Steve Bamford Golf Tips

Steve Bamford's Shriners Hospitals Open Tips 2019

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Congratulations to those of you who landed Cameron Champ at anything up to 150/1 (with Unibet) last week at the Safeway Open. Dylan Frittelli played well for us at Silverado, but fell shy by a single shot of a 66/1 each-way return. In effect a woeful putting display which included a 3-putt from 4 feet on the par-5 5th on Saturday when placed in 3rd spot did for him and did for my chances. The pressure of contention. I’m also going to highlight my European Tour colleague Paul Williams who landed a full 125/1 each-way place return on Joaquin Lagergren and a part 100/1 each-way return on Tom Lewis. In the lottery which is the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, that is a superb effort – his Open de Espana Betting Preview is available here.

This week we move to Las Vegas, Nevada for the 2019 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, Webb Simpson, Patrick Cantlay and Bryson DeChambeau. This year’s field offers a depth of quality at what is probably the most respected United States-based tournament played in the Fall. Bryson DeChambeau defends with Brooks Koepka, 2017 champion Patrick Cantlay, Gary Woodland, Adam Scott, Hideki Matsuyama, Tony Finau, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker plus young guns Joaquin Niemann, Collin Morikawa and Matthew Wolff all in Nevada.

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Course Guide: TPC Summerlin, based in the suburbs of Las Vegas, has been the sole host of this tournament for the past 10 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. 2018 saw Lucas Glover shoot another -10/61 on Saturday, highlighting that ball-strikers can really torch this course.

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. 2018: 69.37 (-1.63), Difficulty 38 of 49 courses.

Silverado 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: 35 yards wide; 275:37; 300:33; 325:30; 350:31.
  • Silverado: 250 yards from the tee: 27 yards wide; 275:26; 300:24; 325:25; 350:24.
  • CC of Jackson: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:28; 300:29; 325:28; 350:25.
  • Old White TPC: 250 yards from the tee: 36 yards wide; 275:34; 300:34; 325:35; 350:32.
  • East Lake: 250 yards from the tee: 27 yards wide; 275:26; 300:25; 325:24; 350:22.
  • Medinah No 3: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:30; 300:28; 325:29; 350:27.
  • Liberty National: 250 yards from tee: 36 yards wide; 275:33; 300:30 325:31; 350:26.
  • Sedgefield: 250 yards from tee: 29 yards wide; 275:28; 300:26 325:23; 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, Wyndham Clark, Ryan Moore, Kevin Na, Scott Piercy, Nick Watney and Aaron Wise all have residences in the area. Butch Harmon and Claude Harmon III are also based locally, hence the entry for Brooks Koepka, Adam Scott 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 Colonial and previously TPC Four Seasons which used to host the Byron Nelson pre-Trinity Forest. 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. 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 top 10 most difficult, 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 2019, we should return to the -20/264 or lower winning totals we’ve seen in the past.

Winners: 2019: Bryson DeChambeau (-21); 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).

Tournament Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event that are well worth a look. Naturally they’ll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Combined Stats.

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 Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Collin Morikawa, Zac Blair, Cameron Percy, Scott Piercy, Adam Hadwin and Webb Simpson.

Recent Player Skill Rankings: These rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Northern Trust and includes PGA Tour, European Tour and web.com 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) Jim Furyk; 2) Chez Reavie; 3) Ryan Moore; 4) Kyle Stanley; 5) Keegan Bradley; 6) Emiliano Grillo; 7) Lucas Glover / Brian Harman; 9) Tyler Duncan / Doc Redman; 11) Brendan Todd; 12) Henrik Norlander; 13) David Hearn / Andrew Landry; 15) Jhonattan Vegas / Brian Stuard; 17) Robby Shelton; 18) Harry Higgs / J.T. Poston; 20) Jason Kokrak.
  • Greens in Regulation: 1) Emiliano Grillo / Scottie Scheffler; 3) Hideki Matsuyama; 4) Aaron Wise; 5) Jason Kokrak; 6) David Hearn / Doc Redman; 8) Jim Furyk; 9) Gary Woodland; 10) Jhonattan Vegas; 11) Tony Finau; 12) Adam Hadwin / Zach Johnson; 14) Bo Hoag; 15) Brooks Koepka; 16) Chez Reavie / Rory Sabbatini; 18) Henrik Norlander; 19) Russell Knox; 20) Bryson DeChambeau.
  • Top 20 Scrambling: 1) Webb Simpson; 2) Jason Kokrak; 3) Adam Schenk; 4) Brandt Snedeker; 5) Brian Harman; 6) Bryson DeChambeau; 7) Fabian Gomez; 8) Dylan Frittelli; 9) Kevin Na; 10) Cameron Champ / Collin Morikawa / Harold Varner III; 13) Hideki Matsuyama; 14) Bronson Burgoon; 15) Abraham Ancer / Andrew Putnam; 17) Charles Howell III / Sebastian Munoz / Gary Woodland; 20) Peter Uihlein.
  • Putting Average (Putts per GIR): 1) Adam Scott; 2) Nick Taylor; 3) Andrew Putnam; 4) Bud Cauley; 5) Nate Lashley; 6) Patrick Cantlay / J.T. Poston; 8) Scott Stallings; 9) Daniel Berger / Brooks Koepka; 11) Grayson Murray / Nick Watney; 13) Chez Reavie; 14) Tony Finau / Webb Simpson / Kevin Tway; 17) Lanto Griffin / Patrick Rodgers; 19) Brandt Snedeker; 20) Adam Hadwin / Mark Hubbard.

Recent Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 20 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Northern Trust, which includes PGA Tour events only. 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:

  • Top 20 SG Off The Tee: 1) Cameron Champ; 2) Jhonattan Vegas; 3) Tony Finau; 4) Robby Shelton; 5) Brian Harman; 6) Jason Kokrak / Scottie Scheffler; 8) Brooks Koepka; 9) Joaquin Niemann; 10) Harold Varner III; 11) Patrick Cantlay; 12) Collin Morikawa; 13) Chez Reavie; 14) Charles Howell III; 15) Patrick Rodgers; 16) Emiliano Grillo; 17) Harry Higgs / Sung Kang; 19) Bryson DeChambeau / Aaron Wise / Gary Woodland.
  • Top 20 SG Approach: 1) Adam Scott; 2) Emiliano Grillo; 3) Gary Woodland; 4) Jim Furyk / Andrew Putnam; 6) Chez Reavie / Scottie Scheffler; 8) Tony Finau / Dylan Frittelli / Webb Simpson; 11) Zach Johnson; 12) Patrick Cantlay / Matt Jones / Joaquin Niemann / Aaron Wise; 16) Keith Mitchell; 17) Bronson Burgoon / Russell Knox; 19) Jason Kokrak; 20) Rory Sabbatini.
  • Top 20 SG Around The Green: 1) Adam Scott; 2) Tony Finau; 3) Hideki Matsuyama; 4) Brandt Snedeker; 5) Abraham Ancer / Peter Uihlein; 7) Webb Simpson / Harold Varner III; 9) Fabian Gomez; 10) Byeong Hun An; 11) Phil Mickelson; 12) Brooks Koepka; 13) Roger Sloan; 14) Matthew NeSmith; 15) Keith Mitchell; 16) Bryson DeChambeau / C.T. Pan / Kevin Tway; 19) Joel Dahmen; 20) Kevin Na.
  • Top 20 SG Tee to Green: 1) Tony Finau; 2) Adam Scott; 3) Scottie Scheffler; 4) Brian Harman; 5) Patrick Cantlay; 6) Emiliano Grillo; 7) Jason Kokrak; 8) Cameron Champ / Harold Varner III; 10) Brooks Koepka / Aaron Wise; 12) Dylan Frittelli; 13) Keith Mitchell / Webb Simpson; 15) Abraham Ancer; 16) Sebastian Munoz / Joaquin Niemann; 18) Joel Dahmen / Rory Sabbatini; 20) Hideki Matsuyama / Ryan Moore. Top 20 SG Putting: 1) Lanto Griffin; 2) Brandt Snedeker; 3) Adam Hadwin; 4) Sam Burns; 5) Webb Simpson; 6) Andrew Putnam; 7) Kevin Na; 8) Adam Scott; 9) Max Homa; 10) Charles Howell III / Cameron Percy / Nick Taylor; 13) Patrick Rodgers / Robby Shelton; 15) Brooks Koepka / Peter Uihlein; 17) Mark Hubbard / Adam Schenk / Kevin Tway / Nick Watney.
  • Top 20 SG Total: 1) Adam Scott; 2) Scottie Scheffler; 3) Tony Finau / Lanto Griffin; 5) Brooks Koepka / Brandt Snedeker; 7) Patrick Cantlay / Sebastian Munoz / Webb Simpson; 10) Brian Harman; 11) Jason Kokrak; 12) Abraham Ancer / Dylan Frittelli / Harold Varner III; 15) Andrew Putnam; 16) Cameron Champ / Adam Hadwin / J.T. Poston / Kevin Tway; 20) Hideki Matsuyama / Rory Sabbatini / Peter Uihlein.

Winners & Prices: 2018: DeChambeau 14/1; 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 5 Renewals Average: 162/1. Average: 106/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2018: Thursday: Sunny. High of 77. Wind NNE 10-15 mph. Friday: High of 80. Wind ESE 6-12 mph. Saturday: Sunny. High of 77. Wind N 10-15 mph, with gusts to 20 mph. Sunday: Sunny. High of 78. Wind E 5-10 mph.
  • 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 typical desert conditions. No wind higher than 10mph across the tournament and temperatures between 28-30 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 TPC Summerlin winners since 2010 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2018, Bryson DeChambeau (-21). 313 yards (30th), 78.6% fairways (4th), 83.3% greens in regulation (4th), 32″2″ proximity to hole (9th), 75.0 % scrambling (3rd), 1.67 putts per GIR (13th).
  • 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: 30th, Scrambling: 23rd, Putting Average 7th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:

  • 2018, Bryson DeChambeau (-21). SG Off the Tee: 6th, SG Approach: 3rd, SG Around the Green: 7th, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 45th.
  • 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: 10th, SG Approach: 12th, SG Around the Green: 15th, SG Tee to Green: 5th, SG Putting: 31st.

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

Bryson DeChambeau (2018): Yeah, I like the golf course. Suits my eye really well. When I do mishit it I can mishit it in the right spots and I’m able to get up and down. When I can attack flags and make some putts it’s good combo out here for me. I feel good out here. You know, honestly, they told me I hit 14 fairways after today and I was surprised. Really? I had 14? It was kind of like a smooth, easy day and executed it really well off the tee and was able to keep it in the fairway on every hole; that allowed me the opportunity to hit it pretty close on almost every hole. Unfortunately a couple mishaps on my wedges. Other than that, it was a pretty solid day. When I hit it close I was able to make it.

I love the golf course.. It’s dry air. It’s kind of what I grew up. Fresno, California is not really humid. Kind of the same vibe and feel and conditions. There is a little elevation; that’s just a change. But I love this time of environment. Heat is always good for me.”

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 9 Shriners Open winners::

  • 2018 – Bryson DeChambeau: Round 1: 5th, Round 2: 4th, Round 3: 1st.
  • 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.

Shots From the Lead: Below are the last 9 winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:

  • 2018 – Bryson DeChambeau: Round 1: 1 3 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: level.
  • 2017 – Patrick Cantlay: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 7 back, Round 3: 4 back.
  • 2016 – Rod Pampling: Round 1: 2 ahead, Round 2: 1 ahead, Round 3: 1 back.
  • 2015 – Smylie Kaufman: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 7 back, Round 3: 7 back.
  • 2014 – Ben Martin: Round 1: 4 behind, Round 2: 2 behind, Round 3: 2 ahead.
  • 2013 – Webb Simpson: Round 1: 4 behind, Round 2: 4 ahead, Round 3: 4 ahead.
  • 2012 – Ryan Moore: Round 1: 1 ahead, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: level.
  • 2011 – Kevin Na: Round 1: 4 behind, Round 2: level, Round 3: level.
  • 2010 – Jonathan Byrd: Round 1: 2 behind, Round 2: 1 ahead, Round 3: 1 behind.

Incoming form of winners since 2014:

  • Bryson DeChambeau: 19th Tour/19th BMW/1st Dell Tech/1st Northern Trust.
  • 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 web.com 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: 30th Fry’s Open/66th McGladrey/5th Viking/56th Barclays.

First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave (where applicable) and winning score since 2010. For full first round leader stats click here.

  • 2018 – Uihlein – AM Wave -8/63 – 90/1
  • 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 – Zach Johnson.
  • 4 – Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson.
  • 3 – Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Ryan Moore, Kevin Na, Adam Scott.
  • 2 – Lucas Glover, Brian Harman, Hideki Matsuyama, Troy Merritt, Jhonattan Vegas, Nick Watney.
  • 1 – Patrick Cantlay, Dylan Frittelli, Bill Haas, Jim Herman, Charley Hoffman, Smylie Kaufman, Michael Kim, Martin Laird, Danny Lee, Ben Martin, Joaquin Niemann, Rod Pampling, Ted Potter Jnr, Chez Reavie, Rory Sabbatini, Brandt Snedeker, Scott Stallings, Kyle Stanley, Kevin Streelman, Brendon Todd, Nick Watney, Matthew Wolff.

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 Patrick Cantlay all won this tournament on debut across the past 12 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. Last year saw Bryson DeChambeau capture his 4th win in 12 tournament appearances following on from The Memorial Tournament, The Northern Trust and the Dell Technologies Championship – as he won this at 14/1 on his first appearance of the new season. He had made 2 appearances at TPC Summerlin with a best finish of 7th.

My selections are as follows:

Collin Morikawa 2pts EW 30/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfred

Collin Morikawa added another PGA Tour top 10 to his burgeoning resume last week in California. The 22 year-old has already finished 14th at the Hamilton-hosted Canadian Open, 2nd at TPC Twin Cities, 4th at Deere Run, 1st at Montreux and now 10th at Silverado. That’s pretty remarkable across 10 PGA Tour starts in 2019, and I think TPC will be right up his street.

He’s already showed a penchant for straight driving and his approach play is elite level, indeed he ranked 4th for Stokes Gained on Approach for season 2018/19. Naturally his win at he Barracuda Championship highlights that he’s both comfortable at altitude and in the desert and boy can Morikawa score. Indeed across both the 3M Open, John Deere Classic and Barracuda Championship he made 26 Birdies, 2 Eagles plus 16 Birdies and 25 Birdies respectively. In truth, Silverado last week was probably just a little too firm and high scoring for Morikawa, who was also playing his first competitive golf for over a month. He still finished 10th and that’s the mark of his talent.

Californian raised and educated – remember both Cantlay and DeChambeau are Californian – Morikawa will want to use the start of the 2019/20 PGA Tour campaign to drive himself towards the OWGR top 50 and a seat at the biggest tournaments in 2020. Result: T42

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Adam Hadwin 1.5pts EW 45/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

Adam Hadwin will want to go back-to-back in terms of contending performances with the President’s Cup cut-off becoming ever closer. A member of the 2017 International team, Adam as we know has the ability to shoot extremely low scores. He’s a member of the 59 club on the PGA Tour alongside the likes of Jim Furyk, Brandt Snedeker and Justin Thomas – undoubtedly an exclusive club – and he’s also very, very at home with desert golf. A winner of the 2010 Desert Dunes Classic on the Canadian Tour, Adam has finished 6th (2016), 2nd (2017), 3rd (2018) and 2nd (2019) at PGA West with a combined score of -84/204.17th (2016) and 12th (2017) at TPC Scottsdale and 10th (2015) here on debut at TPC Summerlin. Top 10s at the Soboba Classic and Utah Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour round-off an amazing CV across low scoring events in the desert of the Western United States.

6th under intense pressure at the Hamilton hosted Canadian Open showed maturity back in June and since then 4th at TPC Twin Cities and last week’s 2nd at Silverado highlight a player who’s gravitating towards his 2nd PGA Tour title. 1st for SG Approach and 4th for SG Tee to Green in California last week, Hadwin also sits 3rd for SG Putting, 12th for Greens in Regulation and 20th for Putting Average across my 8-week trackers. He’s primed in my opinion for another superb week in Las Vegas. Result: T4

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Brian Harman 1pt EW 60/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

Courses where brute strength is negated a little are exactly where Brian Harman comes to the fore and I can see him going very well this week in Las Vegas. 15th here on his last visit in 2016 when he shot a Friday -8/63, the St Simons Island, Georgia resident has been playing some outstanding golf since late June. 8th at TPC River Highlands (Bent Poa greens), 7th at the TPC Twin Cities (Bentgrass greens), 6th at Sedgefield and 4th at altitude at Old White TPC (Bentgrass greens) in mid-September. Undoubtedly strongest on Bentgrass putting surfaces, both of his wins have come on that particular surface.

His maiden PGA Tour victory came in 2014 at the John Deere Classic, played on the 7,268 yard Par 71 at TPC Deere Run. He shot -22/262 to beat renowned resort scoring experts Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Ryan Moore and Steve Stricker to the title. His second win in 2017 also game on Bentgrass greens at Eagle Point GC, where he won the Wells Fargo Championship on a short Par 72. That performance is noteworthy on the basis he stared down Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm in a genuine Sunday back-nine contest. And that is very much the deal with Harman, who makes the very best of what he has at his disposal. Aggressive and nuggety, he’s currently gaining strokes both Off the Tee and from Tee to Green across my 8-week tracker. The flat stick also tends to be warm enough on these shorter tracks where he’s comfortable, with short irons in hand. Result: T18

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J.T. Poston 1pt EW 66/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

J.T. Poston, relatively fresh from his maiden PGA Tour victory at the Wyndham Championship in August, still has plenty to play for in the grand schemes of things. He acquitted himself well in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, finishing 59th at the Northern Trust and 16th at the BMW Championship, where a 66-68 weekend finish brought him up just 2 slots shy of a magical first outing at the Tour Championship.

Navigating his way through the journey to spots at the WGC Mexico Championship, U.S. Open and Open Championship has to be next on his agenda, with an invite to both the Masters and the PGA Championship tucked safely in his back pocket. Indeed a spot in the OWGR top 50 is a workable goal as he currently sits 67th – that’s a huge carrot and as we know Poston comes alive on resort golf courses.

4th here back in 2017 behind champion Patrick Cantlay, Poston has finished 10th at Coco Beach Golf Club (-15/273 2017), 5th at Keene Trace (-21/267 2018), 7th at the PGA West (-19/269 2019), and 1st at Sedgefield (-22/258 2019). 11th a fortnight ago at the Country Club of Jackson on his seasonal debut, J.T. was 7th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green, and he currently sits in the top 20 across both Driving Accuracy and Putting Average within my 8-week tracker. That’s a cracking combination for a title challenge at TPC Summerlin. Result: MC

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 09:10BST 1.10.19 but naturally subject to fluctuation.