The PGA is finally back in the United States after a fairly long excursion in Asia which occupied and hosted multiple tournaments. This week is the Shriner’s Hospital for Children Open which takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada. This tournament is played at TPC at Summerlin which is a Par 71 measured at just over 7,250 yards. It is slightly longer than the typical PGA course, so it might favor good drivers/long hitters consequently by a slight amount. It is known to be an easy course so expect a lot of birdies here this week. Moreover, the PGA is back to large field events meaning there will be a cut in place in which the top 70 golfers + ties move on to the final two rounds. The field for this event is relatively weak as there is a lack of elite golfers. The key statistics for this course are ball striking, birdie or better %, Par 5 efficiency (550-600 yards), and SG:Approach. Now, let’s get into some picks!
Top Price Tier: ($9,000+)
Gary Woodland: DK $9,600 FD $9,000
Woodland Comes into this week in pretty good form. He has finished in the top 40 in each of his last 5 events and each of these were arguable relatively strong fields he was competing against. He tends to put up higher results in weaker field events like this one. For example, at the RBC Canadian Open which features a similar field and also an easy course like at the Shriner’s, Woodland finished in 4th making 27 birdies and an eagle over his 4 rounds. Most recently, Woodland finished T40 at the newly established CJ Cup. He got better as the tournament progressed, shooting -1 over the last 2 rounds while being +6 to start the first two. This improvement and adaptation is a good sign for Woodland as it might come into play here this week as he has never competed at the Shriner’s Hospital for Children Open in his career. His course fit is superb nevertheless. He is one of the tour’s best and most consistent ball strikers. He ranked 7th in ball striking over the course of the 2016/2017 season with a good/balanced driving and GIR rank, 18th and 11th respectively. As for his Par 5 efficiency from over 550 yards, Woodland was 3rd best in the PGA with a scoring average of 4.461 which was much better than tour average (4.729). Furthermore, his approach numbers were phenomenal as he ranked 15th in the PGA for SG:Approach and 11th in GIR. From an overall standpoint, Woodland’s birdie making skills are above average. He ranked 60th in the PGA in birdie or better %. Woodland stands out as a really good cash/GPP play for this week. Look for him to finish in at least the Top 10 at this week’s Shriner’s Hospital for Children Open.
Also Consider: Tony Finau, Kevin Na, Ryan Moore
Mid Price Tier: ($7,000 – $9,000)
Nick Taylor: DK $7,600 FD $5,300
Taylor is currently in great form, arguably the best in his price range. He has 4 consecutive cuts made including 3 straight finishes in the Top 25. In his most recent ‘weak field event’, at the Safeway Open in early October, Taylor finished T9 recording 17 birdies over the 4 rounds. Taylor has played at the Shriners multiple times in his career. In three appearances over the last 3 years, Taylor has made all 3 cuts with his best finish coming in 2015, T25. Consistency in course history is always a bonus, especially when in good form. In terms of course fit, Taylor is definitely capable of succeeding here. He ranks 28th in the current season for ball striking coming off an average 84th ranking from last year. On par 5s (550-600 yards), Taylor ranked better than tour average, 50th overall, with a scoring average of 4.659. In terms of approach game, adjusted for recent form, Taylor did pretty good in his most recent showing at the CJ Cup finishing 27th in the field in GIR. Overall on the season, Taylor ranked 99th in SG:Approach and 79th in GIR. As for his birdie making, Taylor has improved his rank of 127th last year to 94th in the current season. Taylor seems to be a viable cash play given his consistency as of late and at the course in the past. Given the weak field, a top 40 finish would not be surprising.
Also Consider: Scott Piercy, Luke List
Low Price Tier: (<$7,000)
Brandon Hagy DK $6,900 FD $5,500
Hagy participated in the weak field event last week which took place at the same time as the more elite WGC-HSBC Champions. He did very good for himself finishing T18. He has made 7 of his last 9 cuts and the last 6 of his made cuts have all resulted in a top 50 finish. Hagy has never participated at the Shriners in his career which is not surprising since he was a PGA tour rookie last year and this is only his 2nd season. Hagy was slightly inconsistent over the course of the entire season, but became better as the year went on. Looking at last years statistics, Hagy was 108th in ball striking, 25th in Par 5 (550-600 yards), 169th in SG:approach and 50th in BoB%. Given his success at recent weak field, easy course events, I see Hagy being a great low-owned GPP value play this week.
Also Consider: Michael Kim, Corey Conners