeans are taking this week off and a few top Americans like Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson stayed across the pond and are playing in the European Tour event this week, the Canadian Open does have a pretty solid field – mostly because of big-money sponsor RBC.
In fact, there’s no question the field has been upgraded from recent years, with more players making the trip from the British Open. Those on hand include world No. 1 Luke Donald, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, reigning Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year Jim Furyk, and Ernie Els.
Shaughnessy plays host for the first time since 2005 -- and only the fourth time ever -- and gets the nod as the course is celebrating its 100th anniversary. The venue is a traditional tight, short (7,010 yards, par 70) layout. The 4-inch rough will be, well, rough this week, and staying out of it will be key. Most fairways have been pinched to just 25 or 27 yards in width. And the greens here are some of the smallest PGA Tour players ever see.
“You've got to hit it straight,” said Rich Beem. “If not, you are going to be in for a long week. The rough is absolutely brutal."
PGA Tour Odds: The Favorites
As you would expect, the top-ranked Donald is the Bodog favorite this week at 8/1. In PGA Tour-sanctioned events, Donald has been a bit off of late. After eight consecutive Top-10 finishes in Tour events, he finished T45 at the U.S. Open and he missed the cut at the British Open on his home soil as Donald had high hopes to win his first major. Donald did win right before the British Open in Scotland, and the last time he missed the cut, at the Northern Trust Open in California to start his PGA Tour season, he won the next week at the WGC-Match Play. Plus, he was third here last year.
Many people believe Rickie Fowler (16/1) can get his first PGA Tour victory this week. He played terrific last week with a T5 at Royal St. George’s and was T13 in his previous tournament at the AT&T National. My concern with him is that it’s his first Canadian Open, and like everyone else who played the British Open, he's dealing with an eight-time-zone difference.
Matt Kuchar is the second-favorite this week at 11/1. He was Mr. Consistency, having made 29 consecutive cuts prior to missing last week at the British Open. Hard to imagine he doesn’t bounce back at an event in which he tied for fourth last year, albeit at a different course. But Kuchar is way overdue for a win.
Schwartzel (16/1) has proven his Masters win was no fluke: He has made 10 starts this year and has seven Top-25 finishes, including a tie for 16th at last week's British Open. He is seventh on the Tour in scoring average.
Canadian Open Predictions: Interesting Long Shots and Picks
Anthony Kim (33/1) has played this tournament twice and hasn’t finished worse than eighth. And he enters off a T5 at the British Open.
Carl Pettersson (50/1) is the defending champion. He made the cut on the number but followed with a third-round 60. Then he shot a 67 on Sunday and rallied from six strokes behind with 11 holes to play to beat Dean Wilson by a stroke. Pettersson played a stretch of eight holes starting at No. 8 at 6-under as Wilson played them in 2-over.
I rather like Ben Crane at 60/1. He is one of the few who played this course back when the Canadian Open was held here in 2005. He tied for second with a score of 4-under, just one back of winner Mark Calcavecchia. One concern is that Crane hasn’t played very well since a T6 at the Heritage back in late April, and he missed the cut last week. He hasn’t played this tournament since 2005, but he hits the ball straight as anyone and that’s important this week. He’s the best long-shot value.