OAKVILLE, Ont., (Reuters) – After the sting of missing his only cut of the year at the British Open, world number one Dustin Johnson will try to soothe the wound with a return to the top of the leaderboard at the Canadian Open.
If Johnson was looking for a course to get his game back on track he could not have picked a better layout than Glen Abbey, a venue where he has twice finished runner-up.
It also favours big-hitters like himself and good friend, U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka.
After a sun-baked Carnoustie, golfers making the trip to Canada will shift gears and change tactics as they take on a lush green Glen Abbey. Nowhere is that difference likely to be more telling than on the scoreboard. Italy’s Francesco Molinari hoisted the Claret Jug on Sunday with an eight-under score. Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas, who will be chasing a third straight Canadian Open, lifted the title last year with a 21-under total and could need to go even lower to complete the Canadian hat-trick.
For Johnson the missed cut at Carnoustie, his first in 21 events dating back to last year’s U.S. Open, was the only hiccup in what has otherwise been a sturdy campaign that has seen him pick up two wins and a Tour best eight top-10 finishes to sit top of the FedEx Cup standings.
“I feel like I have definitely played well here, I like the golf course it sets up well for me,” Johnson told reporters after a practice round on Wednesday. “I really didn’t play poorly (at the British Open), I feel like I am hitting it well, swinging it well.
“I’ve finished second here twice so I have been very close, I have a lot of good memories here.”
The soft conditions on the 7,253 yard, par 72 layout will favour the bombers and there are plenty in the 156-player field that includes six of the top 10 in driving distance.
Kevin Kisner may be better known for his putting than his work with the driver but the American is one of several players riding a wave of momentum into Canada after a brilliant British Open where he finished in a tie for second.
Tony Finau, another of the PGA Tour’s heavy-hitters, brings power and momentum to the Abbey after finishing in a tie for ninth at Carnoustie alongside American veteran Matt Kuchar, who will also tee it up for Thursday’s opening round.
Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, who also featured on the British Open leaderboard, will be eyeing his first PGA Tour victory while Vegas bids to become the first to win a PGA Tour event three times in a row since Steve Stricker won the John Deere Classic from 2009-2011.
“I’m going to give it a try,” said Vegas, who has not had a finish inside the top 40 since the U.S. Masters. “The course is playing softer than previous years, which is going to mean a lot of birdies.
“Not many guys on Tour have the opportunity to win the same tournament three times especially this one. It’s never been done.”