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Shriners Children’s Open Preview

Webb Simpson

Webb Simpson

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The PGA TOUR heads back out west for a two-week stint in Las Vegas.

Week one in the Sin City will look familiar as they head to TPC Summerlin for this week’s Shriners Children’s Open.

This is a course they know very well while next week they’ll head to a new venue, The Summit Club.

Back to this week, the field sits at 140 golfers with four more to be added after Monday Qualifying.

Let’s jump right in and discuss the course.

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The Course

TPC Summerlin is returning as the host of this week’s event.

Played as a par 71 that stretches to just 7,255 yards, this Bobby Weed design has been a part of this tournament since the 1992 edition. Previously a three-course rota was used here but TPC Summerlin has played the role of solo host since 2008 when Marc Turnesa knocked off Matt Kuchar.

The raw yardage is not long by PGA TOUR standards. Add in a touch of altitude and firm and fast turf conditions, and it shrinks the course even more.

Off the tee, it’s a mixed bag in terms of club selection. Golfers have a lot of options as they are forced to think their way around the course with doglegs and fairway bunkers along the way.

If you are debating whether distance is important this week, just look at the list of winners here and you’ll see Kevin Na, Ryan Moore, Webb Simpson, and Ben Martin on the list over the last 10 years. These are some of the shorter hitters on TOUR while Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Cantlay have also added their name to the trophy in recent years, so don’t dismiss the big hitters entirely.

Golfers will have plenty of wedges in hand this week. You can push the needle a little bit on some of the holes to maximize those wedge opportunities or you can lay back and still have lots of shot irons.

Looking at the scoring environment, the field averages more birdies and more eagles than the average TOUR stop while also swallowing fewer bogeys per round and right around average in terms of big numbers. That results in a scoring-fest that has produced winning scores of -19 or better in 11 of the last 13 years.

Talking about turf next, golfers will see bermudagrass fairways and rough with pure bentgrass greens that are relatively large targets (7,400 average square feet).

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Course Quotes

Sifting through some past quotes, let’s try to break down the course to see how it will play.

Patrick Cantlay: “I drive the ball pretty well so I have a lot wedge opportunities out there. I like the course. It sets up for a right-to-left shot on a lot of holes, which is my preferred shot.”

Webb Simpson: “I like it because you have to think your way around this golf course. Other courses that we play, you don’t think. You hit driver and you hit it as far as you can. This golf course has doglegs, run-outs, bunkers. You really do have to think. I typically enjoy playing courses where you can hit driver, 3-wood, 5-wood on a lot of these holes.”

Kevin Na: “I think you have to really drive the ball well and keep it in the fairway so you can control the spin. I know the roughs are not deep, but because of these greens and some of the hole locations, you have to hit the fairway to be able to spin the ball. You don’t have to bomb it out here. Anybody can win out here. You definitely have to make some putts.”

Jordan Spieth: “Yeah, it’s a second-shot golf course. It’s not too difficult off the tee. Wider, but you can’t really hit a foul ball. You’ve got to to keep it in the barriers. And then the defense is really the pin locations with kind of around the greens, how difficult it is. I feel very comfortable on this grainy bermuda grass around the greens. I like the way the bent grass greens putt.”

Patton Kizzire: “Yeah, this is a little bit more of a ball placement off the tee golf course, place your ball in the fairway and be accurate with your irons. And of course, I love a putting contest.”

Correlated Courses

Looking at grass types, geography, course attributes, and past performance, here are a few courses/events that I think could prove to be a good pointer this week:

TPC River Highlands
Harbour Town GL
PGA West Rota
Quail Hollow

The main theme is shorter courses with lots of short irons and wedges...and then there is Quail Hollow. I’m not sure how they are most closely connected but there does seem to be a lot of overlap in success at Summerlin and Quail Hollow.

The Weather

Thursday: Overcast with a high of 77 degrees. Winds at 10 to 14 MPH.

Friday: Partly Cloudy with a high of 71 degrees. Winds at 10 to 15 MPH.

There is a fair amount of wind in the pre-cut forecast so we may not see full scoring potential unlocked until the weekend.