124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

Betting Analysis

Shriners Children's Open picks 2023: The longshot with the 'home game' narrative

October 11, 2023
NAPA, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 15: Harry Hall of England looks on from the 12th green during the second round of the Fortinet Championship at Silverado Resort and Spa on September 15, 2023 in Napa, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

The FedEx Cup Fall steamrolls on to Las Vegas for the Shriners Children's Open at TPC Summerlin. Tom Kim returns to defend his title, while fellow rising star Ludvig Aberg will also be back in the mix, fresh off his T-2 at the Sanderson Farms Championship.

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Scroll down to see who we like this week at the 2023 Shriners Children’s Open.

Shriners Children’s Open picks 2023: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions

Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: JT Poston (28-1, DraftKings) — The Postman thrives on short birdie-fests, so he’s a great bet this week.

Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Adam Schenk (30-1, DraftKings) — Schenk has six top 10s in his past 11 starts, including two in the FedEx Cup playoffs against the best players on tour. Of note, this event doesn’t have the best players on tour. Additionally, Schenk has made the cut in Vegas in five of six starts, including consecutive top-12 finishes.

Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: JT Poston (28-1, FanDuel) — Poston is striping the irons right now and has four straight top-25 finishes dating back to late July. He’s not a powerful driver, and that’s okay for this week.

Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: JT Poston (28-1, DraftKings) — Poston possesses the skill set to get hot in a birdie-fest. He’s an accomplished approach player, gaining strokes to the field in six straight and he’s a talented putter, gaining strokes to the field in six of his last seven. When both of those click, he has significant upside like his four top-seven finishes in his last seven starts.

Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Eric Cole (35-1, DraftKings) — Cole is the only player in the field to rank in the top 10 of Opportunities Gained (the number of chances you give yourself inside 15 feet) and SG/putting on bentgrass over the past 36 rounds, per Fantasy National. That could be a winning combo as long as he can take advantage of the par 5s.

Christopher Powers, Golf Digest staff writer: Tom Hoge (35-1, DraftKings) — Hoge was in 50s territory odds-wise last week, which I found stunning but couldn’t get myself to bet it. Then he went and finished inside the top 15, gaining 5.7 strokes on approach and 6.7 tee-to-green in the process. In a similarly weak field at a course he likes much more than CC of Jackson (Hoge has finished top 25 in three straight trips to TPC Summerlin), you’d think his odds would have been slashed in half, but instead you’re still getting him here at a solid 35-1 number. The only issue is he’s not great on Bentgrass greens, but that hasn’t been the case at this particular track, where he’s gained strokes putting in four of his last five appearances.

Andy Lack, RickRunGood.com and Inside Golf podcast: Andrew Putnam (40-1, BetMGM) — Coming off a quietly impressive year, Andrew Putnam appears primed for a breakthrough. We last saw Putnam at the Fortinet Championship where he missed the cut. That disappointing result was misleading, however, as Putnam gained four strokes ball-striking, while uncharacteristically falling victim to a shaky putter. Now he returns to a course where he already has three top-20 finishes in six appearances, including an 11th and a 12th in his last two. The 34-year-old is also incredibly comfortable on these greens, gaining over two strokes putting in each of his last four appearances, including 9.4 in 2019. This should not come as a surprise, as Putnam is one of the best Bentgrass putters in this field, and he also ranks top 10 in overall approach play, strokes-gained/total in easy scoring conditions, and good-drive percentage.

Past results: It’s Fall Swing time. Our panel finished the 2023 playoffs strong, with our anonymous caddie cashing on Viktor Hovland to win the BMW Championship at 16-1. Before we turn the page to 2024, we still have a few events left in the autumn months, giving our experts a chance to build on the strong 2023 season. Stephen Hennessey already has us off to a hot start, correctly predicting Sahith Theegala’s win at the Fortinet Championship (16-1).

Shriners Children’s Open picks 2023: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win

Caddie: Christiaan Bezuidenhout (65-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — C-Bez rides into Vegas with a ton of momentum after a hot Sunday in Mississippi. His putting splits on bentgrass should be enough to back him get to get PGA Tour win No. 1.

Mayo: Nicolai Hojgaard (40-1, DraftKings) — Fresh off his Ryder Cup debut, the young Danish bomber is a prime breakthrough candidate while others are focused on Aberg. Despite no PGA results since the Wyndham (T-14), Hojgaard did the European gauntlet in the run up to the Ryder Cup where he posted two top-five finishes in his last three starts.

Gdula: Nick Taylor (65-1, FanDuel) — Taylor has top-35 rankings in SG/approach, /around-the-green, and /putting, and at a course where driving isn’t a super vital stat, that is very appealing at 65-1.

Gehman: Harry Hall (130-1, DraftKings) — There is no better course on tour for Hall than TPC Summerlin. He’s gained 16 strokes to the field in his eight career rounds at this club and it makes sense – Hall is a Vegas guy who can routinely be found at this course. He’s a great putter all over the map, but his third and fourth best tee-to-green weeks of his career have come at TPC Summerlin – per the RickRunGood.com golf database.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Adam Hadwin (46-1, Bet365) — Aside from Webb Simpson, Hadwin has the second-best history at TPC Summerlin—gaining more than a stroke and a half on the field per round since 2014, per Ron Klos (@PGASplits101). That includes four top-10s across seven starts. Hadwin is Mr. Desert Golf, and in a wedge fest where putting will be key, give me the Canadian at this enhanced-win price.

Powers, Golf Digest: Matthew NeSmith (75-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — After finishing second here last year, NeSmith completely vanished, posting one (!) top-10 finish the rest of the season (and that was the following week at the ZOZO). Between the Houston Open in mid-November of 2022 and the Fortinet two weeks ago, NeSmith played in 23 PGA Tour events and managed one top-25 finish and 12 missed cuts. But, at long last, he woke up last week at Sanderson, threatening the first-round lead on Thursday before quietly finishing T-25. He gained in every major area except off-the-tee, which, according to the actual experts in this column, is not all that important at TPC Summerlin. He can ride hot irons and a hotter putter to contention on Sunday, just like he did a year ago, gaining nearly seven strokes with his irons and 1.5 with the flat stick en route to a runner-up, his career-best finish.

Lack: Christiaan Bezuidenhout (65-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — At an elementary level, the name of the game at TPC Summerlin is wedge play and putting from five-to-15 feet. These two skill sets happen to be the strongest aspect of Christiaan Bezuidenhout’s game, and he enters this week on the heels of a sixth-place finish at the Sanderson Farms where he gained 4.6 strokes on approach and 5.1 strokes putting. The South African ranks top 20 in overall approach play, proximity from 100-150 yards, SG/total in easy scoring conditions, SG/around-the-green on Bermuda courses, Bentgrass putting, and putting from five-to-15 feet, all crucial components to success at TPC Summerlin.

Shriners Children’s Open picks 2023: Players We’re Fading

Caddie: Si Woo Kim (22-1, DraftKings) — You might not’ve seen, but Si Woo teamed with Sungjae Im to win a gold medal at the Asian Games in China. That means they’re exempt from serving South Korea in the military, a huge relief. That’ll serve as a weight off his shoulders, but in the short term maybe he’ll cost through this first event back.

Mayo: JT Poston (28-1, DraftKings) — Poston’s fine. But he has the same chance of winning as the 25 guys after him down the odds board. Better value on them.

Gdula: Tom Kim (11-1, FanDuel) — Kim’s last year’s winner, but that has his win odds a bit too short for where they should be. His recent great finishes have largely stemmed from putting, as well.

Gehman: Cam Davis (22-1, DraftKings) — The game plan at TPC Summerlin is clear and it starts with keeping the ball in play off-the-tee. That’s not necessarily Davis’ strong suit, who ranks in the bottom half of the tour in driving accuracy and also big misses. This price would be much more palatable at a wide open course where wayward misses were unpenalized.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: J.J. Spaun (35-1, DraftKings) — I feel like this is a very short price on Spaun, who has been playing some good golf … but I’d rather go deeper in a birdie-fest than taking this short number.

Powers, Golf Digest: Tom Kim (11-1, FanDuel) — We’ve heard all about the lack of reps for the U.S. team as an excuse for their poor effort at the Ryder Cup, with a number of players even agreeing with that sentiment. Tom Kim hasn’t played since East Lake. You can’t trust anybody at this number who hasn’t at least gotten a legitimately competitive round or two in in nearly two months.

Lack: Ludvig Aberg (11-1, PointsBet) — I understand that Ludvig Aberg is a young player and that his comfortable travel accommodations are not what we are used to, but hopping three time zones in 10 days is a tough ask for anyone. Aberg will be making his third start in a row in his third different time zone. Even if the burden of travel was not such a hindrance, TPC Summerlin is not the type of golf course that accentuates what Ludvig does best. Summerlin devalues power off the tee and long-iron play, and conversely places an emphasis on proximity from 100-150 yards and putting from five-to-15 feet. The built in advantage that Ludvig possesses on longer golf courses due to his elite driving ability is mitigated at Summerlin, and I’m fairly comfortable sitting this one out and hopping back on the bandwagon on a more challenging tee-to-green track.

Shriners Children’s Open picks 2023: Matchups

Caddie: J.J. Spaun (-130) over Tom Hoge (DraftKings) — The allure of the Vegas nightlife is a big factor this week. We know Tommy Tables loves him some craps, so I’ll give Spaun, who plays a lot in the desert, the nod over the Texas resident.

Mayo: Davis Thompson (-110) over Garrick Higgo (DraftKings) — It’s funny, Higgo’s outlier weeks with his driver and putter actually give him a better chance of winning this tournament over Thompson, but his irons are so bad these days he’s about 50/50 to make the cut. Thompson, meanwhile, has a top-25 finish in 66 percent of his starts since midsummer.

Gdula: Patrick Rodgers (-115) over Justin Suh (FanDuel) — Suh’s putter is on fire right now, and that’s masked some problematic iron play. Rodgers has much better approach play – and he’s still a good putter.

Gehman: JT Poston (-110) over Emiliano Grillo (Bet365) — We’ve already discussed the positives for Poston and now we can assess the negatives for Grillo. He’s slumping as a ball-striker right now, losing to the field in four straight events. That’s terrifying based on his long-term skill set. He’s also struggled to get going in Vegas, with no better than a T-34 in five trips.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Justin Suh (+100) over Ben Griffin (DraftKings) — Griffin has to rebound from the emotional toll of blowing his second 54-hole lead, which I’m sure he’ll get over eventually. But it might be tough in the week right after. Griffin’s more of a Bermuda specialist, whereas Suh is top 10 in SG/putting on bentgrass and can get super hot, which is a good formula this week.

Powers, Golf Digest: Tom Hoge (+105) over J.J. Spaun (DraftKings) — Considering I believe Hoge can win this week and most definitely believe that J.J. Spaun will not, this is an easy one at plus money.

Lack: Eric Cole (-120) over Beau Hossler (DraftKings) — In theory, TPC Summerlin is the perfect golf course for Eric Cole given the fact that it devalues off-the-tee skill, which remains the weakest aspect of Cole’s game. A popular selection last week at the Sanderson Farms, Cole scraped together a pedestrian T-35 finish while gaining over three strokes on approach and four strokes around-the-green. Beau Hossler, on the other hand, remains a far less reliable iron player who possesses far less ball-striking upside than Cole. This price feels a little too cheap.

Matchup Results from the Sanderson Farms: Powers: 1 for 1 (Tarren (-110) over Riley); Mayo: 1 for 1 (Tarren (-110) over Riley); Gdula: 1 for 1 (Hardy (-110) over Hughes); Lack: 0 for 1; Hennessey: 0 for 1; Gehman: 0 for 1; Caddie: 0 for 1

Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Powers: 25-18-2 (up 6.55 units); Lack: 20-14-1 (up 3.57 units); Hennessey: 24-19-2 (up 3.32 units); Caddie: 22-19-4 (up 1.48 units); Gehman: 23-20-2 (up 1 unit); Mayo: 19-21-2 (down 2.75 units); Gdula: 19-25-2 (down 7.54 units)

Shriners Children’s Open picks 2023: Top 10s

Caddie: Vincent Norrman (+350, DraftKings) — All the attention’s on the other talented Swede in this field, but Vincent Norrman can ball out and rack up birdies. I love his game for this course.

Mayo: S.H. Kim (+550, DraftKings) — One missed cut is getting a better price with the lesser known Kim. He finished T-4 here a year ago, and opened the season in Napa with a T-2. As long as he doesn’t donk off too many strokes with his irons, he has the rest of the game to contend again.

Gdula: Beau Hossler (+360, FanDuel) — Hossler finished T-28 last week while not putting very well. This week, he’s again a top-10 value as a top-tier short-gamer in the field.

Gehman: Adam Schenk (+300, DraftKings) — Schenk is quietly a top-10 machine, earning six such finishes over his last 11 starts. Now he heads to TPC Summerlin where he has had plenty of success—piling up four top-20 finishes in his six career trips, highlighted by a T-3 in 2021 and a T-12 last year.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Adam Schenk (+300, DraftKings) — Schenk has excellent history at TPC Summerlin, with a third-place and a 12th place in 2022 and 2021, plus top-30 finishes in 2020 and 2019. A wedge-fest is Schenk’s jam, so if he can bring his game from the last time we saw him, I like his chances here.

Powers, Golf Digest: Davis Thompson (+450, DraftKings) — Sticking to my “bet Davis Thompson in some capacity every time he plays” motto here. Didn’t quite work out last week, though he did have his best finish (T-16) since his runner-up at the AMEX last January. He’s inching closer and closer to seriously contending again.

Lack: Alex Smalley (+400, DraftKings) — We loved Alex Smalley last week, and I see no reason to hop off now after he put together a T-16 finish at the Sanderson Farms buoyed by over four strokes ball-striking. The former Duke grad is one of the best in this field at generating birdie looks, and he will have a tremendous amount of scoring opportunities on this course due to his elite wedge play. A rise to the first page of the leaderboard by Sunday feels imminent.

Top-10 results from Sanderson Farms: Lack: 1 for 1 (Mark Hubbard +450); Everybody else: 0 for 1

Top-10 results from this season: Gehman: 13 for 45 (up 20.6 units); Gdula: 10 for 45 (up 1.8 units); Hennessey: 8 for 45 (up 0.40 units); Lack: 9 for 35 (up 2.9 units); Powers: 6 for 45 (down 3.4 units); Mayo: 8 for 42 (down 6.9 units); Caddie: 10 for 45 (down 5.23 units)

Shriners Children’s Open picks 2023: One and Done

Gehman: Tom Kim — Kim continued playing after the FedEx Cup Playoffs and teed it up on the DP World Tour twice in September. He notched a T-18 and T-6 while showing continued gains with his approach play. His two best skills (approach and putting) are the path to the top of the board in birdie-fests and Kim is firing in both those areas right now.

Previous weeks: Sanderson Farms: Eric Cole. Fortinet Championship: Stephan Jaeger.

Hennessey: Adam Hadwin — He loves this course and he loves desert golf—a perfect combo for one and done this week.

Previous weeks: Sanderson Farms: Eric Cole. Fortinet Championship: Stephan Jaeger.

Powers: Tom Hoge — Proven winner with strong history at the Shriners.

Previous weeks: Sanderson Farms: Eric Cole. Fortinet Championship: Akshay Bhatia.

About our experts

Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. Mayo helped create the golf stats and research website Fantasy National along with the Race for the Mayo Cup One and Done contest. Mayo won the 2022 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and is a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2023 (Best Podcast, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 27 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are second-most all-time. Follow him on Twitter: @ThePME.

Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @gdula13.

Rick Gehman is the 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.

Andy Lack is a PGA Tour writer and podcaster from New York City who now resides in Los Angeles. He hosts Inside Golf, a twice weekly podcast focused on the PGA Tour, betting, daily fantasy, golf course architecture, and interviews, as part of the BlueWire podcast network. As well as contributing to Golf Digest, Andy is also a data analyst and writer for RickRunGood.com, where he covers PGA Tour betting and daily fantasy. He came to Golf Digest’s betting panel after previously writing for Golf.com, the Score and GolfWRX. In his free time, Andy can likely be found on a golf course. Follow him on Twitter: @adplacksports