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Expert picks: RBC Canadian Open

Ernie Els at the 2012 Arnold Palmer Invitational
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The PGA Tour heads to Ontario this week for the RBC Canadian Open, in search of valuable FedEx Cup points as the regular season nears its conclusion. Each week, a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players based on Golf Channel's new fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel consists of: senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; contributors John Hawkins and Win McMurry; editorial director Jay Coffin;'s Rob Bolton; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams; staff writer Ryan Lavner; and Golf Talk Central contributor Ryan Ballengee.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Ernie Els: An emotional letdown could be expected, but the Big easy doesn't usually take it easy after wins. He has a strong history of following up one title with another.

Group 2: Robert Garrigus: Hamilton Golf & Country Club isn't really a big bomber's course, but Garrigus will navigate the tight confines just fine.

Group 3: Graham DeLaet: No Canadian has won the Canadian Open since Pat Fletcher in 1954. DeLaet is playing well enough to change that.

Group 4: Gavin Coles: The Aussie's strengths should be accentuated on a course that demands accuracy. He's showing signs that it's coming together.

Ryan Lavner

Group 1: Hunter Mahan: A two-time winner this season, Mahan is a ball-striking machine - fourth in total driving, third in greens hit - and the type of player who should thrive at claustrophobic Hamilton G & CC. He has finished outside the top 20 only once in his past five starts.

Group 2: Scott Piercy: Didn't play last week, which was too bad - few on Tour have been as hot as Piercy. In his past two starts at the Greenbrier and John Deere, he's finished T-12 and third, respectively. He was T-6 at this event last year, albeit on a different course. Maybe he's comfortable north of the border.

Group 3: Ken Duke: Hard to believe that the 43-year-old Duke has six - six! - top 10s this season, tied for second-most on Tour. Though his past two starts have been unspectacular, he has still shot in the 60s in 12 of his past 18 rounds.

Group 4: Hunter Hamrick: All he's done since leaving college was make the cut at the U.S. Open, then finish 10th at the True South Classic where he shot all four rounds in the 60s. Clearly, he's trying to follow in the footsteps of fellow Alabama alum Bud Cauley, who went straight from campus to the pro ranks.

Jason Sobel

Group 1: Brandt Snedeker: Some players would suffer a letdown after a major title contention; Snedeker will use it as motivation.

Group 2: Scott Piercy: Solid ball-striker who can get hot in a hurry; if he's on his game, expect a lot of birdies this week.

Group 3: Graham DeLaet: Native of Canada may be a sentimental pick this week, but he's also a smart one; will win a tourney at some point in the next 12 months.

Group 4: Scott Brown: Mr. All-or-Nothing has missed a dozen cuts this season, but has finishes of solo seventh and T-5 in his last two starts.

Gary Williams

Group 1: Jim Furyk: Hamilton Golf & Country Club is a classic course and over his career Furyk has shown himself to be a player who is comfortable with, and contends on, classic layouts. The two-time RBC Canadian Open champ won here in 2006 and has recorded top-11 finishes this year at Riviera, Augusta National, Harbour Town, Colonial and The Olympic Club. I can see him winning this week.

Group 2: Bud Cauley: This young gun returned to a site of 2011 success last week in Mississippi and finished fourth in the True South Classic for his best finish of 2012. I like picking a hot hand whenever I can and Cauley certainly fits the bill this week.

Group 3: Billy Horschel: This young talent has had some injury issues but his game is showing many signs of life, as he finished third last week in Mississippi for his best career Tour finish. He would have had another big finish in the John Deere Classic if not for a final round 74. I have a feeling Horschel will have another good week this week.

Group 4: Hunter Hamrick: A former University of Alabama standout, Hamrick made the cut in his professional debut last month at the U.S. Open and then recorded his first top-10 finish in his second professional start last week. He has a lot to gain right now and he has already had a great year as part of the Alabama team that finished second in the NCAA Championship.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Matt Kuchar: Mr. Consistent finished tied for fourth in Canada in 2010 and is fresh off solid finishes in his last two starts, including a tie for ninth last week at Lytham.

Group 2: Spencer Levin: Has slumped lately after a solid start to the season but he closed with a Sunday 69 to finish tied for ninth last year in Canada and is among the Tour's best putters (15th in strokes gained putting). 

Group 3: Bob Estes: Surprisingly consistent season for the journeyman, he's missed just one cut since April and he's finished outside the top 15 only once out of his last four starts north of the border.

Group 4: Gavin Coles: Improved putting has helped the Australian cash checks in seven of his last eight starts and he needs a big finish if he's going to make the playoffs.

Rob Bolton

Group 1: Matt Kuchar: Given that I'm suddenly trailing by a considerable margin, I'm hoping my competition invests elsewhere while I lean on arguably the most consistent golfer in the field. His T-9 at the British was his seventh top-10 of the season.

Group 2: Scott Piercy: Fulfilling every full-season gamer's expectations with 10 top-25 finishes. Rested after a season-best third at the John Deere Classic. Confident and aggressive, a nice tandem on a classic track with slow, receptive greens.

Group 3: Graham DeLaet: Riding Canuck synergy here. Recurring back discomfort is always a concern but he's held together nicely overall. Also took two weeks off since sharing 12th place at the Greenbrier Classic on a similar course.

Group 4: Matt Hill: Calculated flier. Sits atop the Canadian Tour's Order of Merit with a win, a second and a pair of T-8 finishes. Former collegiate superstar at North Carolina State, and has also posted top-15s in five of his last seven starts on the eGolf Professional Tour.