Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's Shriners Hospitals Open Tips 2018

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Congratulations to Xander Schauffele and Cameron Champ backers last week – both were 66/1 shots who impressed in plenty of ways. Xander truly is a player who peaks for the very biggest tournaments and the way he played the closing 9 holes at Sheshan was notable. Cameron, on the other hand, announced himself to the golfing masses with a display of power and putting that you tend to only see from Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka. Averaging 334 yards off the tee, he was also 2nd for Strokes gained Putting. Indeed Ernie Els, who plays this week in Las Vegas, noted Champ as “The future of the game” – he certainly impressed in Mississippi and once again highlights the conveyor belt of talent that the Tour continues to produce.

This week we move to Las Vegas, Nevada for the 2018 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. The PGA Tour has visited Vegas since 1983 and the tournament has had some high-class winners over the years including Tiger Woods (his first Tour victory), Jim Furyk (twice), Ryan Moore and Webb Simpson. This year’s field is a serious step-up in quality over last year’s renewal with Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Bryson DeChambeau making their first 2018/19 season PGA Tour debuts. Tony Finau arrives direct from his play-off defeat in Shanghai, with Patrick Cantlay defending and the likes of Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland adding to the depth.

Course Guide: TPC Summerlin, based in the suburbs of Las Vegas, has been the sole host of this tournament for the past 9 years. The 7,255 yard, Par 71 has a 35-36 set-up and the course is designed to produce low scores. Played at altitude, all 3 of the par-5s are reachable for the whole field and the pure Bentgrass green complexes are large, flat and usually receptive. Indeed 2016 saw an opening round -11/60 from eventual champion Rod Pampling, plus -10/61 from both Francesco Molinari and Chez Reavie, highlighting that this course can be smashed by those with a sensible approach and a hot putter. 12 months ago, Patrick Cantlay won in unseasonal high winds and cold conditions, but with a superb forecast expect a return this tournament’s resort scoring roots this week.

TPC Summerlin, Las Vegas, Nevada: Designer: Weed & Zoeller, 1992, redesign, 2007; Course Type: Resort, Desert; Par: 71; Length: 7,255 yards; Water Hazards: 4; Fairways: Bermudagrass; Rough: Bermudagrass 2.75″; Greens: 7,570 sq.ft average featuring Bentgrass; Stimpmeter: 11.5ft; 2012: 69.71 (-1.29), Difficulty Rank 40 of 49 courses; 2013: 69.55 (-1.45), Difficulty Rank 43 of 43 courses; 2014: 69.66 (-1.34), Difficulty Rank 42 of 52 courses. 2015: 70.08 (-0.92), Difficulty Rank 34 of 50 courses. 2016: 69.62 (-1.38) Difficulty Rank 40 of 50 courses. 2017: 71.54 (+0.54), Difficulty Rank 10 of 51 courses.

TPC Summerlin Fairway Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for TPC Summerlin and how they compare to recent courses that we’ve seen on Tour:

  • TPC Summerlin: 250 yards from the tee: 32 yards wide; 275:31; 300:25; 325:25; 350:24.
  • CC of Jackson: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:28; 300:29; 325:28; 350:25.
  • Silverado: 250 yards from the tee: 27 yards wide; 275:26; 300:23; 325:24; 350:24.
  • East Lake: 250 yards from the tee: 27 yards wide; 275:25; 300:24; 325:23; 350:22.
  • Aronimink: 250 yards from the tee: 37 yards wide; 275:40; 300:38; 325:36: 350:35.
  • TPC Boston: 250 yards from the tee: 38 yards wide; 275:36; 300:35; 325:28; 350:33.
  • Ridgewood: 250 yards from the tee: 31 yards wide; 275:31; 300:30; 325:27; 350:27.
  • Sedgefield: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:26; 300:25; 325:22; 350:22.

Course Overview: Part of the Tournament Players Club (TPC) Network of golf courses operated by the PGA Tour, Summerlin is a Private Club that’s played regularly by Vegas-based professionals. Alex Cejka, Ryan Moore, Kevin Na, Scott Piercy and Wyndham Clark all have residences in the area. Butch Harmon and Claude Harmon III are also based locally, hence the entries for Rickie Fowler, Nick Watney and Gary Woodland. The course itself features Bermudagrass fairways and rough with pure Bentgrass green complexes. That characteristic is shared with few courses on Tour apart from TPC Four Seasons and Colonial in Texas. The 2013 renewal saw the introduction of new bunkering on 7, 12, 13 (Par 5) and 18, but despite that Webb Simpson equalled the tournament total score record at -24/260. The course plays as a 7,255 yard, Par 71 which at above 2,000 feet above sea level can be attacked, however the greens have certain nuances where experience pays dividends. 2018 sees 102 new bunkers in-play – it’s the same number as before, but many have been relocated with fairway bunkers moved into modern day landing areas. Again this work has been put in place to try and force players to be strategic and discourage “bomb and gouge.”

Half of the challenge with TPC Summerlin is finding the fairway. In a PGA Tour arena where Driving Accuracy means very little most weeks, it’s interesting to note that hitting fairways on this course looks of paramount importance when analysing previous winners’ statistics – for instance, Summerlin had the 7th most difficult fairways to hit in season 2016/17. Undoubtedly missing fairways adds up here as working approach shots so as to get close to pins around Summerlin is not as easy as you would think, plus on a course where birdies are essential, the penalty for missing fairways are par-saving putts rather than birdie opportunities. Scrambling difficulty here tends to be in the upper-most quartile, as does Sand Save percentage.

TPC Summerlin in effect is a true test of tee-to-green consistency married to an unequivocal requirement for a white-hot putter. With perfect conditions forecast for 2018, we should return to the -20/264 or lower winning totals we’ve seen in the past.

Winners: 2017: Patrick Cantlay (-9); 2016: Rod Pampling (-20); 2015: Smylie Kaufman (-16); 2014: Ben Martin (-20); 2013: Webb Simpson (-24); 2012: Ryan Moore (-24); 2011: Kevin Na (-23); 2010: Jonathan Byrd (-24).

Published Predictor Model: Our published predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 10 of my published predictor are Jordan Spieth, Anders Albertson, Andrew Putnam, Scott Piercy, Ryan Moore, Rickie Fowler, Tony Finau, Sung-jae Im, Webb Simpson and Cameron Champ.

Recent Player Skill Rankings: These rankings are based on a 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Dell Technologies, Made In Denmark and Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational includes PGA Tour, European Tour and Playoff events. Players must have played in a minimum of 2 Tour events to be included and rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Driving Accuracy: 1) Satoshi Kodaira; 2) Bryson DeChambeau / Rickie Fowler / Kramer Hickok; 5) Brian Gay / Ryan Moore; 7) Scott Piercy / Brian Stuard; 9) Corey Conners; 10) Abraham Ancer; 11) Roberto Diaz; 12) James Hahn; 13) Brendan Steele; 14) Bronson Burgoon; 15) Kelly Kraft; 16) Shawn Stefani; 17) Tony Finau; 18) Joel Dahmen / Brice Garnett / Matt Jones / Vaughn Taylor.
  • Greens in Regulation: 1) Aaron Wise; 2) Tony Finau; 3) Bryson DeChambeau; 4) Ernie Els; 5) Patrick Cantlay; 6) Lucas Glover / Russell Henley / Gary Woodland; 9) Cameron Champ; 10) Andrew Putnam; 11) Hunter Mahan; 12) Corey Conners / John Huh; 14) Rickie Fowler; 15) Cody Gribble; 16) Alex Prugh; 17) Webb Simpson; 18) Anders Albertson / Shawn Stefani. 20) Austin Cook / Brice Garnett.
  • Putting Average (Putts per GIR): 1) Bryson DeChambeau; 2) Rickie Fowler; 3) Tony Finau / Peter Malnati; 5) Sam Ryder; 6) Vaughn Taylor; 7) Beau Hossler; 8) Gary Woodland; 9) Mackenzie Hughes / Si Woo Kim; 11) Abraham Ancer / Kelly Kraft / Matt Kuchar; 14) Sung Kang; 15) Ryan Blaum / Webb Simpson; 17) Roberto Castro / Jordan Spieth; 19) Sung-jae Im / Kevin Na.

Winners & Prices: 2017: Cantlay 20/1; 2016: Pampling 300/1; 2015: Kaufman 250/1; 2014: Martin 225/1; 2013: Simpson 20/1; 2012: Moore 14/1; 2011: Na 60/1; 2010: Byrd 50/1. Past 4 Renewals Average: 198/1. Average: 117/1. For a full summary of winner’s odds on the PGA Tour since 2010 click here.

Historical Weather:

  • 2017: Thursday: Sunny, with a high of 78. Wind S 7-12 mph. Friday: Sunny and cooler, with a high of 71. Wind SSW 15 to 25 mph. Saturday: Mostly sunny, with a high of 71. Wind SSW 15-25, with gusts to 30 mph. Sunday: Sunny, with a high of 69. Wind SW 10-20, gusting to 25.
  • 2016: Thursday: Sunny, with a high of 76. Wind NE at 6-12 mph. Friday: Sunny, with a high of 78. Wind NNE at 5-10 mph. Saturday: Sunny, with a high of 78. Wind light and variable. Sunday: Sunny, with a high of 75. Wind ESE at 4-8 mph.
  • 2015: Thursday: Sunny. High of 78. Wind NE at 4-8 mph. Friday: Sunny. High of 78. Wind NE at 5-10 mph. Saturday: Sunny. High of 79. NE wind at 4-8 mph. Sunday: Mostly cloudy. High of 78. Wind E at 4-8 mph.

Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Las Vegas, Nevada is here. Birdies should be the currency this week with far more typical desert conditions than we saw here 12 months ago. No wind higher than 10mph across the tournament and temperatures between 22-27 degrees Celsius make for the kind of target golf we associate with these late Fall events. And yes, expect beautiful, sunny conditions.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of winners since 2010 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2017, Patrick Cantlay (-9). 324 yards (13th), 64.3% fairways (5th), 72.2% greens in regulation (17th), 43″7″ proximity to hole (56th), 55.0 % scrambling (39th), 1.71 putts per GIR (9th).
  • 2016, Rod Pampling (-20). 308 yards (38th), 60.7% fairways (15th), 77.8% greens in regulation (11th), 36″3″ proximity to hole (34th), 68.8 % scrambling (13th), 1.68 putts per GIR (17th).
  • 2015, Smylie Kaufman (-16). 328 yards (5th), 64.3% fairways (7th), 76.4% greens in regulation (13th), 36″11″ proximity to hole (51st), 52.9 % scrambling (49th), 1.60 putts per GIR (3rd).
  • 2014, Ben Martin (-20). 296 yards (64th), 64.3% fairways (18th), 81.9% greens in regulation (4th), 34″3″ proximity to hole (21st), 30.8 % scrambling (71st), 1.58 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2013, Webb Simpson (-24). 300 yards (55th), 64.3% fairways (13th), 86.1% greens in regulation (4th), 31″1″ proximity to hole (4th), 62.5% scrambling (10th), 1.65 putts per GIR (5th).
  • 2012, Ryan Moore (-24). 313 yards (22nd), 66.1% fairways (10th), 83.3% greens in regulation (3rd), 33″1″ proximity to hole (14th), 66.7% scrambling (5th), 1.57 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2011, Kevin Na (-23). 314 yards (17th), 66.1% fairways (12th), 75.0% greens in regulation (40th), 40″7″ proximity to hole (67th), 77.8% scrambling (5th), 1.61 putts per GIR (5th).
  • 2010, Jonathan Byrd(-24). 307 yards (12th), 78.6% fairways (3rd), 84.7% greens in regulation (12th), 31″11″ proximity to hole (18th), 63.6% scrambling (15th), 1.69 putts per GIR (10th).

Tournament Skill Averages:

  • Driving Distance: 28th, Driving Accuracy: 10th, Greens in Regulation: 13th, Proximity to Hole: 33rd, Scrambling: 26th, Putting Average 6th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:

  • 2017, Patrick Cantlay (-9). SG Off the Tee: 1st, SG Approach: 22nd, SG Around the Green: 39th, SG Tee to Green: 7th, SG Putting: 32nd.
  • 2016, Rod Pampling (-20). SG Off the Tee: 32nd, SG Approach: 2nd, SG Around the Green: 1st, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 39th.
  • 2015, Smylie Kaufman (-16). SG Off the Tee: 1st, SG Approach: 21st, SG Around the Green: 71st, SG Tee to Green: 11th, SG Putting: 8th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Skill Averages:

  • SG Off the Tee: 11th, SG Approach: 15th, SG Around the Green: 37th, SG Tee to Green: 6th, SG Putting: 26th.

So let’s take a view from players as to how TPC Summerlin sets up and what skill sets the course favours:

Patrick Cantlay (2017): “Well, it was really two different days out there. It was really like the first 14 holes, and then the last four holes. The first 14 holes was a shootout. For me, it felt like every time I wasn’t making a birdie I was losing ground. Then the last four, with the wind kicking up, I mean, that wind in and off the left on 18 makes that hole particularly difficult, and I was just trying to hit quality shots all the way to the end. The finish did not happen how I thought it would, but it was just enough.

Rod Pampling (2016): “No, this is a good golf course for the shorter hitters. Would it be nice to hit it long? Absolutely. But you don’t need to. You know, it’s just a good course for that. You don’t have to be the bomber to do it all. Playing with Brooks today, he hits it a long way, but he was hitting a lot of irons off the tee, so it’s still a positional golf course, and that’s what you need to do is position yourself properly and give yourself the chances.

Kevin Na (2015): “Yeah, I think this is the toughest condition I’ve ever seen out here. The greens are drying out. They’re getting firm. You see a little bit of purple in it. I thought it would be playing easy. I was surprised that it was playing difficult. This is the most difficult I’ve seen it. Wednesday playing the pro-am in the morning the greens were really soft, and overnight it just firmed up. I think a little bit of breeze helped. I think they cut the water off, and they’ve done a good job.

Webb Simpson (2013): “I love this golf course because it reminds me of the course I grew up playing. You have a lot of options off the tee and greens are undulating and fast. So I’m just comfortable here, comfortable playing this kind of golf. The main thing is I made a lot of putts and you’ve got to do that this week. There’s three par 5s, all reachable, and a reachable par 4. So you have to take advantage of the short holes and make putts.

Ryan Moore (2012): “On a golf course like this and playing in these conditions it is right now: no wind and perfect temperature, greens are reasonably soft and rolling nice on top of that. So it’s one of those days that you just keep putting it in play. You know you’re going to have a bunch of pitching wedges, 9-irons, 8-irons into these greens, and a few shorter irons, too. I know I’m going to hit the wedge and 9-iron. I’m going to have enough pretty darn good birdie chances if I’m just in the fairway. I’m not spectacular out of the rough. It’s one of those courses. It’s certainly not impossible if you haven’t played it, but there are little quirks and subtleties to the greens. The more and more you play you get the sense of it.

Kevin Na (2011): “First of all, you know the golf course very well because guys come out here and practice and you know the greens. I think the big key is distance control here because the ball goes further out here. Some of the guys have trouble adjusting to that. But if you live out here you know how far your ball is flying, so it’s easier to club yourself with the irons. That’s a big edge on everybody else in the field. If I was honest put my money on the guys, if you gave me a handful of guys to pick, I would pick all the local guys.

Jonathan Byrd (2010): “I think guys play well when they hit the ball in the fairway. And I think this year the tournament being a little sooner, I think we’ll have more rough, and I think that’s going to make the course play more difficult. So I don’t think this golf course is easy. I think there’s a lot of opportunities, but I don’t think it’s easy. If you’re not sharp by hitting the ball in the fairway, I think this course can be very difficult. And you’ll see guys making a lot of birdies, and it’s hard to make birdies if you’re not in the fairway. So you have to place them, be strategic and you have to drive the ball well.

Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the last 8 Shriners Open winners:

  • 2017 – Patrick Cantlay: Round 1: 6th, Round 2: 8th, Round 3: 4th.
  • 2016 – Rod Pampling: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2015 – Smylie Kaufman: Round 1: 26th, Round 2: 48th, Round 3: 28th.
  • 2014 – Ben Martin: Round 1: 19th, Round 2: 5th, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2013 – Webb Simpson: Round 1: 6th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2012 – Ryan Moore: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 3rd, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2011 – Kevin Na: Round 1: 28th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2010 – Jonathan Byrd: Round 1: 11th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 2nd.

Incoming form of winners since 2010:

  • Patrick Cantlay: 15th HSBC/20th Tour / 9th BMW / 13th Dell Tech.
  • Rod Pampling: 42nd Sanderson/MC Safeway/12th Nationwide Children’s/24th Boise.
  • Smylie Kaufman: 10th Fry’s Open/MC TC/MC Nationwide Children’s/43rd Small Bus.
  • Ben Martin: MC Fry’s Open/MC Deutsche/46th Barclays/MC PGA.
  • Webb Simpson: 4th Tour/24th BMW/53rd Deutsche/15th Barclays.
  • Ryan Moore: 3rd Tour/10th BMW/10th Deutsche/24th Barclays.
  • Kevin Na: MC Deutsche/MC Barclays/10th PGA/25th Reno.
  • Jonathan Byrd: 30 Fry’s Open/66th McGladrey/5th Viking/56th Barclays.

First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave and winning score since 2010.

  • 2017 – Whee Kim – AM Wave -6/65 – 100/1
  • 2016 – Pampling – AM Wave -11/60 – 250/1
  • 2015 – Aldridge, Hearn, Hubbard, Thompson – 3 AM / 1 PM wave split -7 64.
  • 2014 – Cink, Laird – both AM Wave -7/64.
  • 2013 – J.J. Henry – AM Wave -11/60.
  • 2012 – Ryan Moore – AM Wave -10/61
  • 2011 – McGirt, Vegas – both PM Wave – 8/63.
  • 2010 – Garrigus, Mackenzie, Senden, Tringale – equal AM/PM wave split -7/64.

For the record, here’s the breakdown of pure Bentgrass green PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

  • 5 – Jordan Spieth.
  • 4 – Webb Simpson.
  • 3 – Matt Kuchar, Ryan Moore, Kenny Perry.
  • 2 – Bryson DeChambeau, Jason Dufner, Rickie Fowler, Lucas Glover, Chris Kirk, Hunter Mahan, Troy Merritt, Kevin Na, Jhonattan Vegas, Nick Watney.
  • 1 – Sang-moon Bae, Jonas Blixt, Patrick Cantlay, Ernie Els, Michael Kim, Martin Laird, Danny Lee, Rod Pampling, Rory Sabbatini, Vijay Singh, Scott Stallings, Kevin Streelman.

Course experience here is an important factor, but course debutants shouldn’t be overlooked either. George McNeill (2007), Marc Turnesa (2008), Smylie Kaufman (2015) and defending champion Patrick Cantlay all won this tournament on debut across the past 11 renewals. Indeed, since 2011, Tommy Gainey (3rd), Jonas Blixt (3rd), Ryo Ishikawa (2nd), Luke Guthrie (5th), Chesson Hadley (5th), Patton Kizzire (2nd), Brett Stegmaier (2nd), Francesco Molinari (4th) and Beau Hossler (7th) have all finished in the each-way places on course debut. Guthrie, Hadley, Kaufman, Hossler, Kizzire and Stegmaier were all new Tour graduates.

Other trends are difficult to highlight. Winners across 2011 to 2014 from an Official Golf World Ranking perspective ranked 88th (Martin), 20th (Simpson), 44th (Moore) and 76th (Na) in the OWGR. Remember a place in the top 50 by close of the year is a really huge deal, especially for those players who didn’t qualify for the Tour Championship. 2015/16 saw Smylie Kaufman at 226th and Rod Pampling at 451st in the OWGR came from left-field, but 2017 again saw a motivated and classy sort in Patrick Cantlay win his first PGA Tour event here. He was 69th in the OWGR, up an amazing 1355 spots across the calendar year.

My selections are as follows:

Beau Hossler 1.5pt EW 40/1

Beau Hossler has a lot to like about him this week. His maiden season on the PGA Tour produced 10th at the Sanderson Farms, 7th here at the Shriners, 20th at the CareerBuilder, 17th at the Phoenix Open, 2nd at the Houston Open, 16th at the RBC Heritage, 2nd at the Travelers Championship and 6th at the Quicken Loans National. In many a year Hossler would have been Rookie of the Season on the PGA Tour, but the class of 2017/18 contained Aaron Wise and Austin Cook – both of whom made it to the Tour Championship. Beau though is an undoubted star of the future, who currently finds himself 80th in the OWGR – up from 303rd at the start of the year. Naturally his first win on the PGA Tour would open plenty of doors and it’s clearly something that will be motivating him this week as he returns to Las Vegas. 7th here 12 months ago, Beau shot a -5/66 on Saturday to co-lead with JJ Spaun. An eventual 7th here, 20th at PGA West and 17th at TPC Scottsdale highlight a player who very much took a shine to desert golf on his first visits to those courses and that makes sense as Hossler hails from Southern California. Runner-up to Ian Poulter in Houston when he lost in a play-off, he shot -19/269 to go to extra time and 2nd behind Bubba Watson at TPC River Highlands, again highlights a player who’s feeling more and more comfortable when in contention. -7/65 and -6/66 at TPC Kuala Lumpur plus a closing -6/66 at Jeju Island should encourage the 23 year-old across his last 2 appearances. Shoot-outs in my mind suit Beau down to the ground and he’s notably playing very nicely from tee to green at the moment, which is encouraging for such a talented putter. Result: T23

Scott Piercy 1pt EW 66/1

Scott Piercy is a ‘desert rat’ I love the look of this week. His results across the desert events held in Arizona, California and Nevada make for insightful reading: PGA West: 2018: 6th. TPC Scottsdale: 2006: 15th, 2009: 6th, 2010: 8th, 2013: 3rd, 2014: 15th. Montreux: 2011: 1st. TPC Summerlin: 2009: 14th, 2011: 10th, 2012: 6th, 2014: 7th. Form of late has also been upwardly progressive: 45th at the BMW Championship in September featured mid-rounds of -6/64 and -5/65. A trip to Kuala Lumpur again saw Scott feature with opening rounds of -7/65 and -5/67 seeing the Las Vegas resident placed 5th at the halfway stage. However it was the CJ Cup in Jeju Island, where Piercy really opened plenty of punters’ eyes to his good form. An opening 70, when Nine Bridges played to its extremes, was followed by a superb Friday -7/65 which saw Piercy at the head of affairs going into Saturday. He eventually finished 5th and that’s sure to boost the confidence of the 3-time PGA Tour winner, who was ranked as high as 36th in the OWGR arriving at this tournament 24 months ago. I always think that Scott is one to follow when he hits form, especially with the putter, and his 1.70 Putts per GIR performance in South Korea ranked 4th in the field. That was his best putting performance for 5 years on the PGA Tour. Result: T10

J.J. Spaun 1pt EW 125/1

J.J. Spaun is another I’ve mentally noted as a West Coast specialist who goes really well in the desert. 2nd in Wichita and 2nd in Utah in his only Tour campaign (2016), both came at altitude and his win at the News Sentinel Open came at -26/258 on a short, Bentgrass greened, par-71. Perfect! Once on the PGA Tour, Spaun instantly impressed as a rookie in 2017 – 9th at Torrey Pines, 4th at TPC Scottsdale and 6th at Harbour Town helped to easily keep his playing privileges and naturally the Phoenix Open result stands out for the test this week. Season 2017/2018 has seen J.J. kick on again: 2nd at Sea Island, 3rd at Trinity Forest and 3rd at Montreux highlight a player who’s not afraid to mix it at the top of leaderboards. For the task at hand this week, his scores of -17/265, -19/265, and -15/273 (Modified Stableford was in operation) also highlight the fact that J.J. comes to the fore at true birdie-fests where high Driving Accuracy and Greens in Regulation are a requirement. 31st for Driving Accuracy, 34th for Greens in Regulation and 29th for Proximity to the Hole across last season tell you exactly what you get with Spaun, whose short game tends to be the weakness. But last time out at Jeju Island (altitude – West Coast feel), he delivered his first top-10 of the season sitting top-third for Driving Accuracy and Greens in Regulation, but ranking 16th for Scrambling and 11th for Putts per GIR. That’s a green light to back him this week at TPC Summerlin. Opening rounds of 66-65 placed J.J. in the lead by 3 shots after 36 holes, a lead he kept into Sunday. He eventually finished 10th. If he keeps the hot putter over the closing 3 days of the CJ Cup going in Las Vegas this week, he’s more than likely to go close here. Result: T15

Stephan Jaeger 1pt EW 150/1

It’s taking time for the mercurial talent of Stephan Jaeger to become comfortable on the PGA Tour, but his stock is rising. 7 straight missed cuts between April and the start of July does not aid card retention, but as the Tour moved “up-state” the Tennessee-based German’s results started to improve. 13th at the Greenbrier Classic was followed by 4 pay cheques from 5 tournaments before the close of the season. A drop down to the Playoffs, offered a chance of a fresh card for season 2018/19 and Stephan grabbed it with both hands. 4th at the DAP Championship featured opening rounds of -4/44 and -5/65 to place him 2nd after 36 holes. Card retained, Jaeger then went on to feature in the closing Tour Championship where a Friday -7/65 and a closing -8/64 saw Stephan finish 8th on Bermudagrass greens he readily admits are not his favourite. This is the deal with Jaeger – he thrives at free-scoring tournaments featuring Bentgrass, where the 29 year-old from Munich is a real talent. A 4-time Tour winner, wins at the Ellie Mae Classic (2016), BMW Charity Pro-Am and Rust-Oleum Championship (both 2017) came at a combined -64 under par and Jaeger is also a winner in 2018, having dropped down to the level at the Knoxville Open (again Bentgrass greens) and winning that at -16/268. So 14th last week at the Sanderson Farms Championship interested me as Stephan was 12th for Greens in Regulation and 9th for Putts per GIR in old money or 17th for SG Approach and 11th for SG Putting in new money. He closed with 2-straight rounds of -5/67 and that must put him in confident mood heading to Las Vegas – a track where he finished 20th last term. That performance saw the German 6th after 36 holes and overall ranked 2nd for Driving Accuracy, 7th for Total Driving and 2nd for All-Round. Result: MC

Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 07:30GMT 30.10.18 but naturally subject to fluctuation.