Steve Bamford Golf Tips

Steve Bamford's Shriners Hospitals Open Tips 2020

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Another week, another 54-hole leader! With Cameron Davis onside at 66/1 last week at the Sanderson Farms Championship, it was the fourth consecutive week for this column where we had winning interests. But yet again as per Burns/Higgs/Reed/Long across the month of September, Cameron Davis failed to deliver on Sunday. Instead Sergio Garcia, as big as 70/1 pre-event, joined the ‘unlikely lads’ list of Stewart Cink and Hudson Swafford to win on the PGA Tour this season. If, like plenty you were on board Davis, McCarthy or Ventura last week then I feel your pain!

This week we move to Las Vegas, Nevada for the 2020 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, Kevin Na (twice), Webb Simpson, Patrick Cantlay and Bryson DeChambeau. This year’s field offers a depth of quality, especially with the top players having the opportunity to play in Las Vegas twice and Los Angeles over three consecutive weeks, with the CJ Cup and ZOZO Championship next on the schedule.

U.S. Open winner Bryson DeChambeau is here as is Collin Morikawa, Webb Simpson, Tony Finau, Louis Oosthuizen, Matthew Wolff and Hideki Matsuyama – all from the World’s top 20. Add Paul Casey, Sungjae Im, Abraham Ancer, Matt Kuchar, Scottie Scheffler, Kevin Na, Ryan Palmer, Harris English, Jason Day and Rickie Fowler from the world top 40 and we’re in for an excellent tournament here in Nevada.

Before we talk the Shriners Open, the number of new visitors to Golf Betting System is increasing by the week, with The Masters the small matter of 5 weeks away. Welcome to you all and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published Tuesday) the Golf Betting Show on YouTube and our hugely popular private group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

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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 setup 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. 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. Across the past 2 renewals, we’ve also seen both Lucas Glover and Kevin Na shoot -10/61, highlighting that ball-strikers and short game experts alike can both torch this course.

TPC Summerlin, Las Vegas, Nevada: Designer: Weed & Zoeller, 1991, redesign, 2007; Course Type: Resort, Desert; Par: 71; Length: 7,255 yards; Holes with Water Hazards In-Play: 4; Fairways: 419 Bermudagrass; Rough: 419 Bermudagrass 2″; Greens: 7,400 sq.ft average featuring A1/A4 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. 2019: 68.86 (-2.14), Difficulty Rank 39 of 41 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: 35 yards wide; 275:37; 300:33; 325:30; 350:31.
  • CC of Jackson: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:28; 300:29; 325:28; 350:25.
  • Winged Foot: 19-23 yards wide.
  • Silverado: 250 yards from the tee: 27 yards wide; 275:26; 300:24; 325:25; 350:24.
  • East Lake: 250 yards from the tee: 28 yards wide; 275:26; 300:25; 325:24; 350:23.
  • Olympia Fields: 250 yards from the tee: 28 yards wide; 275:26; 300:25; 325:26; 350:26.
  • TPC Boston: 250 yards from the tee: 37 yards wide; 275:35; 300:34; 325:27; 350:33.
  • Sedgefield: 250 yards from tee: 29 yards wide; 275:28; 300:26 325:23; 350:22.
  • TPC Harding Park: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:26; 300:28 325:27; 350:26.
  • TPC Southwind: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:29; 300:29; 325:31; 350:26.
  • TPC Twin Cities: 250 yards from the tee: 38 yards wide; 275:38; 300:31; 325:30; 350:36.
  • Muirfield Village: 250 yards from the tee: 34 yards wide; 275:33; 300:29; 325:24; 350:29.

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. Wyndham Clark, Maverick McNealy, Collin Morikawa, Kevin Na, Scott Piercy, Cameron Tringale, Nick Watney and Aaron Wise all have residences in the area. Claude and the now retied Butch Harmon, also have a Las Vegas training centre, hence the entry for Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker.

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-2018.

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 tends to pay dividends. 2018 saw 102 new bunkers in play – it’s the same number as before, but many were 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”. It hasn’t lowered winning totals though with DeChambeau shooting -21/263 and Na -23/261 over the past 2 years, in astrodome like conditions.

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 is 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. Miss greens and both Sand Save and Scrambling difficulty here tends to be in the top-10 most difficult on Tour each season.

That difficulty around the greens really poses a problem if the wind does blow here. Take 2017 when Patrick Cantlay won his first PGA Tour title at a very un-TPC Summerlin -9/275 winning score. With weekend 15-20 mph winds this week, hitting from different directions across Saturday and Sunday play, I’m expecting a tougher renewal this year around.

TPC Summerlin in effect is a positional golf course, where outright brute force is negated to a neutral type setting. As Kevin Na said last year, “Yes, this is a great golf course for me. I think you have to really drive the ball well and keep it in the fairway so you can control the spin. I know the roughs are not deep, but because of these greens and some of the hole locations, you have to hit the fairway to be able to spin the ball. You don’t have to bomb it out here. Anybody can win out here.”

shriners hospitals open tips

Winners: 2019: Kevin Na (-23); 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).

Cut Line: 2019: -5; 2018: -3; 2017: +1; 2016: -3; 2015: -2; 2014: -2; 2013: -3; 2012: -4; 2011: -4; 2010: -4.

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 Webb Simpson, Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau, Harris English, Hideki Matsuyama, Will Zalatoris, Brian Harman, Patrick Cantlay, Kevin Na and Sungjae Im.

Recent Player Skill Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Wyndham Championship and Celtic Classic, which includes PGA Tour and European Tour events. Rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Driving Accuracy: 1) Satoshi Kodaira; 2) Matt Kuchar; 3) James Hahn; 4) Ryan Armour / Tyler Duncan / Vaughn Taylor; 7) Russell Henley / Brian Stuard; 9) Sungjae Im; 10) Collin Morikawa; 11) Denny McCarthy; 12) Scottie Scheffler; 13) Kyle Stanley; 14) Webb Simpson; 15) Ted Potter Jnr; 16) Brian Harman; 17) Austin Cook; 18) Paul Casey / Harris English; 20) Graham DeLaet / Henrik Norlander; 22) Andrew Landry / Chez Reavie; 24) Rickie Fowler; 25) Abraham Ancer/ Doc Redman / Hudson Swafford.
  • Greens in Regulation: 1) James Hahn; 2) Tony Finau; 3) Russell Henley / Scottie Scheffler; 5) Martin Laird; 6) Keegan Bradley / Rickie Fowler / Zach Johnson; 9) Harris English; 10) Jason Kokrak; 11) Matthew Wolff; 12) Camilo Villegas; 13) Emiliano Grillo; 14) Talor Gooch; 15) Matt Kuchar / Webb Simpson; 17) Brendan Steele; 18) Joel Dahmen / Kevin Streelman; 20) Paul Casey / Bryson DeChambeau / Matthew NeSmith; 23) Jason Dufner / Sungjae Im / Kristoffer Ventura.
  • Scrambling: 1) Russell Henley; 2) Hideki Matsuyama; 3) Louis Oosthuizen; 4) Bryson DeChambeau; 5) Webb Simpson; 6) Cameron Smith; 7) Harris English / Camilo Villegas; 9) Matthew Wolff; 10) Sungjae Im / Kevin Na; 12) Patrick Cantlay / Paul Casey; 14) Jason Kokrak / Brendan Steele; 16) Will Zalatoris / Zach Johnson / Harold Varner III; 19) Brian Stuard; 20) Brian Harman / Joaquin Niemann / Charl Schwartzel; 23) Wyndham Clark / Justin Suh; 25) Jason Day / James Hahn.
  • Putting Average (Putts per GIR): 1) Ryan Palmer; 2) Peter Malnati / Scottie Scheffler; 4) Cameron Davis; 5) Cameron Smith; 6) Kristoffer Ventura; 7) Cameron Tringale; 8) Tom Hoge; 9) Stewart Cink / C.T. Pan; 11) Louis Oosthuizen / Doc Redman; 13) Harris English / Justin Suh; 15) Lanto Griffin / J.B. Holmes / James Hahn / Jason Kokrak / Hideki Matsuyama; 20) Brian Harman / Russell Henley / Si Woo Kim / Danny Lee; 24) J.T. Poston; 25) Collin Morikawa.

Recent Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Wyndham Championship and Celtic Classic, which includes PGA Tour and European Tour events. Players rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Matthew Wolff; 2) Scottie Scheffler; 3) Bryson DeChambeau / Sergio Garcia; 5) Jason Kokrak / Kristoffer Ventura; 7) Sam Burns / Will Zalatoris; 9) Tony Finau; 10) Paul Casey; 11) Sungjae Im; 12) Cameron Champ; 13) Luke List; 14) Emiliano Grillo; 15) Cameron Davis / Collin Morikawa; 17) Will Gordon / Beau Hossler / Andrew Landry / Hideki Matsuyama / Joaquin Niemann / Louis Oosthuizen; 23) Brendan Steele; 24) James Hahn; 25) Graham DeLaet.
  • Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Russell Henley; 2) Hideki Matsuyama; 3) Tony Finau / Emiliano Grillo; 5) Kevin Streelman; 6) Doc Redman; 7) Harris English / Martin Laird / Brendan Steele; 10) Jason Kokrak / Cameron Smith; 12) Zach Johnson / Scott Stallings; 14) Lanto Griffin / Danny Lee / Will Zalatoris; 17) Louis Oosthuizen; 18) Keegan Bradley; 19) Matt Kuchar / Chez Reavie; 21) Stewart Cink; 22) Tyler Duncan / James Hahn / Scottie Scheffler / Webb Simpson.
  • Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) Harris English; 2) Jason Day / Webb Simpson; 4) Matthew Wolff; 5) Camilo Villegas; 6) Scottie Scheffler; 7) Charles Howell III; 8) Ryan Palmer; 9) Bryson DeChambeau; 10) Keegan Bradley / Adam Hadwin / Hideki Matsuyama; 13) Byeong Hun An; 14) Tony Finau; 15) Si Woo Kim / Jamie Lovemark; 17) Patrick Cantlay / Fabian Gomez; 19) Rickie Fowler / Russell Henley / Robby Shelton; 22) Adam Schenk; 23) Sebastian Munoz / Louis Oosthuizen; 25) Lanto Griffin.
  • Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Jason Kokrak; 2) Russell Henley; 3) Harris English / Webb Simpson; 5) Tony Finau / Emiliano Grillo / Matthew Wolff; 8) Hideki Matsuyama / Scottie Scheffler; 10) Keegan Bradley / Kristoffer Ventura; 12) Louis Oosthuizen; 13) James Hahn / Zach Johnson; 15) Cameron Davis / Brendan Steele; 17) Kevin Streelman; 18) Bryson DeChambeau / Ryan Palmer / Doc Redman; 21) Cameron Champ; 22) Cameron Smith; 23) Patrick Cantlay / Si Woo Kim / Harold Varner III.
  • Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Peter Malnati; 2) James Hahn / Webb Simpson; 4) Louis Oosthuizen; 5) Kevin Chappell; 6) Brian Harman; 7) Russell Henley / Andrew Putnam; 9) Harris English; 10) Richy Werenski; 11) Rafa Cabrera Bello / Lanto Griffin / Zach Johnson / C.T. Pan; 15) Cameron Davis; 16) Charl Schwartzel; 17) Paul Casey; 18) Sungjae Im / Collin Morikawa / J.T. Poston / Cameron Smith / Kristoffer Ventura; 23) Jason Kokrak; 24) Bryson DeChambeau / Harry Higgs / Ryan Palmer / Scottie Scheffler.
  • Top 25 SG Total: 1) James Hahn / Webb Simpson; 3) Jason Kokrak; 4) Russell Henley / Louis Oosthuizen; 6) Harris English / Scottie Scheffler; 8) Hideki Matsuyama / Kristoffer Ventura; 10) Matthew Wolff; 11) Cameron Davis / Zach Johnson; 13) Tony Finau; 14) Brian Harman / Cameron Smith; 16) Paul Casey; 17) Peter Malnati; 18) Lanto Griffin / Harold Varner III; 20) Denny McCarthy / Ryan Palmer; 22) Sungjae Im; 23) Joaquin Niemann / Brendan Steele; 25) Keegan Bradley / Emiliano Grillo.

Winners & Prices: 2019: Na 70/1; 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 6 Renewals Average: 147/1. Average: 102/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2019: Thursday: Sunny. High of 85. Wind SSW 6-12 mph. Friday: Sunny. High of 85. Wind SSE 6-12 mph. Saturday: Sunny. High of 84. Wind ESE 4-8 mph. Sunday: Sunny. High of 85. Wind NE 6-12 mph.
  • 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: Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Las Vegas, Nevada is here. If forecasts are correct then it looks like we’re in for a game of two halves this week. Thursday and Friday will see typical desert conditions with extreme heat and light winds. Eagles and birdies galore. But a change occurs on the weekend with 15-20 mph winds on Saturday and a passing front Sunday seeing temperatures down to 22 degrees Celsius and winds up to gusting 25 mph. I’d be surprised to see a winning score too close to 2018 or 2019 levels.

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:

  • 2019, Kevin Na (-23). 316 yards (28th), 71.4% fairways (25th), 75.0% greens in regulation (46th), 38″5″ proximity to hole (59th), 72.2 % scrambling (11th), 1.50 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 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: 11th, Greens in Regulation: 15th, Proximity to Hole: 33rd, Scrambling: 22nd, Putting Average 6th.

Tournament Skill Averages:

  • Driving Distance: 27th, Driving Accuracy: 36th, Greens in Regulation: 10th, Proximity to Hole: 27th, Scrambling: 34th, Putting Average 4th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:

  • 2019, Kevin Na (-23). SG Off the Tee: 54th, SG Approach: 35th, SG Around the Green: 54th, SG Tee to Green: 55th, SG Putting: 1st.
  • 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: 19th, SG Approach: 17th, SG Around the Green: 35th, SG Tee to Green: 15th, SG Putting: 25th

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

Kevin Na (2019): “Yes, this is a great golf course for me. I think you have to really drive the ball well and keep it in the fairway so you can control the spin. I know the roughs are not deep, but because of these greens and some of the hole locations, you have to hit the fairway to be able to spin the ball. You don’t have to bomb it out here. Anybody can win out here. You definitely have to make some putts. You know, the scores are going to be low. The greens are getting firmer, and that’s the only protection they’ve got. The winds are supposed to be light again. I know the course can play difficult if it’s windy, but it’s not going to be windy, so I think I’ve just got to keep making birdies.

Yeah, I mean, I feel like I’m a pretty good putter. I’m a player that I feel like I get better as I get closer to the greens. That’s a strength of my game, a part of my game that gets stronger.”

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 10 Shriners Open winners:

  • 2019 – Kevin Na: Round 1: 43rd, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 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 10 winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:

  • 2019 – Kevin Na: Round 1: 5 back, Round 2: level, Round 3: 2 ahead.
  • 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 back, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: 2 ahead.
  • 2013 – Webb Simpson: Round 1: 4 back, 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 back, Round 2: level, Round 3: level.
  • 2010 – Jonathan Byrd: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 1 ahead, Round 3: 1 back.

Incoming form of winners since 2010:

  • Kevin Na: MC Safeway Open/14th Greenbrier/77th Northern Trust/ 43rd WGC St Jude.
  • 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.

  • 2019 – Nick Taylor – AM Wave -8/63 – 125/1
  • 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 – Jason Day, Kevin Na, Webb Simpson.
• 3 – Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Kuchar, Francesco Molinari.
• 2 – Keegan Bradley, Stewart Cink, Jason Dufner, Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Brian Harman, Hideki Matsuyama, Troy Merritt.
• 1 – Patrick Cantlay, Luke Donald, Dylan Frittelli, Charley Hoffman, Smylie Kaufman, Michael Kim, Russell Knox, Martin Laird, Danny Lee, Hunter Mahan, Joaquin Niemann, Sean O’Hair, Louis Oosthuizen, Ted Potter Jnr, Chez Reavie, Rory Sabbatini, Charl Schwartzel, Brandt Snedeker, Scott Stallings, Kyle Stanley, Kevin Streelman, Camilo Villegas, 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 (2018) all won this tournament on debut across the past 13 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.

2018 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 captured 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.

And in 2019 we went back to the OWGR angle with Kevin Na. Kevin was ranked 40th when winning this 12 months ago. He’d already won in 2019 at Colonial, securing passage to The Masters and the Tournament of Champions, but had missed out on the Tour Championship, so remaining in the World’s top 50 was important as it secured all Major and WGCs spots for 2020.

My selections are as follows:

Harris English 2pts EW 28/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

You have to say that Harris English has been magnificent since the Covid-19 resumption. When starting last season he ranked close to 400th in the OWGR, but a run that included 3 top-6 finishes prior to Christmas undoubtedly boosted his ability to play a schedule he could choose in 2020, and boy has he delivered.

16th (TPC Scottsdale), 17th (PGA National) and 9th (Bay Hill) pre-lockdown was a precursor, but his form over the past 5 months has been exceptional. 17th at Harbour Town, 13th at Muirfield Village and 18th at TPC Twin Cities preceded 19th at the PGA Championship, which was Harris’ best ever Major finish on home soil. But the FedEx Cup Playoffs was where he found real confidence, finishing 2nd at TPC Boston in a ‘mini-Major’ behind Dustin Johnson, which qualified him for only the second Tour Championship of his career.

Last time out, 4th at the U.S Open was a career best and it really resonates with me as he ranked 10th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green and 17th for Strokes Gained Putting. Take the 2019/20 season as a whole and you’ll see that English ranked 4th for Scoring Average, 12th for SG Tee to Green and 20th for SG Putting – that’s elite-level play right there.

But it’s Harris’ desert form which also gives him the nod for me at this week’s Shriners Open. 19th (2012) and 11th (2018) at PGA West, a last-16 spot at Dove Mountain in 2014, which saw him beat Rory McIlroy, plus 15th (2012), 9th (2014), 3rd (2016) and 16th (2020) at TPC Scottsdale highlights a player who’s confident in the desert. 16th (2015) and 4th (2016) here at TPC Summerlin, English must be very motivated to end a career-best ever run by ending his barren spell without a win, and he’s undoubtedly ready.

In this field across my 8-week trackers he ranks 18th for Driving Accuracy, 9th for Greens in Regulation, 7th for Scrambling, 13th for Putting Average (Putts per GIR) across the traditional statistics; from a Strokes Gained perspective he’s 7th for Approach, 1st for Around the Green, 3rd for Tee to Green, 9th for Putting and 6th for Strokes Gained Total. RESULT: MC

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Scottie Scheffler 2pts EW 28/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

At assignments where birdies are the currency, I always like the look of Scottie Scheffler and let’s not forget that the World Number 30 was 10/1 favourite last week in Mississippi. That was a price that was way too short and so it proved as a rusty Scheffler struggled in Round 1 with a 73 – that’s more  than understandable after a month with no competitive action since the Tour Championship, and having also contracted plus quarantined for Covid-19. But a 67 in Round 2 was the tied-3rd best round of the day and an eventual 37th place finish puts him a great space for this week in Las Vegas.

Scottie has always been a talented individual and his development has often seen strong results on the West coast. In 2013 he won the US Junior Amateur played at Martis Camp, Truckee, California. That’s a neighboring course to where they played the Barracuda Championship this year and is played in the high desert at altitude. 2015 also saw him finish 3rd at the Pacific Coast Amateur in Oregon and 1st at the Annual Western Collegiate in Santa Cruz, California, so he’s more than happy with the agronomy of these parts.

When he turned professional, it’s worth remembering that Scheffler led both the Regular Season and Finals points lists on the 2019 Korn Ferry Tour. Wins came in Illinois and Ohio, again showing a liking for Bentgrass putting surfaces, with top-11s also arriving in Texas, Kansas, Idaho and Indiana. Long off the tee but far from flagrant, Scheffler ranked 10th for Strokes Gained Off the Tee, 43rd for Greens in Regulation and 10th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green last season, but it’s his scoring power that really excites. 7th for Birdie Average, 2nd for Total Birdies, and 12th for Scoring Average are numbers that highlight a high class sort and in the top 60 for Proximity to Hole, he’s also more than equipped to create those conversion chances we need this week.

Form-wise, 7th at Old White TPC, 3rd at Port Royal and 5th at Seaside in 2019 highlighted him as a rookie to look out for in 2020 and he sure didn’t disappoint. 3rd at PGA West in California, 4th at the TPC Harding Park-hosted PGA Championship in California, 20th at Olympia Fields and 5th at East Lake (he was 2nd in 72 hole scores), Scottie will be motivated to use this period to capture his first PGA Tour title. With course experience – he was 21st after 36 holes here last year – Scheffler’s 8-week tracker numbers in this field include 18th for Driving Accuracy, 3rd for Greens in Regulation, 2nd for Putting Average (Putts per GIR), 8th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green 23rd for SG Putting and 6th for SG Total. RESULT: MC

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Sebastian Munoz 1pt EW 66/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

We’ve seen 50/1, 60/1 and last year 70/1 winners of this Shriners Open and generally this boils down to good or adequate putters who have a great week from tee to green.

One player who has really impressed me of late is Sebastian Munoz. He came alive in the FedEx Cup Playoffs and was mixing it with the very best in the world. 18th at TPC Boston (26th SG Tee to Green), 8th at Olympia Fields (5th Tee to Green), and 9th on his Tour Championship debut (11th Tee to Green) is elite-level stuff.

The 27 year-old Colombian is undoubtedly playing the best golf of his career and that continued at the U.S. Open where he made his first ever Major cut and last week at the Sanderson Farms where he defended his 2019 title very well, shooting an opening round -8/64. He was still in the mix on Sunday, eventually finishing a respectable 23rd. 18th for Driving Accuracy, 7th for Greens in Regulation and 13th for Putting Average (Putts per GIR), a similar performance this week would be just grand.

A winner of his home Colombian Open way back in 2016, 2nd (2017) and 3rd (2018) at the Mexico Championship shows a liking for altitude golf, as does 6th at the 2018 Utah Championship. We also saw Munoz finish 3rd at the 2017 Greenbrier Classic and 7th last year at the same tournament on the PGA Tour, which again is played in thin air at altitude, on Bentgrass greens. He also finished 11th at the 2019 Barracuda Championship and 21st at the 2020 The American Express, both played in the desert and now ranked 76th in the OWGR, Sebastian is undoubtedly a grade above where he was then.

2 outings here have generated rounds of 66 and 67 amongst a 44th and MC, and I’m hopeful that he can enjoy his 3rd outing in Las Vegas this week. RESULT: T27

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Joaquin Niemann 1pt EW 60/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

I also get very interested in Joaquin Niemann when the PGA Tour visits courses which feature Bentgrass greens. A winner at the 2019 Greenbrier tournament played in thin air on Bentgrass greens, there has always been lots to like about the talented Chilean’s game.

12th at the CJ Cup, 5th at the Tournament of Champions, 5th at the RBC Heritage and 3rd at the BMW Championship, Joaquin finds himself at 47th in the OWGR currently. A first Tour Championship outing and establishing himself in the World’s top 50, I expect were twin goals at the start of the year, so TPC Summerlin this week could be a launch pad to guarantee the latter.

His recent 3rd at Olympia Fields was impressive on the basis it was a ‘mini-Major’- he was the only player to get close to Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm on Sunday, and he must be buoyed as he was 23rd last time out at the U.S. Open, which was his best ever Major finish.

10th here in 2018, 8th at Colonial (2018), 6th at Muirfield Village (2018), 5th at TPC River Highlands (2019) and 5th at Detroit Golf Club (2019) all highlight an aptitude for Bentgrass-based putting surfaces. Indeed his positive results footprint, which includes Harbour Town and Old White TPC as well, correlates very nicely with the likes of Cantlay, DeChambeau, Na and Simpson, all of whom have won here in Las Vegas. RESULT: T13

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 18:20BST 5.10.20 but naturally subject to fluctuation.