PGA Tour Picks: Shriners Hospitals for Children Open Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 10/16/2013
Jimmy Walker: FedEx Cup Champion and PGA Tour Player of the Year!! OK, I'm obviously kidding, but Walker won the PGA Tour season-opening Frys.com Open last week for his first career title in start No. 188. And this has me worrying we are going to see a ton of first-time winners early in the new season much as we did last year. I’m happy for Walker, who will get to play in the Masters for the first time. Rough finish for journeyman Brooks Koepka, who gagged away a four-shot lead with 11 holes left on Sunday.
Frankly, the biggest story might have been Vijay Singh's runner-up finish (he led the field in GIR). The 50-year-old Hall of Famer didn't play well on the regular tour last year with just one Top-25 and seven missed cuts (and one lawsuit filed against the Tour over his doping case). Maybe he can still contend with the younger guys, although I'm sure he'll play on the Champions Tour as well.
Needless to say, I did not pick Walker to win the Frys.com. In fact, it was a lousy start to the year. Two of my Top-10 finisher picks, Gary Woodland and Billy Horschel, missed the cut. My third, Bryce Molder, was T62. I did hit on John Peterson at -115 over Bud Cauley. I liked Charles Howell III to win at the 33/1 price, but he finished T33.
This week the pros head to Las Vegas for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin. Like most Las Vegas courses, this is a pretty easy track (hungover gamblers don't want to play the likes of Merion). Last year, for example, Ryan Moore set the tournament record by finishing at 24-under 260. TPC Summerlin, which has been the sole venue for the event since 2008 was the second-easiest par 71 on Tour in 2012 with an average round of 69.71. The winner this week almost assuredly will reach 20 under, and someone might shoot 60 in a round (course record is 61; a 59 was shot in Vegas by Chip Beck in 1991 when multiple courses held this event over five rounds).
Last year Moore took the lead for good with a birdie on No. 16 on Sunday to edge out Zimbabwe's Brendon de Jonge by a short. Moore was the second straight Vegas resident to win as Kevin Na did the year before. It was somewhat notable that Moore's victory was his second on Tour and not his first. In the past 20 years, this event has been won on 10 occasions by a first-time winner. That includes Jim Furyk in 1995 and some guy named Tiger Woods the following year. Furyk is the only back-to-back winner here, doing it in 1998-99.
Once again the field is a bit weak -- some of golf's American stars are overseas for an upcoming few events in Asia. Four of the Top 30 in the world are playing the Shriners: Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson, Nick Watney and Hideki Matsuyama.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: Shriners Hospitals for Children Open Favorites
To no surprise, Johnson is the 12/1 favorite at Bovada. He hasn't played this event since 2008 but closed the 2013 season playing as well as anyone. In fact, his worst finish since July was a T27 at the Deutsche Bank Championship -- that was his only non-Top-10. He won the BMW Championship and at least won't be totally rusty as he was on the U.S. Presidents Cup team.
Can Watney keep the Las Vegas winning streak going? He's 16/1 along with Simpson. Watney finished second to Johnson at the BMW and then T14 Tour Championship. Since Watney is local, he usually plays this event and has finished in the Top 10 the past three years. Simpson is still looking for his first win since the 2012 U.S. Open. He closed out last season with a fourth at the Tour Championship and also played the Presidents Cup. Simpson hasn't played this event since a fourth in 2010.
Matsuyama (20/1) and Canadian Graham DeLaet (22/1) round out the favorites. Matsuyama started the new season with a T3 last week and didn't shoot worse than 68 after an opening 70. This is his first time playing this event. DeLaet will win his first tournament this year, mark my words. He played great in the first two FedEx Cup playoff events, T2 at the Barclays and third at the Deutsche Bank. He has no history here.
PGA Tour Picks: Shriners Hospitals for Children Open Predictions
I always will recommend a hole-in-one prop, so go “yes” there at +110 (“no” is -150). On the Top-10 props, I like Watney (+150), de Jonge (+250) and Moore (+225). Head to head, take Johnson at -130 over Simpson (even). De Jonge (-115) over Koepka (-115), Na (-115) over Walker (-115) and Vegas resident Charley Hoffman (-115) over Harris English (-115).
There's actually a Big Guns vs. the field prop, which you usually only see at major events. It's Johnson, Simpson, Watney, Moore, Matsuyama, DeLaet and de Jonge at +188 with the field -275. I'm not going to mess around here: I do think the Vegas trend continues and that Watney gets his first victory since the 2012 Barclays. He's too good to not have won since then and obviously feels comfortable here, with a scoring average of 66.7 in the past three years. Clearly then go with the Big Guns prop as well.
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