The PGA Tour heads into the meat of its Fall swing this week with the first stop of a two week stint in Vegas. The Shriners Hospitals for Children Open has gone by many different names in the past (some even longer than the current one) but it’s been a mainstay on the Fall swing since 1990, maintaining either an October or November date. Currently held at TPC Summerlin, a Par 71 venue located in the Vegas suburbs, the consistency of the Shriners event, and its proximity to the world’s biggest adult playground, has seen it draw some decent talent over its lifetime. This season, however, the event will undoubtedly feature its strongest since inception.
Led by recent US Open winner Bryson DeChambeau, three of the world’s top-10 players are in attendance here with 11-players total, who currently occupy the top-25 in the OWGR, in the official starting field. While we’ve seen big names come out for this event in the past the revised Fall schedule for 2020/2021 certainly has something to do with the turnout this year. Next week’s CJ Cup event is set to be played at Shadow Creek (a Las Vegas landmark) for the first time in its existence and we’re also getting dangerously close to the Fall Masters which is set to begin on November 12th this year.
Joining DeChambeau here for a two-week Vegas stint is 2017 Shriners winner Patrick Cantlay, whose record at TPC Summerlin also includes runner-up finishes here each of the past two seasons. Cantlay’s joined by another former winner in Webb Simpson, who won this event back in 2013 and is going off as the second-favorite currently in the outright department. The big names don’t stop there though as the 2nd, 3rd and 4th place finishers from the US Open are also all in attendance, with Matthew Wolff, Harris English and Louis Oosthuizen–who is playing this event for the first time ever–all in the field this week.
While the Shriners has seen poor weather play a factor here prior, particularly in 2017 when the winning score didn’t get past 9-under-par, the theme of this event has been birdies, birdies, and more birdies. Last year we saw Kevin Na shoot 23-under par, the lowest winning score since 2013, and post the best Strokes Gained Putting performance ever recorded for a single event. With the venue located at altitude (2700 ft.), players get a boost in driving distance so nearly every hole can offer up an opportunity at birdie, especially for the big hitters. The weather this week looks decent so expect low scoring to dominate again.
Shriners Hospitals for Children Open course details
Par: 71, 7255 yards
- Greens: Bentgrass
- Design: Bobby Weed (1991), Fuzzy Zoeller (consultant)
- Past Champions
- 2019 (23-under par) Kevin Na
- 2018 (19-under par) Bryson DeChambeau
- 2017 (9-under-par) Patrick Cantlay
TPC Summerlin ranks out as one of the more straight-forward venues on Tour, playing as the 10th-easiest overall last season. The Par 71 layout features average Bentgrass greens and only has water on a few holes down the stretch. It’s a pretty simple desert track at its core, one which invites players to be aggressive both off the tee and when firing into pins. The openness of the venue is likely its best defense is the elements, which can play a huge factor here and did in 2017 when heavy winds beleaguered players all week and caused the worst scoring conditions in the events history.
Without much wind though pro players don’t have much to fear at TPC Summerlin and that’s been reflected in the stats. Driving Distance totals here get up to 10-12 yards more, on average, than we see at the average Tour stop and Greens in Regulation % is also much higher at TPC Summerlin. Last year’s winner Kevin Na averaged 75% of greens hit, despite being one of the worst off the tee among the contenders.
Power off the tee hasn’t necessarily dominated here, after-all we have seen players like Na, Webb Simpson (2013) and Ben Martin (2014) all grab wins here over the past 8-seasons. That said, lately, it does feel like there’s been a consistent run of bombers who have gotten in a grove with their wedge games and landed solid finishes at this event. Players like Bryson DeChambeau (win-2019 and T4-2020), Patrick Cantlay (playoff loss-2020) and even Brooks Koepka in 2016 (T2) have all landed top-5’s/wins here the last 5-seasons. Numerous other big hitters like Tony Finau, Luke List and Matthew Wolff also finished well inside the top-20 here last season also.
One final note, the course has catered to experienced players with names like Na and Webb Simpson, veterans who come back here year-after-year and seemingly always get themselves in the mix. If you’re going to back experience over power and aggression, looking for a veteran player with a good track record at the event is likely a good idea.
2020 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open betting discussion and picks
From an odds perspective, here are where the last five winners of this event generally went off, from an outright perspective, pre-event for the year of their win:
- 2019- Kevin Na +6000
- 2018- Bryson DeChambeau +1400
- 2017- Patrick Cantlay +1800
- 2016 – Rod Pampling +30000
- 2015 – Smylie Kaufman +17500
This has been a really interesting event from an outright odds perspective. Winners here lately have either come from out of nowhere to take the title at massive odds, or been one of the elites of the field. The opportunities for birdies that abound here, and the thin air, have likely driven up some of the variance and helped produce the big numbered winners. It’s worth noting as everyone in this field deserves a look this week and there will likely be some players with huge odds that will get themselves in the mix at some point.
Betting favorites to win the 2020 Sanderson Farms Championship
Bryson comes into this event having now sat out for three straight weeks. His Tee to Green performance at the US Open and six-shot win at that event, on one of the hardest sets up the event, offers, was the performance of the season. He’ll have tons of looks at birdies this week given his off the tee game and loves this venue having nearly grabbed his second win here last season. I’d probably pass here given the price but don’t expect to see better prices on him soon unless he posts a couple of slow weeks.
Webb’s played consistently all year and has already landed two wins in 2020. The shorter hitter is more reliant on his putter than any of the other big names here but that hasn’t stopped him from landing T7 and T15 finishes at this venue the last two seasons. His ball-striking has fallen off a touch over his last two events, which is probably enough not to bet him at this price-point.
Cantlay has amassed a ridiculous record at this week’s venue, landing runner-up finishes here in each of the past two seasons. He won on debut here in 2017 and has gained +8.5 strokes or more, tee to green, at this event in each of his three visits. His recent form (no top-10’s in six starts) has likely kept his price down a bit which makes him a decent target among the top players here.
Finau had his second-best finish ever at this event last season landing a T9. He’s played this event six years straight now so there is a level of familiarity which could breed some good things from him this week. It’s hard to argue with his recent form–T8 and T4 at the first two majors–or the course history. The price here just doesn’t seem big enough for a player whose last and only win on Tour came back in 2016.
Morikawa’s price here seems worth looking into given where he sits in the odds compared to the other top players. He’s vastly outplayed both Cantlay and Finau on the year thus far, but his small dip in form and lack of course history at TPC Summerlin (T42 last season) has kept him in a bettable rang–one where he’s paid off twice already for backers in 2020. The argument against him is that his irons simply haven’t been as sharp over the last three to four events, as he’s only gained over +1-stroke on his approaches once (Tour Championship) since his PGA win.
Matsuyama leads this field in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green stats over the last 50-rounds so right off the bat he needs to be heavily considered if you’re considering this range of players. He ranked fourth in SG: TTG stats at the US Open, but only managed a T17 due to extremely poor putting (admittedly his speciality). He’s finished T10 and T16 (2019) at this event in two visits to TPC Summerlin. Like Finau, he never wins though (his last came in 2017) so betting him at this price hasn’t been profitable over the past three years.
Scheffler returned to action last week after being forced to rest for a small period of time due to his Covid-19 diagnosis. The American’s stellar 2020 season can often be forgotten as he’s yet to pick up an outright on Tour. He played in the final group at the PGA Championship though and picked up a bunch of cash with a 5th place at the Tour Championship. There’s little reason to think he won’t improve over a T37 finish from last week and this price is very bettable given the form he showed prior.
Favorite bets (each-ways and outrights)
For more info on types of golf bets available each week, be sure to check out more info here. Each way bets refer to bets that include a bet to win and a bet to place (usually to at least top-5 but sometimes are available up to top-8 or more).
This event looks like a great fit for Wolff who has to be coming into this start brimming with confidence. The 21-year-old turned a ton of heads this summer with the utter fearlessness he showed in the majors. While he didn’t get across the line at either the PGA or US Open, playing his way into a Sunday final group at Winged Foot just a few weeks ago should leave him thirsting for a win soon, and TPC Summerlin has been a great spot for power players like him to flex their muscles.
Both Patrick Cantlay and Bryson DeChambeau powered their way to wins here by gaining +4 or more strokes off the tee for the week and Wolff currently sits fifth in SG:OTT in this field over the last 50-rounds. He landed himself a T18 at this event last season, gaining +4.9 strokes OTT for the week (second best in the field) all despite showing nothing near the kind of form with his irons and short game that he has coming into this season. His price may have dipped a lot since the last two majors but we’ve seen Wolff take to aggressive layouts like TPC Twin Cities and Detroit Golf Club very quickly. If he comes to TPC Summerlin with the same kind of bravado we saw in the majors, this could be a multi-shot victory.
Henley comes in as a near must bet for me in this event considering his recent form. The three-time Tour winner has been playing perhaps the best golf of his career over the past few months, landing top-10 finishes in three of his last six starts. The finishes have been solid but the form and stats he’s showing suggest that the best is yet to come. The 30-year-old ranks first in this field in SG:Approach stats over the last 24/36/50 rounds and ranks right up among the elite names like Collin Morikawa and Bryson DeChambeau in SG: Tee to Green stats as well.
Henley’s even taken a step forwards around the greens, where he’s now gained strokes in that area in six straight starts and has only had his upside capped by the putter most weeks, a club that has shown signs of improvement of late. TPC Summerlin isn’t necessarily a place where you have to be solely reliant on your flatstick for success as both Bryson DeChambeau and Rod Pampling gained under +2-strokes putting in the years of their win, ranking 45th and 39th for the week in SG:PUTT, respectively. Henley’s shown the ability and form of late to be able to replicate those kinds of performances on a track like TPC Summerlin and makes for a solid play for me again in this range.
I left off Burns last week when his odds refused to drift under +3000 but have no qualms about adding him again this week at much bigger prices. Like many young players on Tour, he’s yet to find the week-in-week-out consistency that only the very elite players deliver, but he has begun to show his talent in bigger and bigger flashes of late, with his T7 at the Safeway Open–where he led after 36-holes– a great mirror into his overall upside.
Burns can bomb it with the best of them off the tee–ranking 10th in the field in SG: Off the Tee stats over the last 24-rounds–and, in that regard, his game has several parallels with many of the recent winners here, who took advantage of the great positions their drivers put them in all week. Scoring has also never been an issue for the 24-year-old, and the fact he already ranks 5th in Birdie or Better % for 2020/2021 speaks to his upside at a venue like TPC Summerlin. The missed cut last week shouldn’t be a worry either as he’s shown a penchant for bouncing back after bad weeks, landing his best two finishes of 2020 thus far (T6-American Express, T7-Safeway Open) after MC’s.
Wise endured a terrible 2020 that saw him miss 12-cuts in 18-starts throughout the season. Despite the terrible stretch of play, the 24-year-old remains one of the pure talents on Tour and it’s worth noting that this is a player who made the cut in all four major championships in 2019, landing a T17 at the Masters in his debut. Wise gets on the card here as a result of his performance last week though, which saw him finish T17–a result which could have been much better if not for a sub-par round of 72 to finish his week.
The competitive rust on Sunday may have shown at the Sanderson Farms Championship, but you have to think the confidence for Wise is building after a solid result there that saw him rank 16th in SG: Tee to Green stats and 13th in SG: approach stats for the week. Wise performed great at altitude earlier in 2020 at the Barracuda, where he shot a final round 62 and finished T7, and is also a Vegas-based player who shouldn’t be unfamiliar with the setting/altitude in play this week. He’s worth chasing at big odds to see if last week’s performance sparks an even bigger finish in Vegas.
Longshots and Top-20 market
I mentioned the number of hyper-longshot winners that this event has produced over the last five years and, for that reason, I think looking way down in the odds for some potentially explosive talent warrants consideration this week. Gordon certainly fits that bill here as the 24-year-old has already made some waves on the PGA Tour, gaining a T3 earlier in the year at the Travelers–against a field similar to this one–which was good enough to gain him a special exemption on Tour.
Like many of his younger compatriots, Gordon is big off the tee and ranks sixth in SG:OTT in this field over the last 24-rounds (just one slot behind Wolff). He’s also 13th in Birdies or Better gained over that same period and should benefit here from the easier layout.
Clark’s another player who fits the bill of a young player who hits the ball a mile, makes a ton of birdies and could come to life here in the thin air and easier layout. The Oregon product was striking the ball well through two rounds last week before his putter self-destructed on the weekend. We should expect him to bounce-back quickly with that club though given that he’s ranked 16th and 8th in SG: Putting on Tour the last two seasons.
Long off the tee–he averaged 311 yards per drive in 2019–and trending better with his ball-striking over his last three or four starts, the 26-year-old has also flashed the ability to compete against the best in the world when his game comes together. He made the final group at the Honda Classic in 2018 and finished T5 to Wolff at the 3M Open in 2019. Clark warrants a bet for me here for placing considerations as an each-way and in the top-20 area at big odds.
Russell Henley over Will Zalatoris -110
Zalatoris has had a great run but fatigue is definitely setting in for the Korn Ferry regular after a missed cut last week. The altitude at TPC Summerlin can be tricky for first-timers and for him to beat the in-form Russell Henley at this shorter track he’ll likely need a big week. Henley ranks first in the field in SG:APP stats over the last 50-rounds and gained +7.1 strokes here on APP last season. This is a good matchup to take the veteran to triumph.
Zach Johnson over Abraham Ancer -110
While Ancer was clearly the better player here early in the year the tide has turned, of late, and ZJ has been the one trending upwards since the beginning of August. Johnson comes in with multiple top-10’s over his last two starts while Ancer has seen his typically consistent ball-striking fall off of late.