With today’s stunning news taking up much of the headlines, time is short for the preview of the 2023 RBC Canadian Open.

Given the tremendous work the organisers have put in to make this week more of a festival, the breaking news of a pact between the PGA Tour, DPWT and LIV is bound to overshadow events, with news more of how the top players are going to react to the revelation that their foes will soon be their playmates again.

In that regard, the reaction of defending champion Rory McIlroy will be of major interest.

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Despite a third new course in as many years, the world number three comes here after winning by seven shots at Hamilton in 2019, and by two at St. George’s, and in all honesty, should again prove the best player at Oakdale, in an event that seems to favour the elite.

Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and McIlroy make up three of the past five winners, and whilst Johnathan Vegas may be an outlier, DJ and Jon Rahm were beaten by just a single shot at Glen Abbey in 2016.

Not that outsiders cannot win. Just recently, golf punters have seen Adam Schenk and Denny McCarthy come close to pulling off shocks at the Charles Schwab and Memorial, both elevated events, a status that the Canadian Open does not possess.

In that regard, Rory is a well-deserving favourite. The issue is that we seem to expect far more than what we end up, the Northern Irishman seeming to give off the vibe that he should win everything he enters.

Six wins in two-and-a-bit years seems like a good return, and he will remember the Tour Championship well, giving Scottie Scheffler half a dozen strokes and a whopping. It hasn’t been bad since, either, winning the CJ Cup and Dubai Desert Classic from a decent, if not spectacular field, the sort he faces this week.

The issue is whether you want to take circa 5/1 about a player that has just come short recently, missing the cut at Augusta and never threatening at Rochester, when Brooks Koepka was by far his superior. Muirfield was, well, okay, but he again was off with his irons – the third time in four starts he has recorded a minus figure – and with the added pressure of now explaining how his former PGA Tour buddies have left him in the dark, he makes little appeal.

Tyrrell Hatton is playing as well as ever on the tour, but has always been one that raises his game away from birdie-fests. He did it well at the Byron Nelson, but we will get far bigger than 11/1 in events that suit even more.

The Oakdale course has obvious similarities to last year’s test, and it seems, once again, that solid driving and par-four performance will owt, with top-10 finishes recorded by four of last year’s best drivers, and by all the better performers on the majority holes.

Sam Burns

With doubts surrounding the favourite, including the theory that he may not even play, Sam Burns looks the most obvious of the leading contenders.

The 26-year-old has now won five times on tour, with three scores of 17-under or lower, and an incredible 6&5  thrashing of Cameron Young at the Match Play. Proven in low-scoring conditions, the two-time Valspar winner brings in some quietly impressive form since March, starting a sixth place finish when going for a three-peat at Copperhead, the win in Texas, top-30 at Augusta (third round 78), top-15 at Harbour Town, sixth at Colonial and last week’s 16th at Muirfield.

Last two efforts have seen the selection rank positively for strokes-gained off the tee, irons and tee-to-green, so it should be down to how well he putts on these Poa Anna greens, similar to those he found when third, seventh and 13th at the Genesis, Silverado and Travelers.

With his play-off wins at both Copperhead and Colonial showing his steel, the main selection should relish what looks a similar opportunity to beat a similar field.

I’ll put my faith in the devout Christian to prove the most hardy of the top lot and take a couple further down in the win and more fancy markets.

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Lee Hodges

27-year-old Lee Hodges is well behind in the lists of players-to-follow, but recent events might see that change pretty quickly.

One career win may not seem much of a boost for his chances here, but the two-shot victory at the Portland Open looks better now than it did in 2020, with runner-up David Lipsky (chance at a price this week) showing up well on all tours on shorter tracks and last season’s Corales winner, Chad Ramey, and Will Zalatoris close behind.

Nothing is spectacular, but he made 18 cuts in a (too) busy 2022, with his best being top-10 finishes at the American Express, Honda and CJ Cup, and top-20s at the 3M and St. Jude.

Having been a long-term member of the Canadian Tour, Hodges will be happy enough returning to the northern parts, a location in which he has a third place behind Ben Griffin, and a runner-up behind Canadian tour star Tyler McCumber.

Okay, that form won’t take him to the top here this week, but with the rookie season out of the way, Hodges is starting to show more consistency, particularly with his irons.

Sixth for approaches at Colonial and again finding over four shots at Muirfield, he is starting to turn out the form with his irons that he did when top-10 in Texas, whilst still ranking highly for his longer game. I see little difference between the selection and those ‘rags’ that finished close up in two higher-quality events recently, so get him in your plan.

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Carson Young

I put up Carson Young for the Charles Schwab last time, and he didn’t disappoint, though his finish of 21st was one place outside a payout.

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Carson Young - Top 20


Since April, the progressive 28-year-old has racked up three top-20 finishes – at the Heritage, Mexico Open and Byron Nelson, putting up solid approach play figures that will do very nicely here.

Whilst we just missed out on a return at Colonial, the player himself will be happy with a second consecutive payout, his first back-to-back finish since leading the Honda for 18 holes and finishing with an impressive bronze medal at Puerto Rico (where he led till halfway).

The rookie may well still be riding a wave after qualifying for the US Open a couple of weeks ago, where he thrashed the likes of Sergio Garcia and pals by five shots and more, but it’s likely he is settling into this grade.

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Odds are correct at the time of posting

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