By TOM LaMARRE
Obviously, the PGA Tour’s merger with the DP World Tour and LIV Golf is the biggest story in golf this week, but there will is a PGA Tour event to be played beginning Thursday.
That would be the 112th RBC Canadian Open at Oakdale Golf and Country Club in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, which is the third oldest continuously running tournament on the circuit, after The Open Championship and the U.S. Open.
The tournament was first played 119 years ago in 1904, and has been held annually ever since then, except for during four years during World War I, two years during World War II and during the Coronavirus Pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
Third-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who was one of the most vocal players who criticized the players who took the lucrative cash offers to jump to Liv Golf, is the favorite and defending champion after beating Tony Finau by two strokes, and he also won the 2019 RBC Canadian Open by seven strokes over Shane Lowry of Ireland and Webb Simpson.
When someone mentioned that Greg Norman, who has become something of a verbal rival to McIlroy since becoming a fixture in Liv Golf, Rory immediately had a precise response.
“I’ll take motivation wherever I can get it, so if that’s what it needs to be, I’ll certainly use that,” he replied. “But I don’t think I need any extra motivation to try to win another Canadian Open title. I think getting my name on the trophy for a third time is motivation enough.”
However, don’t think getting one more victory in Canada than Norman, who won in Canada in 1984 and 1992, doesn’t mean that much to McIlroy.
Norman claimed 20 PGA Tour victories, and when McIlroy earned No. 21 last year in Canada, he quipped: “It’s a moment I will remember for a long, long time. It’s my 21st PGA Tour win and one more than someone else.”
McIlroy has since increased his PGA Tour victory total to 23, but based on what has happened in the last few years, don’t think his third in Canada won’t mean much—especially this week.
1, Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland – The third-ranked McIlroy won this event the last two times it was played, last year and in 2019, for a pair of his 23 PGA Tour victories. He has posted eight straight rounds in the 60s at Oakdale CC and is an incredible total of 41-under-par. Faded in the last round to tie for seventh in the Memorial, his fifth top-10 this season, including two wins.
2. Matt Fitzpatrick, England – Ranked eighth in the world, Fitzpatrick recorded his eighth finish in the top 20 this season, including a playoff victory in the RBC Heritage, when he tied for ninth in the Memorial Tournament last week after bouncing back from a 76 in the first round. He played in RBC Canadian Open for the first time a year ago and tied for 10th after opening at 64.
3. Sam Burns, United States – Having won the WGC-Match Play for his fifth PGA Tour victory among nine finishes in the top 20 this season, Burns has climbed to No. 14 in the World Golf Rankings. He is making his second start in the RBC Canadian Open and tied for fourth in the tournament by posting four consecutive scores in the 60s his firs5 time around Oakdale CC.
4. Tyrrell Hatton, England – Seems to be getting closer to his 11th professional victory and second on the PGA Tour with eight top-20 finishes this season, including second in the Players, a tie for third in the Wells Fargo and a tie for fifth in the AT&T Byron Nelson. Hatton won the Arnold Palmer Invitational last year, when he tied for fourth in his first RBC Canadian Open.
5. Shane Lowry, Ireland – Although he hasn’t played his best this season, Lowry has seven finishes in the top 25 including a tie for fifth in the Honda Classic, a tie for 12th in the PGA Championship and a tie for 16th in the Masters. The six-time pro winner, including twice on the PGA Tour, he tied for second in Canada in 2019, tied for 10th last year and tied for 12th in 2018.
6. Corey Conners, Canada – Winner of the Valero Texas Open in April for his second PGA Tour victory, Conners has nine top-25 finishes on the PGA Tour this season after a tie for 12th in the PGA Championship and a tie for eighth in the Wells Fargo. He is playing in the RBC Canadian Open for the eighth time and finished solo sixth last year after missing the cut five times.
7. Cameron Young, United States – The 2021-22 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, a four-time winner as a professional, still is searching for his first PGA Tour victory after tying for third in the Hero World Challenge, tying for seventh in the Masters and tying for 10th in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Young is making his career debut this week in the RBC Canadian Open.
8. Justin Rose, England – The 2013 U.S. Open champion won at Pebble Beach in February for his 11th PGA Tour victory and 25th as a pro, giving him eight finishes in the top 25 this season, including a tie for sixth in the Players, a tie for ninth in the PGA and a tie for 16th in the Masters. Rose tied for fourth in the RBC Canadian Open last year and did the same way back in 2007.
9. Adam Hadwin, Canada – The winner of 12 events as a pro, including the 2017 Valspar Championship on the PGA Tour, Hadwin has six finishes in the top 20 on the PGA Tour this season, including second in the Zurich Classic, a tie for seventh in the Houston Open and a ties for 10th in Phoenix and the Shriners. He has three top-10 finishes in the RBC Canadian Open.
10. Sahith Theegala, United States – Theegala, who teamed Tom Hoge to win the 2022 QBE Shootout, has produced seven top-10 finishes on his own this season, including a tie for second in the RSM Classic, a tie for fourth in the Farmers, ties for fifth in the Zozo and the RBC Heritage, and a tie for sixth in the Genesis. Tied for 53rd in RBC Canadian Open debut last year.
OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH: Matt Kuchar, United States; Nicolai Hojgaard, Denmark; Keith Mitchell, United States; Adam Svensson, Canada; Aaron Wise, United States; Adrian Meronk, Poland; Tommy Fleetwood, England; Nick Taylor, Canada; Maverick McNealy, United States; S.H. Kim, South Korea.
- Aaron Rai, England – Six-time winner as a pro, including two on Web.com Tour, has 10 top-20 finishes on the PGA Tour in the last two seasons. T-13 in RBC Canadian debut last year.
- C.T. Pan, Taiwan – Has four victories as a pro, including two on the PGA Tour Canada, and recently was fourth in AT&T Byron Nelson. T-14 in first RBC Canadian Open last season.
3. Dylan Wu, United States – Winner of the 2021 Price Cutter Championship on Korn Ferry Tour, Wu was T-10 in Honda, T-15 in Mexico, T-16 in Puntacana. Missed cut Canada last year.
4. Garrick Higgo, South Africa—Seven-time winner a pro, including the 2021 Palmetto Championship, Higgo was third at Sanderson Farms, T-11 in AmEx. Makes Canada debut.
5. Michael Kim, United States – 2018 John Deere champion was T-6 in Charles Schwab, seventh in Wells Fargo, fifth in Puerto Rico, T-11 at Pebble. Making debut in Canada.
For first-round tee times and all the scores later in the week, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard