The PGA Tour is rightly proud of the vast impact it, its members and sponsors have on the local communities they visit every year. That charitable work is perhaps most visible at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Shriners have had the naming rights for the event since 2007 and the effects of the tournament directly impacts the lives of a great many children and their families.
Held each year at TPC at Summerlin, the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open is often one of the most entertaining tournaments of the year on the PGA Tour. It takes place towards the start of the wraparound season and is viewed by many players as a great chance to secure their playing rights for the next two years. Competition for the win is always sky high resulting in some cracking Sunday afternoon drama year on year.
|2020||TPC Summerlin||Martin Laird|
|2019||TPC Summerlin||Kevin Na|
|2018||TPC Summerlin||Bryson DeChambeau|
|2017||TPC Summerlin||Patrick Cantlay|
2020: Martin Laird
How can a golf tournament be at once predictable and unpredictable? Well, golf fans can safely predict that the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open will produce an unpredictable and entertaining finale every year. Just like in last year’s tournament, the last man standing after extra holes in the 2020 renewal was joined the small club of two time tournament winners. Martin Laird was the man to outlast the rest of the field as he won for the first time in seven years.
Laird had been struggling with his game and his fitness in the months before this tournament. He had become used to scrapping to regain his place on the PGA Tour and suffered a major blow when requiring knee surgery just as golf was remerging in 2020. It is to the Scotsman’s immense credit that he did not allow himself to wallow on his sofa (as he admitted he had been tempted to do) and put in the work required to win on the PGA Tour once again.
The fact that he had to overcome adversity just to compete on the PGA Tour again stood Laid in good stead when things started to go wrong in the final round. Needing only a par to win, he bogeyed his 72nd hole which meant a playoff against Austin Cook and Matthew Wolff. Fortunately, a birdie on the second playoff hole secured the win. This was a fitting win as it came at the site of his first PGA Tour victory. Indeed, it was due to that win that Laird was given a sponsors’ invitation to play in 2020.
2019: Kevin Na
The Shriners Hospitals for Children Open provided yet another topsy turvy final round in 2019. Sunday in Las Vegas had a bit of everything as Kevin Na threw away his 54 hole lead only to rally and eventually snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in a playoff against Patrick Cantlay.
At the start of the final round it looked as though Na was going to win in a procession. He had fired in rounds of 62 and 61 on the Friday and the Saturday and held a two shot lead. However, scoring conditions were totally different on the Sunday. Na battled away well on the front nine but things went wrong as he turned for home. A triple bogey on the 10th hole opened the door for perennial Shriners challenger Cantlay and another bogey on the 16th meant the lead had gone. It was Cantlay’s turn to make a mistake on the 17th hole. He was punished for finding the water as Na holed a putt from 25 feet.
Na and Cantlay could not be separated after 72 holes which meant a playoff. Fittingly for the way the rest of the day had gone, it was a mistake that eventually settled matters rather than Na doing anything spectacular. A Cantlay three-putt on the second extra hole meant that Na could finally breathe easy and celebrate becoming just the second man to win this tournament twice.
2018: Bryson DeChambeau
Patrick Cantlay came agonisingly close to defending his Shriners Hospitals for Children Open title but ended up one shot shy of another former star of college golf in Bryson DeChambeau. The win was DeChambeau’s fourth in just 12 starts and saw him move to a new career high of five in the world rankings.
DeChambeau has quickly forged a reputation for doing things his own way and it became apparent that there was more than one way to score well at TPC Summerlin. A whole host of players got themselves into contention over the first three days of the tournament while four different players held the lead at some stage in the final round. Sunday’s rollercoaster ride meant that DeChambeau needed to show lots of mental strength. As is always the case at a top level golf tournament, there a there was a certain amount of luck involved in the victory. The fast finishing Cantlay’s momentum was checked when he made a hask of getting out of a bunker on the 17th and just moments later DeChambeau made an eagle putt from off the green on the 16th.
After hitting the front, DeChambeau quickly changed gears. Alongside his caddie, Tim Tucker, he went from aggressively chasing birdies and eagles into conservative mode as he knew pars on the last two holes would be enough for the win.
2017: Patrick Cantlay
Patrick Cantlay is the sort of golfer who thrives when things get tough. He isn’t the flashiest player on the PGA Tour but he is better than most when it comes to hanging tough in difficult conditions. It is no surprise, therefore, that his win in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open came in the most challenging renewal in the tournament’s history for scoring.
Cantlay’s ability to dig extends beyond just making pars when the competition are making bogeys. He would surely have broken his duck on the PGA Tour before the age of 25 were it not for a serious back injury. A fit and confident Cantlay is a dangerous proposition to anybody at the top of the game as evidenced by this controlled performance. An average week with the putter was not a problem as he gained over two shots on the field from tee to green at TPC Summerlin.
Had just one more putt dropped over the course of the 72 holes though Cantlay would not have had to face a playoff alongside Alex Cejka and Whee Kim. Indeed, he was in pole position to win in regulation but bogeys on his final two holes opened the door. It was ultimately his ability to scramble that won it for Cantlay though as he got up and down from behind a tree to make a par on the second extra hole.