The PGA Tour makes it way to Sin City this week, for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. With the new 2018/19 season now in full swing, it is good to see some of the biggest names on Tour in the field this week, as the competition heats up.
Last week’s runner-up, Tony Finau will look to finally get a win his 2018 form deserves, but will face stiff competition from the likes of Rickie Fowler, Bryson DeChambeau, Jordan Spieth and Webb Simpson.
Defending champion, Patrick Cantlay returns after finishing 7th last week in China, as does Gary Woodland who has finished 5th and 2nd in his last two starts and 18th on this course last year.
With a good blend of experienced pros and plenty of up and comers in the field, this should be a great event in the desert.
The Course and what it will take to win this week
TPC Summerlin, Par 71, 7,255 Yards
Played at altitude, this course doesn’t play near its 7,255 yardage, making it an accessible course for even the shorter hitters off the tee.
Going low here is essential, as the average winning score was almost 21-under-par in the five renewals prior to 2017. Last year there was an unusual amount of wind, which meant the winning score was only -9.
Adverse weather aside, this is a very easy course, continually ranking as one of the easiest Par 71’s on the PGA Tour.
To shoot the low scores required you should be hitting plenty of greens and making more than your fair share of putts here, which is made easier by the generous fairways.
All in all, this is a test that suits those that enjoy low-scoring tests, Bentgrass greens and courses at altitude/in desert conditions.
Beau Hossler 50/1 (Royal Panda) 40/1 (General) 1pt e/w:
Beau Hossler had a couple of good chances to win last season, but in the end he went winless in his rookie season. That isn’t to say that he didn’t show plenty of promise along the way though, and it is clear he’s an excellent talent.
He lost out to a resurgent Ian Poulter in a play-off at the Houston Open the week before the Masters and finished 2nd again at another TPC course, River Highlands when he went close at the Travelers Championship. All in all he missed just four cuts in his rookie season and finished in the top-10 five times.
The first two of those top-10’s came this time last year when T10 at the Sanderson Farms Championship and T7 here. He had every chance of victory here last year, but shot a final-round 73 to fall short by two strokes.
He will be better prepared if in a similar position this time around and has shown signs in recent weeks that he’s in good enough form. Despite only finishing T30 at the CIMB Classic, Hossler shot 65-66 on Friday and Saturday, and last time out when 18th he finished with rounds of 69-66 over the weekend.
A combination of some recent low rounds, plus his clear ability with the putter and his good showing on debut here last year, leads me to believe Hossler has a good shot at winning here. Quotes of 40/1 and higher look good value on the young Texan.
Sam Burns 66/1 (General) 1pt e/w:
Sam Burns stormed onto the scene on the PGA Tour last season, positing a collection of top finishes ranging from T6-T20, including when 20th here 12 months ago.
His best finish on the PGA Tour, before his T3 finish last week at the Sanderson Farms Championship, was a T6 finish at the Barbasol earlier this year.
Following his strong efforts on the PGA Tour, Burns returned to the Web.com later in the season and won the Savannah Golf Championship. Two more 3rd place finishes before the season was up proved he can mix it at the top of the leaderboards regularly.
After a tough run of form which saw Burns withdraw once and missed three cuts in his last five starts of the 2017/18 season, Burns will be grateful for last week’s effort.
Burns managed his career-best finish last week, whilst giving away strokes to the field with the putter, and should he find some form with the flat stick, which is generally a strength of his he will be a danger here.
Burns opened the week with a 68 and closed with a 67 here last year and if he can find a bit more consistency during this week, and build on his effort at the Sanderson Farms, we could well see this youngster make his first step into the PGA Tour winners’ circle.
Scott Piercy 60/1 (UniBet) 1pt e/w:
Born, educated and currently residing in Las Vegas, this is truly a home event for Scott Piercy, who will be looking forward to this event as he comes into the week in fine form.
Whilst his T5 finish last time out at the CJ Cup looks an outlier in his recent results, his game has been trending towards such a finish for a while.
Even when way down the pack (T45), at the 69-man BMW Championship, Piercy shot rounds of 64/65 on Friday and Saturday, to save face after poor bookend rounds. A missed cut at the Safeway Open to start the week was a poor start to the season, but he went on to finish T27 at the CIMB Classic, opening with rounds of 65-67 to show some form again and sit three strokes off the lead. It wasn’t the weekend he was after at the CIMB, but he pieced it together for a full week, when 5th at the CJ Cup a week later.
A streaky player, Piercy is one to take notice of when showing signs such as this and now returning to a course he loves, in his home state he should be ready to contend for a second start in a row.
Since 2009, Piercy has missed just one cut here in 9 starts and has finished inside the top-10 three times and top-25 a further three times, so he should be here come the weekend.
All of Piercy’s five wins have required scores of 15-under par or lower, highlighting his suitability to low-scoring affairs.
If he can lean on his efforts in Asia he will be well up for the battle come Sunday, in front of a home crowd. 60/1 about Piercy in this field looks good value, considering he’s won five times on Tour and has finished 2nd in a U.S. Open and WGC in back-to-back starts back in 2016.
A winner of sorts earlier in the year, when partnered with Billy Horschel at the Zurich, Piercy will be looking to get his hands on some more solo silverware, especially as the course is on his doorstep. Piercy turns 40 next Tuesday and he will hope he can add a victory to his upcoming celebrations.
Adam Schenk 80/1 (BetVictor and William Hill) 1pt e/w:
A player who is in red-hot form right now is Adam Schenk. After finishing his Web.com season off with results of T35-T9-T2-8, the American has taken to the new PGA Tour season like a duck to water.
Three good rounds to start the Safeway Open put him in a good position to finish inside the top-10 in his first start of the season, but a final-round 73 meant he had to settle for a T14 finish. He would have learned from that final round and any time you feel frustrated with a top-15/20 finish its generally a good sign.
On his very next start Schenk cracked the top-10, last week at the Sanderson Farms Championship, finishing in a tie for 7th, just two shots behind the top-3. In opposite fashion to his previous start, Schenk this time saved his best round until last, closing with a 67 to secure his place in the top-10.
Given his run at the end of the Web.com season, and to start life on the PGA Tour in 18/19, he looks a good bet to contend for his first win at this level, sooner rather than later.
Before this season, his T20 finish here 12 months ago was his best finish on the PGA Tour and he can build on that effort from last year, and finish higher this time around. At 80/1 he makes plenty of appeal despite a strong contingent of players at the head of the market.
Total Points Staked this week: 8
Profit/Loss for 2018: -80.95