This week’s PGA Tour golfing action sees the players head to Las Vegas for a regular feature on the schedule, the SHRINERS (HOSPITALS FOR CHILDREN) OPEN.
And a pretty good-looking field has been assembled in the gambling capital of USA, if not the world, with the recent USPGA champion, and current hottest property in golf, Bryson DeChambeau, topping the market. Aussies in the field include Cam Smith, Greg Chalmers, Cam Davis, Jason Day and Matt Jones.
DeChambeau's presence, added to the potentially low-scoring this week, should make for a cracking tournament. Here’s a preview of the action in the “Silver State”…
This event started out in 1983 but has undergone a number of name changes over the years (Las Vegas Invitational, Michelin Championship, Frys.com Open and now, to give the tournament its full title, the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open). It also started out as a 5-round, 90-hole event before this was reduced to the conventional 4-rounds in 2004. What has been constant is the location in and around Vegas, and since 1990 its place in the schedule – late October to early November. Not a flagship event of the PGA by any means, but early in the 2020/21 season it’s bound to produce plenty of competition for ranking points and prize-money.
TPC Summerlin is a par 71 course laid out over 7,235 yards. Built to the West of Las Vegas in the upmarket community of Summerlin, the course was designed by Bobby Weed and first opened in 1991. Slightly elevated (at 2,700 feet) but not enough to make a real difference in terms of altitude. On what is a resort course, with generous fairways and far from penal rough, scoring should be good this week with previous winning scores regularly better than 20-under-par.
72-Hole Record – 260, Webb Simpson (2014) & Ryan Moore (2013)
18-Hole Record – 60, J.J. Henry (2013)
Past Winners – Kevin Na (2019), Bryson DeChambeau (2018), Patrick Cantlay (2017), Rod Pampling (2016), Smylie Kaufman (2015)
A standard field of 156 players line up this week. Bryson DeChambeau is the favourite.
Hot, dry, perfect. There can be no complaints about the forecast this week with temperatures in the 80s, minimal cloud cover and wind speeds peaking at around 10mph.
Here are some players to watch thanks to the Golf Insider.
COLLIN MORIKAWA – “You know I’m a huge fan of Morikawa. You might recall, we tipped him the first week after lockdown, when he lost in a play-off at the Charles Schwab Challenge. Since then Morikawa has gone on to win, twice, including the US PGA Championship. This guy is a serious talent, who has a tremendous all-round game. His driving is both long and accurate, and Morikawa possesses a great short game, with excellent putting stats recently. If there’s any question about him it’s why he doesn’t win every week! But we have to accept that players will not produce their best form every week – if only. I don’t see why Morikawa should necessarily be twice the price of DeChambeau, or virtually the same as guys like Harris English. Maybe his missed cut at Winged Foot is a reason, but this was a minor blip for a player on a very steep upward trajectory.”
SERGIO GARCIA – “Garcia won last week at the Sanderson Farms Championship (SFC) and he was back to his brilliant best. His ball-striking was as good as ever ranking 1st in Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green by some margin, and he even managed to have positive Strokes Gained: Putting which was a nice change. It just goes to show that players such as Garcia only need to putt half-decent in order to win, as their long games are so good. Following a win with another great week can be hard, but Garcia has proven time and time again that when he’s on form he continues to play well and has backed it up plenty of times in the past. Garcia has 28 career wins, and on 10 of those occasions the very next event he’s played he’s finished in the Top 5 the following week, and on 17 occasions he’s finished in the Top 10 – which is extremely impressive. He also went back-to-back in 2011, winning in Spain two weeks in a row. Basically, the win last week for Sergio is a massive positive for this week.”
STEWART CINK – “Cink’s best years may well be behind him, but that’s not stopping him from putting in some incredible displays of late. The old-timer won the Safeway Open a few weeks ago thanks to a superb tee-to-green display, where he ranked 2nd in the field with his long game. This, to many, may have looked just like a one-off last hurrah, but last week at the Sanderson Farms, Cink played just as well, but this time his putter was stone cold. He finished 12th and ranked 3rd in Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green, which is quite frankly outstanding for a man only a few years shy of being able to compete on the Seniors Tour. Cink has played TPC Summerlin 13 times, and has only missed the cut once here in the past, and arrives this year with his confidence sky high and his game in as good a shape as it’s ever been. He looks to continue his fine form and potentially pick up his second win in just three starts.”
MARTIN LAIRD – “We tipped Laird last week, and the Scot played well for four days but didn’t hole enough putts to seriously challenge, and he missed out on a decent Top 20 finish by a few shots. He finished 28th last week but ranked 14th from tee-to-green, so his long game is trending nicely. Last week was also his best result post lockdown from his four starts across the PGA and Korn Ferry Tours, so his confidence should be returning. What appeals most is the fact that he lives in Arizona which is also filled with desert golf courses, just like the one this week in Vegas – so he’ll know how to handle the conditions as well as any, and this is the style of course he plays most often outside of the PGA Tour. It’s therefore no surprise that he won this event back in 2009, and then nearly won it the following year, but ended up coming 2nd. I think Laird has to be considered as he’s trending nicely and loves the course and the desert golf test.”