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Canadian Open Preview: Ready for a Run, Eh?

Greg Vara

Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the 2013 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. In addition to producing the weekly preview and the bulk of the draft kit content, Vara participates in Yahoo!'s "Experts Picks" where he routinely dominates. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.

One major into the Rory McIlroy era and one can only wonder - what's wrong with Rory? Kidding, of course, but don't be surprised if that conversation pops up after his next failed major. After all, when you are the next big thing, you don't get many passes. Luckily for McIlroy, fellow countryman Darren Clarke stole all the attention this week with what turned out to be an easy Sunday stroll to his first major championship. From all accounts, it couldn't have happened to a better guy. From my personal account I can say this, he certainly deserved to win one within his lifetime. Clarke played at a very high level for much of the late-90s into the early 2000s, but a major proved elusive. He managed to grab a few big wins along the way, however, including the 2000 WGC Match-Play Championship where he was the first player to take down Tiger Woods in a match-play format. It was then that the world took notice, but Clarke never took the next step, until last Sunday. As for the future, well it's probably not filled with many, if any, more major championships, but you never know; there's this former Open Champion in his 60s who keeps making the cut here, so maybe there is plenty of time for Clarke.

What the British Open means:

Darren Clarke: First and foremost, his win last week means we'll see his face much more often the next couple years. Clarke had all but fallen off the radar, especially in the states, but his major championship will open up many doors to events that he'd normally be locked out of.

Phil Mickelson: Maybe he can win an Open Championship before his career is over. I wouldn't categorize it as likely, but neither was a win by Darren Clarke last week. If nothing else, Mickelson's finish last week makes him a major factor at next month's PGA, something that seemed unlikely a couple weeks ago.

Dustin Johnson: I've heard a lot of harsh words for Johnson this week, but everyone needs to relax a little. He's still a young player going through some growing pains. Every player this side of Woods and McIlroy has gone through them; Johnson deserves a little time to figure everything out.

This week:
RBC Canadian Open

Last Year:
Carl Pettersson shot a final-round 67 on his way to a one-stroke victory over Dean Wilson.

Players to Consider:

1. Luke Donald

With the major spotlight looking forward to Atlanta next month, I expect Donald to go on a little run prior to PGA Championship. Donald finished runner-up third at this event last year, albeit at a different venue.

2. Ryan Moore

When the Canadian Open was last held at Shaughnessy Golf Club, Moore finished runner-up to Mark Calcavecchia. Six years later, Moore is a much better golfer, and if he's comfortable on this track again this year, then he could improve upon his previous showing.

3. Anthony Kim

Two top-10s at this event in two tries; again, on different courses, but it goes to show that he's comfortable at this event in general. Add to that his fine performance at the Open Championship last week and we might see the re-emergence of Anthony Kim this week.

4. Hunter Mahan

Mahan has a pretty solid track record at this event over the years, and he finished in the top-25 in 2005 when this event was last held at the current venue. He may not be playing his best golf, but he's capable of turning the switch rather quickly. This could be the week he breaks out of his mini-slump.

5. Rickie Fowler

I'm sure you've noticed, it's an "all chalk" week, but heck, a lot of Americans played well last week and a bunch are in the field this week, so I've got to stick with the hot hands. Fowler, of course is one of those Americans who played well last week, and I fully expect some of that to carry over this week.

Players to Avoid:

1. Jim Furyk

Furyk is a two-time winner at this event, but he did not participate in 2005, so we have no knowledge of how he'll fare on this course. Quite frankly, it doesn't matter that he didn't play here in 2005, he's been so far off his game this year, you'd have to be crazy, or desperate, to take him this week.

2. Bob Estes

I wrote earlier this year that if you can't take Estes in Houston, you can't take him anywhere. He does have a good track record at this event, but he finished T40 in his only try on this course in 2005.

3. Geoff Ogilvy

Does Vancouver count as the West Coast? I'm sure that Ogilvy is hoping so, otherwise, this week will end up like most other weeks when Ogilvy is away from the West Coast, poorly.

4. Retief Goosen

Same theory here as Estes, except different location. If Goosen can't thrive at the Open Championship, what are his odds here? Same answer as well - slim.

5. Brian Gay

Gay's track record at this event is horrible, and while this event has been played at various venues over the years, the one constant has been Gay's lack of success at any of them.

Yahoo! Fantasy Golf:

This week:
RBC Canadian Open

Group A

1. Luke Donald

2. Matt Kuchar

Both players missed the cut at the Open Championship last week, so they had plenty of time to prep for this week. Kuchar was well off the cut-line and will look to put that memory behind him as quickly as possible this week.

Group B

1. Charl Schwartzel

2. Hunter Mahan

3. Rickie Fowler

4. Ben Crane

Mahan and Fowler are in my top-five this week, and they'll likely be on most teams. Crane was runner-up on this course in 2005. He's not playing his best golf of late, but he's proven capable of contending on this course, which is enough for me. Schwartzel was actually the last player I selected in Group B this week. The reason behind that pick is shaky at best. He's simply the top-rated player of what was remaining. Not high praise, I know, but that's OK because I expect Fowler and Mahan to carry this group.

Group C

1. Ryan Moore

2. Anthony Kim

This was one of those weeks where everything fell perfectly into place. All five players from my top-five are on the roster this week and really only one tough call had to be made. The selections from this group were easy, but I am afraid that most Yahoo! players will have this same pair.

Starters Round One

1. Luke Donald

2. Hunter Mahan

3. Rickie Fowler

4. Ryan Moore

Just as the rosters were easy to fill, the starting four for Thursday's round was easy as well. Donald is the top pick in Group A, and though I have faith that Kuchar will turn it around this week, I'd rather see it first. Mahan and Fowler are clearly the two best players on my Group B roster this week, and as such, they will start Thursday. Moore played well here in 2005, which gives him the edge over Kim who's coming off a good showing at the Open Championship.

Round Two and Going Forward:

While Donald was an easy pick to start Thursday, I doubt that will be the case Friday. I say that because I fully expect Kuchar to rebound well this week. If he does happen to start that rebounding process Thursday, it will be hard to keep him out of the line-up Friday. Mahan and Fowler control the fate of Group B this week, and they'll remain in the starting line-up until one of the reserves forces my hand. Crane has the experience on this track, but Schwartzel has played better all year. My guess is that Schwartzel will find a starting spot at some point this week, and Crane will be left on the outside looking. That is strange as Schwartzel was my last selection in Group B this week. Perhaps the fact that Crane's runner-up showing here was six years ago is now starting to set in. Group C should be up in the air after Thursday. I expect Moore to finish better than Kim this week, but that doesn't mean he'll get all four starts. If Kim starts well, I'll likely start him Friday.