CANADIAN OPEN: The PGA Tour heads north this week for Canada’s national open, a tournament with a rich history that predates the creation of the Tour by some 64 years. The list of past champions reads like a roll call of World Golf Hall of Fame members– Hagen, Armour, Snead, Nelson, Locke, Palmer, Trevino, Norman, Woods… just about everyone but Nicklaus, who finished runner-up here a record 7 times. The Canadian Open is widely regarded as the most prestigious event that the Golden Bear failed to win.

In recent years the strength of the field has fluctuated a bit as the tournament’s place on the schedule has shifted, but now that it’s nestled comfortably between the PGA Championship and U.S. Open we’re seeing an uptick in overall quality, with some players who have skipped the event in years past now deciding to make the trip up north. One guy who always shows up for the Canadian fans is World No. 3 Rory McIlroy, who won this tournament in both 2022 and 2019. His win in ’19 is particularly notable for two reasons: 1. He set the all-time tournament scoring record with a 22-under 258, and 2. That’s the last time the event was held at Hamilton Golf and Country Club, the site of this week’s proceedings. If you were wondering why Rory is such an overwhelming favorite on the BETDAQ exchange, where he’s currently trading at 5.5, well… you can start there.

Hamilton G&CC is certainly different from most tracks you’ll see on the PGA Tour. For starters, it’s incredibly short by Tour standards, measuring just 6,967 yards from all the way back. Like many old courses (Hamilton was designed by Harry Colt in 1914) the greens are quite small, and the firmness and significant undulation will leave players with challenging up-and-downs should they find themselves out of position. That, as well as the thick primary rough which lines the narrow tree-lined fairways, acts as the course’s primary defense. To score well at Hamilton you need to be in the short grass– finding fairways is the No. 1 priority this week. It’s worth noting that the last two players to win here prior to McIlroy were Scott Piercy and Jim Furyk, both of whom were certainly known more for accuracy than distance off the tee.

BETDAQ’s Win Market is fairly bunched-up behind Rory, with a dozen players currently trading in the 20.0-45.0 range. Scores will be low this week, so in addition to fairway-finders we’re looking for guys who have been playing well on the “green light” courses– the ones who are comfortable making birdies in bunches. With that in mind, here’s what I’m thinking:


Recommendations to BACK (odds in parenthesis)

Sahith Theegala (22.0)- It’s no secret that Theegala has been playing some great golf– for the past couple of months it seems like he’s on the first page of the leaderboard every time you turn on a tournament. He was contending at the PGA two weeks ago until a Sunday 73 left him in a tie for 12th, and he’s only three starts removed from a runner-up at the RBC Heritage. He also has top-10s at the Players, the API, and the Phoenix Open, but what he doesn’t have (yet) this year is a victory. Could it come this week? He’s never played Hamilton but it’s a fairly straightforward test if you hit it straight and Theegala’s ball-striking stats are tremendous, as he ranks in the top-25 on Tour in both strokes gained off the tee and strokes gained on approach. His putting has been even better– he’s 4th on Tour in strokes gained there. He’s top-20 in birdie average, total birdies, scoring average… he perfectly fits the profile of someone who could take the top off this week and post 25-under. Don’t hesitate to back him at better than 20/1.

Tom Kim (38.0)- Kim is an uber-talented phenom who will win majors one day. I feel confident in saying that. He did go through a bit of a rough patch earlier this season but has found his form of late, finishing 26th or better in 3 of his past 5 starts, including a T24 at the Charles Schwab last week (a result that would’ve been a whole lot better had it not been for a final round 74). His one weakness is probably length off the tee– he’s not a bomber by any stretch of the imagination– but that is largely irrelevant at Hamilton, one of the few sub-7,000-yard courses that these guys see. Kim is a great short-iron player who always gives himself lots of birdie opportunities. If he putts well, which was an issue a few months ago but has improved lately, he nearly always contends. With the momentum he’s built lately and a venue that seems tailor-made for his game, Kim is a genuine threat this week and should not be overlooked at a price like 38.0.

Bud Cauley (350.0)- We generally always pick one player in the triple-digit range but this week we’ve decided to go with a genuine longshot in Bud Cauley at the oh-so-juicy price of 350.0. First, to get it out of the way– Cauley has zero victories in 192 career PGA Tour starts. He’s also been injured frequently in recent years, which is a big reason why you haven’t seen his name on leaderboards much. He’s healthy now, though, and his game is showing signs of life, with 4 made cuts in his last 6 starts and a statistical profile that suggests big things may be around the corner. Even his missed cuts have shown promise– last week at the Charles Schwab, for instance, he narrowly missed after a Friday 69 left him with a 2-day total of 3-under. Not good enough, but not horrendously bad golf, either. He’s a short-and-straight type who is a danger anytime a course doesn’t require prodigious length off the tee, and Hamilton is just such a course. Maybe that’s why Cauley was able to make a serious run at this tournament in 2012, when it was also held at Hamilton. He finished T4 that week, closing with rounds of 63-67-66 to post 14-under 266. He’s got a legitimate chance to make some noise once again, making him well worth a bet at such an astronomical price.

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