July 22, 2013 11:34 am

Players to watch at this week’s RBC Canadian Open

This file photo shows the fairways of Glen Abbey golf course in Oakville, Ont., being mowed under morning light.

Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images

This week’s RBC Canadian Open has the best field the golf tournament has witnessed in recent memory. Only six years ago the tournament was lucky to have two players in the Top 50 in the world in its field. On Friday the tournament announced the golfers that will be in attendance for Canada’s national golf professional tournament – the only PGA Tour event in the country – indicating 12 of the Top 50 will be in the field, including notable stars like multiple major winner Ernie Els, former World No. 1 Luke Donald and Top 10 players like Brandt Snedeker, Matt Kuchar and Graeme McDowell.

No, Tiger Woods won’t be coming – he hasn’t made an appearance since defending his Canadian Open title in 2001 – and British Open winner Phil Mickelson will be at home in San Diego, as opposed to tipping it up in Oakville, Ont. But there’s still an intriguing mix of Canadian stars like Graham DeLaet and Mike Weir, along with big hitters like Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson to keep fans interested in the tournament, which kicks off at Glen Abbey Golf Club on Thursday morning.

Ones to watch

Matt Kuchar of the United States hits a shot on the 6th hole during the second round of the 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield on July 19, 2013 in Gullane, Scotland. (Photo credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Rob Carr/Getty Images

Matt Kuchar: The highest-ranked player in the field at No. 6 in the world, Kuchar is a human ATM on the golf course. Kuchar, part of RBC’s team of golfers, may not be flashy, but he is remarkably consistent, having made the cut in all 15 of the events he’s entered this year, including two wins.

Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell plays the 16th tee during the second round of the 2013 British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield golf course at Gullane in Scotland on July 19, 2013 . (Photo credit: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images

Graeme McDowell: McDowell hasn’t played in the Canadian Open previously, but the Irishman, a past winner of the U.S. Open has an intriguing game that has been full of highs and lows this season. In his last eight starts heading into last week’s British Open, McDowell had five missed cuts and three wins. He started well at the British Open, but faded on the weekend. Nonetheless, don’t be surprised if McDowell has a strong RBC Canadian Open.

South Africa’s Ernie Els tees off on the third during the third round of the 2013 British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield golf course at Gullane in Scotland on July 20, 2013 . (Photo credit: PETER MUHLY/AFP/Getty Images)

PETER MUHLY/AFP/Getty Images

Ernie Els: Last year Els showed up at the Canadian Open with the Claret Jug in tow for winning the British Open. Without doubt the big-hitting South African with the effortless swing is always a delight to watch, though he’s struggled with his putting in recent years. Els seems to be rounding into form, finishing T4 at the U.S. Open and winning last month on the European Tour.

Dustin Johnson of the United States hits out of the bunker on the 4th hole during the final round of the 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield on July 21, 2013 in Gullane, Scotland. (Photo credit: Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Dustin Johnson: There’s already been extra security requested for Johnson – but it doesn’t have anything to do with the golfers, who is one of the longest hitters on the PGA Tour. The security is for Johnson’s girlfriend, Paulina Gretzky, the Instagram star and daughter of Canada’s Great One. While his girlfriend may steal the show, Johnson, one of the PGA Tour’s most exciting players, warrants his own fanfare and could well contend this week.

Bubba Watson of the United States looks on during the second round of the 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield on July 19, 2013 in Gullane, Scotland. (Photo credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Rob Carr/Getty Images

Bubba Watson: Watson, last year’s Masters winner, is fascinating to watch, seemingly able to bend the golf ball to his will. With an old fashioned, homegrown swing, Watson’s prodigious length and creative ball striking make him worthy of following this week. Watson also has a Canadian connection – his wife, Angie, who hails from Toronto. At six-foot-four, Angie Watson played basketball at the University of Georgia and represented Canada at the 2000 Olympics.

Canada’s Graham DeLaet lines up a putt on the first green during the third round of the 2013 British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield golf course at Gullane in Scotland on July 20, 2013. (Photo credit: PETER MUHLY/AFP/Getty Images)

PETER MUHLY/AFP/Getty Images

Graham DeLaet: DeLaet, from Weyburn, Sask., is a victory away from becoming Canada’s next golfing superstar. He’s posted some impressive numbers – first in greens in regulation and second in total driving (a stat that measures accuracy and distance). Only two years removed from significant back surgery that forced him to take his sophomore year on the PGA Tour off, DeLaet has five Top 10 finishes and has made $1.5-million. If his putter works this week, then watch out – DeLaet has all the goods to become the first Canadian winner of the tournament since Pat Fletcher in 1954.

Mike Weir of Canada hits a shot during the third round of the John Deere Classic held at TPC Deere Run on July 13, 2013 in Silvis, Illinois. (Photo credit: Michael Cohen/Getty Images)

Michael Cohen/Getty Images

Mike Weir: After three miserable years where he was hindered by injuries, Weir, Canada’s greatest golfer, is starting to recover some of the form that led to eight PGA Tour wins, including the 2003 Masters. He finished tied for 28th at the U.S. Open last month and tied for 27th at the John Deere Classic recently. That’s a vast improvement over 2012 when he missed the cut in all 14 tournaments he played in. Besides, Weir has demonstrated he can conquer Glen Abbey in the past, narrowly losing in a playoff to Vijay Singh in 2004 and tied for fifth in 2008.

© Shaw Media, 2013

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