The PGA Tour returns to the United States after an extended Asian leg and will once again return to a full-field format with a cut after two rounds. The venue for this week’s tournament, the Shriners Hospitals Open, is the TPC Summerlin Golf Course in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Players will face up to a relatively long Par 71 that is just shy of 7300 yards on a course that was first designed by Bobby Weed. The course is considered to be one of the easiest courses on Tour and favours players that are aggressive with their approach.
The weather for the tournament is expected to be pristine for golf and there is next to no chance of rain playing spoilsport. The wind is expected to be close to 27-30 km/h throughout the weekend providing a bit of a challenge to the field.
The fairways of this course are considered pretty straightforward to hit and the green complexes are not that difficult to reach either. Being accurate off the tee is important but getting yourself into birdie scoring positions is paramount.
Previous winners of the tournament include Rod Pampling in 2016, Smylie Kaufman in 2015, Ben Martin in 2014, and Webb Simpson in 2013. A lot of previous winners will be in action this week again as 141 players form the field for this tournament with a cut at the end of two rounds.
It is a relatively weak field this week and a lot of lesser-known names will be looking to make their mark. The Wolf believes that this offers an excellent chance to make some money before the market corrects and figures out who the players to watch out are.
Winning this tournament will require scoring heavily. Tee positions are important, hitting the fairways consistently is not the most critical thing but avoiding the disaster hole over the weekend will be. Players that hit the ball far off the tee will not have a huge advantage over players that don’t. The greens are bentgrass and should play very true over the entire weekend.
Stats That Matter
The stats that the Wolf will be keeping an eye on this week are:
– Strokes Gained: Tee to Green – Putting Average – Birdie Average – Scrambling
All of these are scoring indicators and a look at the history of this course will suggest that The Wolf has made absolutely the right choice. Only on two occasions in the past 10 years has the winning score been less than 20 below Par.
The course record for a full four rounds of golf is -25 by Marc Turnesa in 2008. Rod Pampling, who is the defending champion, was 15th in driving accuracy, 11th in greens in regulation and 12th in putts per greens in regulation when he won last year.
The Wolf is going with former champion Webb Simpson at $19.00 for the outright win. Even at $5.00 for a top-5 finish, he is good value but the odds being offered for an outright win are fantastic. Simpson finished last season on a high with three straight top-20 finishes. He had a T9 at the BMW Championship, T13 at the Tour Championship, and T17 at the Safeway Open. He also loves this course and has spoken of how it reminds him of his home course. The results also support that as he has a T4 in 2010 and 2015 to go with his win in 2013. He finished T31 last year when he was in much worse form. The stats also sing for Webb Simpson with a 24th in strokes gained: tee to green, 59th in putting average, 61st in birdie average, and 4th in scrambling. If we take into account only the players in the field this week he is top 10 across the board!
For the value pick, The Wolf has singled out Kevin Chappell at $29.00. He is another golfer that had a strong finish to last season and should begin this one with a good feeling. He has made the cut in the last seven tournaments has played and recorded 4 top-15 finishes in them with a T6 at the Northern Trust being the highlight. His record at the Shriners is not the best with a T40 being his best finish in three attempts but he is top 50 in strokes gained and birdie average. His current form is still on the upswing and the Wolf thinks he could be about to peak with a win soon. Worth a punt at $29.00.
Charlie Hoffman should not be paying $34. Hoffman has played on this course regularly and will be very well versed with the conditions on offer. He has also pledged to donate all of his winnings to the Las Vegas shooting victims, something that could spur him on in this tournament. Charlie Hoffman also has some pretty solid stats backing him up with a 27th in strokes gained: tee to green, 44th in putting average and 17th in birdie average. Hoffman can often get on scoring sprees and that should help him stay in contention for this tournament. The Wolf believes that at $34.00 the market has undervalued him somewhat.
Best: Webb Simpson ($19.00) Value: Kevin Chappell ($29.00) Roughie: Charlie Hoffman ($34.00)
Tournament By Country
Top Aussie: Aaron Baddeley ($3.75)
72 Hole Match Bets
Big 6 v Field: Big 6 (Finau, Cantlay, Chappell, Simpson, Hadley, Hoffman) ($3.65) Finau vs Cantley: Patrick Cantley ($1.95) Chappell vs Simpson: Webb Simpson ($1.87) Hadley vs Hoffman: Charlie Hoffman ($1.95) Watson v Streelman: Watson ($1.90)