Power Rankings: Shriners Hospitals for Children OpenOctober 14, 2013
Las Vegas is infamously known as the City of Lost Wages, but for over two decades the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open has served as an opportunity to find latter-year riches. This time around, however, while still contested in October (for the 24th consecutive time), it's batting second in the new lineup that is the 2013-14 PGA TOUR schedule. FedExCup points are at stake for the first time and the winner will receive an invitation to the 2014 Masters if not already exempt.
TPC Summerlin's inclusion dates back to 1992, but it's served as the stand-alone host only since 2008. The highest winning aggregate of the last five editions was Martin Laird's 19-under 265 in 2009; he emerged in a playoff. Defending champion Ryan Moore established the tournament record at 24-under 260. Greens average a sizable 7,570 square feet and are prepped to run at only 11 on the Stimpmeter. That's green-light golf.
So it comes as no surprise that TPC Summerlin is one of the easiest par 71s every year. Last year's scoring average was 69.713 (or 1.287 strokes under par), good for second-easiest of all par 71s in 2012, but it was the highest the course had averaged as solo host. While scoring is expected to remain low, new bunkering has been introduced on the 7,243-yard layout.
"We looked at ShotLink ... the data showed the way these holes played," tournament director Adam Sperling told Las Vegas Review-Journal in early September, referring to the par-4 seventh, 12th and 18th holes as well as the par-5 13th. "So we looked at where the shots were being made and tried to change the way these holes will play."
While they've created more of a premium on finding the fairway on each, make no mistake, TPC Summerlin will host a shootout. The average greens in regulation per round per golfer last year was 13.24, and that's its lowest split since 2007.
For the second straight week, weather will not influence play. Outstanding conditions are expected as is a mention or two of golf being played in a dome. No rain is forecast, temperatures will climb into the upper 70s and wind will be a non-factor.
NOTE: For similar characteristics among winners of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open since 2008, please look for "Stats Suggest" in The TOUR Report on Wednesday.
Power Rankings: Shriners Hospitals for Children Open Rank Player Comment Zach JOHNSON On some kind of roll. Prior to going 3-1-0 en route to victory at the Presidents Cup, he compiled seven top 10s in eight starts, including the victory at Conway Farms. In his only previous appearance in Vegas, he tied for 10th in 2008. Nick WATNEY Rested since a T14 at East Lake punctuated a season-ending surge that included a solo second at Conway Farms. He's thrived at TPC Summerlin with a T6 (2010), solo second (2011) and T10 (2012), averaging 66.67 during that span. Brendon DE JONGE Took the week after an impressive Presidents Cup debut. Poured on his reputation as an ATM with 25 cuts made in 2013 during which he ranked 10th in GIR. Best finish of his career occurred at TPC Summerlin last year (solo second). Hideki MATSUYAMA Relentless and tireless. Wasted no time after his debut at the Presidents Cup to resume his leaderboard-crashing. Tied for third at the Frys.com Open. Led the field in total driving and ranked T7 in greens in regulation. Graham DELAET Returns to TPC Summerlin since a T18 in his first appearance in 2010. Five top 10s (including a trio of top-threes) in his last 13 starts this year. Led the PGA TOUR in total driving, ranked third in GIR and 20th in par breakers. John PETERSON Relatively speaking, he stumbled to a T21 at the Frys.com Open, but it's a compliment given he connected five straight top-fives on the Web.com Tour. Ranked seventh inside 10 feet at CordeValle and went 58-for-58 from six feet and in. Kevin NA Back inside PGA TOUR ropes since bulging discs cut his 2013 short. Roared back with a T3 at CordeValle, ranking T2 in par breakers and second in strokes gained-putting. He's 4-for-4 at TPC Summerlin, site of his only PGA TOUR victory (2011). Webb SIMPSON First start at TPC Summerlin since a T4 in 2010. Polished off 2013 with a solo fourth at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola and a 2-1-2 record at the Presidents Cup. Ranked 23rd in par breakers and 13th in adjusted scoring. Scott PIERCY The Las Vegas resident is a native. His record at TPC Summerlin suggests he likes the home game. He's 4-for-4 since 2009 with a T10 in 2011 and a personal-best T6 last year. Ranked 150th on TOUR in GIR in 2013, but 50th in par breakers. Spencer LEVIN Fresh off a successful return to the PGA TOUR. Tied for 12th at the Frys.com Open where he ranked second in scrambling and 20th in strokes gained-putting. In his last two trips to TPC Summerlin, he's placed T4 (2010) and T5 (2011). Jimmy WALKER Padded his successful record in California with his first PGA TOUR victory on Sunday. Ranked last in fairways hit but first in strokes gained-putting and par-4 scoring. Only cut made in four tries at TPC Summerlin came last year (T10). Brooks KOEPKA Taking his success in stride. Held the 36- and 54-hole leads at CordeValle before settling for a share of third place. Led the field in the all-around ranking and par breakers (1 eagle, 24 birdies). Ranked fifth in strokes gained-putting. Ryan MOORE The defending champ tied the course record (61) in his opener en route to setting the tournament record. Also T7 in 2009. The local resident hasn't played since a T11 at the BMW Championship; it's the best result of his last seven starts. Robert GARRIGUS While his experience at this event isn't shabby -- 7-for-7 with a T16 in 2011 and T22 last year -- the notoriously streaky bomber cracks this feature because he tied for 12th at CordeValle and ranked seventh in strokes gained-putting. Brendan STEELE He's flashed enough form in recent months to warrant our attention on a track where he's enjoyed success. In two appearances at TPC Summerlin, he's placed T16 (2011) and T13 (2012), scoring under par in all eight rounds.