The players will be teeing it up in Las Vegas, Nevada for the Shriners Hospitals for Chidren Open. This is another birdie fest event, with the winning score likely to be over around -20 mark.
Whilst this event doesn’t attract all of the top names, the likes of Brooks Koepka, Jimmy Walker and Ryan Moore headline this week’s field.
This event has been kind to those without a PGA Tour win of late. Three of the last five winners here have been first-time winners on Tour. Last year, Smylie Kaufman followed in the footsteps of Ben Martin (2015) and Kevin Na (2011) in making this their first and so far only PGA Tour win. In total there have been eight first-time PGA Tour winners at this event.
The Course and what it will take to win the Shriners Hospital for Children Open
TPC Summerlin, 7,255 yards, Par 71.
TPC Summerlin has been the host venue since 1991 and in each of the 25 years it has always played incredibly easy. Last year’s -16 winning score from Kaufman was the worst in this history of this course. The score has been as low as -31 in the past, in both 2003 and 1991.
Scoring still remains incredibly easy here and players will have to be aiming for that magic -20 mark and beyond this week. To reach this number, players will need to hit plenty of greens and take advantage with the putter.
There is no great trend here, so I won’t get too wrapped up in any. Due to the easiness of the course, any type of player could turn it on here. The latest example of this came in 2014, when Ben Martin won here. Martin had missed his first two cuts at TPC Summerlin and three of his last four events leading into the week.
Due to altitude, the course does not play to the full 7,255 yards however it may catch some of those that have not played here before out. Kaufman did win on debut last year however, so there is no need to oppose those without course form.
With all this mind, it is time to look at this event both from a betting and fantasy prospect.
Jimmy Walker 50/1 (General)
Walker played terribly last week, no doubt about it, but the 2016 PGA Championship winner can make amends here.
In seven efforts here, Walker has two top-10’s and a 12th, all of which came in his last four attempts. He has clearly got to grips with the course after missing his first three straight cuts between 2008-2010.
Whilst it is hard to back a player who played the way Walker did last week, he’s played well in a similar situation. In 2014, Walker had just finished 63rd at the Frys.com Open one week before, then went on to post his best finish of T4 here.
It is hard to ignore his poor performance last week, but that is clearly factored into his 50/1 price. Walker also played poorly at East Lake which again is a factor. Before that though, Walker had finished T13 at the BMW Championship and 3rd at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
The odds are stacked against him but no more so than they were at the PGA Championship and look how well he played that week. Walker had missed four of his last eight cuts going into the PGA Championship and won in dominating fashion.
This pick is based on price. 50/1 for the most recent major winner is generous, given his course form.
Ben Martin 80/1 (Betfred)
Martin has now played TPC Summerlin four times, with two missed cuts, followed by a win and a 25th. He backed up his win with a decent showing last year, despite being in poor form leading into the event.
His two recent finishes leading into this event last year were a 68th and a missed cut. Martin looks in better shape this time around, finishing 18th last week.
Martin has played well at low scoring events in the past. He has finished 2nd at the John Deere Classic (2016) and 3rd the Puerto Rico Open (2014).
Hopefully Martin can build on his top-20 last week and go well once again at TPC Summerlin.
At 80/1 I am happy to take a chance on a player who has finished 25th and 1st on his last two outings at this course.
Nick Watney 100/1 (Betfred, SportingBet, WilliamHill)
Maybe taking three chances is to risky but here it goes anyway. At 100/1 you are backing a player who won 5 PGA Tour titles before his 32nd Birthday.
Watney has not won since 2012 and spent the majority of the 2015/16 season resting an a herniated disk in lower back. So that bodes the question, why am I backing him?
One reason for backing him is the price. 100/1 looks big in this field for a player of his quality. In 14 starts here, Watney has 4 top-10’s and an 11th.
Another reason for backing was that 11th pace finish that came last season. He only managed to play in five events last year before shutting it down, but his performance here was the best of the bunch by a considerable margin. His next best finish was T43 at the CIMB Classic an event he had previously won back in 2012.
His best performance at TPC Summerlin came in 2011 when he finished two shots adrift of Kevin Na, who shot -23.
The decision to rehab looks to have paid off. Watney played the Safeway Open two weeks ago, and finished T35 in his first event since January. Given the amount of time he had off, that was a very respectable performance and hopefully he can build on that.
A 73 on Saturday at the Safeway Open prevented him from a top-20 on his return but he did manage 16 birdies on the week. At the very least about ten more birdies would be required this week, and that doesn’t leave much room for error.
This may be too much, too soon for a man who is returning from an extended lay-off, but Watney is a very talented player in a below-par field.
As ever the three players above will be plugged in lineups. Walker is by far the most expensive of the three at $9,600, whilst Martin and Watney are available at a more modest $7,600 and $7,500 respectively. Plugging these three players in your lineup leaves you with an AVG Salary of $8,433 for three more players. This gives you the freedom to take one player from the top half-dozen if you so wish and still leave you with $7,000 plus on your last two.
From the top, I like Scott Piercy at $9,700. Like Walker, Piercy struggled last week. He opened with a 79, followed by rounds of 72, 74 and 71. This is far from ideal, but I do like his chances of bouncing back. Born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada a home event may just have come at the best time for Piercy.
Before his slip up last week, Piercy was in exceptional form. He had finished 10th at the CIMB Classic and 3rd at the Safeway Open. This adds to his two 2nd’s behind Dustin Johnson at the U.S. Open and the WGC Bridgestone. Given the lack of top-quality players I really like Piercy’s chances. He has three top-10’s in the last five years and has missed just two cuts in ten renewals. This style of event suits Piercy, who’s three PGA Tour wins which have been a result of -15, -17 and -19 winning scores. He can better his best finish of 6th this week.
Next up is Patton Kizzire at $8,500. Kizzire finished 2nd here last year and 2nd three starts ago, which gives me enough to play him here. Kizzire is yet to win on the PGA Tour yet but as previously stated this event has crowned first-time winners regularly in recent years.
A lineup consisting of Piercy, Walker, Kizzire, Martin and Watney leaves you $7,100 for your last player, just saying…
Two more I like in the $8,000 range are Alex Cejka ($8,300) and Kevin Streelaman ($8,000). Both players have finished 2nd at this course in the last two years (Cejka 2015/Streelman 2014) and are also reasonably priced. Cejka has finished 29th and 18th in his last two events, whilst Streelman finished 18th last week, after missing the cut at the season-opening, Safeway Open. In addition, Cejka finished 18th here in 2014, whereas Streelman has a further three top-20’s and a 22nd to his name. Streelman may be the more solid of the two, especially when he is the cheaper option.
In addition to Martin and Watney I like Michael Kim in the $7,000 range. Kim finished 3rd at the Safeway Open two weeks ago, finishing with 109.0 fantasy points on the week. He finished 16th here last year and can build on that after his first full-season on Tour under his belt. Kim scored well at the Barbosol Championship, another low scoring event earlier this year, finishing 11th and 95.0 fantasy points. At $7,200, Kim looks a solid play given his promising debut here.
At the sub-$7,000 range there are some enticing options. It may be a week where you don’t need to take anyone in this range but if you do, there are a few to choose from.
Ryan Blaum has taken to life on the PGA Tour well, finishing T26 and T11 in his first two events this season. He also finished T29 at the OHL Mayakoba Classic last year. He scores well on DraftKings, averaging 82.2 Fantasy Points per event. It is a small sample size but he ranks 30th for Total Birdies so far this season, so he may continue to score well here. At $6,800 it is worth rolling the dice.
David Hearn is another I like in this range, at just $6,700. In six starts at TPC Summerlin, Hearn has finished 5th, 7th, 25th and 30th against just two cuts. When he finished 7th here in 2014, his five recent finishes leading up to the event read 68-43-38-MC-53. Before his 5th in 2011 he had finished 34-18-MC-MC-67 so current form doesn’t seem to effect him leading into this event. He’s not playing great but his course form alone makes him worth gambling on at a discounted price.
If course form is your thing, Jason Bohn at $6,200 looks a good bet. In seven starts his form reads 2-18-2-8-49-14-23. With four top-20’s in his last four starts here, including two runner-up finishes, he’s hard to ignore. The negatives are simple, his current form and ownership. His course form is there for everyone to see so many will take a chance on him I am sure. The trouble is Bohn has struggled, understandably since suffering a heart attack at the Honda Classic last year. He has made just 6 of 15 cuts since returning, and his best finish was T35. This course is the ideal test for Bohn right now as he looks for a return to form.