Now that we've had a little time to process Phil Mickelson's epic win at Muirfield, it’s time to shift our attention to the RBC Canadian Open and the power rankings of likely contenders. Refer back to yesterday’s preview if you need a refresher, but there are several things from that I will reemphasize.
As always, I haven’t read any other previews or rankings of this tournament ahead of penning my own opinions, and I’m taking into account the RBC-sponsored players' motives for teeing it up this week. That is to say I don’t know that guys like Brandt Snedeker, Luke Donald, Matt Kuchar would be playing this week if it weren't for their ties to the Royal Bank of Canada. The complete list of RBC staffers also includes Mike Weir, David Hearn, Graham DeLaet, Hunter Mahan, Stephen Ames, Graham McDowell, Ernie Els and Jim Furyk. A number of these guys have their eyes on bigger prizes in the coming weeks, like the WGC-Bridgestone next week at the PGA Championship in two weeks. That’s not saying I expect them to tank it, but Phil Mickelson missed the cut at The Greenbrier before winning in back-to-back weeks.
Glen Abbey wasn't fresh in my mind, so I took the time to take a virtual tour of the course online. I came away with the following impressions:
- The course would seem to fit the eye of a left-to-right ball flight. That said, I took into account fairways misses to try and get a feel for those that err to the right or left side. It’s the best I metric at our disposal.
- The par 4s don’t seem to be an especially long or challenging group of holes, likely allowing some woods off the tees and short and mid-iron approaches.
- Par 3 play could be important (Par 3 Performance). Water is in play and some of the greens appear shallow, forcing scrambling. Shaping approaches could come into play.
- The par 5s are reachable (Par 5 birdie or better), so it’s important to cash in.
I did look back at the 2008 and 2009 results at Glen Abbey, but as I assumed, the transient nature of this tournament field doesn't allow for many of my considerations to have a resume. Further, I’m putting form ahead of that this week anyway.
Here we go:
- Daniel Summerhays – Not the best statistical fit for a course where he has no prior record, but his T9, T4, P2 run in his last three starts absolutely demands your attention. His form isn't all that different from a hot Scott Piercy last year when he finished T12 and third before his win.
- Brandt Snedeker – I’m leaning heavily on his form (T17, T8, T11 in last three starts) to go with a T5 in 2009 at Glen Abbey. That tells me he can show up on Wednesday for the Pro-Am and play the course once and be ready to go. Despite not being known for length, his par 5 numbers are very solid.
- Chez Reavie – That he won here in 2008 and missed the cut in his 2009 defense isn't a red flag at all. In fact, that’s probably the norm for a middle-of-the-pack TOUR player. I love his form entering the week. He’s made eight cuts in-a-row with four going for top 25s.
- Chris Kirk – He hasn't played Glen Abbey, but he tied for fourth last year in this event coming off a T10 in Mississippi. Well, he tied for ninth in Mississippi last week. Stats also indicate that he’s very strong on the par 3s and tends to avoid missing fairways to the left (left-to-right ball flight?).
- Charl Schwartzel – I kept expecting his entry into the field to be a typo, but it’s not. He’s racked up a couple of top 15s in the Opens, so I’ll give that an “A” for form. He’s a really good par 5 player and among the class of the field.
- Nicholas Thompson – A very good mixture of form meets history. He’s played Glen Abbey in 2008 (T5) and 2009 (T53) and enters this week off a fourth-place finish in Mississippi after a T12 at the Deere.
- John Rollins – He missed the cut at the John Deere before taking last week off, but form doesn't necessarily tell the story with him all that often. He also did not play Glen Abbey in 2008 or 2009. So, where am I coming from on this? When I ran a statistical analysis on my “short list” of 41 players he ranked second. And while he’s not in the top echelon of class in this field, he’s in that next tier.
- Hunter Mahan – After losing Merion in somewhat heartbreaking fashion, he fired a hot opening round at TPC River Highlands before fading over the weekend. Very good par 5 player and doesn't miss left off the tee all that much, so this course could fit his eye. The risk with him is that he’s one of the guys that might not cry too hard if he gets a long weekend off ahead of the WGC-Bridgestone.
- Rory Sabbatini – It’s coming together for Sabo. He’s T9, MC, T17 in his last three starts and he’s sixth in Par 5 Birdie or Better %. Picking him isn't without risk, but it also isn't without the potential for a nice reward.
- Luke Donald – Similar to some other RBC guys, it all depends on how he starts. He’s near the top of the heap in field class and he doesn't have a win on TOUR in 2013, so if he opens with a nice round and finds himself inside the top 10 headed into the weekend this tournament will have his full attention. He’s fifth on TOUR in Par 3 Performance.
- Morgan Hoffmann – He’s got top 25s in each of his last four starts including a pair of top 10s to lock up his TOUR card for next year. I could see us looking back on him in a few weeks as a Graham DeLaet or Billy Horschel type if he keeps this up.
- Pat Perez – He had top eights in two of his three starts before missing the cut at the John Deere Classic. I can live with that. He tied for 24th at Glen Abbey in 2009 and ranks inside the top 75 in Par 5 Birdie or Better, Par 3 Performance and Left Rough Tendency. I’m not saying let’s go and burn a one-and-done on him, but he’s a serviceable option in the right format.
Next 6: Ernie Els, Bob Estes, Jim Furyk, Billy Horschel, Matt Kuchar and Graeme McDowell
- Joe Affrunti – Back from injury, he’s playing really well. He lost to Ben Martin in a playoff at the United Leasing Championship a few weeks back on the Web.com Tour and finished T33 at the John Deere Classic a week later. The sample size of his stats are small relative to others, but line up well for this course.
- Graham DeLaet – My next two picks are Canucks, and a Canadian hasn't won here since Pat Fletcher in 1954. That is to say the pressure on DeLaet is enormous. If he were anything but a Canadian, he would likely be inside my top five this week.
- David Hearn – Another guy playing great golf that would crack the top 12 if he were not a Canadian. Showed a lot in his playoff loss at the John Deere.
We will return tomorrow to examine various games. Until then, best of luck and happy research.