Out of the Rough: The Canadian Open (2023)
The PGA Tour heads even further North with a stop in Toronto, Canada for this week’s RBC Canadian Open.
Although being played for the third time since 2019, the RBC Canadian Open is the third longest reigning event on the PGA Tour Schedule. This year marks the 117th playing of the event.
The event has been played dating back to 1904 and has been played at 37 different courses, including this year’s host, Oakdale Golf & Country Club that will play host for the very first time.
With Oakdale Golf & Country Club never hosting a PGA Tour event prior, we are coming in a bit blind, although it does play similar to Canadian Open hosting tracks of the past. This week’s venue does share many similarities to last year’s host, St. George’s Golf & Country Club.
Both courses were designed by Canada’s most notable golf architect, Stanley Thompson.
Oakdale is located centrally in the greater Toronto Area and first opened as a nine-hole course. A second nine was added soon after its opening in 1926 by Thompson. In 1957, Thompson’s protégé, Robbie Robinson designed and added a third nine holes.
This course has never seen the PGA Tour or the Canadian Open, but has played host to the Ontario Men’s Better Ball almost annually dating back to 1959. It has also served as the site of the final qualifier for next year’s RBC Canadian Open that again will be held at St. George’s Golf and Country Club.
Oakdale will play host to this event again in 2026.
If we’re looking at this week’s distance, it gets a bit confusing. The course, a combination of the three nine hole designs, is officially listed at 7,624 yards and plays as a par-72. However, the hole-by-hole flyover marked the distance at 7,387 yards and the initial press conference listed the distance at 7,460 yards.
The intention is for the tee boxes and pin locations to be moved around each day, which swings the yardage of the course.
For the fourth consecutive week, the rough will be penal for those who can’t find the fairway off the tee.
It is listed at four-to-six inch Bentgrass that is both long and sticky. The fairways also narrow as they approach the green. This forces the big bombers to give it a second thought in taking a driver-heavy approach. The wider areas of the fairway that are easier to find force layups and shorter drives.
The course is also a parkland style course that is tree lined over tumbling land.
The greens are a mix of Bentgrass and Poa, which is common for the region and are like those of other PGA Tour revenues such as Detroit Golf Club and TPC River Highlands. They too are small in size and feature false fronts, persistent undulations and severe slopes. This combined with the variety of daily pin placements will force the importance of putting this week.
Golfers too must take note of the picturesque Black Creek that runs through the property.
There are plenty of scoring opportunities featured here this week with three easily reachable par-fives that must be taken advantage of for any hopeful winner.
In terms of easier holes, there are four par-fours that measure under 400 yards and scoring too must be done here in hopes of a victory.
Although a historic and long reigning event, the placement in the PGA Tour schedule doesn’t allow for a very talented field to attend this week as it serves as a natural bye week.
It is sandwiched between an elevated event in The Memorial and the third Major of the year in the US Open. Even then another elevated event follows the US Open in the Travelers Championship.
Last year’s scheduling allowed for a more impressive field with names such as Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas and Tony Finau opting to play with the US Open being held at The Country Club in Massachusetts. However, this year’s US Open is in Los Angeles.
Rory McIlroy is back looking to claim a third straight Canadian Open. He won the last two installments in 2019 and 2022. Traveling restrictions did not allow for the Tour to compete in Canada between 2020 and 2021.
McIlroy headlines a field that includes ten Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) top-30 players in McIlroy, Matt Fitzpatrick, Sam Burns, Cameron Young, Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Shane Lowry, Sahith Theegala, Justin Rose and Corey Conners.
Other names worth mentioning this week are Nicolai Hojgaard and Adrian Meronk who are regulars of the DP World Tour.
Also joining McIlroy as former Canadian Open winners are names such as Brandt Snedeker, Scott Piercy and Sean O’Hair.
Of course, being the open of Canada, we must note the notable Canadian golfers teeing up this week in Conners, Adam Hadwin, Mackenzie Hughes, Nick Taylor, Taylor Pendrith and Adam Svensson. This list of guys will look to become the first Canadian to claim their homeland title since Pat Fletcher won in 1958
The field is set at 156 players with the top 65 plus ties making the cut.
Highs this week are set to range from the high 60’s to mid 70’s with the lowest projected high being Thursday at 67 degrees with some cloud cover to 76 degrees on Saturday. At the time of writing this, rain could be a factor come Sunday, with a current 60-percent chance of precipitation as the other three days appear to be clear. Winds will range from eight-to-12 miles-per-hour over the four days as well. In all, it’s not a bad four day stretch for some golf.
Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)
Approach Shots from < 150 yards
Approach Shots from 175-200 Yards
Hit Fairway Percentage
Birdie or Better Percentage
Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: PUTT)
Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)
Scrambling from the Rough
Strokes Gained: Around the Green
Par Four Scoring
Sand Saves Percentage
With only three options in this top tier, I’m only going to suggest one golfer. That golfer is Tyrrell Hatton ($10,200.) Rory McIlroy and Sam Burns are the other two to occupy this price range. I hate backing Hatton because he’s such a rollercoaster but here we are once again. Hatton is currently 11th on Tour in SG: PUTT, 14th in par four average scoring, 17th in bogey avoidance, 18th in SG: APP, 23rd in birdie or better percentage, 49th in both approach shots from less than 150 yards and hit fairway percentage, 52nd in scrambling from the rough, 59th in SG: ATG, 73rd in sand saves percentage, 82nd in GIR%, and 97th in approach shots from 175-200 yards. In terms of my model and the statistical categories we’re taking into consideration this week, Hatton comes in second. Hatton has somewhat quietly been one of the hottest golfers on Tour as of late as well. He placed T12th a week ago at The Memorial Tournament. Prior to that, dating back to The Masters, he has made five consecutive cuts with four top 20’s, three top 15’s and two top fives. He placed T5th at the AT&T Byron Nelson and T3rd at the Wells Fargo Championship in that span. He also has results such as second at THE PLAYERS, T4th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and T6th at the WM Phoenix Open on the calendar year. At the time of writing this he is +1000 which is a bit slim but considering this field, it’s a fair price.
As I suggested just one golfer in the top price range, I have three guys for this price range and I feel very confident about all three of them. First off is my model’s overall favorite to win this week in Justin Rose ($9,700.) I’d much rather stack Rose with Hatton and save a few dollars than try to force McIlroy or Burns into a lineup. Like Hatton, Rose has been playing really good golf as of late. He’s made six consecutive cuts dating back to THE PLAYERS where he placed T6th. In that same time span his worst finish was T36th at the Valspar Championship and has five top 25’s, three top 15’s and two top tens in those six tournaments. He of course has a victory on the year as well, winning the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am back in February. He is also currently second on Tour in sand saves percentage, 11th in approach shots from 175-200 yards, 17th in SG: APP, 24th in birdie or better percentage, 29th in both SG: PUTT and par four average scoring, 34th in bogey avoidance, 46th in SG: ATG, 54th in hit fairway percentage, 57th in GIR%, 63rd in scrambling from the rough and 117th in approach shots from less than 150 yards. He was at +1800 at the time of writing this and multiple units are going there. Also consider Matt Kuchar ($9,100.) If you are to opt for the likes of McIlroy, you’ll have to find areas to save money and that’s what Kuchar allows for. Although it wasn’t pretty, he made the cut a week ago at The Memorial Tournament. He did miss the cut at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill a few weeks prior but before that, made four consecutive cuts, highlighted by a T3rd at the Valero Texas Open. In those four made cuts, he had three top 25 finishes as well. Kuchar is currently the Tour’s best in sand saves percentage and is also second in SG: ATG. Additionally, he is seventh in bogey avoidance, 36th in both hit fairway percentage and scrambling from the rough, 42nd in SG: PUTT, 62nd in par four average scoring, 73rd in birdie or better percentage, 78th in both SG: APP and approach shots from less than 150 yards and 108th in GIR%. His score in our model this week is hindered by a 121st placement in approach shots from 175-200 yards. The rest of his game should elevate him however. Tommy Fleetwood ($9,600) is a name that I’m drawn to this week. Something about him feels just right to capture his first Tour victory this week. He did miss the cut in his last outing at the Charles Schwab Challenge but prior to that made a run of eight consecutive made cuts. In those eight events he had five top 20’s, three top 15’s and two top fives. He placed T5th at the Wells Fargo Championship and T3rd at the Valspar Championship in that span of events. Fleetwood is also the Tour’s best when it comes to around-the-green work as he is currently tops on Tour in SG: ATG. He is also 12th in sand saves percentage, 18th in scrambling from the rough, 37th in SG: APP, 46th in SG: PUTT, 51st in bogey avoidance, 55th in approach shots from 175-200 yards, 78th in par four average scoring, 79th in birdie or better percentage and 104th in hit fairway percentage. The knock to his game is a 162nd placement in GIR% but with such magical work around-the-greens that isn’t the biggest of concerns. Fleetwood is at +2200 at the time of writing this and a couple of units are going there on my behalf.
The first Canadian in this article pops in this price range in Nick Taylor ($8,100.) Taylor is currently 18th in par four average scoring, 21st in scrambling from the rough, 25th in birdie or better percentage, 34th in SG: ATG, 40th in bogey avoidance, 43rd in SG: PUTT, 48th in SG: APP, 70th in approach shots from 175-200 yards, 71st in approach shots from less than 150 yards, 97th in hit fairway percentage and 110th in GIR%. He is currently 138th in sand saves percentage so lets hope he can avoid some bunkers this week. Taylor is on the back of back-to-back missed cuts at the PGA Championship and Charles Schwab Challenge but prior to that made three consecutive cuts which included a T10th at the Valspar Championship and T15th at the Valero Texas Open. Looking further back in the year he placed second at the WM Phoenix Open and T7th at the Sony Open in Hawaii as well. Also consider another Canadian in Adam Hadwin ($8,700.) Hadwin is currently fifth on the entire PGA Tour in scrambling from the rough. He is also 15th in bogey avoidance, 25th in hit fairway percentage, 32nd in SG: PUTT, 59th in SG: APP, 62nd in GIR%, 70th in approach shots from 175-200 yards, 82nd in birdie or better percentage, 91st in SG: ATG, 92nd in par four average scoring, 94th in approach shots from less than 150 yards and 97th in sand saves percentage. Like many others, Hadwin had missed the cut the week prior at the Memorial Tournament but did make the cut at both the AT&T Byron Nelson and PGA Championship.
Leading off this penultimate price range is Brendon Todd ($7,900.) Todd withdrew from last week’s The Memorial Tournament. He did make the cut the week prior at the Charles Schwab Challenge and missed the cut at the PGA Championship. Before that however, he made five consecutive cuts. Highlighted in that time span was a T8th at the Wells Fargo Championship. He also placed T2nd earlier this year at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Todd is currently sixth on Tour in both scrambling from the rough and SG: ATG, 15th in hit fairway percentage, 18th in SG: PUTT, 29th in par four average scoring, 41st in bogey avoidance, 42nd in birdie or better percentage, 46th in sand saves percentage, 48th in approach shots from less than 150 yards and 80th in SG: APP. His score in our model is hindered by a 140th placement in GIR% and 165th in approach shots from 175-200 yards. I was on Todd when he placed second at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and I’m back in on him here at +8000. Also consider Aaron Baddeley ($7,200.) Baddeley has very quietly made three consecutive cuts at the Mexico Open, AT&T Byron Nelson and Charles Schwab Challenge over his last three events. He placed T21st at the Charles Schwab Challenge in his last outing. Baddeley is currently second on Tour in scrambling from the rough, fourth in both SG: ATG and bogey avoidance, ninth in par four average scoring, 36th in SG: PUTT, 37th in approach shots from less than 150 yards, 65th in birdie or better percentage, 89th in GIR%, 90th in hit fairway percentage, 95th in SG: APP, 127th in approach shots from 175-200 yards and 137th in sand saves percentage.
My first suggestion in this final price range is Chris Stroud ($6,500.) Stroud offers a lot of lineup flexibility and brings a lot to the table. He is currently 15th on Tour in scrambling from the rough, 24th in SG: APP, 31st in hit fairway percentage, 42nd in GIR%, 48th in approach shots from 175-200 yards, 50th in par four average scoring, 60th in approach shots from less than 200 yards, 61st in bogey avoidance, 69th in birdie or better percentage, 84th in sand saves percentage, 129th in SG: ATG and 145th in SG: PUTT. Stroud made the cut in his last outing at the AT&T Byron Nelson. Also consider Sean O’Hair ($6,700.) O’Hair being prices this low is a bit of a shocker. He is currently 17th in scrambling from the rough, 30th in hit fairway percentage, 38th in GIR%, 44th in bogey avoidance, 47th in sand saves percentage, 50th in par four average scoring, 58th in SG: ATG, 66th in birdie or better percentage, 74th in SG: APP, 113th in approach shots from less than 150 yards and 119th in SG: PUTT. His 178th placement in approach shots from 175-200 yards is a concern but down in this price range, he’s more than capable of making the cut. Like Stroud, he made the cut in his last outing at the AT&T Byron Nelson.
Justin Rose (+1800) - 2u
Tommy Fleetwood (+2200) - 2u
Nick Taylor (+7500) - 1u
Brendon Todd (+8000) - 1u
Aaron Baddeley (+15000) - 1u