The PGA Tour heads for the desert this week and TPC Summerlin, located on the outskirts of Las Vegas.
While the field continues to be on the weak side it’s certainly a step-up from last week’s season opener with the Ryder Cup now all but a distant memory.
The presence of Viktor Hovland, Scottie Scheffler, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Harris English and Brooks Koepka will certainly make things interesting.
Add to that list a few elite international ball strikers in Hideki Matsuyama, Louis Oosthuizen and Adam Scott and we have as good a field as can be expected at this time of year.
Course: TPC Summerlin
Length: 7255 yards (Par 71)
Architect: Bobby Weed
The course is a suburban private club that has produced a couple of class winners over the last few years in Patrick Cantlay and Bryson Dechambeau.
Two years ago, we saw Kevin Na get his 4th PGA Tour victory after beating Cantlay in a playoff with an all-time putting performance where he gained 14.2 strokes on the greens.
Meanwhile, last year saw the veteran Martin Laird holding off coming superstars like Matthew Wolff, Abraham Ancer and Will Zalatoris on his way to a playoff win.
Off the tee, the golfers will face wide fairways while the greens are large and the green-in-regulation percentage is one of the highest on tour.
But since the pins can be tucked in awkward positions the up and downs become really challenging.
This also means putting will be more important than normal, the surface this week is bentgrass on the greens and Bermuda in the fairways and rough.
First and foremost, this is a second-shot golf course where the players need to control their distances with the ball flying a little longer than normal due to the elevation.
With eight par 4s under 450 yards, it’s the wedges and short irons in particular that will get a workout this week in sin city.
Here are some of the things I will be looking at/for:
- Strokes gained approach
- Bent putting
- Proximity 100-150 yards
- Par 4 scoring 400-450 yards
- Birdie or better %
After taking a three-month break due to mental challenges last spring, we saw the same Matthew Wolff we have come to know since turning pro with some poor weeks mixed with top-end finishes over the summer.
Last week saw him gain over a stroke in all four major categories and when he now comes to a place where he finished 18th on his debut before losing in a play-off here last year it should line up nicely for one of his ceiling performances.
While a positive putter on all surfaces bent is his favourite and he has gained multiple shots both times he has played on these greens.
As always there is a chance the man with the most unique swing since Jim Furyk will be 5 over after nine but with the price we are getting, it’s a no-brainer value bet for me this week.
After going 5th – 4th – 8th in the middle of the summer Lebioda came back to earth with two missed cuts to end last season.
His hot run was fuelled by good iron play and impeccable short game and in particular a nuclear flatstick, all things that should suit this course really well.
And while he started the season with a new missed cut, he did gain almost 4 strokes with his approaches which was even better than the numbers he put up this summer by some margin.
Unfortunately, his putter did not live up to expectations and he ended a couple of shots outside the cut line, but if If the flatstick comes back around on his historically preferred surface this should be a good buy-low spot on the Floridian.
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