The PGA FedExCup Fall series continues with the Shriners Children’s Open. As always, we’ve asked our golf expert Jamie Worsley to give us one of his comprehensive previews and he’s also provided us with five interesting selections. 

Shriners Children’s Open Betting Tips

  • 1.25 pts Tom Hoge each way (1/5 – 6 places) – 35/1 
  • 1.25 pts Vincent Norrman each way (1/5 – 6 places) – 35/1 
  • 1.25 pts Adam Svensson each way (1/5 – 6 places) – 40/1 
  • 1 pt Akshay Bhatia each way (1/5 – 6 places) – 90/1
  • 1 pt Ben Martin each way (1/5 – 8 places) – 125/1

Following Luke List’s dramatic playoff win at the Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi – the first five-man playoff on the PGA Tour since 2017 – we continue the FedExCup Fall in Nevada this week, with the Shriners Children’s Open at TPC Summerlin.

Tournament History

The Shriners Children’s Open debuted on the PGA Tour in 1983 and was known as the Las Vegas Invitational for much of its early years. It was initially a multi-course event, taking place over five rounds instead of four, up to and including 2003; switching to the more common four rounds for the start of the 2004 season.

The event started carrying the name of Shriners Children’s Hospital in 2008 and that same year, TPC Summerlin – which had been part of the multi-course setup several times since 1992 – became its sole host.

Two-time major champ, Fuzzy Zoeller had a say in the design of TPC Summerlin and was the inaugural winner of this event in 1983. Other past winners include Curtis Strange (1985) and Greg Norman (1986), though the most notable former winner is 1996 champion, Tiger Woods; who won the first of his eighty-two PGA Tour titles in this event, in a playoff over Davis Love III.

Jim Furyk has won the Shriners Open more than any other player, first winning in 1995 and became the first player to successfully defend the championship, winning back-to-back titles in 1998/1999. Two more players have won the event more than once: Scotland’s Martin Laird (2009, 2020) and Kevin Na (2011, 2019).

Last year, Tom Kim made it consecutive winners from Korea, following compatriot, Sungjae Im’s win in 2021 by claiming a memorable second PGA Tour title in just four starts here at TPC Summerlin. He returns to defend this week.

The Course

TPC Summerlin was designed by Bobby Weed, with Fuzzy Zoeller as a player consultant on the project. It opened for play in 1991 and began hosting this event the following year; providing a parkland golf experience against a mountainous, desert backdrop in Nevada.

The course is a par 71 and measures 7255 yards; comprising of eleven par 4s (341-492 yards), four par 3s (168-239 yards) and three par 5s (560-606 yards).

It is home to one of the lowest scoring events on the PGA Tour, averaging a winning score of just over -21 since 2008 and has required a score at or exceeding -20 in twelve of those last fifteen renewals to win; in most aspects, it is your typically fun, scoreable TPC course.

Everything here is relatively simple. The wide fairways lack punishment for inaccuracy and are some of the easiest to find on the PGA Tour; as are the subtly undulating and large bentgrass greens. Greens which are generally open-fronted and at an angle.

Danger is scarce, with just four water holes and rough that isn’t too troubling, though you can find a tough lie in the waste areas that line many holes if spraying the ball too much.

The main defence of the course comes from the strong bunkering, of which there are 92 in total. They are particularly prominent around the greens, many of which are deep and it is a somewhat challenging course on which to get up-and-down; ranking about average in scrambling difficulty on the PGA Tour in the previous four years.

The venue lacks inspiration throughout much of the eighteen holes, though, as with many TPC courses, it livens up at the finish. With all four water holes coming down the back nine and three of them on the final three holes.

Before this watery conclusion to the event, we have the drivable 341-yard par 4 15th hole, where six bunkers litter the surrounds of the putting surface. This leads on to the final par 5 on the course, the 560-yard 16th, which is home to one of the narrower fairways on the course and has a wide, shallow green protected entirely by water to the front.

If you manage to make your birdies on those two holes then you will be hard pressed not to hand them straight back on the intimidating 196-yard par 3 17th; a hole which has water left and bunkers right of a long, narrow green.

The 444-yard par 4 18th closes the event. A slightly right-to-left doglegging hole that once again has water to the left and bunkers long and right of another long, narrow green. In normal circumstances these holes would be easy enough to find the putting surfaces on and avoid the hazards but the amphitheatre of a Sunday in contention on the PGA Tour is not a normal circumstance. These holes ensure drama right to the very end.

The Stats

Key Stats:

  • SG: Approach
  • Proximity 125-175 yards
  • SG: Putting (Bentgrass)
  • Birdie or Better %

For a reasonably simple course, we require a simple strategy and there is strong evidence to go with my belief that this course is all about what you do into and on the greens.

We don’t need to look far for evidence of this, with last year’s winner, Tom Kim at his best with the putter and in approach, ranking 3rd and 5th in these areas respectively. This saw him shoot -24 for a three-stroke win – the second-lowest winning score since 2008 – and gave him the edge over runners-up, Patrick Cantlay and Matthew NeSmith; with Cantlay excellent on the greens, ranking 2nd and NeSmith a good standard in approach, ranking 4th.

Sungjae Im won with the same score in 2021 and shone in the same areas, ranking 6th in approach and 9th in putting. Four of the top 5 there ranked 9th or better with the putter, with 3rd-place finishers, Adam Schenk and Marc Leishman ranking 1st and 2nd.

Excluding Patrick Cantlay in 2017, who won in the wind with a score of -9 – the most difficult renewal in the history of the event – all winners going back to Ben Martin in 2014 have performed in one or both of these areas.

Martin Laird (2020), Bryson DeChambeau (2018) and Rod Pampling (2016) ranked 4th or better in approach. Meanwhile, 2019 winner, Kevin Na led on the greens, Smylie Kaufman (2015) ranked 10th and Ben Martin ranked 4th.

We can zone in a little more on the approach play and with shots in that 125-175 yard distance by far the most prevalent, we can favour players who excel from these distances. Whilst plainly looking at those who make the most birdies (or better) on tour should be an added advantage for this week’s birdie-fest.

Correlating Events (Courses)

John Deere Classic (TPC Deere Run)

The John Deere Classic is another birdie-fest that takes place on a TPC course. With generous fairways and easy-to-hit bentgrass greens that are tough to scramble around, TPC Deere Run ranks closely in most aspects to TPC Summerlin statistically.

Bryson DeChambeau, Ryan Moore and Jonathan Byrd have won at each course; other former Shriners winners, Kevin Na and Ben Martin have finished 2nd there.

Lucas Glover has several top 10s in Nevada, including a 3rd in 2017 and is a past winner of the John Deere; Sam Ryder and Alex Cejka have top 3s across the two events and Adam Schenk has top 4s.

AT&T Byron Nelson (TPC Craig Ranch)

Our next course is also a TPC venue, with TPC Craig Ranch in Texas hosting three birdie-laden renewals of the AT&T Byron Nelson since 2021. Like this week’s venue, it ranks amongst the easiest courses on tour to find fairways, and greens, which are large and bentgrass; a further similarity to this week.

Form-ties are a little thin on the ground due to the limited amount of editions of the Byron Nelson staged there. Though this year’s winner at Craig Ranch, Jason Day has several top 10s here and finished 4th in 2012, whilst runner-up to him in Texas, Si Woo Kim has multiple top 10s there too; Patton Kizzire has finished 2nd and 4th at TPC Summerlin and 3rd in the Byron Nelson.

Wyndham Championship (Sedgefield Country Club)

Though the traditionally and densely tree-lined Sedgefield Country Club doesn’t jump out as an obvious correlation, there were more strong form-ties between these two events than any other I looked at this week. They do play similarly, as low-scoring affairs where greens are easy to find and there is a strong emphasis on approaches in that 125-175 yards range at both.

Tom Kim, Webb Simpson and Ryan Moore have won both events; Kevin Na and Sungjae Im have finished 2nd in the Wyndham; 2009 and 2020 Shriners winner, Martin Laird has finished 4th there and 2014 winner, Ben Martin has a top 10.

Si Woo Kim and Lucas Glover have also recorded wins there to complement their strong records here; the likes of Chesson Hadley, Scott Piercy and Adam Hadwin have top 10s at the two events.

RSM Classic (Sea Island Resort)

I’ll finish with the RSM Classic at the Sea Island Resort. Again, we have an event where birdies tend to flow. It ranks closely to TPC Summerlin in most aspects, with the generous fairways and large greens amongst the easiest to find on tour and is at its most difficult around the greens.

Austin Cook is a past winner there and has finished 2nd in the Shriners Open; Robert Streb is another past RSM winner with some good performances here, finishing 4th in 2019.

Webb Simpson has a couple of runner-up finishes there; Lucas Glover, Alex Cejka and Patton Kizzire have all finished top 10.

The Weather

The forecast for this week’s event is clear, with warm, sunny conditions on show before and during each day of the tournament. There may be some strong, gusty winds on Thursday of around 21mph but for the rest of the week the conditions are predicted to be reasonably calm. It looks like business as usual in this week’s Shriners Open.

The Field

Our defending champion, Tom Kim is the top ranked player in this week’s field at #16 in the world. He is one of eight players from inside the world’s top 50. This includes #40, Si Woo Kim, who makes his first start since winning the Team Gold at the Asian Games, thus avoiding mandatory military service back in Korea.

Man of the moment, Ludvig Aberg is back in action after losing out as part of that five-man playoff last week, still looking to tie up his full playing privileges for next season. He is joined by a bevy of European talents, including fellow Ryder Cup winner, Nicolai Hojgaard and countryman, Vincent Norrman.

Undoubtedly the most intriguing entrant this week is LPGA star, Lexi Thompson. She received a sponsor’s invite into the event and will make her PGA Tour debut at TPC Summerlin; becoming the seventh female player to tee it up on the tour. With a return to form coming at the Solheim Cup and continuing over the last couple of weeks, it will be fascinating to see how she fares.

Selections

It’s no surprise to see Tom Kim head the betting this week at 10/1, nor is it unexpected to find Ludvig Aberg just behind him at 11/1 in the market. Kim is the defending champion and has been in excellent form of late, with seven consecutive top 25 finishes and Ludvig Aberg is one of the most talked about golfers in the world currently. Both are obvious dangers here but don’t really appeal at the prices, in an event that can turn into a putting contest.

I liked the look of Cam Davis, though 20/1 is short enough and instead I start a little further down the betting with a player in good form and one who possesses a good record here, Tom Hoge.

1.25 pts Tom Hoge each way (1/5 – 6 places) – 35/1 

Hoge made a positive start over the first couple of months of the season; a 3rd-place finish in THE PLAYERS Championship a particular highlight. He struggled somewhat over the next four months but showed glimpses of a return to form when 19th in the Scottish Open in July and has maintained a good level of form since.

He has recorded four finishes of 21st or better over the course of his last six starts, enjoying a successful stint in Europe when 14th in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and returned to PGA Tour action last week, finishing 13th in the Sanderson Farms Championship.

The biggest weapon in his arsenal has shone in each of those last two starts, his approach play; as he ranked 4th at Wentworth and he was the fifth-best iron player last week. This is very much what we’re used to with Hoge, as he ranks 9th for the season in approach and in addition to that he is 7th on tour in proximity from 125-175 yards. A quality that helps him rank 15th in birdie-or-better percentage this year.

These qualities have enabled him to amass a strong record at TPC Summerlin, with two top 10s to his name. A 4th-place finish last year – in which he ranked 2nd in approach – was his best finish yet in the event. Whilst he has also put up positive putting numbers in four of his last five starts here.

Hoge has an encouraging book of results in the RSM Classic, including a 4th in 2021, giving me added confidence in his chances of claiming a second PGA Tour title this week.

1.25 pts Vincent Norrman each way (1/5 – 6 places) – 35/1 

With most of the attention on his compatriot, Ludvig Aberg, Vincent Norrman’s recent realisation of his amateur promise has resulted in him flying in here a little under the radar this week. At number 73 in the FedExCup rankings, he still has plenty to play for in these events and looks a decent price to go well.

Norrman was a top-class amateur in his own right, reaching #4 in the rankings and after a solid couple of years since turning pro in 2021 – which saw him earn his PGA Tour card via the Korn Ferry Tour last year – he has taken off in a big way over recent months.

Seven starts ago at the Barbasol Championship, Norrman secured his first PGA Tour title, getting the better of England’s Nathan Kimsey in a playoff. He then played solidly over the next few weeks on the PGA Tour, reaching the first FedExCup Play Off event – the St Jude Championship – before returning to Europe for the Irish Open and BMW PGA Championship.

Following Aberg’s win in the European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre the week prior, Norrman made it back-to-back Swedish winners on tour with a fabulous final-round display in the Irish Open. Entering that final round six back and 21st on the leaderboard, Norrman shot a superb closing 7-under 65 to dart past the field and claim a first DP World Tour success.

He was 18th at Wentworth when we last saw him and showed that superb ball-striking that has engineered his successes. Whilst at his best with driver, he’s gained strokes in six of his last eight starts in approach and is strong from 125-175 yards. As a player who ranks top 20 in BOB% and has proven an ability to putt bentgrass well – ranking 7th on the greens at the Barbasol on the bentgrass greens there – he has the game for TPC Summerlin.

Norrman didn’t exactly show this when missing the cut here last year but he was in much worse form and has progressed considerably since then; an 8th-place finish in this year’s AT&T Byron Nelson shows what he’s capable of on this type of setup.

1.25 pts Adam Svensson each way (1/5 – 6 places) – 40/1 

Adam Svensson returned from a six-week absence to finish an encouraging 16th in last week’s Sanderson Farms Championship. He was able to achieve this finish despite lacking a little sharpness with his approach play and if able to get those irons firing again this week, he has the game for this test.

Svensson has been in good form of late, making his last seven cuts on the spin and recording four top 25s over this run. His best of these recent efforts came when 7th in the Wyndham Championship four starts ago.

He’s a steady ball-striker, particularly excelling in approach and has looked good in this area over his latest starts, ranking 13th in this field over the last twenty rounds played. Though it is true that all areas of his game have fired during this period, with he Canadian ranking 6th in strokes-gained: total of the players competing at TPC Summerlin this week.

Svensson’s record of MC-MC-69 in the Shriners Open doesn’t read well but he hasn’t arrived at this event in as consistent form as he does this week. A win in the RSM Classic at the end of last year bodes well, as does a top 10 in the Wyndham Championship and several top 25s in the John Deere Classic.

1 pt Akshay Bhatia each way (1/5 – 6 places) – 90/1

Like Norrman, Akshay Bhatia is also a first-time PGA Tour winner this year, taking the Barracuda Championship the week following Norrman’s success in the Barbasol. Despite that, his status for next year is still up in the air, ranking 106th in the rankings and needs a performance over the next few weeks; something I think he can find here in Nevada.

Bhatia secured Special Temporary Status on the PGA Tour thanks to an excellent 2nd in the Puerto Rico Open at the start of March and though failing to establish a consistent run of form, there were further positives before his win in the Barracuda. He was well in the mix in the Mexico Open, trailing Tony Finau by two strokes entering the final round and eventually finished 4th, whilst in the week preceding his win he finished 9th in the Barbasol Championship.

He has finished MC-MC-43rd over his last three starts, though despite those underwhelming figures, there have been plenty of positives in his game. He has continued to look particularly good with the driver but there were improvements towards his better approach play last week, as he shot three positive rounds; his overall numbers suffered from a poor second round as he lost nearly four strokes with his irons.

Prior to that, his approach play had been good this year, ranking 24th for the season and he is 28th from 125-175 yards. His strong ball-striking makes up for his struggles on the greens and helps him rank 23rd in BOB%.

Bhatia is easily forgiven a missed cut here in 2019 not long after turning pro and though he doesn’t have much correlating form at the courses mentioned above, his solo Korn Ferry Tour win at last year’s The Bahamas Exuma Classic could be a good pointer, as 2021 Shriners winner, Sungjae Im won there in 2018.

1 pt Ben Martin each way (1/5 – 8 places) – 125/1

2014 Shriners Open winner, Ben Martin showed somewhat of a return to form last week and with his approach play showing life during the final round, I’m taking him to find a much-needed performance in Nevada.

Martin had a good start to the year with three top 10s in his first nine starts and a best of 5th in the Honda Classic. However, he’s struggled for form since finishing 10th in the Texas Open in April. This has seen him slip to 114th in the FedExCup rankings and at risk of a trip to Q-School at the end of the year to keep his spot on tour.

With that, his 16th in the Sanderson Farms last week – his first top 40 in six months – would’ve been incredibly welcome and if able to replicate the approach display he showed in the final round, he can go well again here.

Martin’s irons were in excellent form earlier in the year and have continued to fire intermittently even throughout his poor run of results. He ranks 40th in approach and 50th from 125-175 yards for the year and sitting inside the top 50 in BOB%, he has the skillset to tackle the test.

This was clearly evident in his 2014 win, as he shot -20 to win by two over Kevin Streelman and he’s also recorded one further top 25 in 2016. In addition, he has finished runner-up in the John Deere, has a top 10 in the Wyndham and multiple top 25s in the RSM Classic.

Martin signed off last week with a 6-under 66 – the second-best round of the day – and can hopefully carry that momentum over into what would be an important contending performance at TPC Summerlin.

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