Lowdown: RBC Canadian Open - Rory McIlroy looks for a three-peat in Canada

Defending champion is the highest ranked player playing at the Oakdale Country Club this week

RBC Canadian Open, in Toronto, Canada

The course: Oakdale Country Club – 7,264 yards Par 72 – is playing host to the tournament for the first time. It is a composite course especially configured from the club’s 27-hole layout for this event, with the front nine playing nearly 400 yards longer than the back nine. Four holes of the club’s Thompson nine (designed by Stanley Thompson) and five holes of Homenuik nine (designed by Wilf Homenuik) make up the front nine, while the full Knudson nine (named after eight-time PGA Tour winner George Knudson) will play as the back nine.

The field: Rory McIlroy – the defending champion – is the highest ranked player in the world (number three) playing and is the headline act as he chase a third successive win. There are 20 home players, all with hopes of being the first Canadian winner since 1954. Matt Fitzpatrick is also using the tournament as a final outing ahead of his US Open defence next week. Ludvig Aberg, who has topped the world amateur rankings since March, is making his professional debut.

Quote-Unquote: “I am cautiously optimistic about things. I’ve done a lot of really good things. I just haven’t been able to put pieces together for four rounds in a while. But I’m working hard. I do think that a lot of it is close. Sometimes it can be a matter of just kind of getting out of your own way sometimes, which is the hardest thing to do. But I’m looking forward to sort of using some of that nervous energy this week with these crowds to kind of turn things around and have a good week” – Adam Hadwin, hoping to end the Canadian drought in the championship.

Irish in the field: Rory McIlroy is in a group with Webb Simpson and Justin Rose (off the 10th at 12.33pm Irish time); Shane Lowry is in a three-ball with Brandt Snedeker and Cameron Young (off the 1st at 6.10pm); David Carey is in a group with Sam Bennett and Ryan Hall (off the 10th at 7.16pm).


Betting: Rory McIlroy – who hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since the CJ Cup last October – is the strong favourite at 9/2 with Tyrrell Hatton rated a 10/1 chance and Matt Fitzpatrick at 12/1 in a market dominated by European players ... no Canadian has won this championship since 1954 but Corey Conners has decent recent form and is available at 18/1 while Mackenzie Hughes is worth an each-way look at 66s.

On TV: Live on Sky Sports (from 5pm).

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times