The second leg of the PGA Tour’s wrap-around season takes us to Las Vegas for the Shriners Hospitals Open. This is also a 150+ player field and will have the cut take place after Friday’s round. The field this week features a few less top players and will include names you might not be familiar with. While tour mainstays Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker will be playing a lot of the field will be filled out by recent Web.com tour grads and fringe PGA players. It will behoove you to learn more about these players this week as several of them have been in good form recently and could be in for big fantasy performances.
TPC Summerlin, Las Vegas, Nevada
Par 71, 7200-7300 yards
This course is one of the easiest the players will encounter all year. First of all it’s played at altitude which means pretty much everyone can drive it far and the fact that recent winners here have included shorter hitters Ryan Moore, Kevin Na and Ben Martin should tell us distance is not a huge deal. The second thing helping the players is that nothing about the setup of this course is overly difficult. The rough generally isn’t very long and the greens aren’t overly small/don’t play too fast. There’s three par 5’s on the course and even the longest can be reached in two due to altitude, meaning most players will have an eagle opportunity or two in a round. While there’s a couple longer par 4’s only one or two are challenging in the sense that they require players to hit a driver. This course is all about capitalizing on opportunities (of which there will be a lot). The player who plays aggressively this week and can bury his chances when they arise will succeed here.
Last 5 Winners
Ben Martin — 2014
Webb Simpson — 2013
Ryan Moore — 2012
Kevin Na — 2011
Jonathan Byrd — 2010
– 4 of the last 5 winners of the Shriners Hospital Open had finishes of 15th place or better at this event before their win.
– 4 of the last 5 winners had a T11 or better in their previous 4 tournaments leading up to their win.
– Each of the past 5 winners had a T5 or better in the previous season leading up to their win.
– Birdie Average
– Approach Proximity
– Par 4 scoring
Given the extreme lack of difficulty this course presents I’m not focusing too much on stats this week and will be relying more on relative form and course history. Still, players who have done well at the Shriners have shown well in Birdie average in the year of their victory. With the winning score generally being around -22 or better a ton of birdies will be needed for a good week. Birdie average is therefore the most reliable stat of the week for me. Given that altitude takes away some of the driving advantage long hitters have, looking at approach proximity is also a decent idea. Accurate approaches lead to more birdie chances and with not much rough and a shortened course most players will be able to fire away at pins all week. I think it’s also a decent indicator of success.
Who’s had success at TPC Summerlin?
– Charles Howell III has played this event a ton and has now made the cut here in 5 of his last 6 appearances. He has a 5th and 10th in that span.
– Jason Bohn has made the cut at this event in each of his last 5 attempts, he’s got a 2nd place and an 8th place to his name in that span
– Russell Knox has played this event 3 times and never missed the cut. His results have been great going 3-30-13 in his past three trips.
– Martin Laird loves playing in Las Vegas. In six trips he’s only missed one cut and has a victory and a second place finish to his credit.
Who’s struggled at TPC Summerlin?
– Jason Kokrak has found the going tough at TPC Summerlin. He’s played here three times and never made the weekend.
– Pat Perez played solid golf in 2015 but he’s had issues with this course. In his last three visits he’s never lasted until the weekend.
– Chez Reavie has been playing extremely solid of late but has had issues doing well at this event and now missed his last four cuts at the Shriners.
– Kevin Kisner has found the going tough in Las Vegas. He’s only made two of four cuts at this event with a best finish of 29th
I really like using recent form and course history as a guide this week. This event is all about making birdies and those players who feel comfortable on this course and with their game will ultimately be able to step up to the task. I’m not a fan of going with big names in weaker events like this as the easier course can often be a bit of an equalizer. Use a balanced approach and fit in as many solid plays as you can, there’s no need to take huge risks and try and fit in all the top players.
My Winner: Chris Stroud
This pick might seem a little bit out there but Stroud is actually in some of the best form of his life right now. Before last week, where he finished 10th, Stroud just missed winning over in Europe at the prestigious Dunhill Links event. He fits the profile of past winners in my mind and has done well here in the past. I like him to nab his first victory this week.
My Sleeper: Daniel Summerhays
Summerhays finished the season well and has played great at anther low scoring event on tour, the John Deere Classic. I like Summerhays as a possible sleeper this week and won’t be shocked if he’s near the led come Sunday.