Inside the Ropes
Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Las Vegas, Nevada
Yards: 7,243 as per the scorecard
Par: 71 (35-36)
Greens: Bentgrass; 7,570 square feet on average.
Rough: Bermudagrass at 2.75”
Water Hazrds: 4
Course Architects: Bob Weed and Fuzzy Zoeller (1992)
Winner’s Share: $810,000
Defending Champion: Kevin Na defeated Las Vegas resident Nick Watney by two shots.
Date: October 4-7
Field: 132 players; stroke play 72 holes; top 70 and ties advance to the weekend
Notes: Since 2008, TPC Summerlin has been the exclusive host to this tournament. No more multi-course format for this tournament.
There are six former champions in the field this week. Kevin Na (2011), Marc Turnesa (2008), George McNeill (2007), Troy Matteson (2006), Stuart Appleby (2003) and Bob Estes (2001).
Only Jim Furyk has won this tournament more than once (1995, 1998 and 1999).
Seven of the last eight winners have broken their maidens here. Only Jonathan Byrd had a previous PGA TOUR win on his CV.
20-under-par has been the average winning score here since 2008 when TPC Summerlin became the only course in play.
So What? So Let’s Dance!
If the average winning score here since 2008 is 20-under, then it’s time to make birdies, right? The more greens that are hit, the more chances for birdie can be taken. There are some notorious birdie busters in this week’s field and they will make the most noise this week. TPC Summerlin has large greens that will only be running around 11 on the stimpmeter so there is minimum risk to go flag hunting this week. Even guys who get it on the surface will find bogeys tough to make. Let’s face it, besides the majors, birdies are a good thing so sit back and enjoy the shoot out in the wild, wild, west.
TPC Summerlin ranked 44th (out of 51) easiest last year on TOUR and this year shouldn’t be much different. If you keep the ball out of the desert, you should be able to hit GIR and roll in birdie putts. The course has an exciting finish as No. 15 is a drivable par-four and No. 16 is must-make birdie. Hole No. 17 is most famously remembered for Jonathan Byrd’s “walk-off” hole-in-one in 2010 in a three-man playoff but is not an easy par three. Hole No. 18 will bring water into play on the approach but a solid tee shot can give one final chance at birdie if you can keep the final ball out of the water. Sounds like this week’s winner will have to win it down the stretch on Sunday!
Ryan Moore: He’s 16th in the all-around ranking and is 18th in birdie average so Moore will fit nicely this week in his current home town. If that’s not enough, I like that he’s fifth on TOUR in par-four birdie-or-better percentage. He’ll sleep in his own bed, smoke fairways and greens and hole a few putts and be right in it come Sunday. His last five events have seen his final position on the leaderboard improve, including all four in the FedExCup Playoffs. His best finish in six events here is T7 in 2009. He MC here last year but his recent form would be of greater interest this week.
Robert Garrigus: In five of his last eight starts, Garrigus has hit the top 25 and four of those finishes are in the top 10. The big hitter also is T10 in GIR and 10th in birdie average. It doesn’t hurt as he is also first in par-three birdie-or-better percentage. His form has been excellent as he finished T4 (BMW) and T10 (TOUR Championship) in his last two outings. This will be his seventh-consecutive start here and he was T16 last year after a closing 72 on Sunday.
Chris Kirk: He ranks 14th on TOUR in birdie average and absolutely shreds par-three and par-four holes in birdie-or-better percentage, ranking sixth on par-threes and SECOND on par-fours. It doesn’t hurt that he’s 35th in GIR and has made eight-consecutive cuts overall. His last time out he was T12 at the BMW. I wonder if Captain Kirk ever made it over to the Hilton to see the Star Trek Casino before they closed it down…
Nick Watney: The Las Vegas resident opened the FedExCup Playoffs with his first victory of the year at the Barclays. Watney is a solid iron player and makes his fair share of birdies so there’s a reason why he’s finished second last year and T6 in 2010. His worst round in those two tournaments was 67. Watney only made two bogeys here last year. Watney’s 2012 hasn’t been as much fun as his 2011 but another win late in the season will ease the pain of missing out on the Ryder Cup and could springboard him for another big year in 2013.
Vijay Singh: Anytime Vijay tees it up where GIR is a prerequisite; he will find himself on this list. It’s not his driving and iron play that worries us gamers; it’s his putting. Singh has shown that his ball-striking can carry him through four rounds regardless of which putter(s) he’s using this week. He’s made nine cuts on the trot and has three top 10’s to show during that time including a solo eighth-place at the BMW his last time out. Singh hasn’t played here in recent times but that’s no reason to leave him out this week.
Scott Piercy: The Las Vegas native and resident has been enjoying a career-year and another win, this time in his backyard, would just be icing on the cake. He’s 13th on TOUR in birdie-or-better conversion percentage and has finished T10, T28 and T14 in his last three years at TPC Summerlin so he knows his way around these parts. Piercy, after sneaking into the TOUR Championship, finished T15 his last time out in the field of 30.
Josh Teater: He’s the only one on this list so far without a victory to his name. I’ve shamelessly have ridden the “Teater Heater” in late summer and I’m jumping back on here in the fall! Teater has made seven cuts in a row and that includes three top 10 finishes. Teater is playing with house’s money as he sits No. 73 on the money list so I would expect him to keep banging GIR (27th on TOUR) and making birdies (33rd in birdie average) this week.
Troy Matteson: He has five top 20’s, including P2 at John Deere in his last eight starts on TOUR so I’m going with form over course history here. Since his win in 2006, he’s only made one cut in five but he closed the FedExCup Playoffs with T20 at DBC and T16 at the BMW so his recent form will take precedence for me this week.
Chad Campbell: UNLV grad has played this track a few times and should be comfortable on the grounds of TPC Summerlin. Since moving the tournament in 2008 exclusively to TPC Summerlin, Campbell has finished T23, T28, T2 and T3. He was MC at the Barclays (77-67) and T4 at the Wyndham his last two times out so he’s shown flashes that he’s close.
Ryan Palmer: He sits 12th in birdie-or-better conversion on TOUR and 11th in birdie average. Palmer’s playoff run ended with a T45 at the BMW but he was T8 here his last time out in 2010. Palmer hits it a ton and his putter can really get going.
Horses for Courses
They might not be worth mentioning except for their history at TPC Sumerlin
George McNeill: His best finish in his last 11 events is T38. Since his win here in 2007, McNeill has finished T15, T2, T14 and T76 last year. His picture is in the dictionary under horse for course for this event.
Tommy Gainey: Since his T13 at the John Deere Classic, Gainey has played six events and his best finish is T31. He was third here last year in his only career start and didn’t have a round worse than 68. He’s 24th in par-four birdie-or-better percentage as well and can get the putter cooking.
Kevin Streelman: With only five top 25’s in 23 events, Streelman hasn’t had quite the year he’s expected. A trip to Las Vegas is might be what he needs to turn his 2012 around as he’s played this event three times and finished 15-under each time. His worst score on this course is 69 so he has that going for him, which is nice.
Jhonattan Vegas: LOOK AT HIS LAST NAME. He was T5 here last year in his only start. He has two top 25 (both top 10’s) in 22 events; he also has 11 MC’s. Buyer beware.
Tim Herron: In 23 events this year on TOUR, Lumpy’s best finish was T11 way back in late March at API. Lumpy loves TPC Summerlin because he hits enough GIR to be in the mix. Lumpy has struggled this year but it wouldn’t shock me too much if he shows up this week. Since the event moved to TPC Summerlin exclusively, Herron has finished T6, T27, MC and T5 last year. He would have finished higher than that except for a double-bogey seven on the easy par-five 15th.
Off the radar but might sneak up on Sunday
Scott Stallings: In his last six events, Stallings has a win, T7, T14 and a T24. In his victory at the True South Classic, he made 20 birdies and four eagles with only three bogeys. If he does that again this week, he’ll be in contention come Sunday.
David Hearn: Hits plenty of greens and is in the top third on TOUR in strokes gained-putting. Plus, he was T5 here last year so obviously this is a course that fits his eye.
The Lee Brothers Who Aren’t Related featuring Danny and Richard. Danny is 39-under in his last three web.com Tour events so he’s not going to be shy is making birdies this week. Richard has finished T12 (Reno-Tahoe) and T14 (Wyndham) in his last two TOUR events and T22 (Mylan Classic) and T2 (Boise) in his last two web.com Tour events. That’s hot playing no matter what tour you’re on.
Scott Dunlap: Stretching a bit here, but Dunlap, like the Lee non-brothers, has also been a hot hand on the web.com Tour in the last few weeks. In his last five web.com Tour events, Dunlap has finished T6, T26, MC, T14 and T5 last week. Sure, this is a step up in class but remember, Dunlap is a crusty veteran who been here before.
Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge: JTSHCO & Dunhill Links (Glass Picks)
Group 1: Ryan Moore/Ernie Els
Group 2: Ryan Palmer/Pablo Larrazabal
Group 3: Josh Teater/Marc Warren
Group 4: Richard H. Lee/Thorbjorn Olesen
Ned said, “…
Ned Brown is a long-time contributor for Rotoworld Golf. He’s had documented success in Yahoo!’s game for years. Even if you’re confident in your selections for that game, give his insight a read. Now, Ned also provides us with his Golf Channel fantasy game selections as well!
Full Disclosure: I am NOT Ned! He’s smarter and better looking!
Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge: JTSHCO & Dunhill Links (Ned’s Picks)
Group 1: Ryan Moore/Louis Oosthuizen
Group 2: Tim Clark/Ritchie Ramsay
Group 3: Chad Campbell/Marc Warren
Group 4: Tim Herron/Anders Hansen
Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and his live chat with TheGolfNewsNet.com's Ryan Ballengee are done for the season. Please follow us on Twitter @Rotoworld_GF for updates on upcoming chats, features and 2013 coming attractions.