Form has been hard to come by for Dustin Johnson since the electric Spring that saw him shoot to, and consolidate, world-number-one.
With a win at the Genesis Open at the end of February, the American rose to the top of the world rankings for the first time; the two consecutive wins – at the WGC-Mexico Championship and the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play – that followed only strengthened his position.
In his next start he finished tied second at the Wells Fargo Championship. But in his five appearances since the 33-year-old has not managed a top 10, and the last three starts have seen two missed cuts and a tied 54th.
A sub-PGA Tour-standard field at the RBC Canadian Open could offer the perfect opportunity for Johnson to return to winning ways. He’s the only player from inside the world’s top 10 entering at Glen Abbey Golf Club and only Open Championship runner-up Matt Kuchar joins him from the top 30.
Johnson is experienced at this venue with two second place finishes, one last year and one in 2013, and will be hoping to use his knowledge of the track to go one better than he has done before.
Kuchar will be looking to build on last week at Royal Birkdale where he fell three shots shy of winner Jordan Spieth despite closing the overnight deficit within the first four holes. He enters in far superior form to Johnson with two top fives in three starts and four top 10s in five.Embed from Getty Images
Grayson Murray has struggled through a troublesome year – making more headlines for his controversial social media outbursts than his golfing accolades – but earned his maiden PGA Tour win at the Barbasol Championship in the shadows of The Open and as a result breaks into the top 100 for the first time; he will enter this event full of much needed confidence.
Last year Jhonattan Vegas overturned a five-shot deficit of his own with a final round 64 to win his second PGA Tour title at this event. Vegas’ storming final round overcame Johnson, Martin Laird and Jon Rahm on his way to victory. Poignantly for Vegas, the win was enough to regain him full Tour status having been playing with limited membership.Embed from Getty Images
Along with Vegas, Scott Piercy (2012); Sean O’Hair (2011); Carl Pettersson (2010); Chez Reavie (2008) and former-world-number-ones Jim Furyk (2006 & 2007) and Vijay Singh (2004) all return as previous champions.
The Canadian Open has run since 1904, with brief breaks during the world wars, making it the third oldest event on the PGA Tour rota after only The Open Championship and US Open. Its venue moves around but this year’s host, Glen Abbey, is the most popular with this year being its 29th and third in a row.
The course is a modest 7253 yard par 72. It opened in 1977, designed by Jack Nicklaus, with the purpose of becoming the home of Canadian Golf and has certainly served as so since. The “Valley Holes” of the 11th to the 15th give the course its unique characteristic, starting with a 60-foot-drop tee shot on the 11th.
World ranking points may not be huge this week for Johnson looking to consolidate his world-number-one spot with Spieth fast approaching, but there’s 500 FedExCup points for him to improve his lead atop those standings. Re-finding the game that made him invincible earlier this year would be the most significant achievement for DJ, though.