The cream rose to the top of the leaderboard 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 relative to the first two rounds, Tony Finau was the man who took the fullest advantage of the scoring conditions in Toronto.
"I didn't finish the way I wanted to yesterday, and I think all it did was kind of light a fire in my belly to get after it today," said Finau after tying his career-low round on the PGA Tour with an 8-under 62. "That's pretty much what I did. I made some birdies and I just played really clean golf. Then when I made an eagle on 9, I kind of knew then I was like, 'oh, wow, we're climbing up that leaderboard.' And anytime you're at the top of the leaderboard and have a chance to win on a Sunday on the PGA Tour it's exciting."
The first to get into the clubhouse at 11 under, Finau was later joined by Rory McIlroy. The defending champion from the 2019 RBC Canadian Open, the Northern Irishman fired 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 could not have hand-picked a better quartet to duke it out in tomorrow's final round.
T1. Tony Finau and Rory McIlroy (-11): It has been a tale of two seasons for Finau and McIlroy, as the American has struggled for the better part of 2022. Sneaking in the backdoor of the top five at the Charles Schwab Challenge, perhaps this is the second step in Finau's march back to relevance.
Meanwhile, McIlroy's year has been littered with consistency as his last four starts read T18-8-5-2. He is looking to become the third man to successfully defend his crown at the RBC Canadian Open, and based on his driving acumen alone, it is hard not to like his chances of picking up PGA Tour victory No. 21.
"Sort of feels pretty similar to last time at Hamilton; I was just trying to get myself in that final group with Webb [Simpson] and I was able to be tied for the lead there," said McIlroy. "So, yeah, just sets me up well for tomorrow. Feel like all aspects of my game are in pretty good shape, so just go out there and try and post a number and see if that'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)
Golfers will be going off in threesomes tomorrow, which means Thomas will join the pair at the top of the leaderboard in the final group. Selfishly, I would have loved to see Burns and Thomas play together, but the group of Smalley, Clark and Burns may actually be beneficial for the LSU product.
Without witnessing first-hand the ebbs and flows of the leaders, Burns could be in a position of simply needing to play 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 catapult him into the Player of the Year conversation with his good friend Scottie Scheffler.
This has to feel awfully familiar for Justin Thomas
"I said to … Rory and Corey that it felt like a major a little bit out there. It's bizarre," said Thomas of the fan support this week. "Obviously 16 is a very unique and cool experience. It's a hard hole in itself. So it's just, I mean, I knew obviously very passionate sports fans up in this part of the world and then having two years away from this tournament, I knew they were going to be ready to go this year."
The warm welcome in Toronto is well-deserved for the 2022 PGA Championship winner as he skipped the Memorial Tournament and instead put the RBC Canadian Open on his schedule in preparation for next week's U.S. Open. Having contended at TPC Craig Ranch the week before his victory at Southern Hills, Thomas could be gearing up for a similar showing at The Country Club.
Does Canada have any hope?
A Canadian has not won their national open since Pat Fletcher accomplished the feat in 1954. With Mike Weir being the last countryman to truly contend at the RBC Canadian Open, Nick Taylor presents Canada's best hope this year. Sitting at 5 under, Taylor is only six strokes off the lead and could post an early number for the leaders to chase.
"I'm probably not going to do much leaderboard watching, just keep my head down," said Taylor in regards to his final-round game plan. "I'll see tonight what the lead is and have an idea of probably where I want to get to. But it's such a jam-packed leaderboard and there's a stretch of holes where you can really get after it. So if I'm kind of hanging around through eight, then I think I have a decent chance."
Updated odds and picks
Here is 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 Muńoz: 80-1
The inclusion of Thomas last night at 20-1 proved to be a smart decision, and he should love his chances tomorrow. That being said, McIlroy is the man to beat as I envision Finau falling back to the pack given the putting performance from his third round is simply unsustainable. I don't necessarily agree with the discrepancy in prices between Thomas and Burns, so if without any action up to this point, the Charles Schwab Challenge champion is who I would invest in for the final round.