Bo to claim Canadian crown
Our expert Dave Tindall fancies Bo Van Pelt to win this week's RBC Canadian Open at Hamilton.
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1.5pts e.w. Bo Van Pelt at 33/1 (General 1/4 1,2,3,4,5).
1.5pts e.w. Ernie Els at 28/1 (General 1/4 1,2,3,4,5).
1pt e.w. Matt Every at 110/1 (bet365, sportingbet 1/4 1,2,3,4,5).
3pts win Hunter Mahan at 14/1 (General).
For the sixth straight year, the Canadian Open's place on the US schedule is the week after the Open Championship.
So the obvious first question is this: did any of the last five champions win in Canada after jetting back from the UK a few days earlier?
Well, Sean O'Hair won last year's Canadian Open after playing in (and missing the cut) at Royal St George's. Jim Furyk also won in Canada on the back of a tied 12th place at Carnoustie in 2007.
Therefore, I wouldn't be put off backing anyone who competed at Lytham. It's easier for the body to recover flying east to west and, anyway, Ontario is east/central Canada with a time difference of only five hours.
There have been a couple of shocks in recent Canadian Opens (Chez Reavie in 2008 and Nathan Green in 2009) but generally previous winners are the ones to look for. Sean O'Hair was winning for the fourth time on the US Tour when he triumphed 12 months ago while between 2003 and 2007 the victors were all major winners (Jim Furyk (2), Mark Calcavecchia, Vijay Singh and Bob Tway).
This is the first time Hamilton has staged the championship since 2006. That year saw Furyk win ahead of Bart Bryant whilst defending champ O'Hair was third. The rest of the top 10 comprised Brett Quigley, Jonathan Byrd, Trevor Immelman, Steve Lowery, Rory Sabbatini, Camilo Villegas and Steve Stricker.
New Open champ Ernie Els has honoured his commitment to play despite the drama of Lytham and says of the course: "Hamilton is kind of like the old-school challenge, if you want to call it that. I like the way it makes you think off the tee. It's not just a bomber's course; it is a real ball-striker's golf course and I tend to do well in conditions like that. It's going to be hard following a week like this, but I'm looking forward to giving it a try!"
Ladbrokes have got Els in at 16s and that's a price to easily pass up but several firms are dangling 28/1 and that's enough to tempt me in.
This was Ernie's second Open title and when he won the US Open for a second time in 1997 he went and won the Buick Classic the very next week.
He's had plenty of good results the week after majors (a second and a third at Hilton Head spring to mind) while he's also won in consecutive weeks before.
I also have a feeling that Els will want to justify his Open win a little bit having backed into the winner's seat. He's all too aware that Adam Scott threw it away and can probably relate to that extremely well having had so many near misses in majors to go with the four that he's actually won.
The South African was hardly under any pressure at Lytham as the focus was on first Snedeker and then Scott and sneaking under the radar will mean he's mentally fresher than he might have been.
Ernie's always been a confidence player so winning his first major for 10 years could do wonders for him as his game is still very much there and he hit the ball superbly last week.
I think 28/1 is very decent each-way price.
One curiosity of the last three Canadian Open winners is that they've missed the cut on their previous start.
So if there's a player who looks like keeping that streak going it has to be Bo Van Pelt.
Like O'Hair last year, the halfway exit at The Open can be viewed as a plus or a minus (two extra days off) and before he missed the cut at Lytham, Van Pelt had finished runner-up to Tiger Woods in the AT&T National on his previous start.
Van Pelt has had six top 10s and two other top 20s in his last 11 non-majors so he's been in fine form this year.
On the stats he's 22nd in Ball-Striking 7th in Strokes Gained - Putting and 4th on the All-Around so he looks a good fit for Hamilton.
He's already hinted at that with a tied 20th there in 2006 while he was also sixth in last year's Canadian Open and 15th in the 2007 running.
A strong challenge is expected and he goes in as the headline tip.
At a three-figure price, Matt Every could be worth a go at triple-figure odds.
The Oasis fan made the top 25 in his only start in this event in 2010 while one of his two Web.com (formerly Nationwide) starts in Canada produced a tied fifth in the Wayne Gretzky Classic.
But it's his form this year which throws him up as a realistic challenger.
He started it looking as if he might win the Sony Open before enduring a tough final round and finishing sixth while three starts later he was third in the Mayakoba.
In April came back-to-back finishes at the RBC Heritage (8th) and the Valero Texas Open (2nd) while two starts ago he was tied sixth at Memorial.
The first three of those five top 10s came on shortish tracks and Hamilton measures in at under 7,000 yards.
With two extra par fours (this is a par 70), it's also intriguing that Every is top of the Par Four Birdie or Better leaders.
All in all he's well worth a poke at 110/1.
Finally, rather than trying to dig out some other 'clever' each-way price, I'm going to end with a pretty obvious pick of Hunter Mahan at 14/1.
The American is top of the Ball-Striking stats and is 9th in Par Four Performance (compared to 116th in Par Five) so this par 70 should suit him.
He's made the cut in all seven of his Canadian Open starts (two of those came at Hamilton) and has a couple of top fives in there.
As a two-time winner in 2012 he's clearly full of confidence and he's also coming off his second best ever finish in an Open after just missing the top 10 by a shot at Lytham.
Mahan has won four times in his last 66 starts so 14/1 isn't too bad in this quality of field and, on those figures, he's worth a win only punt.