Wilcox Can Win Canadian Open

There are three national championships on the US PGA tour and this week’s Canadian Open is the least prestigious. The futures market is dominated by players who contested the British version at St Andrews so betting issues are complicated by the effect of a Monday finish in Scotland. Scott Piercy and Will Wilcox are viable alternatives to players who have hot footed it from the home of golf. They have travelled from the States while others will be arriving later than normal from the east coast of Scotland.

Preview of the British Open.

History

The Canadian Open was first played in 1904 and since 1976 this week’s host course at Glen Abbey in Ontario has staged the event more than any other. The venue only missed its place on the schedule in two years up to 2000. Since then there has been a policy of moving the tournament around the country but it came to Glen Abbey again in 2009 and 2013 when the winning scores were 18 and 16 under. The course now takes its place in a rota just as the Open moves around the best links courses in England and Scotland.

Glen Abbey Golf Course

The course was renovated after the 2000 Canadian Open. The landing areas on the fairways were narrowed, extra yards added to three holes and new bunkers situated on the 16th and 18th. Glen Abbey is Jack Nicklaus’s first individual design and typically it has several dimensions. It is difficult track especially in the wind which calls upon accurate driving and solid iron play to small and undulating greens. In windy conditions breaking par will be an achievement but the course is much easier when the weather is benign.

Brandt Snedeker won the last Canadian Open at Glen Abbey two years ago and his stats give a clue to an identikit profile of potential champions. He was strong in finding fairways and hitting greens in the correct number of shots. He had a good putting week, recorded the most par breakers and led the field in par 4 scoring. Only three courses were harder in the context of driving accuracy during the 2013 season.

Past Winners of the Canadian Open

Tiger Woods won the Open Championship, US Open and Canadian Open in 2000. He thus became the first man to win the Triple Crown since Lee Trevino in 1971. Greg Norman, Nick Price and Mark O’Meara have won the British and Canadian legs while Curtis Strange amongst other has won the national Opens of Canada and the United States. The winning most nation is the States and Jim Furyk is the only dual champion in the current era. Trevino won three titles between 1971 and 1979.

Between 1906 and 1914 Canadians won their own Open six times but never since. In 2004 Mike Weir lost in a play-off to Vijay Singh after missing three putts that would have won him the tournament. Clearly feeling the pressure of the expectation of the huge home crowd he was unable to hole any of them. He eventually made a complete hash of the 18th which was the third play-off hole, presenting the tournament to Singh. Weir built up a reputation for Sunday nerves but won a US Masters though came up short in his home Open.

British Open Hangovers

Jason Day is this week’s favourite though his level of focus and motivation must be questionable. He looked totally drained at St Andrews on Monday when he was a shot away from making the play-off for the Open Championship. He has had one day less to adjust to a different time zone and prepare for a tournament on a difficult course. Golfers are resilient by nature but surely Day will be recalling wasted shots that cost him the Claret Jug which is now being used for carrying milk shakes in the Johnson home. That’s Zach’s not Dustin’s who had miserable 36 holes on the Old Course after looking the most likely winner after two rounds.

Furyk, Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar were never factors in the Open while Luke Donald and Brooks Koepka had their moments without looking like winning the third major of the season. Graham Delaet is the next player in the betting and he is Canadian so has the weight of history on his shoulders. He is yet to win on the PGA Tour despite some near misses so the story of the week would be a win in the Canadian Open.

The Barbasol Championship was played on the US Tour in the same week as the Open. Piercy won the tournament but in the context of this week Will Wilcox put in a notable performance in finishing second, two shots behind the champion. Wilcox is in the top 20 for driving accuracy and greens hit so clearly has a game suited to Glen Abbey. While Day and other will be reliving the Open Wilcox can win for the first time on the main tour after 32 starts though Delaet would be a more popular winner.

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