At this time of year, many of the best players on the PGA Tour have already packed their clubs away for the winter break. Still, the show must go on for another couple of weeks yet, so how best to attract golfers to play in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open? How about hosting the tournament in Las Vegas at a course which regularly yields winning scores of -20 or lower?
That’s certainly the tactic the PGA Tour have taken over the years and nothing’s changed in 2017. Once again, a quality field has assembled for an assault on TPC Summerlin, set just outside of Sin City. The later date in the calendar may mean that the weather doesn’t play ball but we should still be in for birdies galore, starting on Thursday.
Accuracy and Course Knowledge will be Vital
TPC Summerlin is a par 71 layout which measures a maximum of 7,235 yards. It regularly yields the highest number of birdies on the PGA Tour but not everybody who turns up at the venue shoots a low score by default. It’s not enough to simply point and shoot. Players must pick the right lines off the tee, hit the fairways (which are some of the toughest to hit on the PGA Tour) and scramble well to avoid bogeys.
If that recipe is followed, it’s then all about taking chances. It’s going to take a huge number of birdies to win this so putting well is key. That’s no different from any other year at TPC Summerlin but the wind and rain in the forecast could make a difference, playing into the hands of those who have the experience to know when to push and when to play more conservatively.
Walker Ready to Return with a Bang
Jimmy Walker was on top of the world when he won his maiden major championship at the 2016 PGA Championship. Since then it’s been a real slog for the 38-year-old who has dealt with illness and a loss of form. To help reset his career, Walker’s taken an extended break to travel and take his mind off golf. The hope is that he’ll return refreshed and ready to compete at the top level.
Walker missed the cut at TPC Summerlin last season but he’s got three finishes of 12th or higher at this track, experience that should stand him in good stead this week. At his best, Walker is an excellent putter. Providing he gets off to a good start he should put up a challenge at 66/1 with Coral.
Home Comforts to Boost Piercy
Scott Piercy has wanted to win this tournament for a very long time. The Las Vegas native hasn’t yet been able to get over the line in front of supportive galleries but his form at TPC Summerlin is good enough to suggest he’ll contend this week. His eight starts have yielded just one missed cut and four top 15 finishes. Piercy’s blend of experience and ability to go low makes him another player who looks over priced at 70/1 with Bet365.