The PGA Tour is off to the bright lights of Las Vegas this week for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open as the season continues to build nicely ahead of some decent events to come in America and Asia in the next few weeks.
Bryson DeChambeau won this title last season and he will be out to retain it here but a decent enough field for this stage of the campaign has been assembled and so it will not be easy for the American to keep hold of his title.
2018 – Bryson DeChambeau
2017 – Patrick Cantlay
2016 – Rod Pampling
2015 – Smylie Kaufman
2014 – Ben Martin
2013 – Webb Simpson
2012 – Ryan Moore
2011 – Kevin Na
2010 – Jonathan Byrd
2009 – Martin Laird
It is TPC Summerlin which is once again the venue for this tournament. Although the bunkers were done ahead of last year’s renewal there was no effect in scoring although driving accuracy was much more of a factor than it might have been in the past. As a par 71 measuring just 7,255 yards in the desert this is not a long course by any stretch of the imagination.
If you look at the list of winners above they are all classy ball strikers who have the ability to light it up with the putter for a week and it is that sort of scope I’m looking for here. Recent form is never a bad thing when you think this is going to be a low scoring week in perfect golfing conditions.
It isn’t very often that Brooks Koepka is out in this part of the world before the turn of the year but that is the case this week. He heads the field in terms of ranking and name but the likes of Patrick Cantlay, Hideki Matsuyama, Adam Scott and Webb Simpson are all here to add strong flavour to the field while the defending champion Bryson DeChambeau will get plenty of attention as well.
The leading young guns are all teeing it up this week too with Collin Morikawa, Joaquin Niemann and Matthew Wolff all in the field. Experience also comes in the form of the US Open champion Gary Woodland, Brandt Snedeker, Jason Kokrak, Charles Howell III and Kevin Na. Adam Hadwin and Cameron Champ, the first two home last week are also here.
As you would expect it is Brooks Koepka who heads the betting this week. He goes in as the 9/1 favourite which even in this company would be a lot shorter had it not been for the fact that his record in regular PGA Tour events in recent times has left a lot to be desired. If he wins the 9/1 will look a big price but the days where I like trusting him in these lower tier events has long gone. Better value lies elsewhere I suggest.
Patrick Cantlay won here in 2017 so his 12/1 price immediately appeals. He finished last season pretty well up to the point that he could have cashed in all the marbles in the Tour Championship but stunk the place out. He was second when defending his title here last year and so he ticks a lot of boxes but that Tour Championship effort still puts me off taking him when a place isn’t really going to yield us too much return. I’ll pass him on.
Bryson DeChambeau is 16/1 to defend the title successfully. Regular readers will be used to the fact that I don’t go after defending champions as a rule and I’m definitely not going to change that for DeChambeau who still has this slow play thing hanging over him and someone will doubtlessly bring it up again. He was bang in contention last week and then faded which doesn’t inspire confidence so I’ll leave him out of the equation.
Webb Simpson and Adam Scott are both 22/1 to win the tournament this week. Scott is another who was up on the leaderboard early doors last week but never pushed on and I think he is better on the tougher tracks on the PGA Tour. Simpson is a former winner here which has to be respected. There isn’t a whole lot wrong with his game and it is only that I prefer others at bigger prices that I’ve not got him on my team this week.
I’ve been waiting for Joaquin Niemann to have a break and come back out and this looks to be his week. He absolutely waltzed to victory in the season opening Greenbrier Classic, winning that by six shots. His form hasn’t been bad since then but it can be largely dismissed because of the magnitude of that win. Everything he did at the Greenbrier ticks the boxes that I’m looking for this week and a huge showing here makes him a serious runner for the Presidents Cup at the end of the year. Niemann putted the life out of the Greenbrier and his long game is perfectly good enough here too as he showed when finishing tenth here on debut last year. I think he could go in again this week.
Dylan Frittelli annoyed the life out of me last week but he will annoy me even more if I’m not on here and he goes in so he is my second main bet of the week. His third round last week cost him dearly but if he can put four good rounds together on a pretty easy track I don’t think he is going to be too far away. Frittelli is second in strokes gained tee-to-green and fifth in strokes gained in total on the tour this season. Those two things are key and with successive top 10 finishes coming in here I’ll chance the South African one more time.
When it comes to statistics JT Poston is in the mix on all the major ones. He made a little bit of history last season when he won the Wyndham Championship without making a bogey on the week and that in itself highlights how well he can score here. He showed that in 2017 when he came fourth and although he has missed the cut either side of that he is obviously arriving here a much better golfer than he was then. Poston is fifth in strokes gained tee-to-green this season and if he can heat the putter up he won’t be far away.
Two men who never have any problems when it comes to getting the putter hot are Andrew Putnam and Lanto Griffin and I’m on them both this week. Putnam is of the class to be contending in these Fall Series events all the time. The lack of demand on the long game suits him and there aren’t many better putters on the PGA Tour than him. Griffin ran well enough for me last week and interestingly was second in fairways hit at the Safeway Open. He sits fifth in strokes gained putting this season so if the two get combined here he should give us another excellent showing at a perfectly attractive price.
Back J.Niemann to win Shriners Hospitals for Children Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 31.00 with Betfair (1/5 1-8)
Back him here:
Back D.Frittelli to win Shriners Hospitals for Children Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 51.00 with Betway (1/5 1-7)
Back L.Griffin to win Shriners Hospitals for Children Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 126.00 with Betway (1/5 1-7)
Back JT.Poston to win Shriners Hospitals for Children Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 67.00 with BetVictor (1/5 1-6)
Back A.Putnam to win Shriners Hospitals for Children Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 67.00 with Coral (1/5 1-7)