Overlooked in the revised makeup of the 2018-19 season is the relocation of the RBC Canadian Open, both in time and space.
For the first time in 30 years, Canada's national open will be contested in the month of June. And for the first time in seven years – and just the sixth time in its 110 editions – Hamilton Golf & Country Club serves as the host.
There's a lot to love about the new date and site. Continue reading past the ranking for details.
Adam Hadwin, Henrik Stenson, Jimmy Walker, Lucas Bjerregaard and the 2006 winner at Hamilton, Jim Furyk, will be included in Tuesday's Fantasy Insider with other notables.
Hamilton G&CC welcomes a field of 156. Since the tournament was last held on the Harry Colt design, it's undergone a massive tree removal. That has served two main purposes. First, what entrants see will be closer to what Colt created, and that's often the preferred objective for classic tracks testing modern talent. The other benefit, as has been the case at countless golf courses everywhere, is to improve the growth of grass and support other environmental projects.
As of midday Monday, 32 in the field competed in the RBC Canadian Open at Hamilton in 2012. Other than the reintroduction of clear sightlines, other changes potentially noticed include new distances at the par-4 fifth hole that now reaches 337 yards – an increase of 20 yards – and the par-3 13th, which is down 19 yards to tip at 217 yards. Officially, overall length is up one yard to 6,967 yards.
Par remains at 70 with two par 5s. The 2012 field averaged 69.593 and Scott Piercy prevailed at 17-under 263. For a layout that rewards ball-striking and shot-shaping, he was a mildly surprising champion given he averaged 12 greens in regulation per round, just below field average. However, he made the most of his chances in ranking second in putting: birdies-or-better.
Unlike most shorter courses with old bones, accuracy of the tee doesn't carry as much value as distance. Ten of the 14 golfers inside the top 10 on the leaderboard in 2012 finished T30 or worse in fairways hit, while 10 cracked the top 25 in length. Precision and putting paid it off. Nine of the 14 ranked inside the top 25 in proximity to the hole, 10 were inside the top 25 in scrambling and eight landed inside the top 20 in strokes gained: putting.
While the data makes sense, those who flush it best on approach into Poa-bentgrass greens averaging just 5,000 square feet present the strongest possibility to contend. Sharpness with the putter can be unpredictable, but those defined as great putters aren't automatically benefited due to the small, unfamiliar surfaces.
Hamilton is gettable when it's soft, which it will be early on, and greens are prepared for a Stimpmeter reading of 11-and-a-half feet, so scoring will be low. The primary defense is wind, which could be a factor during every round, especially on the weekend. Daytime temperatures will climb into the mid-70s. The only considerable threat for rain during the tournament is in the form of residual energy from a front passing through on Wednesday and into Thursday.
Not including those who navigated sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open on Monday, 26 in the field already know that they're headed to the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Suffice it to say that Hamilton is a proper primer to get their games in order. Oh, and the PGA TOUR won't wait around as long to return, either, as Hamilton is slated to host the RBC Canadian Open again in 2023. St. George's G&CC in Etobicoke, Ontario, will host next year.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Fantasy Insider
WEDNESDAY: One & Done
THURSDAY: Champions One & Done
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesdays.