Last week at the Memorial we got off to a good start with Cameron Smith getting out to an early 36-hole lead and it looked like we had a great chance to cash our third outright in three weeks.
Then much to our chagrin, Smith fell off over the weekend and Billy Horschel made a Saturday surge and took a 5-stroke lead into the final round.
After back-to-back weeks with improbable comeback wins, we witnessed a pretty mundane Sunday with Horschel shooting a 65 and cruising to victory — ultimately winning by 4 strokes.
As for the picks, the derivatives were slightly profitable with Cameron Smith, Will Zalatoris, Sungjae Im and Joaquim Niemann all finishing in the top 20 for us, but it was a small losing tournament after accounting for the units lost on the outrights not having Bill Horschel in our outright portfolio.
That was only our third losing tournament this season and now we will look to get back in the winning column this week at the RBC Canadian Open.
This week’s track is at St. George’s Golf and Country Club, a course that is widely regarded as the nicest course in Canada.
It is a par-70 that measures in at just over 7,000 yards and it is a tight, tree-lined track with the third-smallest greens on Tour and second most bunkers. Similar to last week, there will once again be an emphasis on accuracy off the tee, ball-striking and solid around-the-green play.
As aforementioned, the course is loaded with bunkers — 104 total on the entire course — so if the players don’t hit it straight off the tee, they will be finding themselves in trouble either in the thick rough or in the sand.
Precision off the tee will be paramount this week, which is going to favor the accurate ballstrikers over the bombers.
Historically, the RBC Canadian Open has been a very low-scoring event. The event rotates sites, but the last time it was played pre-COVID in 2019, Rory McIlroy won at -22. The last time it was played here at St. George’s in 2010, Carl Pettersson won at -14.
The winner will likely have to shoot in the low teens this week, so we are placing a heavy emphasis on birdies or better gained due to the high birdie and eagle rate at this course.
Statistics to Look At
It is going to take a combination of accurate driving, solid approach shots, good around-the-green play, bunker skills and bentgrass putting to contend this week.
For those reasons, the key metrics that our model is using to compile our portfolio this week are: Good Drives Gained, Fairways Gained, Strokes-Gained: Approach, Strokes-Gained: Par 4’s 400-450, Strokes-Gained: Par 5’s, Strokes-Gained: Par 3’s 200-250, Birdies Gained, Sand Saves, and Three-Putt Avoidance.
2022 RBC Canadian Open Bets Outright Winner Picks, Odds
If there was ever a player who was tailor-made for a specific course, it would be Matt Fitzpatrick and St. Georges.
As we alluded to in the course preview, precision will be paramount at this golf course — both off the tee and on approach — and Fitzpatrick ranks No.1 in strokes gained on the approach and No. 2 in strokes gained off the tee.
Fitzpatrick is also one of the best bunker players and bentgrass putters in the world, the two other elements that St. George’s demands.
He did miss the cut last week at the Memorial, but it was due to bad putting variance, not bad ball-striking. He gained over 5 strokes ball-striking but lost a whopping 6.5 strokes putting in only two rounds.
Outside of his flukey missed cut last week, he has been in tremendous form with eight top-20 finishes in his last 11 starts — three of which were top-five finishes.
With St. George’s demanding accuracy off the tee and a strong short game, it is all lining up for Fitzpatrick to thrive and threaten his first career victory on the PGA Tour.
If it seems like we are betting Shane Lowry every week, it is because we have been, and even though we really like him next week at the US Open, he is a great course fit this week as well. He ranks first in scrambling, second in sand saves and par-3 scoring and fifth in total strokes gained.
After four straight top 15 finishes, Lowry has fallen out of contention as of late — with a 23rd and 32nd-place finish in his last two. But he has had three top-five finishes on the season and was the runner up the last time this event was played here, so he has the course fit as well. As long as he can avoid the Sunday meltdowns he had his past two starts, he should once again be in one of the final pairings come Sunday.
If it wasn’t for his shaky driver, Hatton would be among the top five in metrics we are looking for this week.
However, his inconsistent off-the-tee play shouldn’t be that big of a factor on this short track this week, which sets up really well for Hatton.
He is an elite putter and he has the approach and around the green game to do very well at a course like St. George’s.
Hatton has been in good form this season, finishing in the top 25 in seven of 12 events and missed the cut just once. He has been at his best when he comes into a tournament off rest — both of his career wins on Tour came after having multiple weeks off beforehand.
He is entering two weeks’ rest here, so hopefully that trend continues. As long as he can avoid trouble off the tee, he should be right in contention come Sunday.
Harold Varner III is a great course fit this week, ranking sixth in approach, sixth around the green, seventh in birdie percentage and 24th on the green.
He has some of the best iron and wedge play on tour and both of those elements will be needed this week on St. George’s tiny bunker-laden greens.
Our only concern with him is that he has yet to win a Tour event on U.S. soil, and every time he has come close, he has totally imploded during the final round.
We just saw this happen again two weeks ago when he was a co-leader late in the day on Sunday at Colonial but then shot a 45 on the back nine, falling from tied for first all of the way to T27.
That said, he has had some good showings this season as well, including his T3 at Harbor Town, which is a similar track to St. George’s in that it requires accuracy rather than length. Something that plays perfectly into Varner’s game.
We will likely be holding our breath on Sunday hoping he can avoid another final round collapse, but maybe being outside U.S. soil will be what he needs to get his second win on Tour.
There are 13 golfers with shorter odds than Hadwin, but he is our model’s fourth-ranked golfer in this field — only behind Justin Thomas, Matt Fitzpatrick and Shane Lowry.
He ranks third in strokes gained on par 3s: 200-250 and is the third-best in the field in sand save percentage. He has elite ball-striking and he is an extremely streaky putter who can get as hot as anyone.
We saw this during his torrid stretch in March where he had three straight top-10 finishes while leading the tour in strokes gained putting during that span.
He has been a bit up-and-down with a couple missed cuts over the past few months, but he is coming into this week in good form after a T18 last week at Memorial.
Hadwin has a strong history of playing well at this event, granted it was at different courses but he finished in the top 10 in 2015 and finished sixth in the most recent rendition back in 2019.
He is an excellent value this week at +4500.
Best Bet Alert: Adam Hadwin finishing in the top 20 is our favorite bet of the week!