Stat attack!: RBC Canadian Open preview


PALM HARBOR, FL - MARCH 16: Jim Furyk hits a shot on the 9th hole during the second round of the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club on March 16, 2012 in Palm Harbor, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

The Open Championship and the RBC Canadian Open have been held on back-to-back weeks on the PGA Tour since 2007, and contrary to what you might believe, there is no British Open hangover. Granted, only one British Open winner made the trek across the Atlantic to play in Canada in the last seven years – Ernie Els missed the Canadian cut in 2012 – but most of the players who play in both events find some kind of success in Canada. Three Canadian Open winners – Jim Furyk in 2007, Sean O’Hair in 2011 and Brandt Snedeker in 2013 – also played the British Open. More than half the players who competed in both events made the cut in Canada, and four or more usually finish in the top 10.

Canadian Open results of players who competed in the Open Championship

 Year Total players Top three 4-10 11+ Missed cut
 2013 31 3 1 14 13
 2012 31 0 4 17 10
 2011 29 1 5 15 8
 2010 23 1 2 10 10
 2009 25 2 3 10 10
 2008 23 1 3 11 8
 2007 20 2 3 9 6

Now that we’ve alleviated any qualms about picking a British Open competitor at the Canadian Open, which of the 24 double-dippers (at press time) is the best bet this week at the tournament being held at Royal Montreal for the first time since 2001? Furyk comes immediately to mind. The fourth-place finisher at Royal Liverpool has won the Canadian Open twice, winning on the back end of the two-week trip in 2007. Here are other Canadian Open contenders who played last week’s British Open.

Individual performances in the British and Canadian Opens

 Player Best Canadian finish following an Open appearance
 Luke Donald T-3 in 2010
 Jim Furyk Won 2007, T9 in 2013
 Dustin Johnson T2 in 2013
 Matt Kuchar T2 in 2013, T4 in 2010
 Hunter Mahan T5 in 2007, WD in 2013*
 Charl Schwartzel T9 in 2011, T28 in 2013
 Brandt Snedeker Won in 2013, T5 in 2009

*Mahan was leading through 36 holes in 2013, but withdrew on Saturday morning when his wife, Kandi, went into labor with the couple’s first child.

Let’s keep looking at Furyk for the moment. The 44-year-old recently finished fourth in the Open Championship for the fourth time in his career and he has been playing well in the U.S. in 2014. He hasn’t missed a cut on Tour for more than a year and has six top-10s this season. He appears to be a lock to make his ninth U.S. Ryder Cup team, having moved to fourth in the standings after the British. Also, Royal Montreal only plays to about 7,000 yards and could benefit those players, like Furyk, who don’t hit the ball absurdly long. Keeping the ball in play and hitting to the correct position off the tee will be a factor.

Jim Furyk since the Masters

 Tournament Finish
 Masters 14th
 RBC Heritage T-7
 Wells Fargo Second
 Players Second
 Crowne Plaza Colonial T-51
 Memorial T-19
 U.S. Open T-12
 British Open Fourth

Another player to consider is Kuchar, who is also having a stellar 2014. The world’s seventh-ranked player leads the PGA Tour with nine top-10 finishes this season, and although he doesn’t have one since the Byron Nelson Championship, he was 12th at the U.S. Open. He was co-runner-up to Snedeker a year ago and was T-4 in Canada in 2010. 

Most top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour in 2013-14

 Player Top-10s Wins 2nds 3rds Starts
 Matt Kuchar 9 1 1 0 18
 Jimmy Walker 8 3 0 0 21
 Dustin Johnson 7 1 2 0 16
 Bubba Watson 7 2 2 1 15
 Sergio Garcia 7 0 2 2 11
 Webb Simpson 7 1 0 3 18
 Adam Scott 7 1 0 1 11
 Rory McIlroy 7 1 1 0 11
 Brendon Todd 7 1 0 0 23
 Harris English 7 1 0 0 23
 Jordan Spieth 7 0 2 0 21

The third option might be Schwartzel. Although he hasn’t played great in the Canadian Open – a T-9 in 2011 is his best finish in three appearances – he is trending in the right direction after a T7 at the Open Championship.

The annual story surrounding the RBC Canadian Open is the fact that a native hasn’t won his national championship since Pat Fletcher in 1954. Mike Weir came close in 2004, when he finished second, losing a playoff to Vijay Singh. Weir led by three after 54 holes, but he shot 72 Sunday (with three bogeys on the back nine) and eventually lost the playoff. Provincial pride runs deep and Canadians took a bit of solace in 2013 when Brandt Snedeker won. His caddie, Scott Vail, is from Oshawa, Ontario.

Here are the Canadians on the PGA Tour and how they’ve fared at the Canadian Open.

 Player Starts Cuts made Best finish
 Stephen Ames 16 7 T-5 in 2005
 Graham DeLaet 5 2 T-46 in 2009
 Brad Fritsch 6 1 T-71 in 2011
 David Hearn 11 6 T-20 in 2006
 Mike Weir 23 9 Second in 2004

Nineteen Canadians are in the field this week, including amateur stars Taylor Pendrith and Corey Conners from Kent State, who were the co-Players of the Year in the Mid-American Conference, NCAA Division II Player of the Year from Barry College Adam Svensson, and Ontario Amateur winner Chris Hemmerich. Tour player Adam Hadwin, who was T4 in 2011, returns to the field as well.

One final note: If you’re looking for past performance at Royal Montreal as a predictor to success this week, stop right now. The leading finisher in the 2001 Canadian Open who is also in the field this week is John Daly, who was fourth 13 years ago. K.J. Choi and Robert Allenby were T-8.

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