The Shriners Hospitals for Children Open boasts a number of intriguing options, and a relatively strong field, for this week’s power ranking. Before originally digging into the details, I envisioned this to be a week where guys like John Peterson and Ben Martin would be worthy fliers. As it turns out, the field contains quite a bit of class, and some local Las Vegas products that carry some solid course history.
More than most weeks, I find this tournament especially hard to delineate between first and sixth and seventh to 14th. That is to say, the player I have fifth could just as easily be first and the player who would have been 14th, if I went that far, could have been as high as seventh.
Looking ahead to posts later in the week, there are a handful of good one-and-done options and I expect that this is a week where picking the right guy could pay dividends. That is, there are enough semi-obvious choices and at least one of them should crack a top five, if not win.
Let’s break it down:
- Graham DeLaet – Much like Jimmy Walker leading into last week (who was second on the power ranking), DeLaet is on a very short list of players almost guaranteed to break through and win in 2013-14. He garnered plenty of attention at the Presidents Cup, becoming more of a household name than before, and also offers nice splits and good (although limited) course history at TPC Summerlin. He tied for 18th in his only trip back in 2010, but each of his four rounds were under par.
- Zach Johnson – This is a nod to his class and his form, as he has been a top-10 machine the last few months. He’s only played here one time, but it went for a T10 back in 2008. This course is as much about scoring on the par 4s as it is the 5s, which fits in nicely to his game. Probably the only member of the top five that isn’t a wise one-and-done option this week due to much better spots later in the schedule. (That’s almost verbatim what I said about Walker in this exact spot last week, and we know how that turned out.)
- Nick Watney – Speaking of Vegas guys, Watney lives in Sin City and has the track record and class to boot. He tied for second here and has three other top 10s in eight starts. Finished off 2013 with a solid run in the FedExCup. I’m not going to try and talk anyone out of a Watney OAD this week.
- Hideki Matsuyama – Showed up in a big way at CordeValle last week despite no course history, so his lack of familiarity at TPC Summerlin can’t be taken too seriously.
- Scott Piercy – Another Vegas guy, he’s six out of seven with top 10s in his last two trips to TPC Summerlin. As his class has elevated over the last couple of years, so has his performance at this course. Joins DeLaet and Watney on the OAD short list.
- Jimmy Walker – Missed the cut here in his first three trips before tying for 10th last year. Hard to know what to expect, as his celebration for his first TOUR victory was a long time coming. It doesn't seem wise to use him in certain formats, but his form and class elevation demands your attention.
- Webb Simpson – Hasn't played here since 2010, but tied for fourth in that trip. It’s a little hard to figure out his motivation for putting this back on the schedule. Could be that he’s in solid golfing condition after the Presidents Cup and is using this as a way to try and bag some FedExCup (and Ryder Cup) points before the holidays. Ranked inside the top 45 in Par Breakers, GIR and SGP last season.
- Kevin Na – Classic example of form meets course history, Na tied for third at the Frys.com Open last week and won this event in 2011. He’s 6/6 here when you back out a DQ after having made the cut, and has five top 25s. All systems appear to be a go.
- Brendon de Jonge – I found it ironic that he was a major player in the first two days of the Presidents Cup for the International Team, but faded on the weekend. That’s been the story of his PGA TOUR career, but he did finish T2 at this event last year. We know the deal. He’ll play well on Thursday and Friday this week, landing plenty of GIR, but the major question will come on Saturday and Sunday.
- Robert Garrigus – A legitimate option in many formats, Garrigus has never missed a cut here in seven tries and owns three top 25s and a top 10. He enters off a T12 at the Frys.com Open. How well he fares this week will absolutely come down to his putter.
- George McNeill – Much like Na, history meets form in a big way this week. The only scary thing is his lack of class; on the golf course that is. He’s 6/6 with four top 25s, a runner-up and a win at TPC Summerlin. He also tied for seventh at the Frys.com last week. Something about this course has him licking his chops, so feel free to take run with him.
- Martin Laird – Similar to McNeill, Laird has a win and a playoff loss to Jonathan Byrd here. He’s made each of his four cuts in this event, but form is more questionable that McNeill. If you are interested in a course horse, he could be your guy.
Next 5 (alphabetical): David Hearn, Spencer Levin, Ben Martin, Ryan Moore and John Peterson
- Charley Hoffman – A true feast-or-famine guy, he’s made half of his eight cuts, went to UNLV, lives in Las Vegas, and has three top 25s and two top 10s in the four cuts he made. Who knows his form to start the year and what distractions he faces this week, but a worthy flier if available. Just don’t reach for him.
- Jonathan Byrd – Another guy who could grab a top 10, but is more likely to miss the cut, Byrd is trying to wrap up his status with 10 remaining starts on a medical. His 2013 resume has been plagued by missed cuts, but a couple of very high finishes. He was the winner with a walk-off playoff hole-in-one in 2010.
- Kyle Stanley – Kid can’t putt to save his life, but if he happened to get hot with the flat stick, then watch out. In his eight rounds here, he has every round in the 60s and tied for 10th in 2011.