Don’t call it a West Coast Swing – that’ll come around again as usual in January and February – but the PGA TOUR will be spending the next three weeks in the Pacific Time Zone nonetheless.
The stretch begins familiarly with the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, a fixture of the fall since 1990. Then, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, two of the three events on the canceled Asian Swing have been shifted temporarily to Nevada (THE CJ CUP @ SHADOW CREEK) and California (ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP @ SHERWOOD). Of the trio, only the Shriners boasts a full field of 144 and includes a cut. The next two are 78-man invitationals with no cut.
Scroll past the projected contenders for a breakdown of Kevin Na’s improbable formula here last year, how TPC Summerlin sets up and more.
POWER RANKINGS: SHRINERS HOSPITALS FOR CHILDREN OPEN
Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Francesco Molinari, Sungjae Im and Will Zalatoris will be among the notables reviewed in Tuesday’s Fantasy Insider
Conventional wisdom and empirical data often collide at TPC Summerlin. As one of the most vulnerable par 71s on the schedule – it was the easiest of 10 par 71s last season and its scoring average of 68.859 was a record low since its debuted in 1992 – the game plan to hit greens and sink putts is as true here as it is anywhere. However, every worthy course makes available the possibility for the winner to have lapped the field with the putter. Kevin Na proved it before outlasting Patrick Cantlay in a playoff a year ago.
TPC Summerlin tips at just 7,255 yards and the greens are on the larger size due to winds that often blow in these parts, but when they don’t, the tournament develops into a putting contest due to the preponderance of scoring opportunities. Consider that Na averaged 13.5 GIR per round last year (to rank T46), and he was a hair under the field average for the week.
Cue the flat stick, Na’s primary weapon. En route to 23-under 261, he ranked second in putting: birdies-or-better and led the field in Strokes Gained: Putting, putts per GIR, fewest putts, total distance of putts converted, one-putt percentage and highest conversion percentage from outside 10 feet.
Nine of the other 11 who finished inside the top 10 on the leaderboard ranked inside the top 10 in green hit, but only three cracked the top 10 in Strokes Gained: Putting.
Scoring conditions will be favorable during the first two rounds this week before a cooling pattern arrives on the weekend. With it, the breezes will intensify from a prevailing direction out of the southwest, and then shift to push in from the north. Daytime highs will tumble from right around 90 degrees on Thursday to about 80 for the finale. No rain will fall.
For the third straight year, the primary rough will be limited to two inches. (It previously was three inches.) The bentgrass greens are prepped to run at about 11-and-a-half feet on the Stimpmeter, further favoring aggressive putting.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Fantasy Insider
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.