SHRINERS CHILDRENS OPEN: The PGA Tour makes its annual stop in Sin City this week, and if you’re looking for the best time of year to spend a few days in Vegas, you’re not going to do much better than early October: the weather is nice, football season is in full swing, the MLB playoffs are getting started, NBA preseason has begun… there’s action in the air. Those who need a break from the casinos and sportsbooks this week can take a 15-minute drive to TPC Summerlin, where the strongest Fall Series field we’ve seen this year will test their luck at one of the friendliest courses on the schedule.
Located about 10 miles outside Las Vegas proper, TPC Summerlin is a Bobby Weed design that has played host to this event for nearly 40 years. It tips out at 7,250 yards and plays considerably shorter than that due to the altitude, so length off the tee is not a prerequisite for success here. Summerlin features wide Bermuda fairways, perfectly manicured bentgrass greens, and very few stressful shots. This generally results in a straightforward birdie fest– the cut is usually around 5 or 6-under and the winning score will be in the 23 to 25-under range, with Sungjae Im posting 24-under last year to take home the trophy.
Im is back to defend and he sits right near the top of BETDAQ’s Win Market at 15.0, with only Patrick Cantlay (7.8) currently trading at a shorter price. Cantlay is a past champion here himself, and we’ve seen other big names like Bryson DeChambeau and Webb Simpson hoist the trophy here in the past decade, but we’ve also seen players like Martin Laird, Rod Pampling, and Smylie Kaufman win this tournament recently, so don’t let the long odds scare you off this week… this is the type of course where every player in the field can realistically take it deep. With that in mind, here’s what I’m thinking:
Recommendations to BACK (odds in parenthesis)
Aaron Wise (19.5)- This is shorter than Wise is generally priced, but with good reason– he’s been playing some terrific golf lately, with three top-15 finishes in his last four starts (two of those coming in the FedEx Cup Playoffs), and he has a track record of success at TPC Summerlin, posting a T10 and a T15 here in recent years and carding six rounds of 66 or lower. He’s a tremendous ball-striker who has lots of experience playing out West in altitude, so he’ll be better than most at controlling his distances this week and should see a steady diet of makeable birdie putts. If he gets hot with the putter, look out: he may well wind up with his second career victory.
Joel Dahmen (56.0)- Dahmen is another West Coast guy who always cashes nice checks at this event, making the cut in each of his last four appearances and finding the top-25 twice in that span… and the top-10 once. For some reason he’s always been the type of player who seems to fare better on the easier courses, the “green light” weeks, and TPC Summerlin certainly qualifies. He struggled a bit towards the end of last season but a few weeks of rest and swing work seem to have done him some good, as he looked very sharp at the Sanderson Farms Championship last week, breaking par in all four rounds and finishing 13th. This is a great course fit for Dahmen and he’s coming off a really nice result last week– at a price like 56.0, he may be the best value on the board.
Rory Sabbatini (82.0)- Is anyone else shocked that Sabbatini hasn’t joined LIV? He certainly seems to fit the mold: recognizable name, a little past his prime, insufferable prick… was he simply not invited? Did someone like DJ or Brooks say “Sure, I’ll play, just as long as I don’t have to associate with Rory Sabbatini”?? All kidding aside, this feels like a Sabbatini type of week– birdie fest, desert golf, field light on star power. Plus, he had a terrific week at Summerlin last year, closing with a 64 to shoot 19-under and finish 3rd, and he’s only three starts removed from his most recent top-15, so his game is in decent shape. You may not hire him to babysit your kids, but at better than 80/1 Sabbatini is surely worth a bet.