RBC Canadian Open Preview, Picks & Analysis
Brooks Koepka prepares for the defence of his US Open title by taking part in the Canadian Open at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club. The American, who won the US PGA Championship last month, will be heading to Pebble Beach, where he will attempt to make a little piece of history by winning the US Open for a third successive time - and he will go there as an overwhelming favourite.
Koepka, the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year, now has four majors to his name and has already won twice in 2019. He was also second at The Masters and is full of confidence. “I’m looking forward to getting back to Canada to compete in the RBC Canadian Open,” said Koepka, who has played the tournament in 2015 and 2018. “I’ve heard really great things about the course and for me, it’s an opportunity to play well and build momentum leading into the US Open.”
There is a surprisingly strong field for the tournament, with Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson, Ryan Palmer, Jim Furyk, Brandt Snedeker, Adam Hadwin and Corey Conners also in the field. But all eyes will be on Koepka.
In the end, he only just sneaked over the finishing line at the US PGA Championship after taking a seven-shot lead into the final round. But he kept his composure when the pressure was at its greatest and held off a powerful challenge from Johnson. He has made no secret of his disappointment at the lack of recognition he has received for his efforts. No golfer has dominated the game in the way he is doing since Tiger Woods was in his prime. He is one of the fittest players on the PGA Tour and he hits the ball a country mile, but you don’t win all these majors simply by being a big hitter. He is a hugely impressive golfer who gears his entire year around the majors. He has only won six times on the big American circuit - and four of those successes have come in majors. That tells you everything you need to know about the man and his mentality.
Watson will also be a hugely popular entrant this week. Now 40 and with a technique all of his own, he is a two-time Masters champion and has shown some flashes of his very best this season, finishing tied for fourth at both the Valspar Championship and Waste Management Phoenix Open. Watson has a personal connection to Canada as his wife, Angie, is from just outside Toronto. “Winning a national open, one that is part of my family now, would be a big deal,” Watson said. “We’ve got two flags up at our house, so it’s a big deal. It would be a great honour.”
“Having Brooks Koepka and Bubba Watson, both big hitters and major winners, competing at Hamilton Golf and Country Club is really exciting,” said tournament director Bryan Crawford. “Three of the top-four world ranked golfers are competing, so it’s going to be one to watch, and will give golf fans another reason to get excited about the 2019 RBC Canadian Open.”
“We have a strong field competing at the RBC Canadian Open this June, and we’re excited to welcome Brooks and Bubba back to Canada,” said Mary DePaoli, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, RBC. “Adding the pair to an impressive roster that includes Rory McIlroy, our Team RBC ambassadors including our defending champion Dustin Johnson, and a growing list of Canadian talent will make it a memorable week.”
For McIlroy, the conundrum continues. You may remember that at the end of 2018, the Northern Irishman announced that he would be focusing on the PGA Tour as he attempts to add to the four majors he has won, the last of which came at The Open way back in 2014. It all seemed to be going to plan when he won The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, but his performances at both The Masters and the US PGA Championship were bitterly disappointing. He missed the cut in the the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village. Now here is a strange thing. When he gets to Pebble Beach it will be his third successive start. He announced that he would be giving the Irish Open a miss next month because he is playing in the Scottish Open and The Open Championship and if he played in Ireland it would mean playing three tournaments on the bounce. Erm…
There is no doubt that Pebble Beach should suit McIlroy’s game and he will not worry if he arrives in California having also won in Canada. And he will certainly want to make up for missing the cut at The Memorial.
And the same applies to Johnson, who is enjoying another extraordinary year. He won the WGC Mexico Championship and finished tied for second place with Koepka at The Masters, where Tiger Woods finally landed his 15th major. And he was second again at the US PGA at Bethpage Black. There have also been four other top-10 finishes. It is quite a body of work for a man who seems to contend almost every time he tees it up. He is the defending champion, having won 12 months ago with a spectacular performance that saw him finish the week on 23 under par after rounds of 68, 66, 65 and 66. It was one of those weeks when he seemed to hole everything he looked at. Like Koepka, there is far more to the Dustinator than an ability to belt the ball into the middle of next week. He is one of the best wedge players in the game after spending more time working on that part of his game than anything else.
Kuchar is also continuing to enjoy the best year of his career and will relish the challenge offered by Hamilton Golf and Country Club, a fabulous tree-lined course that demands accuracy from the tee. He already has two wins and two runners-up finishes to his name - look to him to add to those impressive statistics in Canada.
The home crowd will be desperate for a home winner. Plenty have come close but the last time a Canadian won was Pat Fletcher, was back in 1954.
It was won in 2011 by Sean O’Hair, in 2012 by Scott Piercy, in 2013 by Brandt Snedeker, in 2014 by Tim Clark, in 2015 by Jason Day, in 2016 and 2017 by Jhonattan Vegas and last year by Johnson.
Matt Kuchar. Suddenly being followed by controversy
Brooks Koepka. A major machine
Rory McIlroy. Needs to put Muirfield Village misery out of his system
Matt Kuchar. Don’t believe everything your read - he IS one of the good guys
Brooks Koepka. Can win any week, anywhere
Rory McIlroy. Could do with a really good week
Dustin Johnson. Seems to contend every time he plays
Bubba Watson. Light the blue touch paper...
Ryan Palmer. Full of confidence again
Jim Furyk. Enjoying a second wind as he prepares for the Champions Tour
Brandt Snedeker. One of the best putters in the business
Adam Hadwin. Beautiful golf swing
Corey Conners. Best hope of a home winner
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