The new season of the PGA Tour got off to a great start last week. Emiliano Grillo came through a tense play-off against Kevin Na to win the Frys.com Open and we should be in for another special tournament this week. A good field will tee it up in Las Vegas for the Shriners Open held at TPC Summerlin. Rickie Fowler is the standout name but the galleries will also be entertained by the likes of Brooks Koepka, Jimmy Walker and Brandt Snedeker.
Make no mistake about it, this is going to be a birdie fest. The 7,255 yard course ranked as the easiest par 71 course on the entire PGA Tour last season with any player who didn’t make four birdies losing ground to the rest of the field. In the last five years no score worse than 20 under par has been enough to win this event.
At such an easy course putting is going to be vital this week. As they say on the PGA Tour, “these guys are good”, so each player is going to give themselves plenty of chances to break par. Taking advantage of those opportunities is what will separate the winner from the rest of the field. Of course, hitting the ball close to the hole is also going to be important but don’t worry about distance off the tee. 7,255 yards may look long but the effects of altitude means that Summerlin plays nothing like that yardage.
Rickie Fowler is the clear favourite in the bookies’ outright market and for good reason. He has three wins in the last five months including at the incredibly competitive Deutsche Bank Championship during the FedEx Cup playoffs. The 26-year-old has one of the best all round games in the world but not many people would know that he ranked fifth in terms of total putting last season. He will have as many chances as any other player and certainly has the ability to take advantage so it is hard to avoid the appeal of backing him at 11/1 with Coral.
Another one of the best putters in the field is Brandt Snedeker. At a time where slow play is one of the biggest problems with the game of golf, the way that Snedeker plays is incredibly refreshing. Whether hitting irons, chipping or putting, he gets up to the ball with a plan and executes quickly. He’s never possessed the most distance of the tee but will make the most of the altitude and the easy course so he looks a very good price at 28/1 with Betfred.
Jimmy Walker is a player who generally gets off to a fast start when a new season rolls around. In the past couple of years his best form has come at the turn of the calendar year but he’s got a Frys.com Open win under his belt from 2013 and there is nothing stopping him from getting another October win at the Shriners. A solid iron player, Walker will hit greens for fun and when he is on form, the American is one of the best putters around. So, back him each way at 35/1 with Betfred.