Shriners Children’s Open 2021 DFS picks: Bet on Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler redemption
The first leg of the “Vegas Swing” kicks off this week at TPC Summerlin for the Shriners Children’s Open. This event always draws a decent field, and this year is no exception, headlined by Brooks Koepka, Viktor Hovland, Webb Simpson … this will create plenty of marquee players to roster.
TPC Summerlin has been known to allow plenty of birdies. In fact, last year’s cut line was a staggering 7-under—the lowest in PGA Tour history. This is pure desert golf—and keeping the ball out of trouble and in the fairway will give golfers plenty of opportunities to hit wedges into receptive greens. The forecast for this week looks a bit windy, which could help keep scoring in check, but that is always subject to change. Expect some fireworks from the game’s best scorers.
Price range: $9,000 and above
High Upside: Webb Simpson ($10,200 DraftKings | $11,500 FanDuel)
Simpson’s course history at TPC Summerlin is often overlooked, but he’s been excellent in Las Vegas. In his nine trips, he’s never lost strokes from tee to green, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. That has allowed him to pile up seven top-20 finishes, including his win in 2013.
Safest Option: Abraham Ancer ($10,400 DraftKings | $11,800 FanDuel)
Ancer’s game is well-suited for TPC Summerlin. This course is short by tour standards, will reward those playing out of the fairway and will bend to those who can make a lot of putts. That sounds like the blueprint for Ancer, who is playing with a new level of confidence since his WGC win in Memphis.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Hideki Matsuyama ($9,500 DraftKings | $11,000 FanDuel)
It’s always scary fading Matsuyama but the story is clear, he struggles to make lots of birdies because he’s not a very good putter. Historically, this event has a very low winning score with the winner pouring in birdies consistently. With the unreliable putting stroke for Matsuyama, it’s hard to find a path to him actually winning.
Pick To Win: Viktor Hovland ($10,600 DraftKings | $11,900 FanDuel)
The Norwegian earned one point in five matches at the Ryder Cup but played significantly better than his record would indicate. Hovland made 0.24 birdies per hole that week, the same rate as Sergio Garcia and Scottie Scheffler whose records look much better thanks to a little bit of luck and matchups. Hovland hasn’t lost strokes on approach since the Masters, 10 measured starts ago and he should be able to dismantle TPC Summerlin.
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$8,000 to $9,000
High Upside: Jason Kokrak ($8,700 DraftKings | $10,100 FanDuel)
This is a pretty interesting spot for Kokrak who found victory twice last season and benefitted from having one of the best putters on tour. That would certainly come in handy around TPC Summerlin, a course that he’s played often. His results at this event haven’t been good, four missed cuts in nine trips, but the knowledge should continue to be a benefit.
Safest Option: Corey Conners ($8,800 DraftKings | $10,600 FanDuel)
Where did Corey Conners finish last week? You don’t even have to look, it was a top 25. That’s four consecutive top-25 finishes and he’s accomplished that feat in six of his last seven starts. Simply, he’s one of the best long-game players on tour. Unfortunately, the closer he gets to the green, the worse he is but that doesn’t seem to impact his floor.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Charley Hoffman ($8,100 DraftKings | $9,700 FanDuel)
Hoffman and TPC Summerlin go together like toothpaste and orange juice. It just leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Hoffman has played this event 10 times in his career and has missed the cut in six of them. His best finish, a fourth in 2013, in one of only two top-20 results for Hoffman. For how good Hoffman has been, there’s no reason to force it here, we can find better spots for him.
Pick To Win: Patrick Reed ($8,600 DraftKings | $10,500 FanDuel)
Fresh off a Ryder Cup snubbing, Reed will look to burn TPC Summerlin to the ground. On a course that doesn’t require length and rewards great putting, he should thrive. He’s one of the world’s best putters—and also one of the best on bentgrass greens. There is no golfer in this range with more win equity than the man they used to call “Captain America.”
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$7,000 to $8,000
High Upside: Henrik Norlander ($7,000 DraftKings | $8,800 FanDuel)
Norlander was impressive in Jackson last week, not only finishing T-4 but leading the field in SG/approach, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. He has historically struggled with his putter, but he might be turning that around. He’s gained strokes putting in five of his past six measured events. He will be put to the test this week on bentgrass greens, the surface that has given him the most trouble in his career.
Safest Option: Stewart Cink ($7,100 DraftKings | $8,300 FanDuel)
Cink struggled down the stretch last season, but it was a lot of golf in a short period of time for a guy who is getting closer to 50 years old. During the summer, he was one of the best ball-strikers on tour and converted his second win of the season at Harbour Town. Now with a month to rest up and plug the leaks, I expect Cink to play well out of the gate.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Martin Laird ($7,100 DraftKings | $8,100 FanDuel)
Laird has been the ultimate “course horse” at TPC Summerlin. In the past 10 years, he’s gained strokes on the field eight times, including his win last year. In the other 251 events that he’s played in that period, he’s gained strokes in only 127 of them—50.1 percent. I have a hard time saying he's going to be able to summon that magic again considering he’s missed 13 cuts in the 24 events that he’s played since the victory.
Pick To Win: Rickie Fowler ($7,300 DraftKings | $9,300 FanDuel)
It’s time to be “early” on Fowler. We saw glimpses of his game coming back last season, and he’s had two months to get right since his last start at the Wyndham. He now returns to TPC Summerlin, where he has been a force on the putting surfaces. In fact, no golfer (with at least five rounds) has putted better than Fowler at TPC Summerlin. He’s averaging 1.68 strokes putter per round, across 14 rounds, per the RickRunGood.com golf database.
$6,900 and below
High Upside: Roger Sloan ($6,900 DraftKings | $9,800 FanDuel)
Sloan has started his season with a missed cut at the Fortinet but followed it up with a solid T-14 last week at Sanderson Farms. That’s his fourth top-20 finish in six PGA Tour starts, highlighted by a sixth at the Barracuda and a runner-up at the Wyndham.
Safest Option: Scott Piercy ($6,700 DraftKings | $8,500 FanDuel)
Piercy plays out of TPC Summerlin and can be found on the grounds quite often when he’s home. That has resulted in some decent finishes at this event—eight top-25 finishes in his 12 starts. He missed the cut in Jackson last week but finished T-11 in Napa.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Nick Watney ($6,600 DraftKings | $8,400 FanDuel)
Watney’s T-2 last week was impressive—but when you start diving into the metrics, you see major red flags. Watney gained 11.8 strokes on the field last week with a staggering 11.5 of them coming with his putter. That’s the single-best putting performance of his career and one of the best of any player in the last handful of seasons. It’s unlikely for that to continue.
Pick To Win: Mark Hubbard ($6,100 DraftKings | $7,800 FanDuel)
Hubbard finished T-16 in his last start (Fortinet), extending his PGA Tour cut streak to six. He wielded a hot putter in Napa, but that’s not unusual—he’s gained at least three strokes/putting in five of his past 11 measured starts. He’s improved his ball-striking recently and should be ready to roll in Vegas.
Rick joined us on this week's episode of "Be Right," Golf Digest's weekly betting and DFS podcast. Be sure to listen for his complete analysis—with some inside tidbits having played TPC Summerlin multiple times in the past few months. And make sure to subscribe to "Be Right" wherever you get your podcasts!
Rick Gehman, founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.