This week’s PGA action sees the players head to Las Vegas for a regular feature on the PGA schedule, the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
And a pretty good-looking field has been assembled in the gambling capital of USA, if not the world, with the recent USPGA champion, and current hottest property in golf, Bryson DeChambeau, topping the market.
His presence, added to the potentially low-scoring this week, should make for a cracking tournament. Here’s a preview of the action in the “Silver State”…
Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
The Shriners Hospitals for Children Open started out in 1983 but has undergone a number of name changes over the years (Las Vegas Invitational, Michelin Championship, Frys.com Open and now, to give the tournament its full title, the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open). It also started out as a five-round, 90-hole event before this was reduced to the conventional four rounds in 2004. What has been constant is the location in and around Vegas, and since 1990 its place in the schedule – late October to early November. It’s not a flagship event of the PGA by any means, but early in the 2020/21 season it’s bound to produce plenty of competition for ranking points and prize-money.
TPC Summerlin is a par-71 course laid out over 7,235 yards. Built to the West of Las Vegas in the upmarket community of Summerlin, the course was designed by Bobby Weed and first opened in 1991. Slightly elevated (at 2,700 feet) but not enough to make a real difference in terms of altitude. On what is a resort course, with generous fairways and far from penal rough, scoring should be good this week with previous winning scores regularly better than 20-under-par.
260: Webb Simpson (2014) & Ryan Moore (2013).
60: JJ Henry (2013)
2019: Kevin Na
2018: Bryson DeChambeau
2017: Patrick Cantlay
2016: Rod Pampling
2015: Smylie Kaufman
A standard field of 156 players line up this week. Bryson DeChambeau is the $17 market leader with TopSport.
Hot, dry, perfect. There can be no complaints about the forecast this week with temperatures in the 80s (F), minimal cloud cover and wind speeds peaking at around 10mph.
Value outright picks
Colin Morikawa (currently $34 with TopSport)
I’m a huge fan of Morikawa. You might recall we backed him the first week after lockdown, when he lost in a play-off at the Charles Schwab Challenge. Since then Morikawa has gone on to win twice, including the US PGA Championship. This guy is a serious talent, who has a tremendous all-round game. His driving is both long and accurate, and Morikawa possesses a great short game, with excellent putting stats recently.
If there’s any question about him it’s why he doesn’t win every week! But we have to accept that players will not produce their best form every week – if only. With the top of the market looking strong, but not frightening, I don’t see why Morikawa should necessarily be twice the price of DeChambeau, or virtually the same as guys like Harris English. Maybe his missed cut at Winged Foot is a reason, but this was a minor blip for a player on a very steep upward trajectory.
Martin Laird (currently $151 with TopSport)
Members backed Laird last week, and the Scot played well for four days but didn’t hole enough putts to seriously challenge. He missed out on a decent Top 20 finish by a few shots. He finished 28th last week but ranked 14th from tee-to-green, so his long game is trending nicely. Last week was also his best result post lockdown from his four starts across the PGA and Korn Ferry Tours. So his confidence should be returning.
What appeals most is the fact that he lives in Arizona which is also filled with desert golf courses, just like the one this week in Vegas. So he’ll know how to handle the conditions as well as any. This is the style of course he plays most often outside of the PGA Tour. It’s therefore no surprise that he won this event back in 2009. He then nearly won it again the following year, but ended up coming 2nd. At the price this week I think Laird has to be backed. He’s trending nicely and loves the course and the desert golf test.
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