The PGA TOUR returns to Canada this week for the RBC Canadian Open. This year marks the first time since 2019 that the event will be featured on the PGA TOUR schedule, as the pandemic led to cancelations of the event in 2020 and 2021. Rory McIlroy is the last winner of this event when it was held at Hamilton Golf & Country Club in 2019. This week does feature a full field, with over 150 golfers in the attendance, and will feature a strong top end, with five of the top 10 golfers in the OWGR teeing it up. The event will take place at St. George’s G&CC, a 7,014 yard par 70 that last hosted the event in 2010.
With the U.S. Open taking place the week after the RBC Canadian Open, a lot of big names have made the trek up North to get in some competitive practice. Both Justin Thomas ($10,900) and Scottie Scheffler ($11,100), the year’s first two major championship winners, are in the field. Sam Burns ($10,000), winner at another tricky par-70 track (Colonial) two weeks ago, is also making an appearance. As is Cameron Smith ($10,300), who suffered a dismal Sunday last weekend and ended the Memorial T13. The last time we saw the Canadian Open played, it was on another shorter par-70 track in Hamilton, and that event was won at -22 by Rory McIlroy ($10,500). Given the way some of the top names in the world have performed this year, it wouldn’t be shocking to see another dominate win by one of them on what will be a shorter than normal setup for the pros.
Shorter courses tend to put an emphasis on short irons, short games and putting. We should expect the Stanley Thompson-designed St. George’s G&CC to emphasize those specific facets of the game. In 2010, we saw Carl Pettersson take down the event at St. George’s, a player who ranked 137th in driving distance that season. Pettersson also ranked third in strokes gained putting that year and was able to craft a round of 60 on St. George’s in the third round, on his way to the win. The greens at St. George’s are bentgrass and, with rain in the forecast, could be very receptive for 2022. McIlroy ranks first in strokes gained putting on bentgrass greens over the last 24 rounds.
Players who have good track records at short courses and have solid proximity stats with their short irons should also be valued highly this week. Matthias Schwab ($7,300) and Rory Sabbatini ($7,200) both rank inside the top 10 in proximity from 125-150 yards over the last 24 rounds while Smith and David Lipsky ($7,300) both rank inside the top 10 in proximity from 100-125 yards over that same span.
Last year, the week before the U.S. Open, we saw Garrick Higgo take down his first PGA TOUR title at the Palmetto Championship, in what was only his second PGA TOUR start. Strange things can happen the week prior to a major, and there’s plenty of interesting names down the field to take a look at this week for our daily fantasy golf lineups.
Cameron Smith ($10,300)
Smith found himself in contention again last week but fell back to T13 after a poor Sunday. He has wins at both Waialae Country Club (Sony Open) and TPC Sawgrass (THE PLAYERS), two shorter tracks on the PGA TOUR where short irons, short games and putting are all magnified. The course this week will be much less demanding off the tee than the venues seen in Smith’s last two starts, and that should allow the rest of his game to shine through. He’s been showcasing an elite approach game of late and ranks first in proximity from 100-125 yards out over the last 24 rounds. Starting DFS lineups with Smith this week on a suitable layout makes complete sense when looking at the top of the board.
Corey Conners ($9,600)
Conners has typically held himself very well at some of the shorter tracks on the PGA TOUR. He landed a T12 at Hilton Head in April and was also T11 at the aforementioned Waialae Country Club in Hawaii this January. Obviously, the Canadian will be playing in his national open, which will make this week a little more special for him than the rest of the field, so seeing him attack with a little more seriousness wouldn’t be shocking. A wet course with high greens in regulations also wouldn’t be terrible for Conners, as he gained over 8.0 strokes on approach last week at the Memorial and is second in the field in proximity stats over the last 50 rounds.
David Lipsky ($7,300)
If you’re looking to take a shot with a player lower down the board this week, then perhaps think about looking to Lipsky, who has been playing solid golf of late. The former Korn Ferry and European Tour winner ranks 12th in strokes gained approach stats over the last 50 rounds and has done well over the last couple of weeks on tougher setups (T37 last week at Muirfield). Lipsky’s strong short-iron game should shine through at St. George’s, and he won't be as disadvantaged by his lack of distance off the tee. Stephan Jaeger ($7,300) and C.T. Pan ($8,100) are a couple of other potential value targets for DFS this week, as they’ve been trending well on approach and should set up well for this older, more technical venue.
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