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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Shriners Hospitals for Children Open - Preview

Ryan Moore returns to Las Vegas to defend his Shriners Hospitals for Children Open title this week. Moore fired a 24-under at TPC Summerlin to pick up his second PGA TOUR victory by a stroke over Brendon de Jonge.

This event is known for the birdies, as TPC Summerlin's 7,243 yard, par-71 layout routinely offers forgiveness off the tees and ample opportunities for red numbers. If you're digging into stats this week, look for guys that make lots of birdies. The mention of BdJ should have been your first clue. Also a strong combination is a guy who's hitting plenty of greens and is hot with the putter. That would seem obvious for most tournaments, but three of the top five in GIR and the top two in SGP all finished inside the top five in 2012.

Perhaps one of the most vivid memories at this tournament came when Jonathan Byrd recorded a hole-in-one in a playoff to best Cameron Percy and Martin Laird as darkness fell. Byrd couldn't even see the ball go in the hole.

Several guys jump off the page as having excellent credentials at this week's venue, with Laird at the top of the list. Perhaps more interesting, George McNeill won here in 2007 and was runner-up in 2009 and enters off a T7 at the Frys.com Open. Oh, and Jimmy Walker. He tied for 10th here last year and obviously is in good form.

Don't ignore the guys fresh off the Web.com Tour who had nice showing at CordeValle last week. Will MacKenzie, Billy Hurley III, Ben Martin and John Peterson all qualify under those criteria. It can't be overlooked that the Web.com Tour puts an emphasis on hitting greens and getting hot with the putter; not to mention very low scores. When a shootout breaks out, those guys will feel very comfortable.

We will return tomorrow with the power rankings. Until then, happy research!

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