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By Alex Lauzon from the “Course of Life” podcast
Viva Las Vegas – what a great week to grab some winners!
From Mississippi to Vegas the PGA Tour goes this week. After Mackenzie Hughes took
down the field and wrestled off “The Ox” Sepp Straka in a playoff in Mississippi, the
world’s best head to Sin City for a week of various activities, some of which will be golf
related. We’re in the thick of the fall season, which is a stretch of the calendar that will
all be a distant memory in upcoming years as we shrink down the brutal calendar we’ve
come to know in golf. Regardless, there’s a handful more opportunities this year for
PGA Tour newbies and regulars to get a leg up on the world’s best who keep a lighter
playing schedule. While the events don’t have as much panache, the Fedex Cup points
and dollars still count the same.
This year’s field is fronted by Presidents Cup participants Patrick Cantlay, Max Homa,
young sensation Tom Kim, and 2021 Champion Sungjae Im. Cantlay lifted the trophy at
this event in 2017 and is the odds on betting favorite here.
Drama On The River
This tournament has always had a Vegas show flare for the dramatic, with electric
finishes swirling in my memory, dating back to Jonathan Byrd’s infamous “walk off hole
in one” victory in 2010. Three out of the last five Shriners Open’s have gone to a playoff,
so expect Sunday chaos. The event has been held at TPC Summerlin for the last
several years but has bopped around to nearly a dozen Vegas area tracks in its history.
Summerlin plays to a modest 7200 yards as a par 71 tournament track, and with Vegas
at elevation you’ll see lots of wedges into par 4’s and par 5’s reached in two. Much like
many other desert golf courses, power + accuracy will reward lots of birdie looks all
Picking The Shriners
It’s almost as if there’s an added impetus to traveling to Las Vegas, can’t imagine what
that would be. This is one of the few tournaments where I make sure I’m picking guys
who have their head on straight all week – distractions are easy to find. From a golf
perspective, I want longer hitters that aren’t afraid to make a risky play when needed, or
bet on themselves with aggression. This tournament feels like a 54 hole pro am
followed by a chaotic birdie-filled Sunday finish, so guys that have a history of low
rounds are nice thoughts as well.
Making Your Picks
I’m prefacing my weekly picks based on exactly what I value the most. With every play I
make, I’m always taking into account these factors and for the Shriners in Vegas, we’re
fittingly betting on gamblers this week…and some bombers too!
1. Who’s hot and trending – recent high finishes, top 10 streaks and consistent play
are never a bad thing.
2. Horses for courses – players love certain courses and course familiarity and
experience are invaluable in a field of the world’s best.
3. What the numbers tell you this week – while I’m far from analytical, there’s always
a tournament darling or two scattered across the golf talk stratosphere that stuns on
4. Intangibles – while this allows for theater of the mind, there’s a mysterious optimism
surrounding that feels “due” or if the price looks just right for buying.
At the Sanderson Farms, my picks were circling contention all week – starting with Davis
Riley who is due to win really soon. My boy and our new friend (if you’ve been betting
him) Taylor Montgomery is a top 10 machine, so overall the picks were a B- this week.
The Six Pack of Picks
(Wanna start a Pick-X pool with your friends? Learn more here! Or, if you’re looking to
start your own PGA One-and-Done pool, check those out here) (Hint: the main
difference between the two is how many players you’ll pick each week)
1: Sungjae Im – Riding a sturdy Prez cup effort, Sungjae loves the track and had a
week off to relax, a prime spot for him to defend.
2: Aaron Wise – His form here is too good to pass – three top 10’s at TPC
Summerlin in recent years.
3: Taylor Montgomery – A fixture in my picks until further notice, and especially
this week since it’s a home game for the Las Vegas resident who knows the
course inside and out.
4: Brian Harman- The little lefty is a perfect fit for this course IF his wedges are
on. Not the longest driver but he’ll give himself a million birdie looks.
5: Si Woo Kim – The leading point getter for the International Team should ride
some momentum into this week’s event.
6: Dean Burmester – Taking a chance on a newbie that finished 4th last week in
Mississippi, the former Euro Tour player is just getting his feet wet on the PGA
RYP One and Done Pick: Sungjae Im
Where to watch: Golf Channel and ESPN+ all weekend – with no shortage of gambling
references on the broadcast – they think they’re so edgy.
Why to watch: The Shriners has a run on great finishes and has propelled some great
names to stardom early in their careers.
What to eat: My dining pick on the Strip is always Tao Asian Bistro.
Purse: $7.9 million
Winner’s Share: $1.42 million