Today's Free Picks for
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Posted June 8 at 12:35 PM EST prior to tee-off and are subject to change.
RBC Canadian Open Preview
The Saudi Arabian backed LIV TOUR kicks off this week in London, and that accounts for the absence of the formerly RBC sponsored Dustin Johnson (good riddance), Sergio Garcia, Kevin Na and others from the field for the Canadian Open. Whether those that have rebelled against the PGA TOUR’s wishes to not play in the event will regret their decision remains to be seen, but golf’s premier competition continues regardless with another quality field north of the border.
Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns will be looking to add to their already bustling collections of silverware, while Rory McIlroy – the defending champion, of sorts – will also be heading to Toronto alongside Justin Thomas, Cameron Smith and Shane Lowry. There will be plenty for patriotic Canadian supporters to cheer for, with Corey Conners leading a strong home contingent that also includes Adam Hadwin and Mackenzie Hughes.
This Week's Course Preview
The RBC Canadian Open has enjoyed something of a nomadic existence over the years. Glen Abbey, Hamilton Golf and Country Club and Royal Montreal have all taken on hosting duties in the past decade, but it’s back to another former host this time around – St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Toronto. Last seen in 2010 when it hosted this very event, St. George’s was – and still is, by all accounts – a pristine parklands course that offers an excellent examination of every department of one’s golf game.
Designed by Stanley Thompson in 1929 and given an overhaul by Ian Andrew and Tom Doak in 2014, St. George’s is a short Par 70 at around 7,014 yards, although it’s worth noting that unlike most Par 70s, this one features three Par 5s and five Par 3s. There’s some pretty dense tree-lines going on and gently doglegging fairways, and some reasonably tight landing zones are flanked by what has been, historically at least, thick rough best avoided. The greens, which are a Bentgrass and Poa mix, are undulating in nature and run at a fair pace, and from tee-to-green there are some marked elevation changes and undulations for the players to contend with.
What We’re Looking For:
While Strokes Gained data wasn’t even used the last time that St. George’s hosted the RBC Canadian Open, we do at least have some idea as to what type of player we should focus on. It’s tight off the tee, and the tree-lines are such that we don’t see many or any of the players being able to successfully cut off corners and take short cuts with the big stick – unless the course has changed markedly, this is a less-than-driver layout where finding the short stuff is key.
The greens at St. George’s are not huge, and they run at a fair pace – unless the rain slows them down – so quality on approach, and a reliable chipping game for missed greens, is another key. The putting surfaces are undulating in nature too, but you suspect that much of the damage will be done from tee-to-green – particularly if the rain takes away the edge that the flat stick supremos would otherwise have.
Carl Pettersson, the 2010 champion at this course, enjoyed a decent PGA TOUR career that would also see him win at Sedgefield (Wyndham Championship), Innisbrook (Valspar Championship) and Muirfield Village (Memorial Tournament). Those are all tree-lined parklands courses with smaller-than-average greens and undulations, so they are correlations that can act as useful indicators for our choices this week.
To Win outright:
Sahith Theegala 60-1
Ordinarily, we might argue that Sahith Theegala’s salary/odds are too short this week, given that he’s a veritable rookie on TOUR. However, we’re always looking for under-the radar pros that are ready to pop and Theegala checks a lot of boxes. There is something very impressive about this 24-year-old, and in a week where the big guns’ minds might wander (US Open next week), Theegala is exactly the kind of player that can strike. He’s a really solid ball-striker at his best, and has served up four top-10s on the PGA TOUR this season – two of them at correlating courses at Muirfield Village and Innisbrook. He could have won at the Phoenix Open too, so the trajectory is very positive for Theegala and when he does inevitably pop, we’re going to be in on it (Risking 0.2 units to win 12 units). Top-5 finish at 10-1 (Risking 0.5 units to win 5 units).
John Huh 175-1
While hardly a leading light of the golfing world, John Huh can make it work when the conditions suit – hence why he’s finished in the top-25 of around 25% of his PGA TOUR starts this season. He’s a short hitter who can hit outstanding iron shots when not straining for length, and his T12 return at Colonial last time out was testament to that. Huh gained 2.13 strokes on the field despite losing ground with the putter – that’s how good he played tee-to-green. More of the same at St. George’s please (albeit with a better return with flat stick in hand). Some key stats reveal that Huh ranks 24th ON TOUR in Driving Accuracy, 50th in Par 4 Scoring Average and 61st in Birdie Average. At odds like this, he’s worth a bet. (Risking 0.1 units to win 17.5 units) (Also Risking 0.3 units to win 7.5 units at 25-1 to finish top-5).
Brendon Todd 70-1
Brendon Todd brings a unique skill set that sees him ranked as one of the most accurate drivers on the PGA TOUR and one of its very best putters. But the bit in-between? That can be something of a problem, although he makes our board this week on account of the fact that he has gained strokes on the field on approach in five of his last six stroke-play starts, which have yielded a solo third at the Charles Schwab Challenge, T8 at the Mexico Open and two other top-30s. Todd is another who should take to the test at St. George’s, and he should have something of an edge on the field in at least two departments this week. Todd Ranks 5th ON TOUR in Driving Accuracy, and 6th ON TOUR in SG: Putting (Risking 0.2 units to win 14 units to win outright). (Risking 0.5 units to win 5.5 units to finish TOP-5 at 11-1).
H2H Matchups (All these wagers can be found at Pinnacle Sports.
John Huh +103 over Doug Ghim (Risking 2 units to win 2.06 units).
Sahith Theegala +114 over Keth Mitchell (Risking 2 units to win 2.28 units).
Brandon Todd -107 over Dylan Frittelli (Risking 2.14 units to win 2).
Other notables we considered.
J.J. Spaun 90-1
In the spirit of backing undervalued sleepers with plenty of upside, we’re banking on J.J. Spaun’s woes at the Charles Schwab Challenge being a red herring in a sea of quality this term. In his last 10 strokeplay starts, Spaun has gained strokes on approach on the field in seven of them – significantly so in the case of his Texas Open win and at the Valspar Championship, which is incidentally played at one of our correlating courses. Supremely accurate off the tee, Spaun should have ample opportunity for his edges to shine at St. George’s – assuming, that is, his Charles Schwab horror-show was simply a one-off.
J.T. Poston 110-1
The golf course and the scheduling of the RBC Canadian Open dictate that taking a chance on an outlier or two could yield rewards. J.T. Poston is a player who, when he gets on a roll, is capable of contending – as he did at the RBC Heritage earlier this term, and a deep dive into his numbers yields some interesting results. He’s gained strokes on the field on approach in five of his last six starts, with the same return on the greens. Forced out of his comfort zone at the bomb-heavy Colonial, Poston was more in control at Muirfield Village and bounced back from an opening 78 to finish T37 – ranking fourth and 12th for SG: Approach in two of his rounds. From small acorns, mighty oaks will grow.
Tyler Duncan 140-1
It’s testament to the ball-striking prowess of Tyler Duncan that in his last seven measured strokeplay starts, he has gained strokes putting in three of them – and finished T12, T15 and T25 as a consequence. It’s a game of risk-and-reward then, trying to guess when his stronger week with the flat stick is forthcoming, although it should be noted that his best putting performance of the season - +0.91 – came at the Charles Schwab Challenge in his latest outing. That bodes very nicely for a quality iron player who ranks ninth on TOUR for Driving Accuracy.
PGA Wagers (Risking 7.94 units - To Win: 0.00)