Shriners Children’s Open 2021: Fantasy picks, power rankings and analysis
Las Vegas is a prime destination in the fall. Major League Baseball playoffs and football in full swing keep the sports books abuzz. The summer heat has finally subsided. And once again the PGA Tour comes to town, playing host to the world’s best on one of the easier courses on the schedule.
Vegas has probably benefited from the wraparound schedule as much as any tournament on Tour. This year, as the third event with the Ryder Cup squeezed in between the first two weeks, players who wanted a proper break from the Tour could take one and then return to a no-frills, generous golf course that offers a soft landing.
The end result is 27 of the top 50 players in the world pegging it at TPC Summerlin, a par-71, 7,256-yard layout.
Having another tournament in Las Vegas next week, followed by a trio of international PGA Tour events (Japan, Bermuda, Mexico), helped attract golfers looking to take care of their fall starts stateside.
Last year, the 36-hole cut was 6 under, which should make the recent Korn Ferry Tour graduates feel comfortable. Making the top 10 last year required an 18-under-par effort. It will probably take 23 or 24 under to win. Perfect weather (temperatures in the 70s and 80s, minimal wind), smooth bentgrass greens and a distance boost from mild altitude means the birdies and eagles shall fly.
TPC Summerlin is always a shootout but through the years we’ve seen different styles flourish. Kevin Na made everything and won here two years ago (14 strokes gained on the greens!). Patrick Cantlay excelled through the bag to win in 2018. The surprising Martin Laird made clutch putts down the stretch a year ago. Fairway finders have enough short clubs in their hand to attack flags.
- Chesson Hadley, Stephan Jaeger, Adam Schenk, Roger Sloan, Brian Stuard
We emphasized recent play, as always and gave consideration to course history. Looking deeper into the numbers over the last 50 rounds, strong Tee-to-Green players and those with a track record of making birdies on the easier courses on Tour also factored heavily into our model.
As always, good luck.
Golfer power rankings
25. Kevin Streelman – Steady veteran is available at a fair price in the fantasy formats this week. Plods along, hitting fairways and greens, awaiting a hot stretch on the putting surface. Runner up in 2014 and has three other recent top 25s but missed the ultra low cut number each of the last two years.
24. Kevin Na – Mediocre iron play and poor putting sent Na packing after 36 holes at the Fortinet, ending a torrid stretch of golf. The Vegas resident will regain his groove this week aiming for his third Shriners title since 2011.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Na withdrew citing a rib injury after our picks were published
23. Luke List – Struck the ball beautifully last week in Jackson (8.9 SG: Tee-to-Green, third in field) to finish T-17 and offers tremendous value in Vegas, pursuing a fourth top 20 in five starts. Talented enough to win on the PGA Tour. Has made six of seven cuts since a three-miss streak last summer.
22. Harris English – Could experience a slight letdown after playing his role in the U.S. Ryder Cup victory but all pros must return to reality at some point and start building a resume worthy of the next team competition. Made the cut in five of seven starts here with a T-4 in 2016.
21. Patrick Reed – Eager to play after a disjointed couple months and disappointing omission from the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Has been an infrequent visitor to TPC Summerlin (first appearance since withdrawing from the 2013 event) but the models believe his skill set is a strong fit because of his par-4 prowess (eighth in field).
20. Scott Piercy – A Vegas resident who finds his best game each year during this week in October and strong current form should produce another hefty payday. Has five top 25s in his last seven appearances at TPC Summerlin. Finished 11th at Fortinet and the missed cut in Jackson can be explained by losing more than six shots on the greens in 36 holes.
19. Cameron Young – After pounding drives and flushing irons for four days in Mississippi and taking a large step toward securing his spot in the 2022 FedEx Cup playoffs, the former Wake Forest star should keep the ball rolling at low stress Summerlin. Gained 6.5 shots Tee-to-Green at the CC of Jackson.
18. Kevin Kisner – His Georgia Bulldogs are rolling on the football field and sources report that Palmetto Golf Club is in pristine condition, per usual. First time in this tournament since 2015. Top 30 in field in SG: Approach on easier courses, fairways gained and SG: Putting.
17. Erik van Rooyen – We don’t condone violent outbursts that send shrapnel flying and put caddies in danger, however, since destroying a tee marker at Kiawah, the South African has three top 10s and qualified for the Tour Championship. Strong all-around game is gradually improving in each area.
16. Matthew Wolff – Lost in a playoff here last year and encouraged by his game at Sanderson Farms, gaining 5.7 shots Tee-to-Green, 1.9 Around-the-Green and closing 65-68 to tie for 17th. Fought the right miss off the tee last week but top 15 in proximity from 100-125 yards.
15. Talor Gooch – Has gained shots Tee-to-Green in eight of his last nine starts, including 8.8 in his fourth-place effort at the Fortinet. Poised to take the next step this season and win his first Tour trophy. T-16 is his best Vegas finish in three starts.
14. Sam Burns – Automatic selection after watching him drip confidence in each swing down the stretch Sunday en route to his second Tour title. Has the game and moxie to win a major someday, perhaps soon. He’s fourth in the field in SG: Total on easy courses over the last 50 rounds and top 25 in par-4 scoring.
13. Russell Henley – Shattered many degenerate hearts with his back nine collapse at Sedgefield in August and tailed off afterward. That’s all behind him now, though and all is forgiven. Hits fairways and approach shots at an elite level and has finished 27th or better in three of last five Shriners appearances with one top 10.
12. Mito Pereira – One bad week on the greens will not deter us from willing the young Chilean to a victory this fall. And the putting in Jackson was certainly bad (-4.7 SG). We’re choosing to focus on the glorious ballstriking (5.6 shots gained on approach) and a return to bentgrass, his favorite surface.
11. Will Zalatoris – Finished in the top 15 in three of his last four starts, dating back to Memphis. Ballstriking wizard gained 9.1 shots Tee-to-Green at the Fortinet and 4.1 at the Sanderson Farms. Tied for fifth in maiden Vegas trip a year ago.
10. Louis Oosthuizen – Has been no worse than the field average in SG: Approach in his last nine starts. Putter cooled toward the end of the PGA Tour regular season but he’ll look to build off his most consistent season. Tied for 19th in debut last year.
9. Webb Simpson – In the last 50 rounds in easy scoring conditions, Simpson is the only player to rank top 15 in SG: Tee-to-Green (14th) and SG: Putting (2nd). He won here in 2013 and has finished in the top 20 each of the last four years. Finished 30th at Fortinet last time out, bettering the field average in every area except approach shots.
8. Sungjae Im – T-15 and T-13 in his first two tours around TPC Summerlin. Top 25 in the field in SG: Tee-to-Green, SG: Putting and Birdies or Better. Finished 31st last week and would’ve been better if not for losing 2.3 shots on approach.
7. Joaquin Niemann – Excelled during last year’s fall Vegas swing and hooked up fulltime with veteran caddie Gary Matthews. The duo is primed for another strong run if Niemann can find enough fairways (102nd in the field). Has a T-13 and T-10 in two Shriners visits and ranks top 15 in birdies or better on easy layouts.
6. Si Woo Kim – Won on the other side of the desert early in 2021 and his game is on form (T-11 at Fortinet and T-8 at Sanderson Farms). Gained five shots on approach last week in Jackson. Also 50 under in four starts at TPC Summerlin resulting in one top 10.
5. Corey Conners – Gained 6.8 shots Tee-to-Green in Jackson and started hot on Sunday before fading to a T-17. The best stat from the week is he met the field average on the greens. With his consistent ballstriking (first in field in SG: BS over last 75 rounds), average putting should put him in contention again.
4. Brian Harman – Hasn’t played since the BMW in late August and likely has been enjoying the hunting at home in Georgia. Should find plenty of birdies at TPC Summerlin (leads the field in SG: Around the Green). He’s 45 under in his last three attempts here, landing in the top 20 each time.
3. Viktor Hovland – Leads the field in SG: Tee-to-Green and Opportunities Gained and is second in SG: Approach (over the last 50 rounds). Worry about his putting in a shootout (87th) but he’ll offset it with plenty of chances in his Vegas debut.
2. Scottie Scheffler – Will win this fall and then, watch out. We’ve seen what he can do in the biggest tournaments in golf, it’s time for a strong Sunday to emerge from a crowded leaderboard. Needs to get hot with the putter in the 8-15 foot range for four days. Top 15 in the field in SG: Tee-to-Green in easy conditions.
1. Abraham Ancer – Don’t be surprised if he wins again this fall and why not at Vegas where he claimed a pair of fourth-place finishes in the last three years. Last year he did so despite losing shots on approach – a rare occurrence. Deadly inside 150 yards and top 10 in par-4 scoring, fairways gained and birdies or better gained.