Shriners Hospitals For Children Open Betting Preview

Ryan Moore (Courtesy: Zimbio.com)

Ryan Moore (Courtesy: Zimbio.com)

The PGA Tour is off to Vegas this week and TPC Summerlin for the playing of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

2013 Shriners Hospitals For Children Open Fact Sheet

  • Course: TPC Summerlin
  • Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Yardage: 7,243 yards, par 71
  • Defending Champion: Ryan Moore
  • Five Consensus Favourites: Zach Johnson, Nick Watney, Webb Simpson, Hideki Matsuyama and Graham DeLaet

TV Schedule

  • Thursday – 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Friday – 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Saturday – 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Sunday – 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)

Key Storyline This Week

As with the Frys last week, the Shriners will be offering full FedEx Cup points and an invite to the Masters this year for the first time in the FedEx Cup era, and after last week, it appears that some of the bigger name players are showing up. Outside of Matsuyama, the four guys listed above didn’t play at the Frys, and would have been inside the top-5 favourites for the event if they had decided to tee it up. Why are they playing this week? Who knows, but I’m sure the PGA Tour is happy to see them show up. The added purse money, from $4.5 to $6 million, may have been a motivating factor as well.

TPC Summerlin

Bobby Weed and Fuzzy Zoeller collaborated to create TPC Summerlin back in 1991, and it doesn’t contain a ton of memorable holes, but the final four do provide a very exciting finish, as all four are risk/reward propositions. From the official course website:

Hole #15: A short, drivable par-4 measuring 320 yards, which most players will attempt to reach with their tee shot. If the tee shot misses the green, an “up and down” birdie is possible, but not easy, due to the severely elevated and undulated green – which is surrounded by five bunkers that regularly attract stray tee shots.

Hole #16: A relatively downhill par-5 that is reachable with two good shots. The green is guarded by water short of the green, and bunkers beyond. For scratch golfers and TOUR players, only a mid-iron will be necessary for the second shot, with a birdie almost a certainty. The scoring swings will come with balls in the water as well as aggressive second shots hit close to the pin.

Hole #17: A challenging and un-nerving par-3 plays from 180 to 210 yards downhill, depending on the hole location, with the green guarded closely by a lake on the left and by bunkers on the right. Par is good score and birdies are rare, should players need to make up ground.

Hole #18: A well-designed and strategic finishing hole measuring 450 yards which moves right to left off the tee. The green is protected on the left by a lake, with the hole protected by the water. An aggressive tee shot with the driver can leave the player just a short iron to a very deep green from front to back. An aggressive tee shot and second shot could lead to a one-putt birdie. Find the water and you will be lucky to make bogey.

This is a course that will surrender low scores. In the last five years, the highest winning score at TPC Summerlin came back in 2009 when Martin Laird posted 19-under par to win in a playoff. Other winning scores of the last five years: -21, -23, -24 and -25.

Signature Moments

This tournament, despite not being the most high profile, has had several important moments in PGA Tour history. From Chip Beck’s 59 to the first PGA Tour wins for both Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods, Las Vegas has produced some quality golf. The most recent big moment from Vegas came in 2010 when Jonathan Byrd won in a playoff with an ace, despite being in near darkness.

Thoughts On The Favourites

  • Zach Johnson: Johnson’s coming off of a good week at the Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village, and he does have a bit of a history here, finishing tied for 10th back in 2008 in his lone appearance. That year he fired an opening round 62 before fading with rounds of 65, 70 and 72 on the weekend. Don’t forget that before the Presidents Cup, he had seven top-10 finishes in his last eight starts.
  • Nick Watney: Watney had a disappointing 2013 season after the move to Nike (stop me if you heard that one this year), but he picked it up towards the end of the season, with top-15’s in three of the four FedEx Cup playoff events. Here, he hasn’t finished outside the top-10 since 2009.
  • Webb Simpson: It’s Simpson’s first time back at this event since 2010, but he’ll have some good memories, as he finished tied for 4th here three years ago. Tied for 4th in his last stroke play event at the Tour Championship, and went 2-1-2 at the Presidents Cup.
  • Hideki Matsuyama: Last week, I talked about how I wasn’t sure what to expect out of Matsuyama at CordeValle because he’d never seen the course before and he went out there and ended up tied for 3rd. This week, we’re at another course that he’s never played, but apparently that’s not much of an issue. He’s finished outside the top-25 in one of seventeen tournaments since April.
  • Graham DeLaet: Very few players in recent memory have made the kind of impression DeLaet has without winning a tournament, but it’s probably just a matter of time before that happens. He was the best player for the International side at the Presidents Cup and was successful at the end of the PGA Tour season, making it to the Tour Championship. In his lone appearance at TPC Summerlin, he finished tied for 18th with rounds of 69-63-70-67.

Suggested Plays

Nick Watney (Best Odds 18-1 at Stan James)

His course form as mentioned above is just too good to ignore. Yes, the field quality is better here this year than in years past, but it’s still not great, so a player of Watney’s ability stands out. He should also be relatively well rested since his last tournament out was the Tour Championship in September.

Graham DeLaet (Best Odds 25-1 at bwin)

I talked about how this is a tournament that will yield low scores, and few on the PGA Tour can go as low as DeLaet. Las Vegas has a tendency to produce first time winners, with ten of the last twenty champions here claiming their first PGA Tour win. That might be more of a coincidence than anything, but DeLaet is primed to get that first win very soon.

Martin Laird (Best Odds 60-1 at Stan James)

Laird is one of those guys that runs very hot and cold, but he seems to play well every time he’s at TPC Summerlin. He was one of those first-time champions here back in 2009, and nearly repeated in 2010, losing to Byrd thanks to that playoff hole-in-one. In 16 rounds here in his career, he has never been over par, firing a 62 and a pair of 63’s in the process. His form hasn’t been great, with just two top-10’s since the PLAYERS, but I’ll take a chance at 60-1.

Ryo Ishikawa (Best Odds 85-1 at Betfair)

Yes, I took Ishikawa last week and for a good chunk of the Frys, it looked possible that he would come away with a win. Even though he ended up tied for 21st, he still had a good week, and he shouldn’t be readily available at this price. Much like Laird, he is a very streaky player and with four consecutive top-25’s, he’s on a good run. He’ll either be in contention again this week, or he’ll miss the cut by a bunch.

Camilo Villegas (Best Odds 123-1 at Betfair)

So, the same thing that has killed Villegas in the past two years did it to him again at the Frys. Look at his rounds at CordeValle: 68-66-77-65. Every week, it seems like he puts himself in contention, only to have one round send him out of it, but the game is still there. He’s only had one missed cut since May, and he’s too good of a player to be available at this kind of price.

Geoff Ogilvy (Best Odds 271-1 at BETDAQ)

Speaking of one round blowups, Ogilvy has become a master of them as well, starting with an opening round 76 last week before bettering it by ten shots in the second round. He hasn’t played TPC Summerlin since 2005, but he did finish tied for 16th that year. He’s trying to fight his way back into relevance and this seems like a good spot for him to do it.

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