2014 RBC Canadian Open: Predictions

Safest Bet?

Tom: This time, I am not going with tournament history in this category. For one, the course always changes, and for two, there is not a lot of consistency in the leader boards over the years. What I am going to do is pick a player who I believe is the safest bet based on the situation. Dustin Johnson has made 14/16 cuts this year, finishing in the top 10 exactly half the time he has made the cut. Of those top 10s, he has two T4s, including at the U.S. Open, and two runner up finishes early in 2014. He has a win on the season, but none in 2014. He is also coming off a T12 at the Open where he put himself in contention, before slipping on Sunday. I expect DJ to bounce back in a big way, and keep a Ryder Cup-worthy season going with a strong finish this week. Oh, for the record, he finished in a T2 here last year – granted he blew a good chance to win by hitting a drive out of bounds.

After back to back wins at this tournament in 2006-07 and a strong 2014 campaign, Jim Furyk is one of the safest picks available this year. Photo courtesy of pga.com.

After back to back wins at this tournament in 2006-07 and a strong 2014 campaign, Jim Furyk is one of the safest picks available this year. Photo courtesy of pga.com.

Dave: Jim Furyk had a heck of a week last week.  Finishing 4th at The Open, Furyk is showing that 5 Hour Energy sure is working for him.  I also found it encouraging that after playing in the Open in 2007, Furyk won the Canadian Open.  After playing in The Open in 2013, he came in T9.  Those are impressive stats and a man that is doing well of late.  Moreover, this is a short course which is playing around 7,000 yards and will allow Jim to play with big hitters and not lose anything.  He seems like as safe a bet as there is this week.

Jon: You don’t get to number 4 in the FedEx Cup standings without doing something right. For that reason I think Matt Kuchar  will be your safe bet this week. I waffled a little bit as I thought about picking Furyk (see above), after his performance last week at the Open, but I think Furyk probably has a little bit of a trap week. So instead, I think Kooch is going to have a great week and maybe even make some headway on FedEx Cup leader, Jimmy Walker.

Dark Horse for the Week?

Tom: I have been waiting for this tournament for one reason. To pick William McGirt, the proud alumnus of my alma mater, Wofford College. McGirt has had a slow and steady progression in his career, and it all started at the Canadian Open two years ago when he had the lead with only a few holes to go, completely choked, and lost to Scott Piercy. Still searching for his first PGA win, McGirt followed up that disappointment with a T2 in this tournament last year, and is in the middle of his best season to date, including experiencing his first 54-hole lead at the Northern Trust Open (where he struggled slightly on Sunday, but ultimately would have lost regardless to a fiery hot Bubba Watson). My main concern is that his expectations will be too high coming back to his favorite tournament, but he has proven that he has the game to get onto the front page of the leader board, and that is enough for me to make a shameless plug for the small, liberal arts school in Spartanburg, SC where I work.

William McGirt from his Wofford days. McGirts impressive track record in this tournament completely justifies my third plug for my alma mater. Photo courtesy of soconsports.com

William McGirt from his Wofford days. McGirts impressive track record in this tournament completely justifies my third plug for my alma mater. Photo courtesy of soconsports.com

Dave: Hunter Mahan.  Sure, the guy is 44th in the world golf ratings, a household name, and is coming in with 28/1 odds… But I still consider him to be a dark horse this week.  The man has had a less than impressive season and has only had 4 top-10 finishes out of 19 tournaments.  Hunter was also in prime position to win it all last year when he left before the start of the 3rd round.  Why you ask?  The birth of his first child.  I think he’ll be back for unfinished business.  Moreover, being that this is a tournament after a major, the field will be slightly softer.

Jon: Admittedly, the man I’m picking is on my team, so here’s to hoping he does well. Jason Bohn has been doing just fine this year with 3 top ten finishes and a 2nd place finish at the Shriners in 2013. His problem seems to be — at least the one that consistently breaks my heart — that he sprints out of the gate and then loses steam. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen him in the top ten on days 1 and 2 of a tournament, only to see him crumble on the weekend. So how can he correct that? Play in Canada where up is down, and down is sideways. If conventional wisdom proves correct, Bohn will be near the cutline on Friday and then start sprinting — backwards and on his hands — to the finish with a nice scorecard to show for it.

Unlikely Player to Miss the Cut?

Tom: After an impressive Open win for Rory McIlroy last week, a lot of eyes will be shifted to his Northern Irish “big brother,” Graeme McDowell, and the puzzling fact that he is still on the outside of the European Ryder Cup team looking in. He is coming off a T9 at the Open, and is an overwhelming favorite heading into the Canadian Open, which is exactly why he is the perfect upset pick to, well, upset, and miss the cut.

Dave: I picked Brandt Snedeker to do well last week and that did not end up panning out.  Sneds ended up T58 last week in England which did not help my foursome score one bit.  Brandt hasn’t had a bad season, but a lingering injury is still affecting some aspects of his game.  The question is whether or not he’s actually injured.  There are reoccurring rumors that he’s still having rib injuries due to a DNA anomaly.  He also switched swing coaches from Todd Anderson to Butch Harmon.  I thought that would be a benefit in my post last week, since Butch Harmon is a living legend.  I may have been overzealous, however, as switching instructors is a touchy affair.  With all of this swirling around, only to be compounded by the pressure to repeat a win from last year, he’s toast.

Jon: Hunter Mahan was able to destroy any confidence I had in him last year. While this would probably be one of his ideal tournaments (under the radar, in Canada), he will effectively choke once again, and miss the cut. I really do like Hunter, and I wish he could win one here and there, but I just don’t think he gets it done in Canada. As with all of my “Miss The Cut” predictions, It comes with a disclaimer — akin to that of Mike Greenberg when he picks NFL teams — you should bet against me, because the guy I pick tends to go off more often than not, and makes me look like a fool. Like a fool!

Favorite to Win?

Tom: I am approaching this pick more from the standpoint of, “guy I want to win.” Calling him a favorite to win would mean failing to account for his underwhelming season and inability to string four rounds together, but I picked the Canadian Graham DeLaet to be on my fantasy team (2nd pick, in fact) with high expectations that such a talented player would earn his first PGA win this season. It hasn’t happened… yet. So why not now? Maybe because his form has fallen off considerably since his two early runner ups, and two additional top 10s on the year? Maybe because no Canadian has won this tournament in the last 60 years, and DeLaet himself has struggled mightily in this tournament in the past? Well, screw it, I’m picking with my heart this week. Who wouldn’t want to see a likely future Canadian hall of famer get his first win at the Canadian Open? Guys without hearts, that’s who.

Dave:  While leading the PGA in top 10 finishes, Matt Kuchar has been relatively quiet of late.  By that I mean, he hasn’t had a win since the RBC Heritage in April.  By that I also mean that he hasn’t had a top 10 since the Byron Nelson Classic in May.  Kooch came in T2 last year at the Canadian and was T4 in 2010.  My verdict?  He’s consistent and is about due to swing back to the winning end.

Matt Kuchar is one of the odds-on favorites this week with a win and PGA best 9 top 10s on the season. Photo courtesy of skysports.com

Matt Kuchar is one of the odds-on favorites this week with a win and PGA best 9 top 10s on the season. Photo courtesy of skysports.com

Jon: I’m not changing from Matt Kuchar. I think he gets it done. He’s got ice in veins, and I think he starts his prep for the PGA Championship this week. He will ultimately destroy this course, and leave Canadians everywhere bewildered. He might even be deported for the atrocity that he is about to exact at Royal Montreal. Make me a believer Kooch!

Foursomes:

Tom: Graham DeLaet, Dustin Johnson, Charl Schwartzel, Carl Pettersson

Not a lot has been said about Charl Schwartzel this year, but besides his 4 missed cuts (including the BMW Championship on the European Tour and the first two majors), he has 7 top 10s, including a win in November on the European Tour, and a T8 at the Memorial Tournament as well as a T7 last week in the Open. I expect a big splash from the Nike team member we don’t often hear enough about. As for Carl Pettersson, he won this thing in 2010, and although he’s struggled in his past two tournaments, he hit good form early in June, and I think a familiar, friendly tournament is all he needs to get back there.

Dave: Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk, Luke Donald, Dustin Johnson

Kuchar and Furyk for the reasons listed above.  Dustin Johnson has been playing really well and had a heck of a showing at the Open, and I think he’s going to continue his momentum.  Luke Donald is coming in with 22/1 odds and a fighting spirit.  Despite having had a quiet season, I think he could be poised to do well in Canada this weekend.  To be perfectly honest, though, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if some unknown player, like Johnson Wagner and that dirty, dirty stache, destroys the competition this week.

Jon: Matt Kuchar, Aaron Baddeley, Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk

The other boys have mentioned both Johnson and Furyk, and I have no argument. They’re both playing solid golf. Along with Kuchar, I think those three are your safest bets. My other pick is going to be Aaron Baddeley, the only reason being that he had a pretty impressive showing after the last major (solo 4th at the Travelers). Hopefully he can go out and have the same kind of performance that he had at the Travelers and get me some money this week.

*Unfortunately, Mike McKenzie was unavailable to make picks for his home country’s Open championship. He did, however, want to offer his insider’s advice on a dark horse for the week. In Mike’s words:

Keep an eye on the Ottawa, Ontario native Brad Fritsch this week.  The Campbell University product is coming off a T13 showing at the John Deere classic, which included rounds of 63 and 69 on the weekend.  The PGA Tour Canada and Web.com Tour journeyman has often lacked consistency on the PGA Tour, but has proven he has the game to go low and compete at a very high level.  Brad recorded 18 made cuts in 25 events played during his 2013 campaign and finished T2 at the 2013 Web.com Tour Championship.  I have a hunch this week and am running with it.  I am predicting a top 10 finish from the 36 year old this week and low Canadian honors.  How ‘aboot’ it eh?

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