The Sanderson Farms Championship provided an exciting finish last weekend, but now the pace begins to pick up on the PGA Tour with a mini-Vegas swing beginning with this week's Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. This year's event will be featuring several stars, including multiple Ryder Cup participants.
Let's take a closer look at this week's contest with odds provided via Caesars Sportsbook.
Event: Shriners Hospitals for Children Open | Dates: Oct. 7-10
Location: TPC at Summerlin -- Las Vegas, Nevada
Par: 71 | Purse: $7 million
Three things to know
1. Which Brooks? Brooks Koepka will be one of the primary draws this week as he makes his 2021-22 PGA Tour season debut. As Ben Coley pointed out in his excellent preview, Koepka is prone to wild swings in finishes. Koepka has played 16 tournaments worldwide in 2021, and he's missed the cut, withdrawn or finished in the top six in 12 of them. That's a staggering number, and coming off a strong performance at the Ryder Cup, it makes him an interesting follow this week.
2. Webb rebound: I'm intrigued by Webb Simpson's performance this week. He's had a down 2021 -- for him -- and at No. 24 in the world right now could be headed for his worst year-end ranking in four years. Still, he gets a fresh start to the season on a course he's owned over the years -- third in strokes gained over the last 10 years -- and one that does not require immense length off the tee. He's finished in the top 10 at this tournament in each of the last four years.
3. New expectations: Scottie Scheffler will play his first tournament since slaying the No. 1 player in the world, Jon Rahm, at Whistling Straits a few weeks ago. He's also No. 1 of anyone in this field in strokes gained from tee to green over his last 20 rounds played. These successes bring the weight of expectation. I'm not as concerned as most with victories, but this will be his 64th career PGA Tour start, and chatter that he needs to start stacking victories will get louder throughout this season.
Rick Gehman (@RickRunGood) is joined by Sia Nejad and Greg DuCharme to preview the 2021 Shriners Children's Open from a DFS perspective. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Grading the field
It's a terrific field, especially for this time of the year and at this point in the season. Seven of the top 20 in the world and 27 (!) of the top 50 will tee it up this week. Louis Oosthuizen is the highest-ranked golfer in the field, and he's joined by Ryder Cuppers Koepka, Harris English, Viktor Hovland, Scheffler and Paul Casey, all of whom are ranked in the top 25 in the world. Grade: A-
2021 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open picks
|Winner (30-1): Im has been quietly playing some solid golf, and he can roll with the horses in this field. He lost strokes on approach shots last week at the Sanderson. The last six times that happened, he bounced back with a positive strokes-gained number in the following tournament. Only Scheffler, Mito Pereira and Sam Burns have a better strokes gained tee to green number over their last 20 rounds. Also, his statistical profile -- great from tee to green but not mega-long -- fits TPC at Summerlin perfectly.|
|Top 10 (+300): There's nobody here who gives you Jon Rahm-like feelings where something is going to have to go very wrong for him to not finish in the top 10. However, there's probably some value because of his volatility (which Coley outlines here and I noted above). Koepka at +300 is longer than seven other golfers in this field and the same as four more (including Kevin Na and Abraham Ancer). Again, this is not one that gives me warm and fuzzies, but I do like playing with some value on the only four-time major winner here.|
|Sleeper (45-1): McNealy has a strong statistical profile over the last few months and has not missed a cut since the PGA Championship. He finished second in his last outing at the Fortinet Championship and knows this golf course very well. He can pop at courses that don't require loads of distance (Pebble Beach, Harbour Town), and this course fits in. I have questions about whether he can do it in a field of this magnitude, but 45-1 is a reasonable price to pay given how he played last time out.|
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