With one week to go until the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, the PGA Tour travels north of the border this week for the RBC Canadian Open.
The Canadian Open has a brand new date this year, moving from its traditional July spot on the calendar. And while the date is new, the golf course is an old tried-and-true Canadian gem. After spending the last four years at Glen Abbey Golf Club, the tournament moves back to Hamilton Golf & CC for the first time since 2012.
The field will feature three of the top five players in the world including No. 1 Brooks Koepka, who will tee it up for the first time since winning the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black. World No. 2 and defending champion Dustin Johnson also returns to Canada looking for his second win of the season—he fired a final-round 66 a year ago to win the event by three shots.
Along with Brooks and DJ, Rory McIlroy makes his first trip to the Canadian Open following a MC at the Memorial. Also making his Canadian debut this week is Justin Thomas, who despite a MC at Muirfield Village, did not suffer any setbacks in his recovery from an injured wrist.
Hamilton Golf & CC is a unique golf course when it comes to the PGA Tour—it’s one of very few that measures under 7,000 yards, and it features tight landing areas off the tee and even smaller greens.
Nuts and bolts
Course: Hamilton Golf & CC (6,966 Par 70)
Defending champion: Dustin Johnson (-23, 265) at Glenn Abbey Golf Club
Weather forecast: Partly cloudy with temperatures in the low 60’s
Dustin Johnson (5/1, $12,600)
While his buddy Brooks Koepka admittedly has trouble getting up for non-majors, DJ does not, especially with his eyes on Pebble Beach next week. Johnson is gearing up for what should be the perfect fit at the U.S. Open, and what better way to sharpen his focus for a major than playing well as the defending champ in Canada? A win, T8 and T2 the last three years at Glenn Abbey show he loves heading north, though he missed the cut at Hamilton back in 2012. Of course he has the length to overpower the golf course, but Johnson’s short game is severely underrated as he ranks sixth in strokes gained putting, 17th in scrambling and 36th in strokes gained around the green.
Webb Simpson (24/1, $10,800)
Perfect fit for the style of golf that will be required to win this week in Canada. The former Players Champion is an expert at navigating his way around a tight golf course, using his exquisite short game to save strokes. Simpson ranks fourth in scrambling, 11th in strokes gained around the green and has been very accurate off the tee this season, ranking 18th in driving accuracy. He recently followed up his T5 at the Masters with a top 20 at the RBC Heritage (tight golf course) and has been playing steady golf for almost two months now.
Scott Piercy (32/1, $10,500)
The last time the Canadian Open was at Hamilton (2012), Piercy was the man who hoisted the trophy. Now , seven years later, Piercy returns playing some of the best golf of his career. He finished third at the RBC Heritage and second at the Byron Nelson and is deadly accurate, which sets up well this week. He currently ranks eighth in greens in regulation and 21st in driving accuracy. And he misses a green, he gets up and down a ton (he’s 28th in scrambling). It certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see Piercy win his fifth Tour event this week.
Bud Cauley (55/1, $9,800)
Cauley is a short game wizard, which makes it no surprise he finished T4 the last time the Canadian Open visited Hamilton back in 2012. Cauley is currently No. 1 on tour in strokes gained around the green and ranks 13th in scrambling. The 29-year-old Alabama product is also fresh off his best finish of the season after a T9 at the Memorial.
Mackenzie Hughes (190/1, $8,700)
When playing in Canada… you might as well pick one Canadian! Hughes has had an up-and-down year but seems to have found his game following a T9 at Colonial, which is another short, tight layout. Hughes grew up less than a half hour from Hamilton Golf Club and has played the course dozens of times. His short game also lines up decently this week ,ranking inside the top 75 on tour in strokes gained around the green and scrambling. Mac should rely on that, as well as his home course knowledge to be in the mix.
Sergio Garcia (24/1, $10,700)
Garcia put together back-to-back top fives just a few weeks ago, but the fit for Hamilton Golf & CC is just not there for the Spaniard. He returns to the Canadian Open after a MC at Glenn Abbey a year ago, and his short game and accuracy off the tee are just not in order for this golf course: 132nd in scrambling, 141st in strokes gained around the green and 155th in driving accuracy.