DFS preview and picks for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Course: TPC at Summerlin (Las Vegas, Nevada)
Yardage: 7,235 – Par 71
Purse : $6.8 million
Field: 140 players
Recent Shriners Hospitals for Children Open Winners
Xander Schauffele outlasted Tony Finau in a playoff on Sunday for the win at the WGC-HSBC Champions. By making a birdie on the 73rd hole, Schauffele completed a three-shot comeback after starting Sunday behind his playing-partner Finau. Schauffele shot a final round 68 to Finau’s 71 at they treated the Shanghai fans to a thrilling finish. They both birdied the 17th and 18th holes on their way to a final sudden-death showdown for the trophy. They replayed the Par 5 18th, where Schauffele made a third straight birdie. Finau made par after finding a fairway bunker on his tee shot, denying him the win yet again. The playoff loss is Finau’s fourth runner-up finish over the last twelve months, with zero wins during in that span. We all know Finau can win any tournament he’s in, but, for whatever reason, he continues to come up just short. I get the feeling that when he does break through, it’ll be a big tournament. Xander Schauffele is a tough golfer to figure out as far as how well he’s going to perform from week to week. However, when he’s at his best, he has major championship level game. Two of his three wins have been against the best of the best with this past win and a win at the 2017 Tour Championship. Schauffele also finished runner-up at the British Open last year, plus T5 and T6 at his last two U.S. Opens. In my last picks article, I mentioned how Emiliano Grillo and Cameron Smith have some work to do to catch the other golfers in their age group like Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas. Schauffele’s inconsistency have people (such as myself) forgetting about him as a part of that conversation, but over the last 14 months, Schauffele has more wins than Spieth and Rahm. With this win, he’s now ranked 11th in the world, one spot ahead of Spieth.
While the field may not be nearly as strong as last week’s WGC field, this week’s Shriners Hospitals for Children’s Open will sport it’s best field in years. After the three-week Asian swing, the Shriners is generally an afterthought for the world’s best, especially since most of them just finished a tournament in Shanghai, China on Sunday. However, this year the Shriners will have some solid star power at the top with Rickie Fowler, Tony Finau and Jordan Spieth headlining the tournament. Last year’s champion, Patrick Cantlay, will be there to defend his title, while Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson and Bryson DeChambeau will make their 2018-19 debut this week in Vegas. Gary Woodland, Chesson Hadley and Ryan Moore will look to continue their hot starts to the season, while players like Joaquin Niemann, Beau Hossler, Kevin Na and Andrew Putnam look to gain some momentum as 2018 comes to a close. The lower three-quarters of the field is much softer than usual. After that there is a pretty severe drop off, leading to some inflated prices this week. Lucas Glover, Abraham Ancer, Scott Piercy, Ryan Palmer, Bronson Burgoon, Austin Cook, Martin Laird, Sam Ryder, Jim Furyk, Sam Burns, Rory Sabbatini and Chris Kirk make up your mid 7K-8K range. Beyond that, it’s mostly Tour rookies and journeymen filling out the rest of the field.
TPC at Summerlin is located west of Las Vegas at roughly 2,700 feet above sea level. Summerlin is a Par 71 that measures 7,235 yards. As far as desert courses go, that’s a pretty short course for a dry course where the ball rolls. Between the elevation and dryness of the landscape, drives tend to go 15-20 yards further, and their iron shots will go half a club to a club further than it might down in Florida or the Northeast. So really, this course plays like a 7,000 yard course, perhaps even shorter for these guys. The course won’t be very long for anybody, so driving distance isn’t much of an advantage here. Instead, I’d value Strokes gained: off-the-tee. Summerlin carves its way through the desert canyons providing for a lot of elevation change. Desert courses generally feature a pretty wide fairway and either a limited amount of rough or none at all. In the absence of rough, if you miss the fairway, it’s anything goes. Sand, rocks, bushes, snakes, you name it. The natural landscape is not made for golf, so it is pivotal that players stay out of that mess. Look at players who excel in Good drive percentage and scrambling. Keeping the ball out of the desert is an obvious, but foolproof, way of scoring well here. Of course nobody’s perfect, so putting some value on players who can make pars from hairy situations is a good way to go. Summerlin also features some very large undulated greens. The big greens may be easy to hit, but the key to scoring at TPC Summerlin is hitting it onto the right portion of the putting surface. Strokes gained: approach over the years has been a pretty common trait of the players who have won or finished in the Top 5. Lastly, this is another event where more times than not, the winning score is in the 20-under range. This is the 26th year the tournament has been held at TPC Summerlin. With the exception of last year, where Cantlay won with a score of nine-under, the average winning score at Summerlin was about 22-under. Assuming this year’s tournament makes its way back towards the usual score, Birdie or better percentage is key to finishing in the upper portion of the field.
2018 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open DFS Picks
Tony Finau ($11,300) It might be chalky, but if you want to spend up over 10K your other choices are Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Bryson DeChambeau and Webb Simpson, all of whom haven’t played in a month or so. With Finau playing last week, we at least know that he’s in solid form currently. On top of that, he should be as motivated as ever to capture his first win since 2016 after losing in a playoff to Xander Schauffele last week. Finau is undoubtedly the hottest golfer in the field this week and comes in as the second-best value according to DailyRoto’s value optimizer. Virtually a Top 20 lock, Finau will have his eyes on just one thing this week.
Patrick Cantlay ($9,900) The defending Shriners champion, Cantlay gained his first and only win here a year ago. Early in the 2018-19 season, Cantlay appears to be his usual consistent self, finishing T17 at the Safeway Open and T7 last week at the WGC HSBC Champions. Cantlay ranks inside the Top 30 this season in strokes gained: off-the-tee and inside the Top 20 in scrambling. In eight competitive rounds so far, Cantlay has yet to make a double bogey. He also comes in right behind Finau in projected value this week as the third-best value overall this week.
Sung-Jae Im ($8,800) Sung Jai-Im is a 20-year old Korean rookie who graduated from Web.Com to the PGA Tour this season. I’m telling you right now this kid could be the real deal. Im won two Web.Com events last year, and added three more runner-ups on his way to being the Web.Com money leader last season. He shot a round of 60 in Web.Com Q-school in 2017 and has already proven himself at this level with a T4 at the Safeway Open and a T41 at the CJ Cup. Im also has an eye-popping good drive percentage. Over the course of his ten competitive rounds this season, Im has been in good driving position on 131 of 140 holes; he’s virtually never putting himself out of position off-the-tee. I’m hoping Im can be a sleeper pick this week before he starts putting up big results and becoming a DFS favorite. DailyRoto likes Im as well, as he ranks 19th in projected value this week.
Sam Burns ($7,600) Sam Burns is another young gun who has already proven himself on Tour over the last year. Although, he mostly played on the Web.Com tour, Burns played a handful of tournaments on the PGA Tour, as well, where he proved he could hang, including a T20 finish at this tournament last season. He most notably finished T7 at the Honda Classic with his Sunday playing partner Tiger Woods. Burns is hitting it great off-the-tee this year, ranking 17th on Tour in strokes gained there. He’s also a solid scrambler, ranking 30th in that statistic, and he’s coming off of a solid showing finishing, T3 at the Sanderson Farms Championship. The 22-year old should be a good value with a lot of upside coming into this week.
Carlos Ortiz ($6,800) Carlos Ortiz was also a T3 finish last week at the Sanderson Farms Championship. Ortiz is a deep sleeper this week who should be microscopically owned, a consequence of going with expensive pieces such as Finau and Cantlay up top. Ortiz is the contrarian play to Bud Cauley, who is also at this price-range and has a far more pronounced history on the PGA Tour. Ortiz is a jack of all trades, ranking inside the top half of Tour players in good drive percentage, Top 40 in strokes gained: off-the-tee, and 16th overall in scrambling. He’s coming off of a tournament where his worst round was a respectable two-under 70.
Stephan Jaeger ($6,400) To the very bottom of the price range we go to find Stephan Jaeger. I’m not going to argue Jaeger could win the tournament, but he certainly can make the cut and finish inside the Top 20 this week. Jaeger did just that last year, finishing T20 and just six shots off of Cantlay’s winning score. The 29-year old German should be mostly ignored in tournaments. A solid showing from