The PGA TOUR travels to Las Vegas for the Shriners Children’s Open at TPC Summerlin. The course will play as a par 71, measuring 7,255 yards and greens will be bentgrass this week.
The PGA TOUR has hosted a tournament in Las Vegas for the last 38 years, and during its tenure on TOUR, we’ve seen past winners like Kevin Na (+2500, $9,100), Jim Furyk (twice), Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau and Webb Simpson (+1800, $10,200) take home the trophy. With back-to-back tournaments in the area, golfers like Brooks Koepka (+1600, $11,100), Abraham Ancer (+1800, $10,400), Scottie Scheffler (+2200, $9,700) and Hideki Matsuyama (+2800, $9,500) are teeing it up to get acclimated and potentially enter the winner’s circle this week.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Kevin Na (rib) has withdrawn from the Shriners Children’s Open.
Getting a hot putter on these bentgrass greens can lead to victory, as it did for Na in 2020 when he gained 14.2 strokes on the greens, but make no mistake, this is a second-shot course. Over the previous five years, the top five finishers have gained over two times the strokes with approach against Off-the-Tee and Around-the-Green. Jordan Spieth has mentioned that “it’s more of a second-shot golf course where it requires a lot of precision from the short irons. Maybe pitching wedge to short irons.” Approach shot distribution at TPC Summerlin from 100 to 125 yards and 125 to 150 yards is higher than the TOUR average, probably due to golfers hitting it further in the thin air. Ranking high in short-iron proximity isn’t the only statistic golfers need to win, but it definitely will help; getting it close on these big greens (approximately 7,400 sq. feet) will only increase the number of birdie looks the golfers will have. Like most courses in the desert, difficulty predicates on the wind. With firm greens, windy conditions can wreak havoc on the golfers as it did in the second round in 2018 with only 20 rounds in the 60s. If the wind is nonexistent, then expect low scores. The average winning score over the previous three years is 22-under par. The outlier was 2018 when Patrick Cantlay won, shooting 9-under par, but the SHCO has been a birdie fest for the most part.
We should also be weighing course experience a little more than usual this week. Distance control should play a factor in the elevation, and those who have experience playing in these conditions may have an easier time dialing their distances to the correct calibration.
Abraham Ancer (+1800 to Win, $10,400 on DraftKings)
We haven’t seen Ancer in a while, and while his odds are on the shorter side for someone with this long of a layoff, he still can play well here and contend come Sunday. A great total driver of the ball, Ancer will not hit it far, but he won’t have to at TPC Summerlin. Past winners like Na relied more on his strengths and did well with the putter. Ancer should depend on his ball-striking, the same skill that got him his first career win at the WGC St. Jude Invitational, which was also at a TPC course (TPC Southwind). Over the previous 24 rounds, Ancer ranks inside the top 50 in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, 11th in birdies, better gained and 13th in putting. He also has two top-four finishes in his last three events here and has done well at The American Express, a course and tournament with similar conditions.
Sungjae Im (+2800 to Win, $9,200 on DraftKings)
Usually, we reserve Sungjae for Bermuda greens, but the 29th-ranked golfer in the world has recently been putting well on bentgrass, ranking fifth in Strokes Gained: Putting over the previous 12 rounds. Three top 12s at The American Express and no worse than a 15th-place in his two starts here should give us a bit of confidence that Sungjae seems to like these types of courses. His irons went cold last week, losing 2.3 strokes at the Sanderson Farms, but he still has gained with his irons in eight of his previous 10 tournaments.
Joseph Bramlett (+15000 to Win, $7,200 on DraftKings)
The Stanford grad has been great with his irons recently, gaining an average of 3.6 strokes per tournament over his past five. He’s made back-to-back cuts over his last two starts with a putter that’s been struggling for the past couple of months. Still, with his ball-striking and local knowledge (he lives and practices in Las Vegas), Bramlett could fare well here as a GPP and contrarian option in this range. Similarly, Hank Lebioda (+20000, $6,300) presents value with his ability to score, ranking 34th in approach, third in birdies or better gained and second in putting over the previous 24 rounds. Both Bramlett and Lebioda are pivot plays and dart throws for the betting and daily fantasy markets.
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