Winner’s Share: $1,080,000
Course: TPC Summerlin (7,255 yards – Par 71)
The household name Sang Moon Bae won the first event of the wrap around season at the Frys.com Open. As with most early season events, the leaderboards are a jumble sale of tour regulars, Web.com graduates with a few legends thrown in for good measure – Retief Goosen deserves that title doesn’t he?
Enough of last week and onto the very long winded Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. TPC Summerlin is a cracking course set in the Nevada Desert, Vegas. The perfect week to follow the PGA Tour one would think. Booze, gambling and 4 days of golf – that’s the life.
Expect to see another mix of faces at the top of the leaderboard – plenty of people at high odds are there for the taking. The course, whether you like it or not, is a birdie-fest. It ranked as the 2nd lowest scoring course on the Tour and saw Webb Simpson get to -24. In 2003, Stuart Appleby got to -31. You get the picture.
The players haven’t got a great deal to worry about off the tee. Key is to leave a yardage they feel comfortable with. If you average around the 300 mark off the tee, as a lot of the guys do, no more than 180 yards will be left on the majority of par 4’s. Essentially, guys who are at their best with an 8 iron or below will thrive. And let’s not forget – it will turn into a putting contest. Anyone who wins this will need to be putting well not just making birdies but saving those pars too.
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Brendan Steele (90/1 Bet365)
All of our picks were outlined before odds were released and so was our order of confidence. Up step Brendan Steele at 90/1. We saw enough of him last week, on the way to his T21 finish, to suggest he is ready to go very low in Vegas.
Last week was a case of solid golf without pushing on. He ranked top 25 for both putting and GIR and was highly impressive in one of the key yardages we outlined 125-150. He was 6 under for 9 attempts at that yardage. It’s impressive but does make you wonder what he was doing for the other approaches. Thankfully, he won’t have many other yardages this week.
Last year was an odd event for Steele – he ranked 1st in putting and yet 3rd from bottom in GIR. He knows these greens like the back of his hand but couldn’t get his irons going at all. Well this week, we feel he’s in perfect shape to put that right.
Ryo Ishikawa (80/1 Stan James)
The Japanese poster boy, Ishikawa, knows how to go low and proved that last year on the way to his 2nd place in his first appearance in Vegas. It’s hard to believe he has only just turned 23 with 11 Japanese titles under his belt already. Now is the time to crack the PGA Tour like his countryman Matsuyama.
In his time, Ryo has shot a 58 and he’ll be looking for much of the same this week as he brings some relatively decent form in with him. Before his T19 last week, he finished in the same position at the Barclays although followed with a MC at the Deutsche Bank. He also had a couple of decent showings over in Japan during the close season to keep everything going.
Ranked 6th approaches 125-150 and was ‘okay’ with the putter. In the 2014 season, Ishikawa finished in the top 20 for both 125-150 and 150-175. He knows how to use those higher clubs. Putting will be where it is won and lost for Ishikawa this week.
Cameron Tringale (55/1 Bet365)
It’s rare that we give people 2nd chances but this man deserves one. We backed him last week and despite glimpses of good form, never got it going. Still, T26 wasn’t bad. But his game seemed to be upside down – a guy known for his ability with the irons couldn’t seem to get them going and yet ranked 3rd in strokes gained putting. It’s almost as if he has worked on his putting so much in the few weeks off, he forgot about what he does best. But even so, that can easily be rectified and we know he is playing well – recorded a 2nd and 15th in the play-offs.
This guy is close to becoming a top, top performer on the Tour and just needs that win. No better time than the start of the season.
Spencer Levin (140/1 Bet365)
You might raise your eyebrows once more but let’s not forget Bae, Bowditch, Molder and Goosen were all 150/1 and above at the start of last week. He’s another guy who loves the 125-150 yardage – finished 8th in it last year on the Tour and was 6th at the Frys.com. He was also 2nd driving accuracy last week, not that it makes a difference, and was T14 GIR. His game was all there except for on the greens.
Now that could be enough to turn you away but look at this – he finished 5th in 2011 and 4th in 2010 at this event. He knows these greens well. So combine what he was doing last week with the course form he possesses and we’re very happy. Again, look at that price.
Scott Brown (140/1 Bet365)
There are a few players on the Tour who do one thing and one thing only, and that’s putt well. Baddeley and Driscoll are just a couple that come to mind. Scott Brown is another. He proved it once again in the season-opener where he ranked 7th in putting on the way to a T12 finish. He also paired that with solid ironplay, ranking T35 in GIR.
Last year in Vegas it was an odd couple of days – he shot a 65 on day 1 but followed it with a 77 and missed the cut. He’s a man that plays well for periods and in large part due to his putting. If he is ever going pick up his 2nd PGA title, a course that rewards good putting will be the place. At these odds once again, why not?
Danny Lee (150/1 Various) and Kevin Kisner (125/1 Paddy Power)
On face value, Danny Lee doesn’t shout out at you. But dig deeper and you will find he is a good putter and very good with his short irons. Ranked 9th 125-150 last week and 1st in putting average. He was also top 50 for both 125-150 and 150-175 for the whole of the 2014 season. As we have mentioned, this course is all about those yardages. Kevin Kisner finished T21 last week and enjoyed a solid end to last season with a T9 in Canada and T8 at the Wyndham. Ranked in the top 25 for both putting and GIR last week and is regarded as one of the better players in the game with the short stick. Kisner was 21st in strokes gained putting in the whole of last season.
Let us know your thoughts on our selections and who you fancy this week! @DownThe18th