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RBC Canadian Open: Preview & DFS Picks

Coming off golf’s 3rd major of the year, which featured storylines like Tiger Woods’ brief moment leading on Sunday, Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy having a chance to capture the Claret Jug, and older players like Zach Johnson, Bernhard Langer, Stewart Cink and Pat Perez making runs at the leaderboard. But of course, this biggest story of the week was Francesco Molinari continuing his surge as the absolute hottest player in the world- which many can attribute back to his great success at the US Open and Quicken Loans National a month ago. This week the field won’t have to deal with the Italian but they will have to go up against bombers off the tee like Brooks Koepka, Tony Finau and world #1 Dustin Johnson. Jhonnatan Vegas is your back-to-back champ at the RBC Canadian Open, where he defeated Charley Hoffman in a playoff last year. The par-72 course in Oakville, Ontario, Canada is one of the PGA Tour’s easiest scoring stops in the season and for some top golfers, is midway between a 4 week traveling stretch from Great Britain to the WGC-Bridgestone in Ohio and then the PGA Championship. This will be the last year of this schedule before the PGA moves up to May, and The Players goes to March.

Las Vegas Odds

Dustin Johnson 15-2
Brooks Koepka 25-2
Tommy Fleetwood 17-1
Bubba Watson 21-1
Tony Finau 22-1
Charley Hoffman 30-1
Kevin Kisner 30-1
Matt Kuchar 30-1
Sergio Garcia 30-1
Chesson Hadley 40-1
Ian Poulter 40-1
Jhonattan Vegas 40-1
Beau Hossler 45-1
Billy Horschel 45-1
Byeong Hun An 45-1
Derek Fathauer 45-1
Fabian Gomez 45-1

Power Rankings

5. Charley Hoffman (Darkhorse)

Hoffman is coming off a top-20 finish this week at Carnoustie where he shot par or better in 3 of his 4 rounds. The 2017 Presidents Cup team member is steadily having another good season, with 8 top-25s and 15 of 19 cuts made. He hasn’t broken through just yet, but he has played well in big tournaments. He’s finished in the top-20 at The Masters and US Open along with last week’s solid performance at The Open (T17). He returns to Ontario this week where he lost to Jhonnatan Vegas in a playoff last year (also note that Vegas is coming off back-to-back wins at this event). Hoffman also sports a T7 finish in 2015 and a T16 in 2013. His biggest struggle has come off the tee this year- where he ranks 88th in driving distance and outside the top-150 in driving accuracy. It’ll be a little easier to keep the ball in the fairway this week compared to last week in Scotland, so look for the 40th best scorer this year on the PGA Tour in 2018 to make a run at the top of the leaderboard before he heads to the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational next week in Akron, Ohio.

4. Tony Finau

If you think Hoffman’s 3 straight top-20s in majors is impressive, then check out Finau- with his T9 finish at Carnoustie this week, the 28th best player in the world has finished in the top-10 in each of the first 3 majors of 2018. With 2 runner-up finishes, 7 top-10s and 18 of 21 cuts made, the bomber is having his best year on Tour to date. And he’s getting all this done while ranking outside the top-125 in strokes gained: putting. Tee-to-green he ranks 16th this season while averaging 317.1 yards off the tee (3rd). He ranks in the top-20 in birdie, eagle and scoring average this year, and currently sits 10th in the FedEx Cup points standings. He’s only played here twice- finishing T5 in 2017 3 strokes off the lead, and tied for 70th the year before. Finau is due for a win and should be able to dominate this course like some of the other long hitters on this list.

3. Brooks Koepka

As a general rule of thumb, if Dustin Johnson sets up well for a golf course, then his weightlifting buddy and 2-time US Open winner Brooks Koepka should also suit it. The rule applies vice versa as well, and it’s no surprise that both of them would have shot near identical scorecards this past week had DJ not had a blowup hole on the 18th Thursday afternoon. While their similar game-plan of dominating a course with the driver didn’t work too well at Carnoustie, it should be perfect for this week at Glen Abbey Golf Club. He’s only played in this tournament once- in 2015 he tied for 18th. Koepka is having another stellar season, most recently coming off a T39 Open finish which included a Saturday 75- he played his other 3 rounds -2 for the week. Along with his second straight win at the US Open this year at Shinnecock Hills, he also boasts runner up finishes at the Fort Worth Invitational and the WGC-HSBC Champions earlier this year. Despite soaring to 4th in the Official World Golf Rankings in 2018, Koepka’s stats on Tour this year do not match his success. He’s top-10 this year in birdie and scoring average, and sits near the top of the money and FedEx Cup points lists, but overall from tee-to-green he has struggled. He’s 65th in strokes gained: tee-to-green, but ranks 177th in driving accuracy and 93rd in greens in regulation. And missed GIR are holding him back- despite tying for 1st with 17 birdies last week at The Open, he hit just 44 of 72 greens (61.1%) and ranked near the bottom of all players who made the cut. In 2018 he ranks 3rd in putting average, yet ranks outside the top-145 in both 1 putt and 3 putt average- meaning he doesn’t hit a lot of one putts, so hitting greens is vital to keeping non-birdieable holes to pars instead of bogeys. He shouldn’t struggle to hit fairways and greens this week, and it’s a good idea to bet on a player who makes a ton of birdies in a tournament that routinely sees scores well higher than 10-under.

2. Dustin Johnson

The #1 player in the world is coming off a missed cut at the British Open and that’s the only reason why he is not ranked #1 in Power Rankings. Not to worry- Johnson ranks #1 in almost too many statistical categories to count. Along with being first in the FedEx Cup standings, DJ also ranks first in scoring average, birdie average, strokes gained: off the tee and strokes gained: tee to green. He ranks 10th in approaches, 36th in GIR, and astoundingly 17th in putting- which is almost unheard of for a player so focused on length from the tee box. He doesn’t really have a weakness- one might argue scrambling as his strokes gained: around the green is 47th but note that he ranks 1st in scrambling from the rough and 1st in 3-putt avoidance, so do you think he’s sweating it? And DJ loves this tournament- in his last 4 starts here since 2013 he has 3 top-10s including runner-up finishes in ’16 and ’13. He can dominate this course off the tee, and with some eagle-able par-5s expect a good rebound from Johnson in pursuit of his 3rd win of the season.

1. Tommy Fleetwood

This is Fleetwood’s first start in this event at an odd time considering he typically splits his time between the US and Europe, and it’s just 4 days after the British Open. However, he’s one of England’s best players right now amidst qualifying for a Ryder Cup spot, and he’s been playing stellar golf as of late- especially in the States. In 12 PGA Tour events this year, Fleetwood has made the cut all but once and has 9 top-25s and 4 top-10s, never finishing outside the T37 in any event. He’s played particularly well in big time events in 2018, including good finishes at The Masters (T17), The Players (T7), US Open (solo 2nd including a Sunday 63) and last week at The Open (T12). In fact, playing more event in the US might make sense for Fleetwood- leading up to The Open he missed the cut at Open de France and barely made the cut at the BMW International Open the week prior. Fleetwood fits the mold of other guys on this list who can hit the ball far and dominate courses. He ranks 9th in 2018 in strokes gained: off the tee and 12th in stoke gained: total. He’s a top-30 driving distance player and still hits 65% of fairways and 68% of greens- which is rare for longer hitters. He still struggles with the putter- ranking 77th in SG: putting and outside the top-140 in 1 and 3-putt averages. Still, at 5th in scoring average and 11th in birdie frequency, expect the Englishman to have a solid week in his first start at Glenn Abbey.

DFS Picks

Dustin Johnson -> $11,700

Charley Hoffman -> $8,700

Chris Kirk -> $7,600

Jhonattan Vegas -> $7,500

Joel Dahmen -> $7,400

Fabian Gomez -> $7,000

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