Golf picks and best bets for this weekend’s RBC Canadian Open


The RBC Canadian Open is back after a two-year hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, which means that Rory McIlroy is the defending champion of a tournament that last occurred so long ago. It was one week before Gary Woodland won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

This week’s edition of the event is being played at St. George’s Golf & Country Club, just outside of Toronto, for the first time since 2010. That alone isn’t too different, as we’ve witnessed other tournaments rotate venues, but good luck trying to get a read on a course that yielded a Carl Pettersson victory over Dean Wilson the last time we saw it.

Then there’s the field, which is the most top-heavy in recent memory. It includes five of the current top-10 players in the Official World Golf Ranking: McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler, Cameron Smith, Justin Thomas, and Sam Burns. That’s a strong lineup to start any list, but upon further inspection, the event features just nine of the top 25 and 12 of the top 50.

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I’ll largely eschew the top of this week’s board in favor of hoping to catch lightning with some bigger odds down the list.

Outright Winner: Justin Rose (50/1) — BetMGM

My favorite outright play is usually a matter of form over function.

I’ll often simply pick the player I believe has the best chance of winning. Sure, value is an important factor, but there are times when it gets superseded. Last week is a good example: I’ll only take a pre-tourney favorite once in a long while; Jon Rahm was too enticing to pass up. While he didn’t win, Rahm still finished top 10, and he shoulda/woulda/coulda been there at the end if not for a few early-week blunders.

Justin Rose
Justin Rose
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Anyway, this week’s play is more about function over form. The top four players on the board each opened at 10/1 or shorter. Prices will shift as the week progresses, of course, but when Harold Varner III is listed at 33/1, you know we’ve gotta dig to find some decent odds.

All of which got me to Rose, which I admittedly don’t love, but I’m trying to pick off a guy at a bigger number, as I think it could continue to be a strange week. This play could’ve just as easily been Patrick Reed or C.T. Pan (66/1) or Brendon Todd (50/1) or Dylan Frittelli (100/1), but I went for the proven winner in Rose, despite him ghosting us for much of the year.

Really, when was the last time you heard his name? Rose has competed in only nine events this year and just twice since the Masters (T-13 at the PGA Championship; missed cut at the Charles Schwab Challenge), but it had me thinking back to a story from early summer of eight years ago.

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The reigning U.S. Open champion, he injured his shoulder and missed the first two months of the year. Still, Rose later told me that he believed the time away would leave him sufficiently gassed up for the dog days — and he proved himself right, as he finished T-12 in his U.S. Open title defense, then won two in a row and added four more top-five finishes in the second half of that year, without a single missed cut.

Granted, Rose isn’t the same player he was in his prime, but I do think this could be a calm-before-the-storm situation. He’s worth a play at this inflated price, as are a handful of others.

To finish in Top 5: Tony Finau (+550) — Caesars

He’s baaaack!

Following his second career PGA Tour victory at The Northern Trust last summer, Finau played 16 worldwide events without cashing a top-five ticket. Still, the man (somewhat) affectionately referred to as Top-Five Tony now owns a pair of top-five results in his last four starts.

That’s not the only reason to like him for a similar finish this week. Over the years, the big-hitting Finau has often shown a propensity for playing some of his best golf on shorter courses. Whether it frees him up to employ shorter clubs off the tee or he simply likes more claustrophobic confines, there’s a trend here, including his T-4 result at Colonial just a few weeks ago.

On a St. George’s venue which plays just a notch over 7,000 yards, this could be right up his alley.

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