Fantasy Golf Picks: 2016 Canadian Open Sleepers, Starts & Preview
2016 Canadian Open
Defending Champ: Jason Day
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2016 Canadian Open Field
156 Players | Top 70 and Ties Make the Cut
This is where it all came together for Jason Day. A year ago, exactly a week removed from missing The Open Championship playoff by a single stroke, the Aussie fended off Bubba Watson and David Hearn beginning a stretch of four wins in six events, culminating with an ascent to the world rankings' summit, picking up a Major championship along the way. Despite the quick turnaround time from The Open, Day will return to defend his title.
Now, this likely isn’t his idea.
Like the RBC Heritage and my condo, the RBC Canadian Open field is being backed up by the Royal Bank of Canada. One of the most prominent PGA TOUR sponsors, those cashing checks for merely adding a tiny lion and globe to their chapeau, are expected to make a cameo every time RBC
needs a charitable donation write-off chucks its name in front of a tournament. Without Team RBC in attendance, the world’s third oldest national championship would resemble a Web.com event or The Olympics in field strength. Day will be joined by his corporate squad mates Jim Fuyrk, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, Ernie Els, Graeme McDowell, and Ryan Palmer, along with native sons Hearn, Nick Taylor, Adam Hadwin, Mike Weir, and a freshly cropped Graham DeLaet. Strip those guys from the event and it’d just be Dustin Johnson putting on a long drive showcase.
That’s not fair. The mid-tier sports 2016 winners William McGirt, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Charley Hoffman, Jim Herman and Tony Finau. Plus, Jimmy Walker, Chris Kirk, Kevin Kisner, Emiliano Grillo, Danny Lee, Patton Kizzire, Colt Knost, and international sensation Kyung-Tae Kim (DO NOT say that name too fast in public) are earning their second passport stamp in two weeks. Super rook Bryson DeChambeau is bringing his stupid hat north of the border too.
A slew of recognizable names will litter the grounds, but there is a class of players clearly hovering above the field.
2016 Canadian Open Key Stats
2016 Canadian Open Course
Glen Abbey | Par 72 | 7,253 Yards
Glen Abbey is back for the 28th time as host course of the Canadian Open. This is second straight year the event has been held in the Toronto suburbs, before that, Jack Nicklaus’ first solo design played home five other times time this millennium - 2013, 2009, 2008, 2004, and 2000. Don’t go scouring back through the annals to dig up some sleepers however. The greens were resurfaced following the winter of 2013 and massive ice damage last winter.
Much like Tiger’s hole in one on No. 16 in Phoenix, there’s an obligatory Tiger clip that must be mentioned in any discussion of Glen Abbey...
Takeaways from that vid: The 18th is a Par 5 (So is 16... EAGLES!!!), water, Tiger can walk, sand. Three of those things are still the same in 2016. With almost 100 bunkers and 12 water hazards, controlling the ball off the tee is going to be critical. But that can go two ways. Keeping the ball on the proper side of the fairway to set up risk free approaches into the tiny greens has been a successful strategy. Conversely, bombing it, and hitting a wedge out of the rough has been equally as viable. Plus, that extra distance never hurts on the Par 5s, there were 89 eagles posted last year. The key to all of it, one word:
Plastics Angles. If players can get to the proper spot from their best distance off the tee, they’ll contend. That simple. This trait will be driven home on the Par 4s. Six of 10 Par 4s fall between 400-450 yards, with another two within a first down of that number. Set yourself up to smack your favorite iron and you’re golden. Just make sure you get up and down out of the bunkers. Of the top nine on the leaderboard last year, six finished inside the Top 15 in sand save percentage for the week.
2016 Canadian Open Picks
Jason Day - He’s Jason Day.
Dustin Johnson - He’s Dustin Johnson. Sorry if that's too simple, but I think it’d be more insulting explaining why these two are better than the rest of the field. If you don’t know, you’re not paying attention. Now, Tony Finau is an excellent contrarian option if you want to avoid the Big Two or need to catch up the in the standings. He sits Top 10 in SG: OTT over the past three months, always rolls it better on Bentgrass, and his first trip to Canada resulted in a T22 payday.
Brandt Snedeker - Honestly, I have no idea what I’m getting with Sneds these days. He’s been about as high variance as it gets the past four months. But here’s what I do know, he’s never placed worse than fifth at Glen Abbey, remains an elite scrambler, and gets better the closer he gets to the hole. Plus, only four players on TOUR score better on Par 4s than the man who requires SPF 100 just to go in the shade.
Colt Knost - Knost has continuously been putting himself in positions to win lately, with three T5s in his last six starts. Overall, his stats reveal nothing but mediocrity, except for a few critical areas. Colt is tops on TOUR in driving accuracy and putting inside 10-feet (he’s also quite the scrambler - 15th). He’s clearly in top form at the moment, and playing on a course which won’t punish his lack of distance from the tee box, which should have him flirting with the Sunday leaderboard.
David Hearn - Pure homer pick. The Canadian, and last year’s bronze medalist, has made six straight cuts, with back-to-back T20 finishes he has seemingly over comes the putting woes that plagued his game at the beginning of 2016. And, if you favor narrative, Hearn has a bunch of storylines going his way: He can avenge his loss of the 54-Hole lead from year ago and become the first Canuck since Pat Fletcher in 1954 to win his national open. For some perspective, that was before Canada has a maple leaf on its flag.
Jim Furyk - A T2 at the US Open has been his only premiere finish since returning from a wrist injury, but old man Furyk is back to playing consistent golf again. He’s now reeled off five cuts in a row and gets to tackle a course where he’s notched T7/T9/T14 finishes in his career. With his ability to control tee shots and exceptional course management, it's not shocking only Matt Kuchar ranks ahead of him in average strokes gained of Jack Nicklaus designed layouts.
Matt Kuchar - My pick for The Open did his best Steven Bowditch (You never go full Bowditch) impression over the final 27 holes at Royal Troon, ending up in an ultra disappointing T46. In my face. Fortunately, all Nicklaus courses are happy places for Kuch. Basically, if you see Jack or Pete Dye as a course architect for an event, immediately plug Kuchar into your lineup. All seven of his PGA wins have come on Nicklaus or Dye courses. He’s an accurate, elite Par 4 scorer with Top 10s in each of his past two starts at Glen Abbey.
Emiliano Grillo - Last year’s first round leader, enters with four T15s in his past five starts - his only blip was a T54 at Oakmont. Already a winner during the swing season, the Argentinian can certainly place the ball off the tee, sitting second on the year in total driving. Grillo also ranks in the Top 30 of greens in regulations, going for the green (hit green %), proximity from 50-100 yards, scrambling inside 10 yards, and efficiency from the Key Par 4 distance. He’s an ascending star who is going to breakthrough in a field with some star names soon, this could be the week.
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