Tony Finau & Cameron Champ Coming in Hot to Shriners Open
by Kent Whitaker Scores & Statson
The PGA Tour returns to the States for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open following the three events that compose the Asian Swing with two entrants coming off hot finishes last week! Tony Finau finished tied for the lead at Nine Bridges in Shanghai before falling to Xander Schauffele and Cameron Champ won the PGA Tour Sanderson Farms Championship on Sunday.
Both players are playing a high-level of golf coming into the Shriners but they’re not alone! This year’s event sports a strong field with several players on the Official World Golf Ranking’s top-25 list. Finau and Cameron will have to fend off Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, and others to beat a field that oddsmakers seem to have a hard time separating.
Finau, Fowler, and Spieth all come into the opening round bunched at +1100 with Bryson DeChambeau trailing slightly at +1200. The entire top five favorites are only separated by +100 with players below them not far behind. Here are Intertops' top-five favored players for the Shriners Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Why so close? All the top-five players are coming off strong 2017/2018 seasons and every one of them was on the 2018 edition of the Ryder Cup team for the United States. Granted, the Ryder Cup was not so memorable for team USA fans – but making a Ryder Cup squad is an amazing feat. That probably explains the tight grouping at the top. Plus, Simpson won the event in 2014.
Sleepers for the Shriners? – Start with Cameron Champ!
There are plenty of sleepers in the Shriners field starting with Champ! Last week was one of the weeks on the schedule with dual events. The WGC tournament in Shanghai took place the same time as the Sanderson Farm Championship in Mississippi. Champ (+3300) blistered much of the field going birdie on five of the last six holes. He wrapped things up at 21-under 267 overall with a four-stroke lead over Corey Conners who will also be playing in the Shriners.
Champ was an amateur this time last year before gaining his PGA Tour card and now he’s a Tour winner with a three-year exemption and he’s jumped to the sixth spot in the FedEx Cup standings. Pretty impressive for a guy that didn’t turn pro until winter was approaching last season.
Patrick Cantlay won the Shriners last season and he trails the top-five behind Simpson at +1600. Cantlay is also coming off a strong 2017/2018 season and if he can repeat at TPC Summerlin he’ll be the first player to do so since Jim Furyk did so in the 1998 – 1999 events. Cantlay also gained a two-year PGA Tour exemption last week following his play in the WGC in Shanghai and has moved to 50 the OWGR rankings.
TPC Summerlin by the Numbers
TPC at Summerlin is located in Las Vegas. The Bobby Weed, with Fuzzy Zoeller consulting, designed course opened in 1991 and is known for its striking setting below the mountains nearby. The course itself uses the natural valley’s and rolling terrain of the desert floor but is lush with Bentgrass and native plants.
So much attention was given to protecting native plants and animals while keeping the landscape natural that the facility is certified by Audubon International as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System. And, all the natural settings come into play in the form of dangerous rough and out of bounds areas, tight fairways with sprawling sand bunkers and water coming into play a few times including one of the courses signature holes.
In fact, the course lists the last four holes as their signature greens. Hole 15 is a par four that demands a clean tee shoot as five bunkers protect the elevated green. Hole 16 is a downhill par five that will take a driver and long iron to clear the pond protecting the green. Water protects one side with sand bunkers nearby.
The 17 hole is a downhill par-three over water with a steep slope towards the back of the green. Any errant shot with force par, bogie or worse. The final hole is a scenic finish with water and sand bunkers coming into play. Fortunately, the green is large and deep for well-played second shots. Sadly, if a player pushes a ball either left or right they are probably going to add a few strokes to their card.
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada Designers: Bobby Weed with Fuzzy Zoeller consulting Established: 1991 Par: 71 – for PGA play Length: 7,255 Course rating: 74.4 Slope rating: 137 Greens: Bentgrass Fairways: Bentgrass, with natural flora outside of roughs
Shriners Hospitals for Children Open TV Times - all times ET
Thursday/Friday: 4:30 PM – 7:30 PM, Golf Channel Saturday/Sunday: 4:30 PM – 7:30 PM, Golf Channel Streaming is not available via PGATourLive this week but will be available on the Golf Channel app with sign in via your TV provider.