Shriners Hospital for Children Open
Las Vegas, Nevada
Yards: 7,243 as per the scorecard
Par: 71 (35-36)
Greens: Bentgrass that are 7,570 square feet on average.
Rough: Bermudagrass at 2.75”
Water Hazards: 4
Course Architects: Bob Weed and Fuzzy Zoeller (1992)
Winner’s Share: $1,080,000
FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Las Vegas resident and former UNLV star Ryan Moore fired 24-under-par to defeat Brendon de Jonge by one shot last year.
Dates: October 17-20
Notes: Stroke play where top 70s and ties will play the weekend. Remember, since 2008 TPC Summerlin has been the ONLY host venue. This used to be played over four courses and was FIVE rounds at one time.
There were 40 tournaments last season. The USA won 31 of them but it was Sweden’s Henrik Stenson who went home with all the cash on the final weekend in Atlanta. This season Jimmy Walker has made it one out of one for the red, white and blue.
There were 12, first-time winners in 2013. Remember, that was LAST season but at least it’s a point of reference. Jimmy Walker has already given the maidens hope for 2013-14 with his first TOUR win in 188 starts.
There were six players with multiple victories last season as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson. Only Jimmy Walker has a chance to join this group this week in Sin City.
Past Champions in the field since the tournament moved exclusively to TPC Summerlin:
Marc Turnesa (2008)
Martin Laird (2009)
Jonathan Byrd (2010)
Kevin Na (2011)
Ryan Moore (2012)
The last SEVEN of nine winners of this event have been first-time winners. Only Jonathan Byrd (2010) and Moore (2012) have won previously on TOUR.
The last two winners of this even, Moore and Kevin Na (2011) are both residents of Las Vegas. It must be Scott Piercy’s year! Or Bill Lunde. Or Nick Watney. Or Charley Hoffman.
Only Jim Furyk has defended his title in this event and that was in the mid-90s when it was played over multiple courses.
Inside the Ropes
Welcome to 2013-2014! If you have any ideas/suggestions/wants/etc. for the column this season, shoot me an email and I’ll try and include it. After all, you are the reason I’m writing this so to not listen to your suggestions would be quite stupid.
Week two of the 2013-14 PGA TOUR season finds lovely Las Vegas as the scene for the second consecutive birdie-fest to start the season. The average winning since this event has moved to the TPC Summerlin has been a ridiculous 21.6-under-par so birdies will be the order of the day. Bogeys here will feel like doubles because this course is constantly one of the easiest on TOUR and checked in as 4Oth-easiest of the 49 used in 2012. The greens are rather large and the Stimpmeter is kept at a reasonable 11’ so the pros can make as many birdies as possible and avoid bogeys. It feels like a Web.com event because the winning score is 19-under or better every year.
During Ryan Moore’s one-shot victory last year, he racked up 26 birdies, finished T4 in GIR and was first, second and fifth in the putting categories. He only made four bogeys on the week but there were four players who made FEWER bogeys! Desert golf is pretty simple. Hit in the fairway, find the putting surface and hole copious amounts of putts. It’s just that easy!
My job this week is to find the players whose form suggests they are ready to make a ton of birdies plus those who are most comfortable when birdies are the order of the day. I wouldn’t get carried away in too many other stats this week besides scoring, birdies and bogey avoidance. It’s a TPC course and we have learned over time that these pros DESTROY resort courses. It’s quite simple this week. If these guys don’t get low, they’re not going to be in contention, so find guys who love to make birdies and are warm/hot like the desert!
Zach Johnson: He’s finished in the top eight in seven of his last events and his other finish was T27. In his only time here in 2008 he opened with 62-65 and finished T10. He has no problem getting low with his short game and wedges.
Jimmy Walker: DY-NO-MITE! He crushes par four, makes birdies and has finished T11 at WIN in his last two starts. He was T10 here last year even though he closed with 73. He closed with 66 last week and should be brimming with confidence after his first ever win.
Graham DeLaet: It’s a toss-up between him and Henrik Stenson for the best ball-striker on TOUR but the Canadian hasn’t gained as much attention because he hasn’t won. Yet. He’s 16th in birdie average and was fourth in total birdies in 2013. In his only appearance at this event he fired 63 in the second round in 2010 en route to 15-under and T18.
Webb Simpson: His last appearance in 2010 saw him rack up a T4 as he fired 20-under. His worst round was 68. He had 15 top 25s in 21 finishes and carded 11 bogey-free rounds (of 88) in 2013. That’s three times better than the TOUR average. He hasn’t won on TOUR since his 2011 U.S. Open and he’s pushing in the right direction.
Nick Watney: In his four FedExCup Playoff events, he had exactly two rounds over par from 16 so his form is of no concern. The last three years the Las Vegas resident has posted finishes of T6, T2 and T10 last year. None of those rounds have been above par and only ONE has been at par.
Hideki Matsuyama: He’s never been worse than T21 when he’s made the cut on TOUR. He’s playing against the weakest fields he’s seen and almost took advantage last week with his T3. The young Japanese will hit almost every fairway and every green and should be in contention on a course that plays this easily. Remember, he racked up finishes of T10, T6 and T19 in the final three majors of the season. I think he’ll be able to find his way around TPC Summerlin.
Scott Piercy: Another resident of the area who has destroyed this track in previous years, Piercy has finished T14, T28, T10 and T6 last season so he’s quite comfortable around these parts. The only concern might be his 18-OVER finish at the BMW his last time out but I believe he’ll bounce back in these familiar surroundings.
Chris Kirk: He’s taking another shot at a course where he started 64-68 last year before fading to 71-74 on the weekend. He closed out the FedExCup Playoffs with T16 and T24 to fall just short of TTC but it’s not like he was playing poorly. He’s 12th in birdie-or-better conversions, fifth in par three performance and second in par four performance. Drive for show, putt for dough but he’s still 16th in the all-around category.
Matt Jones: With two top 10s in his last four events before the 2013-14 season, I’ll throw out that he MC here in 2011 with 65-75. Jones made a leap last year that you all should be aware of by now and should be excited to take it to the next level. He’s 13th in the all-around category and in the top 30 in scoring.
Brendon de Jonge: He almost broke through for his first win here last year but his final round 67 was one short of Ryan Moore. His 23-under included an opening round 62 and his 67 was his worst of the week. He’s going to hit almost every fairway and almost every green so that will be plenty of birdie chances to be had. He was sixth on TOUR in actual scoring and his confidence should be flying after a solid showing as a captain’s pick at the Presidents Cup. First-time winners are the norm around here so him lifting the trophy would hardly be surprising.