The Majors come thick and fast at this time of year and once again we find ourselves trying to decide if it’s a good thing or a bad thing if a potential pick for next week’s US Open is playing in the Canadian Open.
It certainly worked for Matt Fitzpatrick last year. He posted a tidy tied 10th place in Canada and then secured a brilliant win a week later at Southern Hills.
Fitzpatrick will hope for a repeat performance ahead of next week’s US Open defence at Los Angeles Country Club but he’s by far from the only big name taking part here.
Rory McIlroy goes for a third straight Canadian Open win after triumphs in 2019 and 2022. The sequence was broken by the 2020 and 2021 editions being lost to Covid.
McIlroy won his first at Hamilton and second at St George’s and the hat-trick bid will come at another different venue: Oakdale Country Club.
The course this week is a composite of three different layouts on the property and it all adds up to a par 72 measuring 7,264 yards. There are just three par 3s and three par 5s.
The greens are a combination of bentgrass and poa annua while the winds, although not predicted to be strong, could swirl between the tree-lined fairways.
Angles to consider
1/ Form from last year’s Canadian Open
It’s not a leap to say Oakdale is similar to the 2022 venue, St George’s, where the cream rose to the top as McIlroy held off Tony Finau and Justin Thomas. Sam Burns and Justin Rose rounded out the top five.
2/ Strokes Gained: Tee To Green
The greens, pulled from three different tracks, may be hard to learn quickly so the most reliable gauge should be what’s done before the putter is wielded. At St George’s the top three finishers ranked 1st, 4th and 2nd for SG: Tee To Green.
3/ Birdie Average
McIlroy won with 19-under last year, making a whopping 26 birdies (rank 1st). Runner-up Finau logged 22 birdies (rank 3rd) and an eagle. With some gettable par 5s and short par 4s, making a bunch of birdies is likely to be crucial once more.
The above angles have been used to create a shortlist from which the following players are selected.
The 2019 Open winner loves his trips to Canada and has form of 10-2-12 in the three he’s contested since 2018. That 10th place came at St George’s last year. Lowry has ranked 19th and 11th Tee To Green in his last two starts and sits 16th on the season-long charts. With the putter heating up a little too he can build on his 12th at the US PGA and 16th at Memorial with a title push here.
After midfield finishes at both Oak Hill and Memorial, Theegala may find this easier test more to his liking. Theegala ranks 2nd in the field for Birdie Average this season and that’s helped him reel off four top 10s (three of those top sixes) since the calendar flipped to 2023.
Bramlett didn’t make the cut last year but he ranks 29th for Strokes Gained: Tee To Green this season and 39th in Birdie Average. The American gained over six strokes TTG when 16th in a far better field at Memorial last week while his previous four finishes also show 10th in Mexico and 19th at the Byron Nelson.
1.5pts e.w. Shane Lowry at 16/1 (Coral 1/5 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10)
1pt e.w. Sahith Theegala at 28/1 (Betfair, Paddy Power, Hills 1/5 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8)
0.5pts e.w. Joseph Bramlett at 60/1 (Sky Bet 1/5 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8)