After a fade of Hideki Matsuyama last week as he waltzed to a seven shot win, I’ll be hoping that this week fares better back on the US mainland. This week we come to Las Vegas to TPC Summerlin which has hosted the event since 2008. A 7,225 yard par 71 with only three par 5s, the tournament is played at altitude meaning the ball will fly about 10% further than most other weeks. With scores of around -20 generally needed to win the tournament, I will be focusing on strong ball strikers who can make a lot of birdies.
The tournament has also been a good place for first time winners with five of the eight tournaments held here being won by maidens.
An interesting week with good plays throughout the field, it looks like a week to make a fully balanced line up. With birdies the order of the day, it’ll be important to pick up players who can get on a hot streak and go low.
Ryan Moore ($11,000) – Having gone to college in the local area, Moore definitely feels comfortable playing here as shown by his win at the course in 2012. He has been playing fantastically well recently including four top 10s in his last eight tournaments. This includes a win at the John Deere and 2nd at the Tour Championship. As a course winner with good current form, Moore looks an obvious play. The only thing to be wary of is that he has played a lot of golf recently, so fatigue may become a factor. I’m willing to take the chance this week.
Brooks Koepka ($10,700) – Despite being lower priced than Moore this week, Brooks is really the class of this field. He has ability to blow the field away, and with his big hitting and great touch around the greens, eagles could definitely be a factor in his scoring this week. He has played here three times, and while he missed the cut last year and in 2014, he finished 4th in 2015 with four rounds in the 60s.His only win on tour came at the Phoenix Open, another desert tournament which is viewed as a correlation course to Summerlin. I expect him to be a factor this week, and am willing to play despite his likely high ownership.
Chris Kirk ($10,300) – Kirk’s price is a bit high this week, but his form is fantastic. He has three consecutive top 10s including a runner up finish last week. He’s played the course twice finished T36 both times; however, he shot a 64 in his first round here showing his ability to go low. He’s not generally a highly owned player, so I expect him to be the lowest owned in this top end of the field. A good pivot off Koepka or Rahm.
Jon Rahm ($9,800) – Rahm is likely to be the highest owned player in the field, but he’s too good to ignore. The young Spaniard has a complete game. He hits it a long way off the tee, while still fairly straight. He has great touch around the greens and can make birdies shown by a 35% conversion last season in his nine starts on tour. In his last five starts, he has four top 25s including a 2nd in Canada on his first start as a professional. He has never played at the course, but finished 5th on his only start in Phoenix, so hopefully the course should suit.
Martin Laird ($9,200) – The last time we saw Martin Laird, he was finishing T8 at the Safeway Open, having made 22 birdies. He comes back to the scene of his only tour win back in 2009, and having finished 2nd here in 2010 and top 20 in 2015, he should feel comfortable around this course. With good course and current form, I expect him to go well this week.
William McGirt ($8,700) – Having not played since finishing 17th in the Tour Championship, McGirt may go under the radar. He does, however, have great course form having made four of his five cuts here including a top 10 last year. Off the back of a career year, including a great win at The Memorial, McGirt will be looking to kick on. A strong all-around game, playing at altitude should minimise the impact of his short drives, allowing him to play to his strengths with some strong approach play and good putting. Having missed out on the Asian swing, I expect him to be fresh and raring to go this week.
Patton Kizzire ($8,500) – Patton Kizzire disappointed last week missing the cut; however, he comes back to a course where he finished 2nd last year. Having finished runner up two starts ago at the Safeway Open, we know that his form isn’t as bad as he showed last week. A great putter, he has the ability to make a lot of birdies which is important around this course. I fully expect him to get back to business this week while his ownership will hopefully be depressed on the back of his missed cut last week.
Alex Cejka ($8,300) – Coming back from an injury lay off, Cejka has performed well finishing T18 in Macao and T29 at the CIMB Classic. He’s coming back to a tournament where he has performed well finished T18-2 in the last two years to show the course suits. His stats line up superbly for the course as a great approach player (20th last season) with a good touch around the green (10th last season). He has the ability to make lots of birdies as shown by his 14th placed ranking in birdie average last season. At a course he likes, I’d expect him to finish well again.
Russell Henley ($8,000) – Russell Henley is a winner. In 137 starts on the PGA and web.com tours, he has five wins. When he gets to the business end, we know he can finish off a tournament. He is also a player who seems to recreate his best form at the same tournaments each year and having finished 10th here last year with four rounds under 70, this bodes well. He performed well last week finishing T14 to show he’s in good form. As one of the best putters on tour, this birdie fest should suit him down to the ground. Having been over $10k last week and performed well, this looks like a good place to take Henley.
Johnson Wagner ($7,700) – Sneakily, Johnson Wagner is in fantastic form. Normally a streaky player, he has made his last five cuts, which includes three top five finishes. In those three tournaments, he has scored more than 105 DK points. An impressive haul. He doesn’t have the best tournament form, however, this should hopefully depress his ownership. I expect him to be low owned, he is a proper boom or bust play, for GPPs only.
Ryo Ishikawa ($7,600) – A few years ago, Ishikawa was the big hope in Asian golf. He’s now been overtaken by his fellow countryman Hideki Matsuyama; however, his compatriot’s win last week should hopefully inspire him. He’s playing incredibly well at the moment with five consecutive top 10 finishes worldwide including a win in Japan. Having a home in the local area, he feels comfortable playing here. He’s made the cut here on all three visits, including a runner up finish on his debut in 2013. Still aged just 25, he has the potential to kick on and reach his undoubted potential starting at a course he likes. He looks like he’s being heavily touted; however, at such a reasonable price he still looks a strong play.
Nick Watney ($7,500) – Having been out for pretty much the whole of 2016, this is purely a GPP play. Watney is a classy player who made an encouraging return to tour at the Safeway finishing T35. This included a 67 to finish. He has a great record here having finished top 16 in five of the last six years showing he can deal with the conditions. At this price, the five time tour winner has great potential upside.
Jamie Lovemark ($7,400) – Lovemark is a player I really like. He hits the ball a mile and makes a lot of birdies. On his debut at the course last year, Lovemark showed his suitability finishing T13 with four rounds of 70 or better. While he’s often seen as a hit and miss player, he’s actually made six consecutive weekends showing strong form. At a course that suits, Lovemark could kick on and finally get his first win on tour.
Mackenzie Hughes ($6,900) – Down in the bargain basement are a number of web.com grads who are attempting to follow Cody Gribbles lead. The first of these is Mackenzie Hughes who has started his PGA season well with a 13th place finish at the Safeway and a T26 last week. A strong putter, he has ranked in the top 5 for putting in both his starts this season. At an event were making birdies is all important, he should be able to take some of his opportunities.
Ryan Blaum ($6,800) – Blaum ranked 33rd on the web.com tour last season, but has taken PGA Tour like a duck to water. He has hit eight rounds of 71 or better finishing T26-T11 with 72 and 85.5 DK points form the two starts. He’s an accurate driver who hits a lot of greens so he should give himself a lot of birdie opportunities this week.
Adam Hadwin ($6,500) – Hadwin was last seen playing in Malaysia where he scored 90 DK points with 20 birdies. One of the best putters on tour, he ranked 13th in birdie or better last season on the PGA Tour. Playing at altitude, his lack of distance won’t be too much of a hindrance. He missed the cut here last year; however, in 2014 he finished 10th which included a final round 63 showing his ability to go low on the course. With his top 10s last year coming at the John Deere and Career Builder, he has shown he can deal with birdie fests. In his third year on tour, it’s now time to kick on, and this looks like a good tournament for him to thrive at.
Xander Schauffele ($6,200) – Another web.com graduate who has started the season well. He has made both cuts including a T5 last week including 2 eagles and 106 DK points. He also ranked 1st in tee to green while his putting let him down. Last season he ranked 20th in putting on the web.com so if he comes back towards his norm he could be a factor again this week. He showed last year that he can hold his good form as all three of his top 5 finishes came in a four tournament stretch. At a low price, I’m happy to take a punt on him carrying his form through to this week.
Trey Mullinax ($6,100) – I played Trey last week and felt really good about things at half way as he sat at -9. Sadly he went off the boil on the weekend shooting 74-76 to finish T57. On the positives, it means that this week he is incredibly cheap and looks a great play. His profile lines up very similarly to last year’s winner Smylie Kaufman; a huge hitter (315.6 yards this year) and a great putter (3rd on the web.com last year). He’s a boom or bust play, but has upside as shown by his win last season, and I expect him to go under the radar after his disappointing weekend.
The World Ranking Play(s):
Jimmy Walker ($9,600) – Another week, and Jimmy Walker is again a world ranking play. He’s the top ranked player in the field at 18th in the world. Despite this he’s 7th in the DK salaries. His form recently hasn’t been great, however, he shot his best round of the week on Sunday in Shanghai so hopefully he left with better feelings. With a fantastic record here of three top 12 finishes in four visits he should be happy to return. His stats line up perfectly for the course as a birdie maker who hits strikes the ball well ranking 15th in approach the green last season. With his recent form he could be low owned and with six wins in the last four years there’s obvious upside.
Danny Lee ($6,700) – Ranked 57th in the world, Danny Lee is hugely underpriced in this field at just $6,700. His form hasn’t been great, but there were encouraging signs in his last start shooting 21 birdies and 66-69 on the weekend. If he can keep that form then he could be a sneaky play this week. He’s missed the cut in all three visits but has never shot worse than a 71 here. To me that looks like a little tweak here and there could see him push on quite nicely. At the price, he’s too good to ignore.
Smylie Kaufman ($7,800) – I really like Smylie. He’s a good young player, and with a win here last year he clearly suits the course. Since struggling in the final round of The Masters last year, however, his game hasn’t been the same. He has missed 9 of 15 cuts with just one top 10. With his course form I expect him to be 10%+ owned, but I’ll be staying well away.