2023 PGA DFS: RBC Canadian Open DraftKings Preview

by Keith Flemming

in I'll get into my 2023 PGA DFS: RBC Canadian Open DraftKings Preview below, but first I need to discuss the merger of the PGA, LIV, and DP Tours. Yes, you read that correctly and if you are shocked like I am right now, I can't blame you.  The golf world was rocked this morning by the news of the partnership between the three major golf tours.

The tours called it "a  landmark agreement to unify the game of golf, on a global basis. The announcement goes on to say the agreement "combines PIF's golf-related commercial businesses and rights (including LIV Golf) with the commercial businesses and rights of the PGA Tour and DP World Tour into a new, collectively owned, for-profit entity to ensure all stakeholders benefit from a model that delivers maximum excitement and competition among the game's best players."

Pardon me if I throw up while simultaneously rolling my eyes reading their announcement.

In layman's terms, it's all about the money. What a surprise right? The same PGA Tour that ostracized all the players who took the "blood money" and joined the LIV Tour has now flip-flopped on an epic scale. This is the same tour that floated quotes and unnamed sources on why they were better than the LIV Tour. Mainly because they were not backed by the Saudis. A little over a year later they are entering a partnership with the same group they thumbed their noses at for the past year.

Questions?

I am sure you are asking yourself why? It's money. Plain and simple. The PGA Tour made a deal with the "devil". They will profit even more from this new agreement. It also ends all lawsuits on both sides of the aisle, whether they are currently ongoing or about to begin. It saves both sides millions in lawyer fees and potentially billions in future settlements.

If I was a player who stayed with the PGA Tour for fear of not being allowed to play in future majors, Ryder Cups, or PGA Tour events, I would be absolutely livid. One unnamed PGA Tour player said to ESPN on Tuesday "No f---ing way" when asked about the new partnership. You can't blame him or any player on the PGA Tour who is upset about this agreement.

There is a New World Order in the game of golf. There are endless ways this can go from here. So many questions and as of right now very few answers. Will players who defected be able to get their PGA and DP World Tour cards back? What benefit is this for the players who stayed loyal to the PGA Tour? I would have to assume this means the LIV Tour will start receiving official world golf ranking points. It's something they have been fighting for since day one of the tour.

We'll have much more on this shocking announcement between the PGA, LIV, and DP World Tours with a full article later this week by Mark Strausberg. We'll discuss this at length tonight while recording this week's Two Off the Tee (See F6P's YouTube Channel!). I am sure it will also be discussed during my weekly appearance on the Inside Drive tomorrow at 1pm EST on ESPN NW Florida Radio.

You can find me on Twitter @KeithFlemming to keep the conversation going! Be sure to listen to me during my weekly guest appearance Wednesdays at 1pm eastern on The Inside Drive on ESPN Northwest Radio. Where I will preview that week's PGA Event. 

2023 PGA DFS: RBC Canadian Open DraftKings Preview

We are entering the 2023 PGA DFS: RBC Canadian Open DraftKings Preview flying blind for the first time in the long-storied history of this event. Oakdale Golf and Country Club will host Canada's most prestigious golf tournament. This venue should play as an easier version of last year's Canadian Open host venue, St. George's Golf and Country Club. I will do my best to help navigate you in what will be a difficult week for prognosticators like myself.

The RBC Canadian Open is in a tough scheduling spot being sandwiched between The Memorial (elevated event) and the US Open(a major championship). This field is weaker than normal for the tournament being Canada's national championship of golf. Rory McIlroy is the marquee name in the field this week and a heavy favorite. McIlroy enters the field vying for his third consecutive win at this event. He will try to replicate his dominant victories in 2019 and 2022.

He's joined by nine of the top 30 players in the official world golf rankings. In addition to McIlroy, other past champions in the field include Brandt Snedeker, Scott Piercy, and Sean O'Hair. With this event being the Canadian National Championship the field unsurprisingly includes the best Canadian players in the world Adam Hadwin, MacKenzie Hughes, Nick Taylor, Taylor Pendrith, and Adam Svensson.

The field will also include the breakout stars from The Masters and PGA Championship. Sam Bennett, the low Amatuer from Augusta National will make his third start this year. He made the cut at both The Masters and The Memorial last week. The field will also include PGA Club Pro Michael Block. Block won the hearts of many with his performance at the PGA Championship but missed the cut badly at the Charles Schwab Challenge the following week.

Venue (Oakdale Golf and Country Club)

As I mentioned above there is little data available for this venue. Oakdale is the 37th different course to host the Canadian Open. The Canadian Open is the third longest, continuous-running event on the PGA Tour. The similarities to previous Canadian Open venues will be few and far between. The two most prominent being this course is designed by Stanley Thompson (most great Canadian courses are) and the course's greens are made of a mixture of Bentgrass and Poa.

Oakdale should be a scoring fest this week. It features three very reachable par 5s and four par 4s under 400 yards. The greens are small overall but feature severe elevations and slopes. The rough appears to be the only real defense this course has against the field. The rough will be 4-6 inches in length and is made of bentgrass. This means it could play sticky and make it difficult to hit shots into its small greens from the rough.

The fairways are massive but bottleneck the further you get away from the tee box. This could give the longer hitters some pause from taking out the driver on most holes this week. I am making an emphasis this week on players who are fairly accurate off the tee, excellent from 75 to 150 yards into greens on approach, and make plenty of birdies.

Comp Courses

I rarely do this but I am not listing any comp courses for this week's event. It's not a bad idea to see how the players in the field have fared in previous Canadian Opens. The fact that most courses in the Canadian Open rotation are designed by Thompson and have similar grass will give you some info. However, I will lean heavily on stats I believe will lead to success at this venue. Full disclosure we are flying blind this week.  There is no strategic advantage from a data perspective for this event.

There are five players with multiple top 20s over the last five Canadian Opens: Rory McIlroy, Mackenzie Hughes, Shane Lowry, Matt Kuchar, and Ricky Barnes. In that same span, only eight players from this field avoided missing a cut with a minimum of three starts. They are Rory McIlroy, Brandt Snedeker, Mackenzie Hughes, Charley Hoffman, Seung-yul Noh, Kevin Tway, Mark Hubbard, and Cameron Percy.

Key Stats

  • Strokes Gained Tee to Green(Recent Form/Last five events)
  • Strokes Gained Approach from 150 yards and within
  • Par 4 scoring 350-450 yards
  • Par 5 scoring
  • Birdies or Better Gained
  • Strokes Gained Putting (Bent/Poa Greens)
  • Strokes Gained Total (Easy Courses)
  • Strokes Gained Around The Greens(Small Greens)
  • Tournament History

I am going to list the top ten players in the field for a few categories below I believe are significant this week. This event is a crapshoot of sorts. I want my readers to have as much info as possible that I believe will be helpful for a difficult week to predict.  Having said that, this is the week to shoot your shot so to speak. Have a feeling or a hunch? Go with it.

Strokes Gained from 75-150 yards

  • Russell Knox
  • Ben Martin
  • Davis Riley
  • Charley Hoffman
  • Corey Conners
  • David Lipsky
  • Ryan Armour
  • Aaron Baddeley
  • Hank Lebioda

Birdies or Better Gained

  • Cameron Young
  • Rory McIlroy
  • Tyrrell Hatton
  • Sahith Theegala
  • Akshay Bhatia
  • Ben Martin
  • Sam Burns
  • Corey Conners
  • Brandon Wu
  • Justin Rose

Strokes Gained Total on easy courses

  • Rory McIlroy
  • Cameron Young
  • Maverick McNealy
  • Tyler Duncan
  • Matt Kuchar
  • Mark Hubbard
  • Tyrrell Hatton
  • Sam Burns
  • Alex Smalley
  • Corey Conners

Players in the field who are top 40 in Strokes Gained Approach and putting on Bent/Poa Greens

  • Tyrrell Hatton
  • Justin Rose
  • Matt Kuchar
  • Brendon Todd
  • Adam Svensson
  • Chesson Hadley
  • Seung-yul Noh
  • Aaron Baddeley
  • Peter Malnati

My 2023 PGA DFS: RBC Canadian Open DraftKings Lineup

Rory McIlroy ($11,500)

I am going chalk with Rory McIlroy as my anchor in my official lineup this week. Rory is first in the field in strokes gained tee to green, ball striking, approach, and DraftKings scoring. McIlroy is top ten in birdies or better gained and total strokes gained on easy courses.

Rory's price tag on DK is considerably higher than all others in the field. I hope this means he has a lower ownership percentage than normal. He's won this event the last two times it was played. He's proved he is very comfortable playing in Canada. Rory is yet to pick up his first win in 2023. Maybe a weaker field event is exactly what he needs to change that fact.

Another option in this price range: Corey Conners ($9,800)

Justin Rose ($9,700)

Having both Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy in my lineup this week, I will have the two highest scorers on DraftKings in the field in my official lineup. Rose has plenty of data points that suggest he will have success at this venue. He is third in strokes gained total and on approach in the field.

He is having a fantastic 2023 season overall. Rose picked up a win earlier this year at Pebble Beach and has seven top-25 finishes this calendar year. Including four straight starts dating back to the Masters. Last year Rose played in the Canadian Open for the first time in many years. He reacquainted himself nicely with a T4 finish. He is my favorite bet this week in the low odds range of 20-1. I think there is real value there.

Another option in this price range: Shane Lowry ($9,400)

Eric Cole (7,900)

Eric Cole has become a staple in this article and my lineups for good reason. He continues to be a great value in the 7k range week-after-week. Cole is one of the best players on tour in many different metrics that should lead to success at Oakdale. He is in the top 13 in the field in DraftKings points, strokes gained around the green, strokes gained approach, strokes gained short game, strokes gained tee to green, and strokes gained total.

What I like most about Cole this week is how this venue could mask his one real weakness. Cole is in the top 30 in every major strokes gained category except strokes gained off the tee. Oakdale not being especially long in yardage and with its wide fairways should allow Cole to find more fairways. He could even hit less than the driver if he wants to put emphasis on finding the fairways. This could lead to more birdies than normal for Cole. That's saying something for Cole. He is someone who has made 18 or more birdies in five of his last ten PGA events.

Ben Martin ($7,300)

This season on our show Two off the Tee I've coined Ben Martin as my go-to guy on short courses. He is one of the better short-iron players on tour and an absolute birdie machine. Martin is in the top 10 in birdies or better gained in the field. He is also top ten in the field for strokes gained from 75-150 yards into greens. Martin has made 18 or more birdies in six of his last ten events.

The stat that makes me so high on Martin this week is he's fourth in the field in DraftKings scoring. Despite 40 players being more expensive than him on DraftKings this event. I really like the Ben Martin and Eric Cole stack in lineups. I think they are both great bargain plays this week. Pairing them together will leave you almost $35k in salary on DraftKings to fill out the other four roster spots in your lineup.

Another option in this price range: Taylor Pendrith ($7,700)

Aaron Baddeley ($7,200)

Aaron Baddeley is currently in the midst of a resurgence in his golf game. He has made the cut in six straight events on the PGA Tour. He hasn't accomplished that feat since the 2011-2012 season. He's coming off three straight top 40 finishes including back-to-back top 25s.

Baddeley is one of the game's best from the crucial distance this week of 75-150 yards. He's made 49 birdies over his last three events on tour. Over his last five events, Aaron is gaining over a stroke on the field in total strokes, on approach, around the greens, and putting. Despite being on tour since 2003, Baddeley has only played the Canadian Open six times. In those appearances, he's made the cut in five of six, with two top 20 finishes and one top 10 finish.

Another option in this price range: Webb Simpson ($7,300)

Sung Kang ($6,300)

If I am being 100 percent honest, Kang being in my lineup has more to do with wanting to have both Rose and McIlroy in my lineup than anything. That doesn't mean this play couldn't end up being my best play of the week. Kang is a player who has always done well on easy courses. Case in point is his 14th-place finish at the Byron Nelson a few weeks ago. That was an event where he made twenty birdies and scored one hundred points on DraftKings.

Kang is in the top 50 on tour in birdies-or-better-made percentage. In his six starts on the PGA Tour in 2023 he's made the cut in four of them. There is no denying this is a risky play but you can say that about any play in this price range. I believe Kang is the best option in the $6,400 range I have left in DK salary for my final spot.

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Now that you have read the 2023 PGA DFS: RBC Canadian Open DraftKings Preview, be sure to check out the rest of our golf content, including my show Two off the Tee on the Fantasy Six Pack YouTube Channel Tuesday night. Each week, my cohost Allen and I will break down the tournament for that week and give betting/DFS plays. 

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