Canadian Mackenzie Hughes is widely known as one of the best putters on the PGA Tour. While his iron play has improved since the late summer (11th last week, 4.44 strokes gained on approach), it was his putting that put him in the playoff last weekend at the Sanderson Farms Championship. Hughes made a 15-footer for par on the par-5 14th, a 7-footer for par on the 16th after not being able to reach the green from a fairway bunker, and two tough par saves on the 18th from 100 feet behind the green in regulation and from a bunker on the first playoff hole.
Hughes (priced at 110-1) defeated Sepp Straka (priced at 45-1) on the second playoff hole with an eight-foot birdie to win the Sanderson Farms Championship to earn his first victory in almost six years (2016 RSM Classic). Straka, the winner earlier this year at the Honda Classic, lost a playoff for the second time in his last four tournaments. The other was against Will Zalatoris at the FedEx St. Jude Championship.
The victory came one week after the Presidents Cup where Hughes was left off the team and certainly used that as motivation last weekend.
This week, the PGA Tour comes to Las Vegas — Summerlin to be exact — for the Shriners Children's Open. OWGR No. 4 Patrick Cantlay (15-2) heads the field, and the 2017 Shriners champion is certainly the justified favorite as his form line in Summerlin reads 8-2-2-1 from 2020 back to his victory on debut in 2017. Right behind Cantlay is another Shriners champion, actually the defending champion Sungjae Im (16-1). Max Homa (18-1) has missed the cut at this event in four of five appearances but did win the first event of the fall schedule three weeks ago at the Fortinet Championship. Tom Kim (22-1) has already won on the PGA Tour earlier this year at the Wyndham Championship, but the 20-year-old became a potential superstar with his infectious energy at the Presidents Cup two weeks ago. Las Vegas resident Aaron Wise (28-1) has two top-10 finishes here in six appearances including an eighth last year.
Taylor Montgomery (35-1) is another Las Vegas resident who has started his rookie PGA Tour season with a solo third at the Fortinet Championship and a T-9 last week at the Sanderson Farms Championship. Alex Noren (40-1) was one of our tips last week at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and finished T-2 behind eventual winner Ryan Fox.
In all, 12 of the OWGR Top 50 are in Las Vegas this week.
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 the PGA Tour at $750,000. The field will be playing for a slightly larger total purse of $8 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, its name 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 major championship winners 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 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.
There will be 144 golfers in the field with 500 FedExCup points and a two-year PGA Tour exemption on the line. The cut line on Friday will include the top 65 and ties.
TPC Summerlin is located at the base of Red Rock Canyon in the community of Summerlin, which is about a 20-minute drive west from 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 92 bunkers (seventh most on tour) 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 (34.2 feet) but undulating. The Bermuda rough is only about 2.25 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 feet average, fifth largest on tour) and of modest speed (11.5 stimpmeter).
The track does play at around 2,700 feet of elevation (highest on tour) so the ball flies about 3% farther than if at sea level and the course plays shorter than its listed distance of 7,255 yards.
In 2018, all bunkers underwent strategic realignment, improved contouring, drainage, and new sand was installed. And then in April, the course was shut down until the event in October to allow for all fairways and greens to be re-grassed to newer improved varieties.
Over the last five years, TPC Summerlin is the sixth-easiest course on tour at 1.98 strokes under par (not including 2018 with when there were abnormally high winds). Two years ago, this event set the PGA record for the lowest cut line in PGA Tour history at 7 under.
All of the par-5s are typically reachable in two shots. Because of the course’s elevation, that also includes the 606-yard 13th hole. The par-3s are a good mix of lengths measuring from 168 yards to 239 yards. Six of the 11 par-4s are between 420 and 450 yards and rank among the easiest group of par-4s on tour.
The final four holes typically provide an exciting closing stretch. The 15th features a driveable par-4 at 341 yards. Hole 16 is a risk/reward par-5 that is reachable in two shots while the 17th is a dangerous par-3 that has water on two sides. The final hole is a strong par-4 that sits at 444 yards. Overall, there is a ton of swing potential for scoring in this stretch.
Correlated courses to TPC Summerlin include TPC Scottsdale, PGA West Stadium, TPC San Antonio, Waialae, Colonial, Silverado and CC Jackson.
2021: Sungjae Im (-24/260); 30-1
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 and no player with all four rounds in the 60s)
**** playoff win over Martin Laird and Cameron Percy (hole-in-one on third playoff hole)
Trends and Angles
- Eight of the last 11 winners of the Shriners Children's Open had finishes of T-16 or better at this event in a year before their win.
- Eight of the last 12 winners had a T-11 or better in their previous five tournaments leading up to their win.
While Driving Accuracy is easier at TPC Summerlin (65.1% over the last five years vs. a 60.9% tour average) and the rough is not all that penal, it is still better to have the ball in the fairway. Cantlay remarked how playing from the fairways allows better spin control out of the unpredictable Bermuda rough. Many of the hole locations are usually tucked in the corners of the greens and are much more accessible from the fairway.
Fairways Gained (Last 36 rounds)
- Ryan Armour 66.7
- Chez Reavie 63.6
- Tom Kim 61.6
- Philip Knowles 56.1
- Ryan Moore 51.6
- David Lingmerth 51.5
- Aaron Rai 51
- Paul Haley II 48.2
- Troy Merritt 46.1
- Andrew Putnam 42.1
- Brendon Todd 42.1
- Sungjae Im 40.6
- Nicholas Lindheim 40.4
- Martin Laird 38.8
- Jim Herman 38.6
For the most part, it is relatively easy to gain strokes on approach here. Three of the last four Shriners winners ranked sixth or better in the field on approach during their respective winning weeks.
Strokes Gained Approach (Last 36 rounds)
- Mark Hubbard 29.7
- Lee Hodges 28
- Chez Reavie 23.2
- Mito Pereira 22.7
- Tom Kim 22.1
- Aaron Wise 21.8
- Stephan Jaeger 21.2
- Davis Riley 19.4
- Patrick Cantlay 19.3
- Sungjae Im 18.7
- Brian Harman 18.7
- Cam Davis 18.6
- Tom Hoge 16.7
- Chesson Hadley 16.6
- Adam Svensson 15.8
Over one-third of the approach shots will be wedges from a range of 100-150 yards.
Proximity Gained 100-125 Yards (Last 36 rounds)
- Chez Reavie 296.7
- Cam Davis 272.3
- Austin Cook 224.3
- Tom Hoge 196.7
- Matt Wallace 157.9
- Mito Pereira 157.7
- Ben Martin 129.2
- Russell Knox 128.9
- Brian Harman 128.2
- Will Gordon 127.2
- Zac Blair 124.7
- Austin Eckroat 124.4
- Adam Svensson 123.5
- Paul Haley III 118.3
- Mark Hubbard 118.1
Proximity Gained 125-150 Yards (Last 36 rounds)
- Mark Hubbard 282.3
- Troy Merritt 274.2
- Tom Hoge 268.8
- Austin Eckroat 267.1
- Russell Knox 266
- Rickie Fowler 261.8
- Jason Dufner 242.2
- Cam Davis 239.6
- Chris Kirk 233.7
- Ryan Palmer 223.4
- Mito Pereira 205.1
- Justin Lower 202.8
- Matt Wallace 202
- Ben Martin 199.6
- Ryan Armour 192.2
Note: Total Feet Gained Towards The Hole
Seven of the 11 par-4s measure 400-450 Yards.
Strokes Gained Par-4s 400-450 Yards (Last 36 rounds)
- Taylor Montgomery 31.2
- Andrew Putnam 22.6
- Thomas Detry 21.8
- Nicholas Lindheim 21.5
- Brendon Todd 20.4
- Philip Knowles 19.7
- Paul Haley II 17
- Ben Taylor 15.8
- Denny McCarthy 15.6
- Lee Hodges 15.5
- K.H. Lee 15
- Mark Hubbard 14.4
- Tom Kim 14
- Seonghyeon Kim 13.9
- Adam Svensson 13.6
The Bentgrass greens at TPC Summerlin are very smooth and of average speed, so putting is not all that difficult. The players that win here do not necessarily have to win putting contests but must set themselves up for birdie and eagle opportunities regularly.
Opportunities Gained (Last 36 rounds)
- Mito Pereira 35.8
- Cam Davis 34.9
- Patrick Cantlay 31.6
- Kurt Kitayama 24.5
- Tom Hoge 24
- Kevin Streelman 23.1
- Aaron Wise 22.9
- Chris Gotterup 22.3
- John Huh 20.6
- Chez Reavie 20
- Matt Wallace 19.9
- Sungjae Im 19.7
- Wyndham Clark 18.9
- Mark Hubbard 18.1
- Brian Harman 16.3
While the greens are easy to hit here, TPC Summerlin has been one of the toughest courses on tour in recent years for Strokes Gained: Around The Green.
Strokes Gained Around The Green (Last 36 rounds)
- Si Woo Kim 19.7
- Andrew Putnam 19.2
- Brian Harman 15.8
- Vincent Whaley 14.8
- Rickie Fowler 13.2
- J.T. Poston 12.9
- Rory Sabbatini 12.8
- John Huh 12.8
- Stephan Jaeger 12.1
- Matt Kuchar 12
- Scott Piercy 11.9
- Denny McCarthy 11.5
- Robby Shelton 10.4
- Peter Malnati 10.4
- Max Homa 10.3
Taylor Montgomery (37-1, FanDuel)
Last week we tried the local narrative with Mississippi native Davis Riley at the Sanderson Farms, and he was the first-round leader but ended up finishing T-19. This week we will once again be aboard Las Vegas native Taylor Montgomery.
Montgomery is a rookie on the PGA Tour having earned his card off the Korn Ferry Tour this year. All he has done in his first two starts as a full PGA Tour member is to finish third at the Fortinet Championship and finish T-9 last weekend at the Sanderson Farms.
He ranks first in this field for Strokes Gained: Total over the last 36 rounds just ahead of tournament short favorite Cantlay. He also ranks top 10 in this field for Bogey Avoidance, Birdies Gained and Birdie or Better Gained.
Alex Noren (51-1, Circa Sports)
Ordinarily I would not want to back a player having to fly across the pond after a near-miss. Noren finished T-2 for us last week at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
The Swede has not played this event before, but he ranks fourth in this field for Bentgrass putting over the last 36 rounds.
Nevertheless, it was the flat stick that prevented him from winning in Scotland last week. I am expecting some positive regression this week.
Adam Hadwin (65-1, Circa Sports)
Hadwin is a sneaky, under-the-radar “horse for course” at TPC Summerlin. He finished 10th on debut here in 2014 and has recorded finishes of fourth (2019) and sixth (2021) since.
The Canadian also seems to have an affinity for desert golf with two runners-up (2017, 2019) in The American Express at PGA West and was also a runner-up in 2019 at Silverado.
Thomas Detry (70-1, Circa Sports)
Perennial bridesmaid Detry has six runner-up finishes on the DP World Tour and still seeks his first big tour win.
The Belgian earned his PGA Tour card at the Korn Ferry Tour Finals and gave it a run at the Sanderson Farms last weekend as the 36-hole leader before finishing T-9.
Rickie Fowler (70-1, Circa Sports)
While Fowler's game has obviously slipped considering he now ranks No. 157 in the OWGR, he has a strong record in desert golf: Arizona: Dove Mountain, 3rd (2014); Greyhawk GC, second (2009); TPC Scottsdale, second (2010), second (2016), fourth (2017), 11th (2018), first (2019). California: PGA West, 10th (2020); Nevada: The Summit Club, third (2021); TPC Summerlin, seventh (2009), fourth (2018).
This past September he went back to longtime coach Butch Harmon, based in Las Vegas, and also switched caddies from Joe Skovron to Ricky Romano. The changes, albeit on a small sample size, seem to be paying dividends. Fowler finished sixth at Silverado a few weeks ago and rated 16th for Total Driving, fifth for Total Accuracy, first for Greens in Regulation and seventh for Ball Striking; plus, in the Strokes Gained categories he was seventh for Off the Tee, 25th for Approach and eighth for Tee to Green.
Matthew NeSmith (80-1, DraftKings)
NeSmith has solid form at TPC Summerlin the last three years finishing 14th, eighth, and 18th. He also finished seventh at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in 2021, so he has some desert pedigree.
He finished T-9 last week at the Sanderson Farms and ranked sixth in the field for Strokes Gained: Approach.
Kurt Kitayama (80-1, DraftKings)
Kitayama is another local connection to Las Vegas having played his collegiate golf at UNLV.
In his most recent start three weeks ago, Kitayama finished seventh at the Italian Open. He also has a pair of runner-up finishes in 2022 at the Scottish Open and the Mexico Open at Vidanta, plus a third at the Honda Classic.
Kitayama ranks fifth in this field for Opportunities Gained over the last 36 rounds.
Brady Kannon’s selections
Aaron Wise (22-1)
Wise is a resident of Las Vegas and plays TPC Summerlin on a regular basis. He's been quoted saying, "I love this golf course." In addition to his familiarity with this week's test, Wise pops on many of the stats I looked at this week. Over the last 36 rounds, he ranks sixth in the field for Strokes Gained: Approach. He's 13th in Birdies Or Better Gained and 10th in Strokes Gained: Tee To Green. To close out last season, Wise finished top 15 in three of his last four starts. He was eighth at TPC Summerlin last year and followed that up with a fifth-place finish in the CJ Cup at The Summit Club in Las Vegas.
Alex Noren (51-1)
Noren is ranked 50th in the OWGR. That is a key number as the top 50 get into the major championships. Surely Noren is aware and trying to keep his game sharp. Everything was sharp last week at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on the DP World Tour — except his putter. Noren ended up finishing second to Ryan Fox and oddly enough, Noren is historically a fantastic putter. Maybe that will turn for the positive this week in Las Vegas, where he is ranked 17th in the field for Strokes Gained: Putting over the last 36 rounds. I also like how Noren has played at two of the correlated courses I looked at this week, a 12th last year at TPC Craig Ranch and a sixth last year at TPC Scottsdale.
Seamus Power (66-1)
I was on Power last week in Mississippi and he played well, finishing 30th. I am going to go back to the well with him this week for a few reasons. First, I know that he was in Las Vegas last month, playing a few of the golf courses, getting acclimated to the test that is desert golf. Second, he finished 21st here last year and he's trending in the right direction since he began participating in the Shriner's in 2016. Finally, I love how long and straight he is off of the tee. He's an excellent putter and scrambler. I believe his skill set matches up well with this golf course. I mentioned TPC Craig Ranch earlier. Power finished 17th at this course, host of the Byron Nelson, last year.
Mito Pereira (88-1)
Many avid golf fans and bettors were well aware of Pereira long before he made the world stage in tragic fashion at last year's PGA Championship. In my mind, that painful finish has worn off by now, and getting a player this good at this price is attractive. Over the last 36 rounds, he is second in the field for Strokes Gained: Tee To Green, fourth in Birdies Or Better Gained and fourth in Strokes Gained: Approach. He is also excellent in Proximity To The Hole from 100-150 yards out. He really checks all of the boxes this week for me. In addition, he has two top-20 finishes at a couple of the correlated courses I considered, TPC Craig Ranch and TPC San Antonio, home to the Valero Texas Open.
Open de España
Ryan Fox had extra motivation to win last weekend at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. For one, even in a career season, he was left off the Presidents Cup team for the International side. More importantly, he was playing for the memory of Shane Warne, the Australian cricketer who died in past March and was Fox's partner in previous pro-ams at the event. Fox, at a price of 70-1, won by one stroke over Callum Shinkwin and Alex Noren, who was tipped in this column last week.
This week, the DP World Tour begins a three-week swing through Spain starting in the capital city of Madrid with the Open de España. Jon Rahm (9-4) is a two-time winner of this event, including on this course in 2019. Tommy Fleetwood (17-2) follows in the market as he seeks to find his summer form that included consecutive top 5s at the Scottish Open and the British Open before taking nearly two months away to mourn the death of his mother. Adri Arnaus (18-1) was fourth here in 2019 and lost in the playoff here last year to Rafa Cabrera-Bello (40-1). Eddie Pepperell (28-1) is playing his best golf in several years and has made eight consecutive cuts including a runner-up and another top 10 over the last 11 weeks.
At 35-1, there are Grant Forrest, who finished third here last year, Mikko Korhonen, who has two top 20s here, and Min Woo Lee.
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 in either April or May 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, Francesco Molinari, Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm. Spanish multinational conglomerate Acciona, an infrastructure and renewable energy company, came aboard last year as the tournament's title sponsor.
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 on these grounds was designed by Seve Ballesteros. Before the 2019 tournament, the track was last used for a European Tour event back 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 its main is around 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 the last two tournaments here.
2021: Rafa Cabrera-Bello (-19/265), Club de Campo Villa de Madrid - Madrid, 55-1*
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*
* playoff win over Adri Arnaus
** playoff win over Richard Green and Thomas Pieters
*** playoff win over Felipe Aguilar and Max Kieffer
**** playoff win over James Morrison
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 until Cabrera-Bello's victory last year.
Adri Arnaus (18-1, BetMGM)
With Jon Rahm by far the class of the field and a winner on this golf course, it is difficult to make the card too deep this week.
Arnaus has finishes of second and fourth in his two appearances.
While only finishing 22nd last week at the Dunhill Links, he ranked third in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting for the two rounds recorded at St. Andrews.
Grant Forrest (35-1, DraftKings)
The Scotsman finished third last year and earned a top 10 last week at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Thriston Lawrence (40-1 Caesars Sportsbook)
Lawrence, a South African, won the Omega European Masters five starts ago in a playoff over Matt Wallace.
He has had consistent form all year with a runner-up in Kenya, consecutive top 10s in South Africa, and then three straight top 25s before a third at the Irish Open, a top 25 in the Scottish Open and then an eighth in the Czech Masters before his victory in the Swiss Alps.
Jorge Campillo (50-1 DraftKings)
The last three national Spanish Opens have been won by Spaniards and Campillo can also fit that bill.
The form has been a bit up and down in 2022, but he was T-9 in Italy three starts ago, T-4 in Switzerland five starts ago and was T-7 at the Irish Open earlier this summer.