The 2014 RBC Canadian Open may be occurring just after The Open Championship, but that hasn't prevented the tournament at Royal Montreal Golf Club in Ile Bizard, Quebec, from attracting a strong field.
Former FedEx Cup champion Brandt Snedeker will seek to defend the trophy, playing alongside two other capable American stars in Dustin Johnson and Hunter Mahan for the first two rounds. This is the first time the event has been played at this venue since 2001, so no past winners have much of an advantage.
And here's a fun fact about the course:
Did you know... The first ever Canadian Open was held at The Royal Montreal Golf Club’s Dixie Course in 1904 as a one-day event? #RBCCO— RBC Canadian Open (@RBCCanadianOpen) July 22, 2014
There is plenty of national pride, too, with Canadians such as Presidents Cup participant Graham DeLaet and Masters victor Mike Weir teeing it up. TSN's Bob Weeks points out how David Hearn is among the highest-ranked Canada natives:
This is an underrated tournament with plenty of history and tradition, so it comes as no surprise that so many of golf's best have been attracted to playing it. Although the prize money isn't as lucrative as many PGA Tour purses, there is no denying the Canadian Open's prestige.
Here is a look at the basic information on how to view the golf, along with a breakdown of the top groups to watch over the first 36 holes.
Note: Statistics and video are courtesy of PGATour.com.
|Thursday, July 24||4-7 p.m.||Golf Channel|
|Friday, July 25||4-7 p.m.||Golf Channel|
|Saturday, July 26||1-2:30 p.m., 3-6 p.m.||Golf Channel, CBS|
|Sunday, July 27||1-2:30 p.m., 3-6 p.m.||Golf Channel, CBS|
When: Thursday, July 24 through Sunday, July 27
Where: Royal Montreal Golf Club (Blue Course) in Ile Bizard, Quebec, Canada
Tee Times: For a complete list of tee times for the first two rounds, visit PGATour.com.
Purse: $5,700,000; Winner's Share: $1,026,000
FedEx Cup Points: 500
Analyzing Marquee Groups
Dustin Johnson, Brandt Snedeker and Hunter Mahan
As mentioned before, a solid result even at last year's event doesn't do all that much for Johnson here. However, a joint runner-up finish at Glen Abbey in 2013 combined with stellar recent form suggests Johnson could be in the running to win this week.
Johnson played alongside eventual British Open champion Rory McIlroy in the final Round 3 group, faltering toward the end of the tournament to finish tied for 12th. That was more a result of pressing down the stretch, as Johnson made a costly double bogey at the par-five closing hole at Royal Liverpool.
The longer holes were surprisingly what cost the powerful Johnson a shot at the Claret Jug. Johnson played the four par-fives at Hoylake in just three under par. McIlroy beat him with his two eagles on Nos. 16 and 18 in the third round alone.
If Johnson had putted better, he could have returned to this side of the Atlantic Ocean with his first major. It will be interesting to see whether he's too drained from that failed effort or if he's driven to notch another victory.
A meager tie for 58th at Hoylake has Snedeker commencing his defense in lackluster form. Before then, though, he'd had three-straight top-20 finishes. Snedeker ranks 152nd in greens in regulation, so he must get his irons in order to have any hopes of contending.
The third U.S. player who has all the skill to win a major but hasn't yet is Mahan, who withdrew from the Canadian Open with the 36-hole lead a year ago because his wife went into labor.
The last top-10 finish Mahan had came in early March, so he hasn't built on a solid prior season that saw him in the last pairing in the final rounds of both the U.S. and British Opens. Nevertheless, all these stars are due for wins.
With the Ryder Cup on the horizon and only Johnson a mortal lock among them, look for Snedeker and Mahan to make a big push in Quebec.
Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk and Graham DeLaet
Signs of rust surfaced when Kuchar took almost a month off from a rigorous schedule before the British Open. Kuchar is as consistent as they come but couldn't quite get up at Hoylake, placing in a tie for 54th.
Odds are 50-50 that Kuchar will finish in the top 10 based on his season results alone: 18 starts, with nine such results. It's only a matter of time before Kuchar gets back on track, so expect it to be this week.
People can keep doubting Furyk. He'll just keep grinding along and finding his way to the top of leaderboards. That was the case at The Open Championship, where Furyk shot a final-round 65 to finish alone in fourth place.
Dave Shedloski of Golf World highlighted just how proficient Furyk was in getting around Hoylake:
Jim Furyk not only tied for low round of the championship on Sunday w/65 but he led the field with fewest bogeys (5). Was 4th for 4th time.— Dave Shedloski (@DaveShedloski) July 20, 2014
That has to translate well to the Canadian Open. A hiatus of more than a month proved fruitful for the 44-year-old Furyk, and he should still be refreshed enough to be in the hunt this weekend based on how strong he finished overseas.
Local galleries will be pulling hard for DeLaet, though, who should garner the most attention and acclaim in this group, which usually wouldn't be the case at any other tournament. DeLaet is a breakout star of sorts—a stupendous ball-striker who is plenty long as well.
What has held DeLaet back from further greatness is his unsteady touch on the greens. He ranks 137th on tour in strokes gained putting despite being second in greens in regulation, fifth in total driving and ninth in proximity to the hole.
It's pretty clear where the problem lies. DeLaet missed the British Open cut by one stroke, feeling he got a raw deal on the draw:
I wouldn't have minded playing the golf course I'm watching on tv right now. #luckofthedraw— Graham DeLaet (@GrahamDeLaet) July 18, 2014
That suggests DeLaet is in better form than meets the eye based on his bottom-line British Open outcome. The 2013-14 campaign has been filled with positive results. Next up is DeLaet's maiden win on the PGA Tour, something he has not achieved. But he's as good as anyone who hasn't found the winner's circle.
What better way for DeLaet to break through than at his home event? Channeling the frustration of his disappointing showing in the most recent major, DeLaet can perhaps get the putter hot and at least give himself a chance.
Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald and Mike Weir
Which group is most likely to produce the RBC Canadian Open champion?
The same can't be said for Donald. To be fair, he is going through some swing changes. Beyond a solo second at the RBC Heritage in April and a tie for third at the BMW PGA Championship in May, though, Donald hasn't had many good performances of late.
If something doesn't kick in for Donald soon, this will quickly become a lost season. Donald is 153rd on tour in ball-striking, taking into account total driving and greens in regulation. That isn't going to get it done no matter how strong his sensational short game is.
The best finish Weir has ever had in his national championship is second in 2004. Weir is a far different player from those days—in an unfortunate way. Getting back to Canada may be just what Weir needs to get out of a perpetual slump.
With the FedEx Cup playoffs approaching, Weir is 128th in the points standings, needing to crack the top 125 to get in for The Barclays.
There aren't many opportunities left, so it would be a nice marriage of circumstances for Weir to fare well. Since a momentous runner-up finish at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, though, he's missed three straight cuts.
Most of the players in the RBC Canadian Open field are fighting for either the Ryder Cup, FedEx Cup positioning or both. Others are hoping for a breakout performance to cement their status on tour. The 14 Canadians in action will be seeking the ultimate glory to honor their country.
The second-oldest, non-major stop on the PGA Tour should provide plenty of intriguing subplots and developments once the event concludes Sunday.
A deserving champion should be crowned, and a good mix of star power and new names figure to be among the top finishers.