Sleeper Picks: Shriners Children's Open
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Written by Rob Bolton @RobBoltonGolf
Talor Gooch(+500 for a top 10) … A consequence of him withdrawing early from last week’s Sanderson Farms Championship is that he’ll soar under more radars in Vegas this week. But he shouldn’t. The 29-year-old splashed into this season with a T4 at Silverado, his best finish of calendar-year 2021. It’s redundant to cite that he does it all inside the ropes and throughout his bag, but it doesn’t mean that that should go unnoticed every time, either. Recorded his first-ever top 25 at TPC Summerlin in 2017 when he chased a dreadful 77 in the third round with a 64 in the finale to climb 39 spots for a T16.
Scott Piercy(+400 for a Top 20) … It’s been a challenging couple of years for the 42-year-old, but despite him salvaging his card at the buzzer last season and his position at 197th in the Official World Golf Ranking, he really isn’t a Sleeper at the Shriners. For one, he’s a homegrown talent from Las Vegas who made three starts in the tournament before his rookie season of 2009. Since he’s connected for four top 10s among eight top 25s, including a T19 last year. He also opened this season with a T11 at Silverado, so he didn’t exhaust all his energy locking up fully exempt status.
Nate Lashley(+450 for a Top 20) … If you squint in places, TPC Summerlin could resemble TPC Scottsdale where he’s finished T3 (2020) and T17 (2021) a mere car ride from his own pillow, so it’s proof that he can excel in the desert. He sat T19 entering the final round here last year before blowing up for a closing 75 to finish T52. For what is now his fourth appearance, the 38-year-old brings the mojo of consecutive top 20s to open the new season. He didn’t qualify for the 2021 FedExCup Playoffs but he’s fully exempt by virtue of his win at the 2019 Rocket Mortgage Classic and extended eligibility due to the pandemic.
Alex Smalley(+450 for a Top 20) … If you tuned into the Sanderson Farms Championship, you likely learned that PGA TOUR rookie Sahith Theegala eked into the Korn Ferry Tour Finals via his equivalent of non-member FedExCup points. To wit, his 97.917 points would have slotted him 199th among members. After a timely surge in the Finals to secure his card, Theegala held at least the co-lead after every round before fading for a T8 in Mississippi. Smalley doesn’t have as strong a pedigree, but he, too, barely cracked the field at the Finals as his equivalent of 108.961 points would have positioned him 195th among members, and he needed a T29 at the regular season-ending Wyndham Championship to clear the hurdle. After rising in the Finals to join Theegala in the class of 27 rookies, the Duke University product missed the cut at Silverado and opened with 76 at Country Club of Jackson. However, he responded with a bogey-free, 9-under 63 in the second round to survive the cut on the number (en route to a T31), and then open-qualified for the Shriners with a bogey-free, 9-under 63 at Boulder Creek Golf Club. He’s a fighter personified.
Harry Hall(+1000 for a Top 20) … The recently betrothed 24-year-old from England is making his third career PGA TOUR start. He was a Sleeper in each, so it’s apropos that the third time presents as the charm in the shadows of his collegiate stomping grounds at UNLV. After missing the cut at the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open, he finished T47 at The American Express to kick off his 2021. Middling results followed on the Korn Ferry Tour until he broke through for victory in Wichita in June. He’s a terrific putter but this endorsement leans strongly on the intangibles of his confidence and familiarity of the local connection on the coattails of a joyous life experience.
Odds were sourced on Oct. 5, 2021. For live odds, visitbetmgm.