Fantasy Insider: RBC Canadian Open

July 19, 2011
Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Columnist

There was considerable chatter last week about how the weather would impact the draw at the British Open, so it's worth taking a peek back at how the chips fell for the top 10. I've also compared it to the results of the 2010 edition during which the late-early half were believed to have benefited. You might be surprised.

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Of the eleven inside the top 10 at Royal St. George's last week, six started their opening round in the second half of the draw, including Darren Clarke who was in the 35th group of 52. Thomas Bjorn and Simon Dyson were the earliest starters of the lot; both were in the sixth threesome off on Thursday. The mathematical average grouping of the 11 was 24.36, which lands just inside the first half of the draw.

Last year, there were exactly 10 inside the top 10 on the final leaderboard. This included champion Louis Oosthuizen, who dusted the field by seven strokes; he was in the 28th group (of 52) in his opening round, but was one of just five of the 10 that started the tournament in the late-early draw. The mathematical average grouping of the 10 was 24.20, again just inside the first half of the draw. (Robert Rock started earliest among this sample size; he was in the third group on Thursday).

The weather most definitely laid down for the late-early halves in both editions, and both winners emerged from that draw, but the lesson here is never underestimate the talent of the field as a whole, even when a variable like weather plays out as expected. Remember this the next time the conditions seem to lean one way in the season's third major.

In the Matchups game on Facebook, I incurred my second consecutive losing week, going 2-3-0 at the Viking Classic. Overall through four events, I'm 11-5-2 with 28 points. That's good for a share of 6th place overall and I still lead the Notables; GarrySmits of The Florida Times-Union sits in second with 22. After entering the Viking with sole possession of the overall lead, user kschwab14 was caught by TravisGolf13. The duo now co-leads the game with 34 points.

My picks for the RBC Canadian Open: • Matt Kuchar over Luke DonaldMatt McQuillan over Mike Weir • Lucas Glover over Andres Gonzales • Rickie Fowler over Anthony Kim • Ryan Moore over Ben Crane

The PGATOUR.COM staff also publishes its picks, which you can review here. I still lead that field, too, but a few are gaining fast.

Power Rankings Plus

11. Kevin Streelman ... Ranks 61st and 60th in ball-striking and bogey avoidance, respectively. Prior to an ignorable missed cut at the British, finished T6 at the Travelers and T15 at the AT&T National. While his game tee-to-cup was outstanding at TPC River Highlands, Shaughnessy is more similar to Aronimink, where he co-led the field in fairways hit and ranked T15 in greens.

12. Tommy Gainey ... Co-leads the TOUR with 23 starts, but his five top 10s are more than double the combined total of the other two guys that have played just as often -- Blake Adams (two) and Josh Teater (zero). Gainey is coming off a share of seventh place at the Viking Classic, where he ranked T2 in greens hit. Overall, he's 20th on TOUR in ball-striking and 65th in bogey avoidance.

13. Chez Reavie ... In a groove following a T5 at the John Deere and T16 at the Viking. At both stops, he ranked inside the top 20 in fairways and top 10 in greens. His lone PGA TOUR victory occurred at the 2008 Canadian Open, but it was at Glen Abbey, so the connection is merely a convenient coincidence.

14. John Rollins ... Perfect matchup with Shaughnessy. Leads the PGA TOUR in total driving and ranks 18th in greens. Sitting T66 in bogey avoidance doesn't scare me either. And he has two top-six finishes in his last four starts.

15. Chad Campbell ... One of two at the British with three rounds in the 60s -- winner Darren Clarke was the other. Campbell has a reputation as a wizard with his irons, but putting four rounds together has always been a challenge; frankly, most guys go stretches without a solid full week. If he projected a share of fifth at Royal St. George's, it was that he co-led the field in greens hit at the John Deere. That extended into the first two rounds in England before he managed only 17 total on the weekend.

Power Rankings Distribution for Yahoo! (rank)

Group A ... Matt Kuchar (1); Luke Donald (3); Brian Gay (10)

Group B ... Charl Schwartzel (2); Bo Van Pelt (5); Rickie Fowler (7); Spencer Levin (8); Chad Campbell (15)

Group C ... Ryan Moore (4); Anthony Kim (6); John Merrick (9); Kevin Streelman (11); Tommy Gainey (12); Chez Reavie (13); John Rollins (14)

Dark Horse (Yahoo! Group)

George McNeill (C) ... He's a template for success out of the conditional status category, with three top 10s in just 12 starts and a virtual lock for a 2012 PGA TOUR card. Coming off a co-runner-up at the Viking Classic, where he carded just two holes over par all week despite ranking a mediocre T39 in greens in regulation. If he hit more fairways and GIR, he'd have cracked the Power Rankings Plus given that both are premiums at Shaughnessy.

Matt McQuillan (C) ... His appearance is dripping with synergy. First, he's Canadian (from Ontario). Second, the rookie ended an 0-for-10 slide over a five-month period with an out-of-nowhere share of third place at the John Deere where he ranked inside the top six in fairways, greens and putting. And third, he's bogey-free 12-under in his last two final rounds, the latter of which he closed birdie-eagle to finish T34 at the Viking Classic.

Rod Pampling (C) ... Continues to scratch and claw from the Past Champions category, having made 10 of 12 cuts this year with a pair of top 10s. Also currently sits inside the top 125 in FedExCup Points (112th). Ranks 45th on TOUR in ball-striking and 12th in bogey avoidance. He's also finished inside the top 20 in fairways hit in his last four starts, and inside the top 15 in greens in his last two.

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David Hearn (C) ... At 131st in the FedExCup ranking, he's highest among native Canadians. (Transplant Stephen Ames is 128th.) Hearn also arrives at his national open having made the cut in his last five starts. While he's struggled in many final rounds this year, he ranks 49th on TOUR in ball-striking and T24 in bogey avoidance.

Andres Gonzales (n/a) ... Admittedly, the Olympia, Washington native and Twitter rock star is a flier primarily because he's a rookie grinding through a difficult year. However, he's ranked inside the top 25 in greens in regulation in his last two starts and rolls into Vancouver having broken par in his last eight rounds. While both tracks that hosted those scores were relatively easy, his consistency should not be overlooked.

Danger (Yahoo! Group)

Carl Pettersson (B) ... The defending champion claimed victory at St. George's in Ontario, so don't be quick to associate course history. He doesn't miss many cuts (just five in 19 starts this year), but he doesn't contend all that often either. As I've written before, his value remains highest in long-term formats.

Jim Furyk (A) ... The two-time Canadian Open champion (2006, 2007) will be making his debut at Shaughnessy, which just might benefit him since the majority of the field consists of first-timers, but his recent form lands him here. A T48 at the British Open ended an 0-for-4 skid, but it's not quite time to hop back on his bandwagon. He's now gone 10 straight starts without a top 20.

Ernie Els (A) ... If it's possible for a golfer to suddenly lose his touch on and around greens, then it's happened to The Big Easy. He ranks last on the PGA TOUR in scrambling, sand saves and putting, which seems impossible for a guy that has carved out a Hall of Fame career with his short game. Both of the top-45 finishes in his most recent 11 starts worldwide were in Europe.

Ben Crane (B) ... In his only previous start at this event, he shared second place at Shaughnessy in 2005; however, his best finish in his last seven starts this season is a T45 at THE PLAYERS just over two months ago. His ball-striking and bogey avoidance splits -- 47th and 58th, respectively -- remain impressive, but that's primarily due to a consistent start to the year.

Sean O'Hair (B) ... Continues to struggle, having made just one cut in his last five starts, and that was a T63 at the Travelers. Ranks 170th or worse in both ball-striking and bogey avoidance.

Yahoo! lineup
STARTERS(In alphbetical order)
Group A: Luke Donald; Charl Schwartzel
Group B: Rickie Fowler, Spencer Levin; Charl Schwartzel; Bo Van Pelt
Group C: Anthony Kim; Ryan Moore
Yahoo! Stats
SEASON: 4,212 points (4,248th) ... SUMMER: 638 points (17,449th)
ONE-AND-DONE:Charl Schwartzel ... 2011 earnings: $4,483,749.22
DUFFER: Martin Piller ... 2011 earnings: $1,123,497.67

Camilo Villegas (B) ... Since a resurgence at the St. Jude, where he shared third place (his only top 25 all year), he's missed three straight cuts. Currently 164th on TOUR in both ball-striking and bogey avoidance.

Alex Prugh (B) ... The University of Washington product and Spokane native is enduring a Sophomore Slump, making the cut in just nine of 22 starts, including just three of his last 14.

Medic! (Yahoo! Group)

Paul Casey (B) ... Was scheduled to have an MRI on his right big toe on Monday to help determine the cause of pain that has been bothering him for three months. Indeed, the Englishman hasn't had a top-15 finish in his last 11 starts.

Notable WDs (Yahoo! Group)

Retief Goosen (B) ... Pulled out of the British after one round (76) due to a back injury.

Brandt Snedeker (C) ... Missed the cut at the British by two strokes; he's now 0-for-3 at that major.

Brandt Jobe (C) ... Taking a second consecutive week off following a missed cut at the John Deere.

Robert Garrigus (C) ... Missed the cut at the British after withdrawing nine holes into the John Deere with a back injury.

D.J. Trahan (B) ... Posted a season-best T9 at the Viking Classic. This will be just his second break over the last 14 weeks.

Brian Davis (A) ... Missed the cut at the British. Like Trahan, Davis has been busy, competing in every week but one (U.S. Open) since The Heritage three months ago.

Rob Bolton is the freelance fantasy columnist for PGATOUR.COM. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of the PGA TOUR.