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Monday, October 13, 2014

Shriners Hospitals for Children Open - Power Ranking

The 2013-14 FedExCup champion, Billy Horschel, is set for his 2014-15 debut at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and also makes his first appearance of the season in the Power Ranking.

The usual cocktail of current form (when available), course history and relevant statistics have been stirred together in an attempt to accurately assign value to those expected to contend at TPC Summerlin, and here are the results.

This week’s Power Ranking:
  1. Martin Laird – Number one and it wasn't even close. Not only did he tie for third at the Frys.com Open last week, he’s a past champion in this event and also has a P2 (playoff loss). Add to that, he was ninth in strokes gained-putting, 16th in par breakers and seventh in par-4 scoring average last week. Course history is elite, current form is superb and stats are more than respectable.
  2. Billy Horschel – Jimmy Walker proved last week that a monster 2013-14 season doesn’t necessarily carry over to the new year, so we’ll find out quickly how in form Horschel is. That said, it stands to reason he wouldn’t play this week unless he felt like he was ready to jump in and contend. While I’m not sure I would recommend a one-and-done play this week, he should be gold in most formats.
  3. Webb Simpson – If we’ve learned anything about Simpson over the last 12 months, it is that he can be counted on in events where he has been traditional strong. That’s a fancy way of saying he’s a course horse. TPC Summerlin is one of his courses. Not only did he win here last season, he also tied for fourth in 2010, which was his most recent start before the 2013 win.
  4. Ryan Moore – Moore is a Vegas guy (UNLV), so this is a home game. While some people can’t handle that, he’s proven to be quite capable. He makes his 2014-15 debut at a track where he won in 2012 and tied for ninth in his defense last year. If the putter heats up (91st in SGP last year), he’ll be a factor.
  5. Jimmy Walker – I’ll issue him a free pass for his 63rd finish last week at the Frys.com, mainly because that course wasn’t all that forgiving off the tee and Walker’s never been one to hit a bunch of fairways. TPC Summerlin is much more forgiving, and he has back-to-back top-12 finishes in this event.
  6. Retief Goosen – Not only has Goosen secured his last 15 cuts (fifth best on TOUR), he tied for third last week and ranked first in strokes gained-putting. He was also second in par breakers and ninth in par-4 scoring average.  Considering TPC Summerlin is often a birdie fest and a putting contest, that works.
  7. Hideki Matsuyama – Finished third last week at the Frys.com Open and ranked third in GIR. Among the class of the field, if he gets the flat stick working then he has a solid chance at another top-five finish this week. Ranked a very average 61st in SGP last week, so that’s the real concern.
  8. Brooks Koepka – Much like Matsuyama, Koepka’s chances hinge on his ability to get hot with the putter. He threatened to score his first win last week, but just couldn’t mount a charge on Sunday. Missed the cut here last year in his only trip, but that isn’t enough history to write him off on this layout entirely.
  9. Brendan Steele – If you’re looking for consistency, he might be your guy. He tied for 21st last week, and Steele offers a pair of top-16 finishes at TPC Summerlin. In addition to that, he ranked inside the top 25 in GIR, SGP and par-4 scoring average last week. Simply put, he’s a top 25 waiting to happen this week with the upside to crack the top 10.
  10. Charley Hoffman – Sort of limped to the finish line last season, but returns to one of his better stops on TOUR. He tied for fourth at TPC Summerlin last season and has three top-15 finishes in his last six trips. Ranked 12th in par-4 scoring average and 14th in par breakers on the PGA TOUR in 2013-14.
  11. Sang-moon Bae – While it seems highly unlikely that he will back up his win last week with another one, especially since he won without making a putt longer than 15 feet, his current form demands this level of respect.
  12. Hudson Swafford – Last week we found out what can happen if Swafford putts well. It was the flat stick that held him back in his rookie campaign, but he ranked fifth in SGP and par breakers last week on his way to a T8. If he keeps that up, he will be a force to be reckoned with.

Next 5 (alphabetical): Steven Bowditch, Scott Brown, Derek Fathauer, Max Homa and Nick Watney

Wildcard: Jason Bohn – Despite not having the stats or current form (MC last week) to make one feel good about a pick, he’s finished runner-up and T8 in his last two trips to TPC Summerlin.

We will return soon with our one-and-done selection. Until then, happy research and best of luck to all!

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