This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
SHRINERS HOSPITALS FOR CHILDREN OPEN
Winner's Share: $1.26M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: Las Vegas
Course: TPC Summerlin
2018 Bryson DeChambeau
A lot like one's luck in Vegas, the Shriners tournament has endured good times and bad. Really high highs and really low lows. Beginning last year, and seemingly out of nowhere, fortunes shifted and once again there is a tremendous field on hand. Brooks Koepka, Patrick Cantlay, Adam Scott, Gary Woodland, Tony Finau, Webb Simpson and defending champion Bryson DeChambeau make it seven top-20 golfers in the world at TPC Summerlin. And that doesn't include Phil Mickelson, Collin Morikawa and Matthew Wolff. Last year, five top-20 players suddenly showed up after years of nameless fields.
Beginning in its inaugural year of 1983, the Last Vegas Tour stop was a big deal, with the first $1 million purse in golf. In the 1980s and 1990s, the list of champions could fill a wing in the Hall of Fame: Tiger Woods, Greg Norman, Paul Azinger, Fuzzy Zoeller, Davis Love III, Curtis Strange and three-time champion Jim Furyk – even NBC's Gary Koch, adding to the number of current broadcasters who have won it. Then, the tournament's luck ran dry in the desert: More recent champions have included Rod Pampling, Smylie Kaufman, Ben Martin, Marc Turnesa and George McNeill.
Things changed last year, and here we are now presented with a great fall-season field. Looking at the big names is one way to gauge its strength, but at the bottom, only 21 golfers in the 144-man field have used their Korn Ferry accreditation to qualify, whereas the full complement of 50 were in the season-opening event at The Greenbrier.
This annually has been one of the biggest birdie-fests on Tour – maybe the biggest when you consider that the winning score is almost always 20-under and there are only three par-5s. The track is at altitude and plays shorter than the 7,255 yards listed on the scorecard. Summerlin annually totals among the most birdies and eagles on Tour, but with fields smaller than the full complement of 156; for years, it was 132, and now it's 144. The only scoring aberration was two years ago when Cantlay won it at...9-under. What? What the heck happened? Well, the wind happened. It was howling most of the week. After the second round, Aaron Baddeley said it was "like a two- or three-club wind." Things returned to normal last year, when DeChambeau won at 21-under-par, besting Cantlay.
There's plenty of opportunity for drama and wild swings late on Sunday. No. 15 is a drivable 341 yards that last year was the third-easiest hole on the course. There were eight eagles. No. 16 is a 560-yarder that's reachable by most of the field. The 17th is a dicey par-3 of nearly 200 yards guarded by water, and the par-4 18th is 444 uphill and with more water. The last two holes both tend to play over par.
Weather-wise, let's first say the wind is forecast to be very light. All four days look exactly the same: highs in the upper 80s, low humidity, no chance of rain.
Fun Shriners fact I: Tiger Woods earned his first PGA Tour victory in this event in 1996, then called the Las Vegas International. He shot 27-under-par over 90 holes and still needed a playoff to defeat a still-young-at-the-time Davis Love III. Woods won a second tournament two weeks later and, legend has it, went on to a successful career.
Fun Shriners fact II: The only PGA Tour playoff to end with a hole-in-one took place at Summerlin in 2010, when Jonathan Byrd aced the fourth extra hole to stun 2008 champ Martin Laird and Cameron Percy. Of course, playoffs have been won with eagles from the fairway, famously Robert Gamez at Bay Hill in 1990 and Craig Parry at Doral in 2004, but never via an ace until 2010.
Key Stats to Winning at TPC Summerlin
Note - The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key stats" follow in importance.
• Greens in regulation/strokes gained: approach
• Driving accuracy
• Putting average/strokes gained: putting
• Birdie or better percentage (BOB)
You don't have to be a long hitter to win at TPC Summerlin. Martin was 64th in the field in driving distance, Pampling was 38th and DeChambeau was 30th. But the past five winners all were among the most accurate off the tee, with DeChambeau ranking fourth, Cantlay fifth and Kaufman seventh. GIR and putting numbers have been mixed, with a fair share of mediocrity from champions and close contenders. But to get to 20-under, you have to make some putts and get birdies, and lots of them. This course has a history of low numbers and be prepared for more. J.J. Henry shot a 60 here in 2013, and that was matched by eventual champion Pampling three years later. DeChambeau shot no worse than 66 last year.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
Tier 1 Values
Patrick Cantlay - $11,100 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 12-1)
Cantlay was back in action last week for the first time since the Tour Championship and tied for 40th. Some guys can jump back in after a long layoff, other guys need to ramp back up, which is why we're bypassing Brooks Koepka, the obvious class of this field, but is a golfer who has not played since last season. Cantlay has done about as well as you can do at Summerlin, winning two years ago and finishing runner-up in his title defense. Cantlay ranked sixth on Tour in birdie or better percentage last season.
Adam Scott - $10,000 (20-1)
Interestingly, the former UNLV golfer has NEVER played this tournament. So maybe Scott is stopping here to play a new event, as part of his Tour requirement. Regardless, he made his 2019-20 debut a week ago with a good showing, a tie for 17th at the Shriners. Scott ranked eighth last season in BOB percentage.
Hideki Matsuyama - $9,700 (25-1)
Matsuyama has played Summerlin only once before, tying for 10th way back in 2014. He also got back on the course a week ago, albeit missing the cut. Still, playing two rounds can go a long way in shaking off the rust. Matsuyama played his best golf down the stretch last season and wound up ninth on Tour in birdie or better percentage.
Collin Morikawa - $9,500 (30-1)
Morikawa returned last week. He didn't play in the Tour Championship last month, so his inactivity was actually a week longer than some of the other top names. He tied for 10th, and really is showing quality golf almost every time out.
Tier 2 Values
Joaquin Niemann $9,400 (30-1)
Niemann is a few weeks removed from his breakthrough win at the season-opening Greenbrier tournament. He tied for 54th at the Sanderson Farms event, then took last week off. He's back at a track that doesn't mandate great putting, even though he putted well at the Old White. Niemann tied for 10th here a year ago.
Scottie Scheffler - $8,800 (50-1)
The only thing that slowed Scheffler down last week was some time off. It's hard to pace yourself when playing well, especially for a young golfer trying to make his mark. Coming from the Korn Ferry playoffs, it's like Scheffler is in midseason form, having played much more of late than those who just finished up the last PGA Tour season. Scheffler has a T7 and T16 so far this season.
Charles Howell III - $8,500 (50-1)
Howell has tended to play his best golf early in the season, and last week he opened his 2019-20 schedule with a tie for fourth at Silverado. Howell is quite familiar with Summerlin, playing it seven times over the past decade, with four top-20s, including a best of T5 in 2013.
Andrew Putnam - $8,100 (60-1)
Putnam really advanced his career last season, working his way into the top 50 in the world rankings. Still, he has some unfinished business, as he failed to reach the Tour Championship. But he hasn't been idle all this time; he traveled across the pond to Wentworth and cranked out a top-25 at the prestigious BMW PGA Championship two weeks ago. Putnam is a West Coast guy, born in Washington before attending Pepperdine. He missed the cut two years ago here at Summerlin and was T33 in 2014.
Tier 3 Values
Brian Harman - $7,800 (60-1)
Harman's results have declined steadily the past few years, from 14 top-25s three years ago to 11 two years ago to five last year. He's a short hitter, but the decline is not distance-related. Harman was an elite putter who stopped putting very well. It's still early this season, but he's ranked 11th in strokes gained: putting after tying for third at the Greenbrier and 14th at the Sanderson. Harman has played Summerlin periodically, but his best finish has been his most recent start there: T15 in 2016.
Jim Furyk - $7,500 (80-1)
Every week, Furyk gets closer to 50 years old. Most every week, he's still going strong. Furyk made his 2019-20 season debut last week with a tie for 17th at Silverado. That ran his streak to nine straight made cuts. We often like Furyk on shorter tracks, and this is pretty short when factoring in the altitude. He missed the cut here a year ago but was coming off Ryder Cup responsibilities. Then years ago, in 2009, he tied for fourth. Furyk won three times at Summerlin in the 1990s, and is the only multiple-time winner in the history of the event.
Aaron Wise - $7,500 (60-1)
This has not been a good year for Wise, who has seen his world ranking plummet into the 80s. But at least he's stopped the bleeding, making his past six cuts. And they've been in some top fields – two majors and a playoff event. Wise has done well at Summerlin, tying for 15th last year, 32nd two years ago and 10th three years ago. Despite all his subpar play last season, he ranked seventh on Tour in birdie or better percentage.
Lanto Griffin- $7,200 (125-1)
Griffin sits at a career-best 182nd in the world rankings after beginning this season with three straight top-20s. The only thing that gives us pause is that this is his fourth straight week on the course – even Sungjae Im is taking a week off! – and that's following the Korn Ferry playoffs. Griffin missed the cut here two years ago.
Denny McCarthy - $7,000 (125-1)
In his last nine starts, McCarthy posted five top-25s and only two missed cuts. He opened this season with a T31 at The Greenbrier and a T18 at the Sanderson Farms Championship before taking last week off. He tied for 15th last year at Summerlin. We've noted that you don't necessarily need to putt well, in order to do well, this week. Still, McCarthy is a great putter and ranked 13th in birdie or better percentage last season.
J.J. Spaun - $6,800 (150-1)
Spaun does not miss many cuts – only six all last season – which is why we picked him last week, when he, um, missed the cut. Spaun tied for 15th last year at Summerlin, following a T10 there two years ago.
Roger Sloan - $6,600 (200-1)
This is a very nice price for someone playing so well. Sloan really came on strong at the end of last season, which for him ended after the first playoff event. He missed the cut at The Greenbrier but got back on track last week with a tie for 13th at Silverado. Sloan's world ranking is at a career-high 197th.
Kurt Kitayama - $6,300 (200-1)
This name really popped out when we saw the field for the first time. Kitayama is a Californian who has made his way from playing in Asia to the European Tour, and he has done well of late. He tied for 21st at the KLM Open before tying for 14th at Wentworth two weeks ago to climb to 121st in the OWGR – still not quite at his best of 104th. So what is he doing at Summerlin? The 26-year-old used to attend UNLV.