The Shriners Hospital for Children preview with Skeeter McGillicuddy
The US PGA Tour heads back to the mainland this week for some dry Vegas heat as opposed to some seriously sweaty conditions in the early part of the three leg Asian swing.
The WGC looked a step too far for me for the main contenders and while Xander won the tireless Finau must be wondering what he has to do to win for a second time.
Finau heads the market were he was also favourite last year which says something for the strength of the field at the time and now. Even with Ricky, De Chambeau and Jordan in the field he’s rated top dog.
How often can he go to well though? The price is great if he wins but at some point his performance will drop off. Ricky looks the freshest and deserves his place in the market but he wins way to infrequently for us to be interested. Jordan had a great Ryder Cup but his been inconsistent for some time now and while capable of anything I prefer him at plus 20’s in quality fields.
Last year: TPC Summerlin has played host to this event for 8 (now 9) years and at just over 7,200 yards the Par 71 course – at altitude – yields some low numbers and some unlikely winners. Na, Pampling, Ben Martin, Smylie Kaufman, Jonathan Bryd are not names that leap off the page when looking for the winner in a normal PGA Tour event.
There is however a winner in waiting and whoever he is he better putt well. Hitting fairways is not such a prerequisite for success here with only Byrd getting into the 70% plus bracket since 2010. Greens in regulation at 75% plus profile a winner who then makes a lot of birdies. While we always look for some course form there is a risk that the changes made this year (2019) to all 102 bunkers may alter the scoring profile this rendering previous performances slightly less meaningful. Inevitably the bunkers have been moved into areas where the modern ball goes which would suggest more of an advantage to the bombers but only a run out will confirm this.
On this basis – a weakish field, with question marks over the front three or four, an altered layout, and a combination of stale players and freshmen chomping at the bit, this event affords us the chance to speculate. What fun!
My shortlist included Wise who we’ve ridden before but whose price has contracted, Hosler and Spaun both of whom have a combination of course form and current form and Bryson. Everything thing about De Chambeau says death ride. The amount of golf, the tail off in form (from scary to be fair), the Ryder Cup and the price, 14/1. Yet nothing at all would surprise me if he just picked up the gauntlet from his early Play Off game and hacked up.
Patrick Rodgers 1pt e/w at $56 with Bet365
Joaquin Niemann 1pt e/w at $56
Patrick Rodgers has flattered to deceive for us before but he’s an undoubted talent. He hardly set the world on fire last year with a best placed 7th but he has 2 runners up finishes in a 104 start career and comes here in good, if not spectacular form. In his last 12 rounds he’s 31 under – an adjusted scoring average of 69.41. Anyone averaging less than 69.5 will make a ton of cash on tour and has the potential to win. Perhaps what really attracts me to his chances are his improved putting over the course of the 2018 season where he ranked 10th at 0.596 – the first time in his full season career he has recorded a positive figure. We have to contend with a very iffy TPC Summerlin form of three missed cuts in four starts – but he did manage a 13th in 2015 so he has some positive memories.
Joaquin Niemann makes his debut here and at Summerlin. The 19-year-old Chilean made an impressive full season debut last year with 4 top tens from 19 starts. He has yet to set the tour on fire with his putting but he did post a full set of positive figures including 72% of greens, a 12th in SG Off The Tee, 5th in SG Approaching the Green and an impressive 15th in SG Total. Despite this impressive ball striking 17-event run he still managed a positive strokes gained putting figure. He is only 19 but he can win.