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With a 200/1 shot popping up from nowhere to win the European Open and a 60/1 outsider dotting up on the PGA Tour there wasn’t much Jubilee joy for golf punters at the weekend but, through gritted teeth, we salute Kalle Samooja and Billy Horschel.
An early finisher who posted a tantalising target with a record-breaking 64 and had to wait two hours to find out whether it was good enough, Finn-tastic Samooja was winning for the first time in 89 starts and had arrived in Hamburg on the back of three consecutive missed cuts. Not an easy one to find!
Slightly more obvious was the Memorial victory of West Ham fan Horschel, who had also exited after 36 holes on his previous start. Mr Nice Guy is almost an honorary Brit after wiping out the locals at Wentworth last year to become our PGA champion.
There’s no Horschel in this week’s $8.7m Canadian Open, the only PGA tournament to miss both 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic, but there’s a strong field lining up at the St George’s club near Toronto with world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler heading the cast.
It is courtesy of Covid that Rory McIlroy has unexpectedly enjoyed three years as champion - he won by seven at Hamilton in 2019 - and if taking a similar shine to this 7079-yard par 70 he will be hard to beat.
The test is very different from last week’s Memorial where once again he flattered to deceive in finishing 18th. After saying he was working on a less aggressive approach and realising safe iron shots to 20ft made more sense than taking on flags and paying the penalty for being too ambitious, there were still 11 bogeys and three doubles over the 72 holes to explain away. So what’s changed, Rory?
We are promised a course with uneven fairway lies, thick rough and slopy greens and as the last Canadian Open there was 12 years ago - the Canadians like moving the national Open around - this week’s renewal will be new to most. We had a European winner there last time in Sweden’s Carl Pettersson (now a US citizen) whose third round of 60 put him in the driver’s seat and he just about stayed there.
The other four Open champions at St George’s - Australian Joe Kirkwood won the inaugural one in 1933 - are so far back as to be of little help to winner-finding in 2022 but the roll of honour suggests a first-rate putter is a prerequisite to victory.
There are 21 Canadians in the field - you have to go back to Pat Fletcher in 1954 for the last home-bred winner - but concentrate on two serious contenders, Corey Conners and Adam Hadwin.
They will be under pressure from a success-starved home crowd to end the 68-year drought. Sometimes the extra pressure inspires, sometimes it goes the other way. They both know how to win which helps although in Conners’ case the feeling is that he’s so talented he should have won more than once by now.
Both have strong 2022 credentials, Hadwin with top-tens at Sawgrass, the Valspar and the Texas Open, Conners as a Match Play semi-finalist and Masters sixth playing in his home Province of Ontario. Their impressive form comes right up to date with Hadwin 13th and Conners 18th at Muirfield Village on Sunday. Both deserve to be on your short-list.
Whether they can withstand the might of PGA champion Justin Thomas and two guys who have won seven times between them since October, Scheffler and his former flatmate Sam Burns, is another matter.
This will be a Canadian debut for Scheffler and Burns while Thomas’s 20th behind McIlroy in 2019 tells us nothing as that was on another course. With Burns pipping Scheffler in a Colonial playoff only two weekends ago we know that pair are in form and Thomas’s smash-and-grab victory from eight off the pace at Southern Hills is just as unbelievable today as it was when it happened.
Players champion Cam Smith let his supporters down badly with a disastrous final round 77 at Muirfield Village that saw him slumping from favourite to an also-ran. This shorter, fiddlier test will probably suit him better as nobody reads greens better or putts them with more confidence.
With only a week to go before the US Open at Brookline, a European triumph would be timely after our two main flag-bearers Jon Rahm and Rory’s downbeat efforts at Memorial and Matt Fitzpatrick’s meek surrender of a first-rate opportunity of a Major breakthrough in the PGA Championship. Shane Lowry, runner-up to his pal Rory in the 2019 Canadian Open, and Tyrrell Hatton are proving expensive to follow but at least Lowry keeps threatening to win. It is high time he put a second W on his PGA Tour CV.
Best outsider could be Sahith Theegala whose top-five finish at Memorial was not the first time he has caught the eye. He almost broke through when third at Phoenix and posted another top-ten at the Valspar. Three top-tens and counting in his first full year on tour from this genial giant is good going.
The expected early-week rain will soften the course and there’s a bit more to come, although not every day. Temperatures around 20C.
RBC Canadian Open Golf Betting Tips 2022
- 2pts each-way Adam Hadwin at 40/1 (Bet365) 5 places (opens in new tab)
- 1.5pts each-way Corey Conners at 22/1 (William Hill) 8 places (opens in new tab)
- 1.5pts each-way Cam Smith at 12/1 (William Hill) 8 places (opens in new tab)
- 1.5pts each-way Justin Thomas at 10/1 (William Hill) 8 places (opens in new tab)
- 0.5pt each-way Thahith Theegala at 70/1 (Bet365) 5 places (opens in new tab)
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Celebrating my 50th year tipping and writing about golf. Tipped more than 800 winners (and more than 8000 losers!). First big winner Lee Trevino at 8-1, 1972 Open at Muirfield. Biggest win £40 each-way Ernie Els at 80-1 and 50-1, 2012 Open. Most memorable: Giving the 1-2-3 at 33-1, 50-1, 33-1 out of 4 tips from a field of 180 in 2006 Pebble Beach Pro-Am. According to one bookmaker “Undoubtedly one of the greatest tipping performances of all time”. Lowest handicap 9 Present handicap 35.6. Publications tipped for: Sporting Life, Racing Post, Racing&Football Outlook, Golf World, Golf Weekly, Golf Monthly, Fitzdares Times. Check our Jeremy's latest tips at our Golf Betting tips home page
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