Niall Lyons shares his betting tips and preview for the Shriners Childrens Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas.
Shriners Childrens Open - Winner
We head to Las Vegas this week with the return of the Shriners, an event that always throws up triple-figure contenders. Last year Sungjae Im won among the more fancied players whilst the year before it was Martin Laird who won the playoff at as big as 250/1 at the start of the week. Birdies rain down here on the field on what is one of the easiest tracks on the tour score-wise. That being said it isn't without its intricacies with a lot of the shorter hitters here in the mix down the years.
It is played at altitude which helps those not well endowed off the tee. Three of the last five winners here have ranked in the top five for driving accuracy so it's important to put yourself in the right places to attack the greens. Approach play plays a big part also with good ball strikers dominating the leaderboards.
It certainly is one of those weeks where you look further down the price list and gamble on some likely sorts at triple figures. Desert form from the Waste Management and AMEX events early in the seasons will be another pointer I look towards.
Patrick Cantlay is without doubt worthy jolly this week given he has one win and two runner-up finishes here in four efforts. The worst of his outings here was an 8th spot last year. Recent form suggests he is certainly worth a glance around the 7/1 mark this week. The one negative to investing in that price is that a score of 22 under par could be comfortably equalled by others in the field and it is rare there is a runaway winner here.
Three of the last five of these editions have resulted in a playoff, two at 21 under and the other at 23 under. When Cantlay won here in 2017 he did so with a total of nine-under where the wind blew all week and made it a totally different event to what we normally see here. His subsequent runner-ups at the 20 under mark suggest he is more than capable though when the conditions are sweet. The Presidents Cup outing shakes off the potential rust he'd normally have from five weeks off tournament golf. Nevertheless, it's a close run thing and he is certainly interesting at 7/1.
Sungjae Im at 14/1
At double that price though I'm inclined to back Sungjae Im. We backed Homa at the same price a few weeks back to defend his title in California and given the weakness in this event after the first handful in the field I think the 16/1 dangled about Im was a little too big and despite that disappearing overnight I'm happy to go win only at 14s. He comes here off the back of edging out Cam Young in the singles at Qual Hollow finishing the week with 2.5pts, half a point behind the International leader Si Woo Kim.
We already seen a reaction from Hughes and Fox last week to not being picked and for that reason alone Lucas Herbert must be closely watched this week, but I wouldn't be surprised should one or two of the International side win closely after the defeat to the Americans. Back in 2019 following the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne in December Leishman, Smith and Scott won three of the next seven PGA tour events.
Sungjae Im then won the Honda a few weeks later to cement what is clearly a telling experience for the Internationals to play in that game. The 12 must be watched in the following few months but someone of the class of Im has the capability of going back to back and winning this event again. Quite simply I expected a top price of 11/1 so the 14s is good enough.
Rickie Fowler at 70/1 (Eight Places)
Rickie Fowler loves a desert challenge and although the layers are alive to his chances this week I think it's worth giving him a go. Fowler has a win and a handful of runner-up finishes in Phoenix and two top seven finishes here from six efforts show Summerlin is a track that he could easily tame someday.
Fowler's ball striking was back in superb nick in California and he ranked 8th from tee to green that week. A 6th placed finish there was his best effort since last October, where he finished 3rd in the CJ Cup, another desert layout at the Summit. Fowler arrives here this week clearly in better form than what he did for that CJ Cup and this possibly represents one of his best chances to get back in the winner's enclosure for quite a long time.
For someone of his experience and quality when he does get back into contention he will have the ability to shake off that potential rust and get the job done. Hard not to include him in the staking plan for this given how he performed last time out.
Andrew Putnam at 80/1 (Eight Places)
Andrew Putnam normally suffers from a lack of distance week to week but that isn't an issue here at Summerlin and his recent performances suggest he could be one worth siding with this week. He has gone well in the Desert before with three top 20 finishes posted in the American Express in California. His off-the-tee stats are never going to look eye-catching simply because he doesn't have the power off the tee.
That shouldn't be an issue here and it's worth looking to the venues where it is of little importance to see where Putnam may shine. A strong finish to last season has been backed up by two solid efforts to kick off this campaign and Summerlin looks to have come along at the perfect time. Two top 20s here before are a sign of what he is capable of and having hoped for triple-figure prices I was a bit disappointed not to see any. Nevertheless, around 80/1 looks a fair mark given the quality he is playing.
Hayden Buckley at 125/1 (Eight Places)
Hayden Buckley didn't have the best of seasons on his maiden jaunt on the tour but it must be noted that the best of his form arrived at this time last year. He was 4th in Jackson last year at the Sanderson before finishing 8th on debut here at Summerlin the following week. Those two efforts were after a missed cut at the Fortinet. The same trend may be playing out again as he missed the cut again in Silverado only to post a top 20 finish last week.
He fired a tremendous final round 65 in Jackson where he ranked 2nd on approach and 3rd from tee to green. Ball striking is where it's at this week and should he continue in that manner he could threaten to beat last year's top ten and go even better. 125/1 looks a fair price to go well again.
Chesson Hadley at 200/1 (Eight Places)
Chesson Hadley suffered from an ice-cold putter last week in Jackson and I'm prepared to give him another go at a top price of 200/1. His ball striking was in good shape last week and any performance at all with the putter would have seen him make the weekend a post a much better result. Hadley usually excels with the putter and I'd expect a return towards the mean this week.
Summerlin has been a good hunting ground for Hadley who in seven efforts here has managed three top seven finishes and a further top 20. He was 150/1 last week and arrives at a venue with a truckload of previous form and I see the 200/1 as a tasty price given the only aspect of his game last week that suffered was his strongest club in the bag, the putter. Worth another shot to continue a good run here.
Scotty Piercy at 150/1 (Eight Places)
Scott Piercy is another with a fine desert record who loves a birdie fest and at 150/1 looks worthy of support. Piercy ranked 5th on approach and 9th tee to green for the final round in Jackson last week when he shot 67 to squeak inside the top 20. He ranked 23rd on approach for the week and but for a misbehaving putter could have been a lot higher up the leaderboard.
This track in Vegas holds good memories for Piercy. From his last 13 efforts here has missed three cuts and from the other ten his worst finish is 32nd. That includes four top tens and a further four top 25 finishes. Summerlin is clearly a track that suits Piercy and with form on other desert tracks also he must be closely watched following a solid performance last week.