Best bets for PGA event in Las Vegas

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Sam Burns lost nearly two strokes putting at the Sanderson Farms Championship last weekend but gained six shots more than the entire field tee-to-green to win the event in Mississippi at a price of 16-1 over runners-up Cameron Young and Nick Watney. 

Burns now has two wins in the calendar year of 2021 (Valspar Championship) and has climbed to a career high of 18th in the OWGR. Burns (25-1) is part of a contingent of 11 OWGR Top 25 players in this week's Shriners Hospitals for Children Open field in Las Vegas. The Shriners is the first of two consecutive events in Las Vegas as the CJ Cup will stay stateside for a second straight year, this time at the Summit Club.

Viktor Hovland (20-1) failed to win a match in his first Ryder Cup two weeks ago but probably deserved a much better result than his record indicated. The Norwegian makes his first appearance at TPC Summerlin. Brooks Koepka (22-1), who split his matches at Whistling Straits, has two appearances here with extreme finishes — a runner-up in 2016 and a missed cut in 2019. Abraham Ancer (25-1) has two fourth-place finishes here in 2018 and 2020. Scottie Scheffler (25-1) has never factored in two appearances but comes in off a potentially seminal moment in his young career after taking down World No. 1 Jon Rahm in Sunday singles at the Ryder Cup. 

A quartet of players follows on the odds board at 28-1 including 2013 Shriners champion Webb Simpson, Hideki Matusyama, Louis Oosthuizen, and Will Zalatoris, who tied for fifth last year on debut here. Las Vegas resident Kevin Na (30-1) is a two-time winner (2011, 2019). Sungjae Im (33-1) has two top-15 finishes here and Harris English (33-1) finished T-4 in 2016. Two other OWGR Top 25 players are in the field this week as well both priced at 40-1 — Patrick Reed and Paul Casey. Matthew Wolff (50-1) lost in a three-way playoff here last year to defending champion Martin Laird (150-1). Danny Willett (100-1) also arrives in Las Vegas off a win last week at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on the European Tour. 

THE EVENT

The Shriners Hospitals for Children Open was founded as the Las Vegas Pro Celebrity Classic in 1983. At the time, the event had the highest purse on PGA Tour of $750,000. The field will be playing for a slightly larger total purse of $7 million this week. The tournament was originally a 90-hole event before going to 72 holes in 2004. Many fans will know this event as the Las Vegas Invitational, which it was named from 1984  to 1999. It was also the site of Tiger Woods’ first PGA Tour win in 1996 when he defeated Davis Love III in a playoff. The tournament boasts an extensive list of past champions who have won majors, including Woods, Jim Furyk, Fuzzy Zoeller, Curtis Strange, Greg Norman, Paul Azinger, Davis Love III, Webb Simpson and Bryson DeChambeau. Before TPC Summerlin took over as sole host in 2008, a wide variety of Las Vegas courses were played in the event, including TPC Las Vegas, Bear's Best, Southern Highlands, Desert Inn (now Wynn), Las Vegas CC, Las Vegas National, Spanish Trail, Showboat (now Wildhorse) and Sunrise (now Stallion Mountain). Shriners Hospitals for Children took over the operations of the event in 2007. 

THE COURSE

TPC Summerlin plays host this week. The course is in the community of Summerlin, which is about a 15-minute drive west of the Las Vegas Strip. The track was designed by Bobby Weed and Fuzzy Zoeller in 1991. It plays as a par-71 of 7,255 yards. There are 102 bunkers and four water hazards (in play on four holes.). TPC Summerlin is an exposed desert track with very few trees. The Bermuda fairways are of average width but undulating. The Bermuda rough is only about two inches high, so it's not hard to gouge out of it, but it will take away the ability to spin approach shots closer to the pins. The course is a rare combination of Bermuda fairways and rough to go along with Bentgrass greens. The only other course on tour with that combination is Colonial Country Club, home of the Charles Schwab Challenge. The greens are large (7,400-square-foot average) and of modest speed (11.5 stimpmeter). The track does play at around 2,700 feet of elevation, so the ball flies about 3 percent farther than if at sea level. 

Last year, TPC Summerlin played as the fourth-easiest course on the PGA Tour with an average round score of 68.34. 

RECENT HISTORY/WINNERS

2020: Martin Laird (-23/261); 225-1*

2019: Kevin Na (-23/261); 70-1**

2018: Bryson DeChambeau (-21/263); 14-1 

2017: Patrick Cantlay (-9/275); 20-1***

2016: Rod Pampling (-20/264); 300-1 

2015: Smylie Kaufman (-16/268); 250-1 

2014: Ben Martin (-20/264); 225-1 

2013: Webb Simpson (-24/260); 20-1 

2012: Ryan Moore (-24/260); 14-1 

2011: Kevin Na (-23/261); 60-1 

2010: Jonathan Byrd (-23/261); 50-1****

* playoff win over Austin Cook and Matthew Wolff

** playoff win over Patrick Cantlay

*** playoff win over Alex Cejka and Whee Kim (high winds & no player with all four rounds in the 60s)

**** playoff win over Martin Laird & Cameron Percy (hole-in-one on third playoff hole)

TRENDS AND ANGLES

·       Seven of the last 10 winners of the Shriners Hospitals Open had finishes of T-16 or better at this event in a year before their win.

·       Seven of the last 11 winners had a T-11 or better in their previous five tournaments leading up to their win.

STATISTICAL ANGLES

11 of 18 holes on the layout are par-4s and seven are 400-450 yards in length. 

Strokes Gained Par-4s (Last 24 rounds)

1.   Kevin Na 28.3

2.   Webb Simpson 26.9

3.   Seamus Power 24.2

4.   Hank Lebioda 22.6

5.   Brian Stuard 20.9

6.   Brandt Snedeker 20.8

7.   Chez Reavie 20.3

8.   Louis Oosthuizen 18.3

9.   Pat Perez 16.6

10.            Brooks Koepka 16.6

Strokes Gained Par-4s 400-450 Yards (Last 24 rounds)

1.   Scott Stallings 18.1

2.   Si Woo Kim 15.2

3.   Brooks Koepka 15.1

4.   Kevin Na 14.4

5.   Paul Casey 14.1

6.   Roger Sloan 12.3

7.   Sung Kang 12

8.   Abraham Ancer 11.7

9.   Henrik Norlander 11.2

10.            Marc Leishman 11.1

11.            Hank Lebioda 11.1

Since this event moved to a 72-hole event, 13 of the 17 winners have won with a score of -20 or lower. You must make birdies and eagles in droves.

 

Birdie Or Better Gained (Last 24 rounds)

1.   Webb Simpson 20.8

2.   Sam Ryder 20.6

3.   Hank Lebioda 20.1

4.   Sam Burns 17.2

5.   Aaron Wise 16.7

6.   Brooks Koepka 16.4

7.   Louis Oosthuizen 14.4

8.   Adam Scott 12.8

9.   Hideki Matsuyama 12.6

10.            Ian Poulter 12.5

11.            Abraham Ancer 12.5

12.            Harris English 12.5

This is not a course that necessarily favors bombers (distance is never a deficit, though), but it is more important to drive the ball consistently. Good Drives Gained not only measures hitting fairways but also if players hit greens in regulation even on missed fairways. 

Good Drives Gained (Last 24 rounds)

1.   Abraham Ancer 27.9

2.   Mito Pereira 27.7

3.   Jim Herman 26.5

4.   Aaron Rai 25.7

5.   Chez Reavie 25

6.   Brian Stuard 21.1

7.   Corey Conners 20.3

8.   Viktor Hovland 19.7

9.   Brendon Todd 19.5

10.            Ian Poulter 17.4

Some players have won here by putting lights out (Kevin Na in 2019) or gaining substantially off the tee (Smylie Kaufman, 2015; Patrick Cantlay, 2017), others have been on point with approach (Martin Laird, 2020; Bryson DeChambeau, 2018; Rod Pampling, 2016).

Strokes Gained: Approach (Last 24 rounds)

1.   Paul Casey 27.9

2.   Russell Henley 21.9

3.   Viktor Hovland 19.8

4.   Henrik Norlander 19.3

5.   Chez Reavie 18.7

6.   Joseph Bramlett 18.6

7.   Mito Pereira 18.2

8.   Talor Gooch 18.1

9.   Adam Svensson 17.9

10.            Abraham Ancer 17.3

SELECTIONS

Abraham Ancer 25-1

Ancer has been a bit hit or miss at TPC Summerlin. In four appearances, he has two fourth-place finishes and two missed cuts. 

Nevertheless, he grades out high in every one of the above pertinent statistics. 

Ancer finally earned his first PGA Tour victory in August at the WGC: FedEx St. Jude Invitational. Since that win, he finished ninth at the BMW Championship and 11th at the Tour Championship against elite fields. 

Scottie Scheffler 25-1

Scheffler does not really pop on any of the stat models, but he continues to play consistent golf and had seven top-10s this past season while still in search of his first PGA Tour victory.

There is a case to be made for momentum, though. Although the team outcome was already close to being decided, it should not be understated how big Scheffler's win over Jon Rahm was in Ryder Cup Sunday singles. Yes, he is a proven player in match play as evidenced by his runner-up at the WGC: Dell Match Play earlier this spring, but beating the World No. 1 in convincing fashion must give him the confidence that he can compete with anybody in the world. 

Matthew Wolff 50-1

It has been a tumultuous 12 months for Wolff since he lost in the playoff here last year. 

He withdrew from two tournaments with a nagging hand injury, was disqualified from the Masters for signing an incorrect scorecard and was dealing with swing changes and some mental health issues.

Last week at the Sanderson Farms, he finished T-17 but gained strokes in all aspects of the game and now he comes back to a place where he had success last year. This week could be a full-circle moment for Wolff. 

Adam Scott 55-1

Scott played his college golf at UNLV but really does not play this event in Vegas all too often. 

Just 3 starts ago he came up short in a huge opportunity to get back in the winner's circle by missing a five-footer to win the Wyndham. However, he ranked fourth in Approach that week and a few weeks later was outstanding tee to green once again when finishing 14th at Wentworth.

He should come in well-rested after six weeks off. 

Mito Pereira 66-1

Since his battlefield promotion — for earning three victories in a Korn Ferry Tour season — Pereira has demonstrated that he can compete on the PGA Tour. 

Pereira has three top-6 finishes (Fortinet, Barbasol, 3M Open) on the big tour and was part of the playoff for the bronze medal at the Olympics before settling for a T-4.

Chez Reavie 150-1

Reavie missed the cut last week at the Sanderson Farms but has been in solid enough form lately.

He ranks fifth on tour for SG: Approach and is in the top 10 in this week's field for SG: Par-4s. 

Hank Lebioda 250-1

Lebioda has not made a cut since the John Deere Classic, but he did have a run of fifth (Travelers), fourth (Rocket Mortgage) and eighth (John Deere) in the middle of the summer.

He is a proven birdie maker and could fare well on debut here. 

 

Open de España

Danny Willett had not shown much with an incoming form of MC/MC/71/MC leading into last week's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship but was the only player in that field to shoot four rounds in the 60s and won in Scotland at 100-1 odds to earn his eighth European Tour title by two strokes over Tyrrell Hatton and Joakim Lagergren. 

This week the European Tour begins a three-week stay in Spain starting in the capital city of Madrid for the Acciona Open de España. While the event was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19, the man who has won the last two editions is the favorite once again. World No. 1 Jon Rahm won the 2019 tournament by five strokes over fellow Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello, and he is the 2-1 favorite to three-peat in Spain's national open. 

Bernd Wiesberger (16-1) made his first Ryder Cup team but came away with zero points in his three matches. Calum Hill (33-1) won his first European Tour event in mid-August. Victor Perez (35-1) is just outside the OWGR Top 50 but has not won in two years since the 2019 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Guido Migliozzi (40-1) has worked his way into the Top 65 in the world mainly finishing T-4 at the U.S. Open, but he has three-runner up finishes this season on the European Tour. 

THE EVENT

The Open de España was founded in 1912 and has been part of the European Tour schedule since the tour’s inception in 1972. Spain’s national championship has typically been played in the spring but moved to the fall in 2019. Former champions of this tournament include luminaries such as Arnold Palmer, Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Francseco Molinari, Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm. Spanish multinational conglomerate Acciona, an infrastructure and renewable energy company, comes aboard this year as the tournament's title sponsor.

THE COURSE

The Club de Campo course is a 7,112-yard, par-71 designed by Javier Arana, an accomplished amateur golfer and sailor who represented Spain in sailing at the 1928 Olympics. Subsequent renovations have been done by Manuel Pinero. This week's layout is known as the Black course. Another course, the Amarillo (Yellow) course was designed by Seve Ballesteros. Before the 2019 tournament, the track was last used for a European Tour event in 2008 when Charl Schwartzel (-19) was the victor at the Madrid Masters. Ahead of the 2019 event, the course was lengthened by 162 yards, but that did not provide any issues for the players. The Club de Campo is an undulating, tree-lined course with relatively generous fairways and small bent/poa greens that are multi-tiered and reasonably tricky. Par-5s at the fourth, seventh and 14th measure 526, 564 and 536 yards, respectively, and all present eagle opportunities for those players who can find the fairway from off the tee. The first hole, a par-4, now measures 505 yards and can provide a bit of a challenge. The 210-yard, par-3 11th was the toughest hole on the course in the 2019 tournament. 

RECENT HISTORY/WINNERS

2020: No tournament

2019: Jon Rahm (-22/262), Club de Campo Villa de Madrid, Madrid, 10-3

2018: Jon Rahm (-20/268), Centro Nacional de Golf, Madrid, 4-1

2017: No tournament

2016: Andrew Johnston (+ 1/285), Valderrama, Cádiz, 100-1

2015: James Morrison (-10/278), Real Club de Golf El Prat, Barcelona, 225-1

2014: Miguel Angel Jimenez (-4/284), PGA Catalunya Resort, Girona, 22-1

2013: Raphael Jacquelin (-5/283), Parador de El Saler, Valencia, 55-1

2012: Francesco Molinari (-8/280), Real Club de Golf de Sevilla – Sevilla, 16-1

2011: Thomas Aiken (-10/278), Real Club de Golf El Prat, Barcelona, 45-1

2010: Alvaro Quiros (-11/277), Real Club de Golf de Sevilla, Sevilla, 18-1

TRENDS AND ANGLES

While this event has a nomadic nature as it has been played all over Spain. Each event winner since 2010 had recorded a top-10 finish or better in his previous 10 starts.

SELECTIONS

Masahiro Kawamura 40-1

Before last week's missed cut in Scotland, Kawamura had a form line of 5-3-16-55-21-5-17 in his previous seven events with three top-5s. He is clearly knocking at the door for a victory. 

Kawamura ranks 11th on the European Tour for SG: Off-The-Tee. 

Nicolai Hojgaard 50-1

Nicolai finally followed in brother Rasmus’ footsteps when picking up his first European Tour title three starts ago in the Italian Open. He has followed that victory with another couple of top-20s at the BMW PGA Championship and last week at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Hojgaard has a strong tee-to-green game ranking 10th on the European Tour. 

Santiago Tarrio 75-1

Rahm is the No. 1 Spaniard in the world followed by Sergio Garcia. No. 3? Santiago Tarrio.

Tarrio’s results have been tremendous on the Challenge Tour this year. Fifteen events, two victories, six other top-5s and three top-20s. This has seen him rise from 383rd in the world rankings at the start of the year to now sit inside the world’s top 100 in 90th.

Adrian Otaegui 75-1

Otaegui is another Spaniard who could contend here. He finished only 61st last time out on this track but was ninth heading into the weekend, so this course should be a good fit for him. 

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