2022 RBC Canadian Open Preview: Everything To Know About St. George’s

Written By John Haslbauer on June 5, 2022 - Last Updated on June 6, 2022
Canadian open odds

The Canadian Open is finally back after a two-year COVID-induced hiatus. Our friends up North have patiently waited to see their nation’s open back on the PGA TOUR rotation. Finally, everyone heads to St. George’s Golf & Country Club just outside Toronto for the first time since 2010. And we at TheLines open the week’s coverage by looking at the Canadian Open odds.

Like the patrons we’d expect to see at a Canadian event, the confines at St. George are equally friendly, generous, forgiving and just very nice all around. Perfectly suitable to embody Canada’s Open Championship.  After a two year layoff, I can’t imagine the local patrons need any extra motivation to bring the energy this week, and we should expect a highly involved and energetic crowd.  

The Canadian Open has a rotation of top Canadian courses it cycles through year to year. Glen Abbey, the Nicklaus course which has hosted in five of the last seven Canadian Opens, favored a bomb & gouge style. St. George’s may just be the polar opposite. Standing right around 7,000 yards, distance rates as a secondary trait at best this week.

We should expect St. George’s to play very similarly to the other sub-7,200-yard courses on the PGA TOUR that reward accuracy off the tee and especially on approach. Stanley Thompson designed this course as highly penal for approaches that miss the green, with nearly all heavily bunkered. From a stat profile standpoint, I’m once again looking to the top approach players, with added emphasis on Par-3 and Par-5 Scoring, Sand Saves Gained and overall history on other short courses.

Without further ado, let’s run through the key facts and info about St. George’s Golf & Country Club ahead of the 2022 Canadian Open.  

The next major is next week – US Open odds

RBC CANADIAN OPEN ODDS: THE FAVORITES

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S. Scheffler
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R. McIlroy
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C. Smith
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S. Burns
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RBC CANADIAN OPEN FIELD AT A GLANCE

The headline of this week’s event unfortunately features players not participating. This time, that spotlight falls squarely on former RBC ambassador (and former PGA TOUR member?) Dustin Johnson. While golf purists have anticipated the Canadian Open’s return for three years now, the event will now go head to head with LIV Golf’s debut event.

Beyond DJ, the LIV Golf event really has not had any impact on the quality of the field this week. In fact, its new position the week prior to the U.S. Open has paid dividends, enticing a group of elite players for one final tune-up before Brookline. Golf fans who want to see the best players in the world will tune in to the RBC Canadian Open this week.  

This year, the field includes five top-10 OWGR players. That includes No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, defending Canadian Open champion Rory McIlroy, standing PGA Champion Justin Thomas and standing PLAYERS champion Cameron SmithSam Burns will also make his first start since taking down Scheffler in the playoff at the Charles Schwab.  

McIlroy won in dominant fashion last we saw the Canadian Open in action. Tied for the lead with Webb Simpson and Matt Kuchar going into the final round, he blew the doors off with a Sunday 61. He said after the round he was more focused on shooting 59 than winning the tournament by the time he made the turn. The 2019 Canadian Open played out at Hamilton Golf & Country Club, so we should expect a different layout and result this time around.  

We’ll also see former Canadian Open winners Jhonattan Vegas, Brandt Snedeker, Scott Piercy, and Sean O’Hair back in the mix. Notable Canadians in the field this week include Corey Conners, Adam Hadwin, Mackenzie Hughes, Nick Taylor, Taylor Pendrith and Adam Svensson.

INTRODUCTION TO THE CANADIAN OPEN AND ST. GEORGE’S GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB

The last time we saw a nation’s prestigious international open on the schedule, it also came at St. George’s — Royal St. George’s that is, for the 2021 British Open. While the Canadian Open ranks several rungs down the ladder from a major, it still carries storied history. It dates to 1904, played every year with the exceptions of 1915-1918 (World War I), 1943-1944 (World War II) and 2020-2021 (COVID-19).  

This year will mark the 110th iteration of the Canadian Open. 

Perhaps the most iconic moment in Canadian Open history came in 2000. Tiger Woods made birdie from a fairway bunker on the par-5 18th at Glen Abbey, besting Glen Waite by one stroke. Some consider it the greatest shot Tiger’s ever hit, given the stakes of the tournament. You can relive that moment here

When we think Canadian Open, we should think Canadians. However, their track record has been far less impactful than, say, Americans at the U.S. Open or Europeans at The Open. A Canadian has only won this event four times, and not since 1958 (Pat Fletcher at Point Grey).

In 2010, the last running at this course, Carl Pettersson won with a Nike One golf ball and anchored belly putter. TikTok was merely a Ke$ha song back then, and Ryan Palmer was just a one-time PGA TOUR winner, picking up his first career victory earlier in the year at Sony Open. Suffice it to say a lot has changed. Well, for the most part anyway.

History

St. George’s will host the Canadian Open for just the sixth time and only the second since 1968. That makes it just a little bit tricky for the pulling of actionable data. The cause for the long layoff has everything to do with logistics and nothing to do with the quality of the course. St. George’s is carved into the suburban outskirts of Toronto, with limited real estate on property. That has made it difficult for the course to host a full-fledged tournament at the Canadian Open’s scale. To mitigate this, they’ve extended the event to the neighboring Islington Golf Club’s practice facility.

The course itself makes it easy to overlook the logistical pain points. St. George’s has racked up accolades over its nearly 100-year history. It currently ranks the No. 3 golf course in all of Canada, No. 25 golf course outside of the United States and No. 35 golf course in the world according to Golf Digest. 

Design Philosophy And Target Score

Stanley Thompson is the face of Canadian golf architecture. This course is unanimously considered his best work.

Not unlike Perry Maxwell’s design philosophy, which we saw most recently at Southern Hills and Colonial CC, the through line in Thompson’s work has been use of natural topography. The major difference: Thompson did not necessarily build with challenging tournament conditions in mind. So with that said, while St. George’s is visually stunning and in immaculate condition, it’s still a course that steady iron players can pick apart with ample birdie opportunities.  

In 2010, Pettersson won at -14, including a 10-under 60 on Saturday. The winning score at the Canadian Open has pushed beyond -14 in seven of the nine events since 2010, so this may prove comparatively more challenging than some of the other courses in rotation. With that said, if Pettersson can shoot 60 with a bag of now discontinued Nike clubs, I have to imagine there is another 60 to be had this week with more modern equipment. I’ll go out on a limb and predict a winning score of -18.

Trends To Pull From 2010

It may be a fool’s errand to pull any actionable insights from an event contested a dozen years ago, given how much has changed in golf since then. But with little to go off, we can’t do much else.

I noticed one key trend which may stand the test of time, or at least guide us a bit for 2022 play: short-course correlation.

In 2010, Pettersson had a plodder’s player profile: below average distance, above average driving accuracy, and a scorching putter. For the full 2010 season, Pettersson averaged a massive 0.84 strokes gained putting. He was marginally above average around the green, below average on approach and off the tee. To put the putting into perspective, JT Poston led the TOUR in average SG: P per round in the full 2021 season with 0.7.

Pettersson ranked No. 104 OWGR by the end of 2010. To contextualize, Pettersson was 2010’s Troy Merritt. I would’ve loved Merritt’s chances this week, but unfortunately, he won’t participate. That probably leaves Poston himself as the best comparison.

Back to the trends, Pettersson had three T10 finishes in his 2010 season prior to taking down the Canadian Open. They came at the Sony Open, Transitions Championship (now the Valspar Championship) and the AT&T National (formerly played at Aronimink). Each of these courses played 7,200 yards or shorter, removing distance advantage. Luke Donald also finished T3 in 2010 and joined Pettersson with a T10 at the Transitions Championship. Like Pettersson, Donald also profiled as an elite putter with a bias towards shorter courses.  

If history repeats, we should look at strong putters with above-average driving accuracy who’ve popped on shorter courses. Eight players fit the bill: Matt Fitzpatrick, Adam Hadwin, Shane Lowry, Brice Garnett, Brandon Wu, Kramer Hickock, CT Pan and Greyson Sigg.

How It Breaks Down

Without any significant alterations to adapt St. George’s to the modern game since 2010, we should expect a very similar layout here.

St. George’s stands as a par 70 at 7,046 yards, predominantly on Bentgrass throughout with some Poa overseed. In contrast to a usual par-70 layout, St. George’s features five par 3s and three par 5s. That should put an added emphasis on Par-3 and Par-5 scoring, with slight de-emphasis on Par-4 Scoring.

The par 5s do not look imposing. All three will be reachable in two for the field. Of the 10 par 4s, three sit under 400 yards. The remaining seven play over 450 yards, so we can overlook the common 400-450 yard range. On par 3s, we’ll see a balanced mix of three 200+, one under 175 and one in between. So, I’ll look at total Par-3 Scoring, understanding tee boxes will move around plenty.

We have limited data for the 2010 Canadian Open. But going off of video highlights, overhead visuals, and the 2010 leaderboard, we can conclude that St. George’s remains a plodder’s paradise.

I would stop short of saying elite driving accuracy is a must, like it would be at courses like Harbour Town or El Camaleon. The fairways have some forgiveness and lack a ton of angular doglegs that force layups. With the changes in the modern game, we might see players attempt to bomb their way through. But, the driver will bring on plenty of risk despite the rough not presenting a steep penalty. The fairways remain tight, and a majority of this field will ease off the driver. Players who consistently play out of the fairway and reach each of the par 5s in two should go on to create the most scoring opportunities.

ST. GEORGE’S GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB  COURSE SPECS

  • Yards: 7,046
  • Par: 70 (5x 3s / 10x 4s / 3x 5s)
  • Greens: Bent with Poa Over-seed
  • Architect: Stanley Thompson
  • Historic Cut Line (2010): -1
  • Median Four-Round Score: -6 (’10)
  • Comp Courses: Detroit GC, Pebble Beach GL, Sedgefield CC, Waialae CC, Colonial CC, Innisbrook Resort
  • Recent Past Winners (RBC Canadian Open): Rory McIlroy -22 (’21), Dustin Johnson -23 (’20), Jhonattan Vegas -21 (’17), Jhonattan Vegas -12 (’16), Jason Day -17 (’15)
  • Past Winners at St. George’s G & CC: Carl Pettersson -14 (’10), Bob Charles -6 (’68), Art Wall Jr. (’60), Dutch Harrison (’49), Joe Kirkwood Sr. (’33)
  • Hole-by-hole Breakdown:
St. George’s Golf & Country Club (7,046 Yards)

COURSE HISTORY AND COURSE COMPS

We must fly in the dark when it comes to course history this week. With 12 years having passed since we last saw high-level competition at St. George’s, the only players in this week’s field who have played the Canadian Open here before are Luke Donald (T3), Charley Hoffman (T4), Adam Hadwin (T37), Camilo Villegas (T65), Brian Stuard (T69), Sean O’Hair (MC), Nick Taylor (MC), Pat Perez (MC), Brandt Snedeker (MC), and Mike Weir (MC). With all players moving to drastically different stages of their careers now, we can actionably take from those results.  

In terms of event history, we can look at who’s performed best North of the border at the Canadian Open. The top 10 in event history include: Snedeker, Rory McIlroy, Hoffman, Jhonattan Vegas, Shane Lowry, Danny Lee, Nick Watney, Ricky Barnes, Robert Garrigus and Brandon Hagy. Personally, I don’t find much value in weighting event history, given the heavy skew of Glen Abbey. Instead, I’ll lean more heavily on comp course history.

Course Comps

I keep going back to Detroit Golf Club as the best comp courses to St. George’s. Both feature a very similar Bent and Poa blend on the greens, yield what I expect to be a similar winning score at around -18, favor stronger putters, are not long, and favor players with an accurate driving profile. Over the years at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, we have seen bombers like Bryson DeChambeau, Matthew Wolff, Jason Kokrak and Joaquin Niemann find success just as often as shorter, more accurate hitters like Kevin Kisner, Troy Merritt and Adam Hadwin.

Many have speculated how this course will play. But, I think we will look back and see a similar leaderboard to the recent Rocket Mortgage. It should favor the shorter, accurate hitters in theory, but bombers who control their irons should also do just fine considering the playable rough.  

Less Strong But Still Useful

After Detroit GC, Colonial CC comes to mind, for similar reasons. Strong approach players with a bias towards accuracy and long-term putting prowess find success there, in the face of a growing trend of long-hitting bombers beginning to use driver more often to cut angles.  

Innisbrook Resort comes closest to correlated results based on 2010 with both Pettersson and Donald posting top 10s here before their 2010 Canadian Open successes. Considering Innisbrook also places a premium on approach and bias towards hitting fairways along with a shared fifth par 3, it works as a very solid comp to reference recent T2G performance. Waialae CC also checks the box of a correlated comp short course where Pettersson found success.  

And finally, you can’t go wrong in referencing total T2G form on courses under 7,200 yards. I lean towards Pebble Beach and Sedgefield CC as the best remaining, as I expect St. George’s to play a bit less narrow off the tee than a Harbour Town or El Camaleon.  

Wrap that altogether, and the top-10 players in comp course history are Sam Burns (who’s already picked up victories on two comp courses in 2022), Justin Thomas, Tony Finau, Patrick Reed, Justin Rose, Corey Conners, Adam Hadwin, Harold Varner III, Shane Lowry and Chris Kirk. 

KEY STATS TO CONSIDER

  • SG: T2G (<7,200-Yard Courses)
  • SG: APP
  • Par-5 Scoring
  • Par 4: 450-500 / Par-4: <400
  • Par-3 Scoring
  • Opportunities Gained
  • Good Drives Gained/Driving Accuracy
  • SG: ARG / Sand Saves Gained
  • SG: Putting
  • Comp Course History

I find myself taking a more broad strokes approach to the stat model profile this week without the aid of much good correlated data. Pettersson showed us that the simple formula of performance on recent short courses solidly predicted success to come. If that continues, the top-10 players in SG: T2G on recent courses under 7,200 yards are Justin Thomas, Corey Conners, Shane Lowry, Sam Burns, Adam Svensson, Cameron Smith, CT Pan, Luke List, Tony Finau and Nick Taylor. Interesting to find three Canadians in the top 10.  

Whenever we’re unsure of course correlated stats, it’s always a good idea to start with SG: APP. And given the volume of green-side bunkers awaiting, it should play even more of a premium this week. The 10 best approach players entering this event are Lowry, Smith, Scottie Scheffler, Burns, Luke Donald, Pan, Rory McIlroy, David Lipsky, Harold Varner III and Chris Kirk. 

Stats By Length

I typically don’t put a ton of weight behind Par-3 Scoring. Players who escape the week at even par on the par 3s tend to fare just fine. With that said, since we have an added fifth par 3 this week, it’ll be more important than usual. The top 10 in Par-3 Scoring this week are Donald, Brian Stuard, Matt Fitzpatrick, Adam Hadwin, Brendon Todd, Lowry, Pan, Stephen Jaeger, Greyson Sigg and Vaughn Taylor.  

Players must take advantage of the par 5s on this course, as all three will bring birdie or better opportunities; the top-10 par-5 scorers are Scheffler, Fitzpatrick, Jhonattan Vegas, Cameron Piercy, Smith, Matthias Schwab, Keith Mitchell, Thomas, McIlroy and Burns.

Finally, looking at the par 4s, I mentioned the yardage split earlier. With a weighted model of 70% P4: 450-500 and 30% P4: <400, the top-10 par-4 scorers for this week are McIlroy, Smith, Thomas, Lowry, Scheffler, Burns, Kirk, Rory Sabbatini, Mackenzie Hughes and Mitchell.

Then I figured, why not just plug in all 18 hole ranges with the percent weighting on the scorecard to see whom this course layout suits the best, all conditions being equal. Surprisingly enough, that gave us a top 10 of Mitchell, Kirk, Scheffler, Burns, Conners, Thomas, McIlroy, Smith, Fitzpatrick and Tyrrell Hatton.

Just eight players in the field rank above average in each of the above key stat categories I’m looking for this week: Scottie Scheffler, Sam Burns, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Chris Kirk, Sebastian Munoz, Adam Hadwin and Tyler Duncan.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: CT PAN

C.T. Pan emerges as a happy, but surprised, winner of a seven-man playoff  for the bronze | Golf News and Tour Information | GolfDigest.com The Olympic bronze medalist from Chinese Taipei is no stranger to international competition. For Pan, Canada has been just as welcoming. He has posted a T14 in his only prior trip to The True North at the 2017 Canadian Open.  

Looking ahead to the 2022 Canadian Open, Pan continues to ride out steady form. He has now made it through the cut in nine of his last 10 events, including three T20s over that span and three total top 10s already in the 2022 season. Throughout that stretch, Pan has also maintained elite consistency where it matters most: Approach. He’s gained in SG: APP in nine consecutive events now, a highly encouraging trend heading into St. George’s which demands precision on iron shots to avoid its many green-side bunkers.  

CT Pan is a certified short-course specialist. Seven of his 12 career T10 finishes have come on courses under 7,200 yards, including his 2019 win at the RBC Heritage. He may also be announcing himself as a “5x Par-3 Specialist” as he finished top 50 at both the Mexico Open and Valspar Championship — the two courses in 2022 which have featured this unique layout. The last course Pan played with five par 3s prior to this season was Kasumigaseki, host of the 2021 Olympics, where Pan took home the aforementioned bronze.  

It’s no coincidence Pan has found success on these courses which add a premium to par-3 scoring, as he ranks No. 7 in the field this season. In addition to the par-3 prowess, Pan also ranks top 10 in the key categories of SG: APP, SG: T2G (<7,200 Courses), Good Drives Gained and P4: 450-500.

CT Pan fits the profile perfectly, and is positioned to parlay the hot recent approach form into another high Canadian Open finish this week.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR AT THE 2022 RBC CANADIAN OPEN

It is a tale of two fields at the 2022 RBC Canadian Open. The event is littered with elite names at the top but lacks the depth we’d expect to see at a usual PGA TOUR stop. It’s going to be fun to watch this top-35 golf course on TV, especially with an exuberant Canadian crowd welcoming this storied event back. I’ll be rooting for one of the Canadians in the field to break the 64-year drought but can’t say for sure if any will land on my betting card at first pass.  

With all the course-fit profiles in mind, I’m leaning early towards the below player pool. Naturally, I’m looking their way in the 2022 RBC Canadian Open odds as well. I’ve broken the list down by projected pricing/odds tier for DraftKings.

In my model, I’m emphasizing SG: APP first and foremost, followed by a more balanced mix of SG: T2G (<7,200 Courses), Opportunities Gained, Comp Course History, Par-5 Scoring, Par 4: 450-500, Par-3 Scoring, SG: ARG and SG: P.  

Model Favorites

Not too many surprises in the model this week with such clear separation in talent at the top of the board. Justin Thomas leads the way, looking to bounce back after a MC at the Charles Schwab Challenge following his PGA Championship victory. Thomas ranks No. 1 in terms of Short Course History and Opportunities Gained, and ranks top five in other key stat categories including Comp Course History, Par-5 Scoring, P4: 450-500, SG: ARG and Sand Saves Gained.  

After Thomas, the rest of my model’s top 10 this week features Scottie Scheffler, Shane Lowry, Rory McIlroy, Sam Burns, Chris Kirk, Cameron Smith, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tony Finau and Harold Varner III.

As it stands, I’ll be eying CT Pan, Kirk, and Sebastian Munoz when odds open on Monday. However with so much win equity tied up at the top, where the odds land on the favorites will ultimately dictate the card construction. Check back in later this week for more updates, and best of luck navigating the 2022 RBC Canadian Open odds!  

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John Haslbauer Avatar
Written by
John Haslbauer

John Haslbauer writes about golf betting and advanced golf metrics for TheLines.com. He is a passionate golf fan, golf writer, and (casual) golfer. A graduate at Syracuse University, John works out of Jersey City as a Director of Media Strategy for HBO and HBO Max. He created the website thepgatout.com at the start of 2021 and is active on Twitter (@PGATout). No, he is not a tout. The Twitter handle is a joke. Touts are lame. We hate touts.

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