Emiliano Grillo enters the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open fresh off his maiden PGA TOUR win at last week’s Frys.com Open and on the heels of his Web.com Tour Championship victory. It’s time to see who will challenge him in Las Vegas at TPC Summerlin this week.
TPC Summerlin will play to a par of 71, stretching out to a modest 7,255 yards and featuring three par 5s, 11 par 4s and four par 3s. If the past is any indication, and it almost always is, we know the following to be true:
- A low score is required to walk out of the desert with a win. It’s always taken at least 19-under-par to win at this venue, with Ben Martin claiming his first title at 20-under last season.
- More than most weeks, finding greens in regulation (GIR) matters.
- This is also one of those weeks where strokes gained: putting (SG:P) often trumps strokes gained: tee-to-green (SG:TTG).
- Combine landing GIR with holing putts, and what do you get? Bingo. Par Breakers. Thus, the low scores that it takes to prevail.
Unlike last week, when the season had yet to kick off, we now have some semblance of a rhythm to the season. Many of the players are coming in hot, cold or otherwise from the Frys.com Open. Add to that the familiar venue of TPC Summerlin, and we are at much more of an advantage in terms of handicapping the contenders.
All that to say that the regular cocktail of current form, course history and statistical fit, along with a touch of class, can be mixed together for a somewhat predictable list of likely contenders.
Here we go!
Almost without fail, there are players in every field with the seemingly perfect blend of current form, course history and statistical prowess. This week is no different.
Kevin Na: Last week’s playoff loser fits the bill in every way. He is a past winner of this event, is obviously in great form, and ranked inside the top 50 in both strokes gained categories as well as par breakers last season. Done.
Jason Bohn: Missed out on the playoff at the Frys.com Open by a stroke, but should have a chance to remedy that this week. He’s cashed in each of his six attempts at the Shriners, with five top 25s and a T8-T2-T18 run in his last trips to the desert. Ranked top 50 in GIR, SG:P, SG:TTG and par breakers on TOUR last year.
Ryan Moore: UNLV product quietly posted a share of 10th at the Frys.com last week and is a past winner at TPC Summerlin. Not perfect in the stats categories, but respectable enough.
Class is Permanent
Form is temporary, but class is permanent. These studs embody that.
Rickie Fowler: Last played in this event in 2010, rendering his course history somewhat irrelevant. Class is without question.
Jimmy Walker: Disappointed in the recent Presidents Cup, but that he was on the winning team is good enough earn him a spot in this portion of the preview. Last three trips to TPC Summerlin produced a T10-T12-T4 bounty.
Brandt Snedeker: Almost a member of the Trifecta with a T10 here last year and a T17 at the Frys.com last week, but he’ll have to fall back on his class this week.
Brooks Koepka: Disappointed last week with a T41 at the Frys.com Open, but posted a T4 at the Shriners last season. Oozing with talent that could pop at any moment.
Horses for Courses
For the course history buffs in the audience, dinner is served.
Brendan Steele: If making each of his four cuts in this event with two top 20s isn’t enough, he held the lead after each of the first three rounds in the Frys.com Open on his way to a T17. Could also be considered a hot hand.
Tony Finau: Bomber tied for seventh last year.
Russell Knox: Keep an eye on the Scot. He’s finished inside the top 30 in each of his previous three trips to TPC Summerlin including a third-place finish last year.
Ben Martin: Missed his first two cuts in this event, but the win last season earns the mention.
George McNeill: When you’ve made each of your eight cuts in any event, that’s noteworthy. When one of those was a win, another a T2, the player becomes a true course horse.
Scott Piercy: Cashed in seven of nine tries with three going for top 10s and a fourth for a top 15.
Webb Simpson: Hasn’t finished worse than fourth in his last three trips to this event, including a victory. It must be mentioned that he fell to 174th in SG:P last season after switching to a conventional putter early in the 2014-15 season.
Nick Watney: Former rising star is 8/10 with four top 10s, including a runner-up in 2011, and a fifth top 20 on his resume.
Martin Laird: Similar to McNeill, the Scot also has a win to go with a playoff loss in his TPC Summerlin past.
Charles Howell III: Made nine of his 14 cuts in this event, with four going for top 10s and four more for top 25s. Racked up a T5 and a T18 in his last two, to go with a steady T17 in the Frys.com Open.
Kevin Streelman: Batting 1.000 in his five trips to TPC Summerlin including a runner-up finish last year. In total, four of the five were top 25s.
The Hot Hand
This proved to be the most valuable section of the preview last week. Not only was Emiliano Grillo included on his way to a victory, but so was Kevin Na (P2) and Justin Thomas (T3). Throw in the sixth consecutive top 25 for Lucas Glover, and you get the picture.
Emiliano Grillo: Why not go back to the well one more time?
Patrick Rodgers: Screw the missed cut here last year. The T6 last week is way more relevant for the young stud.
Tyrone Van Aswegen: Sort of came out of nowhere with a T3 last week, missing out on the playoff by a stroke.
Will Wilcox: Continued his fine play over the last six months with a T10 last week.
Andrew Loupe: His T10 last week was a learning experience, as he was in the final twosome and outplayed the 54-hole leader.
Smylie Kaufman: Rookie popped the cork on 2015-16 with a T10 in Napa.
Kyle Stanley: The T10 in 2011 matches what we saw from the Clemson Tiger in the Web.com Tour Finals. He notched two top-seven finishes in his last three starts.
Unfortunately for loyal gamers, the platforms that host some of the more popular fantasy games didn’t get the memo that the season starts this week. That means no Yahoo! and no Golf Channel games, thus no Playing the Tips.
For questions specific to the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, hit the Rotoworld golf staffers up on Twitter.
Best of luck to all, and we’ll see you next week!