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Shriners Children’s Open Preview

Patrick Cantlay

Patrick Cantlay

Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Network

The PGA TOUR travels to Las Vegas this week as the fall portion of the schedule kicks on.

The event hasn’t drawn the strongest field but there are still plenty of attractive names to watch this week, particularly in the up-and-comer category as lots of rising stars have set up shop in Las Vegas in recent years.

The field opens with 144 golfers with it being trimmed to the top 65 and ties after 36 holes.

The Course

TPC Summerlin returns to host another edition of the Shriners.

This 1991 Bobby Weed design first got introduced to the tournament rotation in 1992 and it’s been the solo host since 2008.

It previously played as a par 72 but it’s been a par 71 on the card since 2009. It was a well-deserved change as the winning score has reached or eclipsed 20-under in seven of the last 12 editions so there is plenty of scoring to go around, even without the extra par 5.

The first thing to note about the course is that it’s played at slight elevation, being in Las Vegas. That gives the golfers an extra 5% of so of carry on their drives. Combine that with firm, dessert terrain and it’s easy to see how driving distance numbers can balloon here despite many golfers choosing to club down on a fair amount of holes.

Confident drivers are able to put a lot of wedges into their hands which is really the name of the game when you enter a birdiefest of an event.

On approach, golfers will hope to be attacking from the fairways instead of the bermuda rough but they’ll have large targets to aim for with the average green sizes sitting around 7,400 square feet which is roughly 1,000 square feet larger than TOUR average.

Golfers are able to land around 73% of greens in regulation but the quality of GIR is important to consider. With large greens you can find a GIR but still have a tough task just two-putting at times.

The best way to increase the quality of GIR is to either drive it well and give yourself a scoring club on approach or to outperform the field with your irons.

Once they reach the greens, golfers will see bentgrass putting surfaces that run around TOUR average in terms of speed. There is nothing tricked up about the greens and the field putting stats are slightly better than TOUR average from short and mid-ranges at TPC Summerlin.

The product of this short course with large greens is one of the easier scoring environments. The birdie-or-better rate sits around 24% which lands it inside of the top 10 in terms of ease, among regular PGA TOUR venues.

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Correlated Courses

Using historical data we can look at overperformance and underperformance at this week’s host course and compare that to all of the courses played out on TOUR. Here are the ones that shared a lot of overlap:

Sedgefield CC
Harbour Town GL
PGA West rota
TPC River Highlands
TPC Scottsdale

We see an overlap with short courses that give golfers a lot of wedges and short irons. There is also the connection with PGA WEST and TPC Scottsdale both being desert-style courses out West.

The Weather

Thursday: Sunny with a high of 91 degrees. Calm winds.

Friday: Sunny with a high of 91 degrees. Calm winds.

The only real defense of the course is wind but the forecast calls for calm conditions all week. We should expect the winner to eclipse that 20-under mark yet again this week.