The 2013 RBC Canadian Open begins Thursday at the most frequented site of Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, where Scott Piercy will look to defend his title in one of pro golf's oldest events.
Recent history at the tournament won't reveal much about how some of the marquee players will fare, because this is the first time since 2009 the tournament will be contested at The Abbey.
Piercy will look to become the first repeat champion since Jim Furyk in 2006 and 2007.
Only the U.S. Open and British Open have been established for as long as the Canadian Open, which definitely elevates its prestige. The tournament sports a strong field despite the year's third major being contested last week.
Let's take a look at when and where the action gets started, followed by a breakdown of the top groups to watch as the first 36 holes unfold.
When: Thursday, July 25, to Sunday, July 28
Where: Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Tee Times: First group is off at 7 a.m. EDT. For a complete list of tee times for the first two rounds, visit PGATour.com.
Purse: $5.6 million
FedEx Cup Points: 500
TV Schedule (h/t PGA.com)
Thursday: Golf Channel 4-6 p.m. EDT
Friday: Golf Channel 4-6 p.m. EDT
Saturday: CBS 3-6 p.m. EDT
Sunday: CBS 3-6 p.m. EDT
Groups to Watch
No. 17: Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker and Bubba Watson
Matt Kuchar capped off four consecutive weeks of tournaments with a win at the Memorial but has lightened his schedule lately, playing just the Alstom Open de France on the European Tour and the prior two major championships since.
The veteran's form hasn't been spectacular, but Kuchar has played difficult venues in each of the past three events. Glen Abbey lends itself to more birdies, and its length isn't going to give Kuchar much trouble.
Among this star-studded American trio, it was Brandt Snedeker who played best at the Open Championship, finishing in a tie for 11th despite unraveling on the back nine in Round 2 en route to a 79.
It's only a matter of time before Snedeker captures another trophy, and he did tie for fifth the last time the Canadian Open was hosted in Oakville.
In stark contrast to his playing competitors, Bubba Watson smashes the ball ridiculous distances, but the 2012 Masters champion has struggled after his breakthrough success in the majors.
Watson owns just one top 10 since February—a fourth place at the Travelers Championship. His birdie average ranks sixth and his scoring average before the weekend is 29th on tour, so there should be plenty of scoring opportunities for Watson in the early going.
No. 18: Billy Horschel, Dustin Johnson and Hunter Mahan
The raging success in 2013 for Billy Horschel has been pleasing to watch because he's a fiery player who is candid and not afraid to take risks.
Since a magnificent joint fourth-place finish at the U.S. Open, though, the going has been tougher for Horschel, who hasn't finished better than tied for 30th in his previous three outings.
Dustin Johnson was in contention for the first two rounds of the British Open last week before falling apart a bit in the final 36 holes with rounds of 76 and 77 in brutally tough conditions. It was more of a result of how difficult Muirfield was playing than Johnson having a poor game.
Who truly stood out was Hunter Mahan. The 31-year-old is not a fixture in major tournaments historically but has played in the last pairing in the final round of each of the last two majors.
All three of these brilliant ball-strikers and improving putters should be considered favorites this week to bounce back in their own ways.
No. 30: Scott Piercy, Ernie Els and Luke Donald
Defending the trophy at the Canadian Open is difficult, as mentioned before. It's even harder when one is not on top of one's game.
Although two top-five finishes have allowed Piercy to maintain a respectable position in the FedEx Cup standings to this point, there is no getting around his poor play as of late. That was accentuated at the British Open, where he unraveled to shoot a second-round 88.
At the same site where he captured his first claret jug in 2002, Ernie Els was defending his Open Championship a decade later in Gullane, Scotland, but he didn't break 70 and finished tied for 24th.
Even so, the South African star has finished four of his past eight tournaments in the top six, including a victory at the BMW International Open in Europe.
Shane Bacon of Yahoo! Sports highlights how steady The Big Easy has been in his illustrious Hall of Fame career:
It was yet another disappointing major effort by Luke Donald, who missed the cut and continues to have a bit of a struggling season in the context of his high standards.
Being 170th in greens in regulation on tour tends to make life difficult, so Donald must figure out what's wrong with his iron play to become more consistently competitive.
No. 31: Woody Austin, Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk
Few could have predicted Woody Austin's fourth PGA Tour triumph this past week at the Sanderson Farms Championship, which also marked his third win in a playoff.
The 49-year-old Austin had been toiling away on the Web.com Tour for most of 2013 and missed three previous cuts on the top circuit before coming out of nowhere to beat Daniel Summerhays and Cameron Beckman on the first extra hole.
Graeme McDowell's nine most recent results include a lackluster tied-for-58th finish at the Open Championship, five missed cuts and three victories. To say the Northern Irishman has been hit or miss lately is quite the understatement.
As for Jim Furyk, he hasn't enjoyed a good result since tying for third at the Valero Texas Open back in the beginning of April. Neither of his two Canadian Open titles came at Glen Abbey.
A lot of mystery stirs within this group, but it features a recently hot and demonstrative Austin and two U.S. Open champions.
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