Will Jon Rahm be the next first-time PGA Tour winner in Las Vegas?
With the PGA Tour's growing Asian Swing now in the rearview mirror, the focus shifts to Sin City for the Shriners Hospitals For Children Open. No, it's not a WGC like the event Hideki Matsuyama won, but it has featured two of the wackiest finishes in recent years on tour. In 2010, Jonathan Byrd hit a walk-off hole-in-one in a playoff, and last year, Smylie Kaufman came from seven shots back to win his first tour title with a final-round 61. And before this year's tournament even started, there was even more craziness. With the event's date getting moved back to November (the golf schedule is still feeling the effects of the Olympics), the field was supposed to be reduced to 132 players to make up for the loss of daylight. However, thanks to a clerical error made by the PGA Tour, there will still be 144 players in this years field. Odds are, the first two rounds won't finish on time, but we should still see a winner smiling (whether it's Smylie again or not) on Sunday evening. Who will that be? Here's who I'm taking on my PGA Tour Fantasy Golf team in Las Vegas:
Ryan Moore: Moore went to college in Las Vegas. He lives in Las Vegas. He's won in Las Vegas (2012). Ryan Moore IS Las Vegas. And now he also returns as a Ryder Cup hero. No reason to not go with the obvious pick here.
Scott Piercy: Another local golfer, Piercy has finished out of the top 30 in this event since 2009. Piercy struggled in Shanghai (T-63), but previously posted a T-10 in Malaysia and a T-3 in Napa. He's coming off a career-best season which was highlighted by runner-ups at the U.S. Open and the Bridgestone Invitational. He doesn't have to worry about finishing behind Dustin Johnson this week.
Jon Rahm: Cody Gribble became the first rookie to win on the PGA Tour this season with his Sanderson Farms victory last week, and he won't be the last. Although Rahm technically isn't a rookie, he's still part of a strong crop of golfers who are playing their first full year on the PGA Tour this season. He started that campaign with a hole-in-one on his second hole of the Safeway Open, where he finished T-15. There will be plenty more highlights to come this season. Plus, we also appreciate him taking the time to join the Golf Digest Podcast last week.
Chris Kirk: After a disappointing season in 2015-2016, Kirk seems ready to get back to the form that nearly made him a Ryder Cupper in 2014. He's started this campaign strong with a T-8 at the Safeway Open and a T-2 at the Sanderson Farms Championship. Kirk only has a pair of T-36s and a missed cut in three Vegas starts, but we're expecting much better than that this week. And he won't have as many distractions as usual during a college football weekend with his Georgia Bulldogs in the midst of a down year.
Bench: Brendan Steele and Kevin Na.
And for those of you playing other fantasy golf formats:
Yahoo! lineup: There's no Yahoo! fantasy golf until January, so if you're playing fantasy golf right now, well, you're really into it.
Knockout/One-and-done pick: Jon Rahm.