Having the final Major of the season on your tail next week hasn’t done the Canadian Open any harm as defending champ in both tournaments Jason Day, who just happens to now be World No 1 and Dustin who’s got a Major now suckers?’ Johnson tee it up in Ontario.
While the rest of the pampered elite ‘take to the range’ in a thinly-disguised euphemism of ‘WTF happened to my game at Royal Troon’, the two market leaders (this week & most likely next) face some stiff competition from a deep field, eight days out from the USPGA Championship.
Here’s the 7 players you’re backing on Wednesday afternoon ahead of Thursday’s tee-off.
1. Matt Kuchar
A weekend 75-76 knocked The Kooch out of contention for a place at the Open Championship after he’d quietly slipped in to the Top 15 at Royal Troon.
The Ryder Cup regular has gotten his freak on recently this season and is a Top 5 ninja if you strip out the last two Majors.
His form at this tournie isn’t too shabby either as he’s posted a 4-MC-34-2-4-7 with the highlighted finishes at this weekend’s Glen Abbey track.
There’s only a week to the final Major of the season and the way his game is at the moment, Kuchar could be going into it with another place – or better – in his bag.
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2. Graham DeLaet
A perennial pick in his native Canada, the soon to be Olympian Laet missed all the fun in Scotland but bagged a $100k booty when T8 at the Barbasol Championship behind Aaron Badderly last weekend.
A final round 63 shot him up the leaderboard as he got hot with the flat stick and if he can carry that form into Oakville, Ontario he could be in line for a big Rio send off from the home crowd as a Canadian looks to end their 62 year jinx at their home event.
3. William McGirt
The journeyman’s journeyman finally got his hands on the over-sized cheque after 12 years a tryin’ when seeing off Jon Curran in Jack’s tournament last month at Memorial.
But before his life-changing win, the 37-year-old had posted back-to-back seconds in this comp (2012; & 2013) the second of which was at this track back in the day when only his mother could pick him out of a line-up.
Has missed the cut in the last two Majors (although the US Open came a week after he popped his PGA Tour cherry & Troon was his Open Championship debut) but if you’re prepared to excuse that he has posted five Top 10s this season as well as his maiden win.
Golf is REALLY hard at #TheOpen. https://t.co/mK13YFadoA
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) July 16, 2016
4. Tony Finau
Only a final day 74 saw the tee-box bomber tumble out of the Top 10 on his Open debut at Royal Troon as the 24-year-old continues his march up the ranks of golf’s elite.
Already a winner on Tour at the Puerto Rico Open in his first season proper Finau posted a 22nd place finish here in his rookie year on Tour having earned his PGA Tour card in 2014/15 and made the cut in seven out of eight events on the PGA Tour Canada before joining the big leagues.
The stat monkeys tell us that Finau posted the third-longest average drive behind Bubba Watson and Jason Day on holes 6 and 13 in Scotland. If the rest of his game holds up he looks a fair price to hit one of the 7 places Paddy’s paying this weekend.
5. Jim Furyk
Struggled at Royal Troon after his mega effort to finish T2 at the US Open but Furyk is a former dual winner of this event (2006 & 2007) and has posted two Top 10 finishes in his last two visits to Glen Abbey.
The World No 22, yes really, is still capable of hanging with the big dogs on Sunday and was clocked being T4 in the lowest number of putts on Saturday at Royal Troon to prove he still knows how to get the flat-stick moving. Should appreciate the return to a plotter’s course.
6. David Hearn
The Ontarian will soon be boarding the plane to Rio and gave the desperate locals waiting-for-a-Canadian-winner -already something to cheer about as he teed off on the final day.
Was eventually overhauled though to finish third to Jason Day, his best finishing position so far. Will hope to be in the same position again and has steadied the ship in his last six starts getting plenty of match practice in (including a T12 two starts back at the Quick Loans National) after a worrying run of having plenty of weekends off earlier in the season.
7. Emiliano Grillo
A late entrant to the list of who you’re backing – no doubt boosted by being Steve Palmer’s tip in the Racing Post.
A T12 on debut here last year, the 23-year-old led on the opening day last year before eventually finishing 22nd
Finished T12 at his first Open Championship, his best finish since winning the Frys.com Open last October year and could be getting ready to rock ‘n’ roll again as we pass the season’s mid-point.