It was a fantastic week for us at the Memorial Tournament as we bagged ourselves a nice winner with Patrick Cantlay. He was hugely impressive closing things out on Sunday and we now head on in great spirits to the RBC Canadian, the final warm up event on the PGA Tour before all attentions turn to the US Open at Pebble Beach next week.
As part of the PGA Tour’s revamped schedule, the RBC Canadian Open – where Paddy’s paying the first 8 home – finds itself moving on the calendar from its tradition late July, post Open Championship slot, to its new home the week before the US Open.
To muddy the waters further we have a course, Hamilton Golf & CC, which plays to a par 70 at 6,966 yards, brought back in to the rotation, which has not been used for this event since 2012, so we have little to go on.
What we do have however is an incredibly strong line up on display as some of the leading lights look to fine tune their game pre Pebble Beach.
Heading this week’s cast up is World No. 1 Brooks Koepka, defending RBC Canadian Open Champion, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas. Of these four it would seem to me that the latter two, Thomas in particular, are here to restore some confidence to their game prior to next week. Koepka I suspect will already have his head very much in US Open mode – as he chases a hat-trick of wins in that Major.
DJ however is a different kettle of fish. He has shown twice over recent years that he is quite happy to win the week before the US Open when triumphing in this event’s predecessor in this slot, the Fedex St Jude Classic, and as defending champion of this event, he will be keen to hang on to his trophy.
To this end, he looks the most likely winner here, however this is naturally reflected in his price of 11/2 and I am happy to pass at the odds, particularly when we have no course form to go on. So having turned down DJ, the question is where do we start? The answer to me is with Irishman, and Paddy Power’s own ambassador, Shane Lowry @ 40/1.
While Shane has said in his own column for Paddy this week that he is already gearing up to Pebble Beach – there is no doubt in my mind that this week’s test could suit him well. He has been in great touch of late finishing eighth at the PGA Championship and third at Hilton Head and a shortish par 70, where strong play on and around the greens will be key, looks right up his alley.
Moving on and one thing that may well also be crucial this week is that the players will face poa annua greens, which are normally associated with West Coast-courses. Two who are masters of this putting surface that I am keen to have onside are Americans Brandt Snedeker @ 33/1 and Jimmy Walker @ 70/1.
Sneds has four wins on the poa and has finished 16th and 19th in his last two starts, while former PGA Champion Walker is a three-time winner on the surface and appears to be gaining some momentum as he has posted his best two finishes of the season, 23rd and 19th in his last two outings.
Going further down the list and another who appeals is Swede Jonas Blixt @100/1. A two time winner on tour Blixt has struggled over recent years, however he has performed far better in his last two starts finishing fifth last time out. A player who has in the past often followed one strong finish with another I can see him building on his latest start and going well again this week.
I shall finish my team by rolling the dice on a huge each-way play on Alex Prugh @ 250/1. Prugh is probably not a name familiar to many readers. However, the vast majority of his best golf over the years on the PGA Tour has come on poa greens and he actually has six top ten finishes to his name on the West Coast.
Prugh will arrive at Hamilton G&CC in good heart as he qualified on Monday for the US Open and I can see him building on that and posting a great week on his favoured putting surface.
*Prices correct at time of publishing but are subject to change