Cream climbed to the top of the standings in the third round of the 2022 RBC Canadian Open on Saturday. With St. George’s Golf & Country Club playing just about two strokes easier from the first two rounds, Tony Finau was the man to make the most of the scoring conditions in Toronto.
“I didn’t finish the way I wanted yesterday, and I think all it did was start a fire in my gut to chase it today,” Finau said after tying his round the last. career-lowest on the PGA Tour with an 8-under 62. “That’s pretty much what I did. I made a few birdies and just played really clean golf. Then when I made an eagle on 9, I kind of knew that I was like, ‘oh, wow, we’re climbing that leaderboard. And every time you’re top of the leaderboard and you have a chance to win a Sunday on the PGA Tour, it’s exciting.”
The first to enter the clubhouse under 11, Finau was later joined by Rory McIlroy. The defending 2019 RBC Canadian Open champion, the Northern Irishman shot a 5-under 65 on Saturday to share the 54-hole lead with Finau. Justin Thomas and Sam Burns find themselves at 9 under after strong third rounds, and given the week in the world of golf, the PGA Tour couldn’t have chosen a better foursome to face off in tomorrow’s final round. .
T1. Tony Finau and Rory McIlroy (-11): It’s been a two-season story for Finau and McIlroy, as the American has struggled for most of 2022. Sneaking through the backdoor of the top five at the Charles Schwab Challenge may be step two of Finau’s march towards relevance.
Meanwhile, McIlroy’s year has been littered with consistency as his last four starts read T18-8-5-2. He’s looking to become the third man to successfully defend his RBC Canadian Open crown, and based on his keen driving sense alone, it’s hard not to love his chances of securing the No. 21 win over the PGA Tour.
“It feels a bit like last time in Hamilton; I was just trying to get into that last group with Webb [Simpson] and I was able to tie for the lead there,” McIlroy said. “So, yes, that prepares me well for tomorrow. I feel like all aspects of my game are in pretty good shape, so go ahead and try to post a number and see if it’s good enough.”
T3. Justin Thomas, Sam Burns, Alex Smalley and Wyndham Clark (-9)
T7. Austin Cook and Jim Knous (-8)
T9. Sebastian Muñoz, Keith Mitchell, Matt Fitzpatrick, Chris Kirk, Adam Long and Doug Ghim (-6)
The golfers will start as a trio tomorrow, meaning Thomas will join the top-ranked pair in the final group. Selfishly, I would have liked to see Burns and Thomas play together, but the group of Smalley, Clark and Burns may actually be good for the LSU product.
Without witnessing the ebbs and flows of the leaders firsthand, Burns could be in a position where he just needs to play some golf. A four-time winner on the PGA Tour, a triumph tomorrow would not only give him his fifth title in less than 30 starts, but also propel him into the player of the year conversation with his good friend Scottie Scheffler.
This must sound awfully familiar to Justin Thomas
“I told… Rory and Corey it kind of felt like a major over there. It’s weird,” Thomas said of fan support this week. “Obviously 16 is a very unique and cool experience. It’s a tough hole in itself. So it’s just, I mean, I obviously knew some very passionate sports fans in that part of the world and after two years away from this tournament, I knew they would be ready to go this year.”
The warm welcome in Toronto is well deserved for the winner of the 2022 PGA Championship, as he skipped the Memorial Tournament and instead put the RBC Canadian Open on his schedule in preparation for next week’s US Open. After battling at TPC Craig Ranch the week before his win at Southern Hills, Thomas could be gearing up for a similar performance at the Country Club.
Does Canada have hope?
A Canadian hasn’t won his National Open since Pat Fletcher accomplished the feat in 1954. With Mike Weir being the last Canadian to really compete at the RBC Canadian Open, Nick Taylor presents Canada’s top prospect this year. Sitting 5 under, Taylor is just six shots off the lead and could post an early number for the leaders to chase.
“I’m probably not going to watch the standings much, just keep your head down,” Taylor said of his game plan for the final round. “I’ll see tonight what the lead is and I’ll probably have an idea of where I want to go. But it’s such a packed leaderboard and there’s a series of holes where you can really get out of it. So if I’m kind of hanging out to eight, then I think I have a decent chance.”
Updated odds and picks
Here’s a look at the updated odds with 18 holes to play, via Caesars Sportsbook.
- Rory McIlroy: 3/2
- Tony Finau: 11/4
- Justin Thomas: 9/2
- Sam Burns: 13/2
- Alex Smalley: 16-1
- Wyndham Clark: 18-1
- Matt Fitzpatrick: 50-1
- Keith Mitchell: 65-1
- Chris Kirk: 80-1
- Sebastian Munoz: 80-1
Thomas’ inclusion last night at 20-1 turned out to be a smart move, and he should like his chances tomorrow. That being said, McIlroy is the man to beat as I imagine Finau falling back into the peloton given his third round performance is simply unsustainable. I don’t necessarily agree with the price gap between Thomas and Burns, so if without any action so far, the Charles Schwab Challenge champion is the one I would invest in for the final round.