It's been a few years since we last saw the RBC Canadian Open in action, as it was last hosted in June of 2019.
That year, Rory McIlroy ran away with it with a seven-shot lead. This year, the longtime defending champ joins only a small handful of big names at the top of the field, so how does that affect strategy for this week?
Let's dig into the course, the key stats, the win simulations, and the best bets of the week.
You can jump ahead to any specific section of the piece you would like.
St. George’s Golf and Country Club Course Info & Key Stats
Distance: 7,014 (short: ~200 yards shorter than the average par 70)
Fairway Acres/Yard: N/A (PGA average is 4.1)
Average Green Size: N/A
Green Type: N/A
Past 5 Winning Scores: -14 (2010 Canadian Open)
Past 5 Cut Lines: -1 (2010 Canadian Open)
Key Stats (in Order of Importance): Strokes Gained: Approach, Strokes Gained: Putting, Strokes Gained: Around the Green, Birdie or Better Rate
While the Canadian Open is a longstanding event in the golf world, we have not seen St. George's Golf and Country Club host an event since 2010. Before that, it was back in 1968. So, we're dealing with one event's worth of ShotLink data and need to take everything with a grain of salt.
The winner that year, Carl Pettersson, ranked third in strokes gained: putting and 14th in strokes gained: tee to green despite ranking 20th or worse among the cut-makers in all three individual tee-to-green stats.
The underlying data shows no real emphasis on the driver and more of an irons-and-putting setup overall.
That said, it's got some false fronts and plenty of bunkers, so strokes gained: around the green also makes the list.
Golfers With Great Course/Event History
I won't be factoring in course history, given that we have to dig back 12 years to do so.
Here are the most likely winners this week, according to my win simulation model, as well as their golf betting odds this week.
Win Simulation Analysis and Best Bets
This is a shorter list than usual of golfers with at least a 0.5% chance to win this week, per my model. The reason for it is that the model is loving the top of the field, and the top five alone -- Justin Thomas, Cameron Smith, Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, and Sam Burns -- comprise a 53.6% win rate. That's probably steeper than you'll see elsewhere, but I don't manually adjust things much at all (if ever).
That said, it's a week where I'm drawn toward betting some of the favorites -- specifically Smith and Thomas.
Daily Fantasy Golfer Picks for the RBC Canadian Open
All stats cited below originate at FantasyNational. Strokes gained data includes stats from the past calendar year and is adjusted based on my field strength and recency tweaks. Putting surface splits also come from FantasyNational and include the past 50 rounds when possible -- unless noted. All ranks and percentile ranks are among the field. References to my combo model refer to a combination of long-term, field-adjusted form, key stat performance, and hole-by-hole-level strokes gained data.
Best of the Best
Cameron Smith (FanDuel Salary: $11,600 | FanDuel Sportsbook Win Odds: +1500) - If we're going to downplay strokes gained: off the tee, then we have to bump up Smith. Smith ranks in the 55th percentile in this field in adjusted strokes gained: off the tee but is best in approach and 95th percentile (or better) in both short game stats. Smith also is an 81st-percentile scrambler, which could come into play with false fronts and undulation this week.
Tyrrell Hatton ($10,900 | +2700) - Hatton, like Smith, is a great golfer whose off-the-tee numbers aren't what ultimately separates him. If looking at strokes gained: approach through putting, Hatton is in the 99th percentile among this field and trails only Smith in that category. Hatton has three top-30 finishes in his past four starts and has elite putting splits to top it off. He sets up well this week.
Others to Consider:
Justin Thomas ($12,000 | +900) - Third in fairway through green stats while also a threat to gain off the tee; elite bunker player and scrambler.
Shane Lowry ($11,400 | +1800) - Fourth fairway through green; elite scrambler and bunker player.
Harold Varner ($10,400 | +3300) - Has some strong finishes lately and benefits from a de-emphasis on driver this week.
Chris Kirk ($9,800 | +5000) - Nobody with a salary below $10,000 has had a spike week in tee-to-green play over the past year more often than Kirk (42.9% of his events). The issue holding him back is a low-upside flat stick (4.8% spike week rate). Kirk, though, possesses 97th-percentile wedge play and has great sand save splits, and you'd rather see upside in the tee-to-green play and hope for a solid putting week rather than the other way around.
Pat Perez ($9,600 | +6500) - Okay, let me contradict myself right away. Perez has a spike week in just 9.5% of his past-year events from tee-to-green play (but 28.6% with the putter). If you exclude off-the-tee strokes gained, Perez is a 94th-percentile golfer in the field who should be able to hit fairways and save par.
Others to Consider:
Mackenzie Hughes ($9,800 | +5000) - Canada native but more importantly a great golfer outside the tee box.
Cheng-Tsung Pan ($9,600 | +6000) - Strong tee-to-green game (88th percentile) and a near-baseline putter.
David Lipsky ($9,400 | +8000) - Has 85th-percentile irons; 12 of 16 made cuts in 2022.
Matthias Schwab ($9,000 | +11000) - Schwab has one main weakness in his game (can you guess what it is? It's strokes gained: off the tee). His irons are about field average (51st percentile), and he combines that with a 95th-percentile adjusted short game. That's the path I'm taking this week, and in doing so, Schwab stands out among a really, really weak value range this week.
Mark Hubbard ($8,700 | +12000) - There are 82nd-percentile irons in Hubbard's bag, and he has 82nd-percentile-or-better splits in scrambling and sand saves, as well. Hubbard has bounced around between the Korn Ferry Tour and PGA Tour recently, and this field's relative weakness helps buy into some solid recent finishes.
Others to Consider:
Rory Sabbatini ($8,800 | +11000) - Has made six straight cuts with decent strokes gained upside in his profile.
Adam Long ($8,600 | +12000) - The best long-term golfer in my model over the past year with a salary below $9,000.
Wesley Bryan ($8,100 | +21000) - A sheer course-fit play; dreadful off the tee but quite good elsewhere.