The RBC Canadian Open, the third-oldest continuously-running tournament on the PGA Tour (only the Open Championship and the US Open go back farther in history) kicks off Thursday with a host of former winners in the field and South Africa’s Tim Clark trying to defend his title from a year ago when he fired a 17-under at the Royal Montreal Golf Club in Quebec.
The tournament is back in Ontario for the third time in four years, and the eighth time in the last 10, hosted at Glen Abbey Golf Course, which was designed by Jack Nicklaus in 1976 and has hosted this tournament 25 times.
The most unique and often challenging section of the course are the “Valley Holes” which start at 11 and run through 15. The tee box on No. 11 is a cliff that rises some 60 feet above the fairway, while holes 12-14 employ the course’s Sixteen Mile Creek, a river that runs from Niagara Falls all the way to Toronto, as a hazard.
For being just a week after The Open concluded, the field is thick with talent including Top 10 players Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, and Jason Day, who was in the hunt for the Major title down to the wire on Sunday.
Watson, Furyk, and Clark are paired together for the first two rounds and kicked things off Thursday at 7:30 a.m. on the back nine.
Jason Day spearheads the biggest attraction of the afternoon session, teamed with Luke Donald and Canada’s top player, Graham DeLaet.
The 33-year-old DeLaet is always the fan favorite to win the RBC. No Canadian has hoisted the trophy since Pat Fletcher in 1954, a staggering 61-year-drought, and that title broke a similar 40-year drought dating back to 1914.
A pro since 2006, DeLaet has sort of turned into Canada’s Andy Murray to draw a tennis comparison. Murray won lots of titles before finally winning Wimbledon, the UK-hosted Slam in 2013, becoming the first UK player to do so in 77 years.
DeLaet has three Top 10 finishes in 20 events this year. In 125 career events he has 23 top 10 finishes, three runner-up finishes, but no titles.