The PGA TOUR moves to Vegas for the Shriners Children’s Open, an event that dates back to 1983. The event has been hosted by TPC Summerlin for quite some time now and remains a popular spot for many top players, given its proximity to Las Vegas. The 2023 version of this event features a full 132-person field and will be headlined this year by Tom Kim ($10,900) and Ludvig Aberg ($11,000). LPGA pro Lexi Thompson ($6,100) has also been given an invite and is in the field this week. The fall series is no longer a part of the full-season FedEx Cup race but the points gained will count for status purposes in 2024 — so, like all fall series tournaments, it’s a big event for those who didn't make the 2023 PGA playoffs.
This event generally sees lower scoring (assuming the weather stays nice) and has seen the winner reach 20-under-par or better now in four straight seasons. There’s a regular Friday cutline of top 65 and ties and the cutline at this event often approaches five-under par or better. Expect lots of fantasy points from the winning teams.
TPC Summerlin, Las Vegas, Nevada
Par 71, 7200-7300 yards
TPC Summerlin is historically one of the easiest venues the players will encounter all year, although weather can still play a factor. For example, in 2017 the wind made for poor scoring the entire week, and the event was won at a paltry nine-under-par. However, in 2020-21, the weather was perfect, and the venue played as the third-easiest on TOUR — playing -2.141 strokes under par — and the winner hit 23-under-par.
One of the main reasons this is such a low-scoring event is that the venue is set at altitude — which means pretty much everyone in the field can drive it relatively far. The fact recent winners here have included shorter hitters like Ryan Moore, Kevin Na, and Ben Martin tells us right off the bat that lack of driving distance is not a huge deal. The 2020 playoff was also a massive dichotomy in styles, as you had a bomber in Matthew Wolff but also a really short hitter off the tee in Austin Cook — and a well-rounded veteran in Martin Laird (who ended up winning). The last two seasons have seen solid ball-strikers (but not bombers) in Sungjae Im and Tom Kim run away with relatively easy victories.
The second thing helping the players at this venue is that nothing about the setup of this course is overly difficult. The rough generally isn’t very long, and the bentgrass greens are average to above average in size and speed. There are three par 5s on the course, and even the longest can be reached in two due to altitude, meaning most players will have an eagle opportunity or two every round if their ball-striking is on track. While there are a couple of longer par 4s, only one or two are challenging in the sense that they require players to hit a driver off the tee. Of the 11 par 4s on the course, only three measure in at over 450 yards. The par 3s rate as some of the toughest holes on the course, although only the 17th hole features water around the green.
This course is all about capitalizing on opportunities (of which there will be a lot), and the player who is aggressive this week and can bury the most chances with the putter when they arise will succeed. For more detailed info, look below under the winner’s stats and course notes.
2023 weather outlook: The week starts off with slightly cooler temperatures as a.m. highs will be around 60F for the first two days — with afternoon highs in the 70-75F range. Wind may be a slight factor on the first day, with morning winds set to reach around 10-12 mph on Thursday. This course does have a bit of a PGA National feel to it, so wind can affect scoring to a degree. Interestingly enough, the wind, as of writing, looks like it may die down in the afternoon on Thursday, making the p.m. wave the one to target (this can change quickly obviously). Scoring should still be low for the event as the wind dies down on the weekend but Thursday is where afternoon starters “could” see a small advantage.
Last 5 winners
2022—Tom Kim -24 (over Patrick Cantlay -21)
2021—Sungjae Im -24 (over Matthew Wolff -20)
2020—Martin Laird -23 (over Matthew Wolff and Austin Cook playoff)
2019—Kevin Na -23 (over Patrick Cantlay playoff)
2018—Bryson DeChambeau -21 (over Patrick Cantlay -20)
– Eight of the last 12 winners of the Shriners Children’s Open had finished T16 or better at this event — in a prior year — before their win.
– Nine of the last 13 winners had a T11 or better finish in at least one of their previous five tournaments leading up to their win at the Shriners.
Winners Stats and Course Overview
2021 Winner: Tom Kim (24-under par)
(2022 lead-in: T54-T13-win-T7-T26)
- Winners here have generally balled out in one of two different categories: SG: Putting or SG: Approach (Na set a record for putts gained in a single event in 2019 at +14.2 strokes gained) — last year Tom Kim gained over 5.9 strokes in both areas.
- 2020, 2018, and 2016 winners (Laird, DeChambeau, and Pampling) all gained over +6.5 strokes on approach and 2021 winner SungJae Im gained over +5.5.
- The course is set at a high altitude (2700ft), so drives here go longer than average PGA TOUR stops — the course plays fairly short as a result, and several of the last 10 winners have averaged well under 300 yards off the tee for the season.
- Driving accuracy numbers are slightly lower than the PGA TOUR average, but greens are very easy to hit as the rough isn’t very penalizing, and there are a lot of shorter approaches into greens — GIR % generally five-to-seven percent higher here than normal.
- Scrambling rates tend to be lower than normal but players aren’t challenged much in that regard, given the easy-to-hit greens.
- Players with high birdie rates who have shown the ability to spike with their approach play (and potentially their putter) should be seen as good GPP targets for daily fantasy golf lineups.
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Martin Laird ($7,100; best finish: win-2020, 2nd-2010): Laird has played this event 12 times since 2010. He finished 2nd at Summerlin back in 2010 and won the event in thrilling fashion in 2020. He’s coming in off a four-event made-cut streak.
2. Adam Hadwin ($9,300; best finish: T4-2020): Hadwin is another player who absolutely excels whenever the PGA TOUR heads into the desert. He’s finished T10 or better at the Shriners in three of his last four appearances at this venue.
3. Matthew NeSmith ($7,100; best finish: T2-2022): NeSmith is a great iron player who has produced a solid track record at TPC Summerlin. He’s 4/4 in made cuts at this event and has finished T18 or better in each of those starts (2nd last year).
4. Adam Schenk ($9,200; best finish: T3-2021): Schenk has had good success at this stop. He was top five in 2021 and has finished top 20 here in four of six starts. He’s also gained over a stroke putting in each of his six career starts at Summerlin.
5. Chesson Hadley ($7,100; best finish: T3-2016): Hadley is 6/7 in made cuts at TPC Summerlin over the last seven seasons. He’s putted extremely well on the greens at this venue, gaining over 3.5 strokes putting in three of the last five years.
1. Ludvig Aberg ($11,000; T2-T10-win): Aberg gained 8.6 strokes ball-striking last week and nearly won his first-ever PGA event. He’s playing great golf and if his putter heats up, he will certainly be in the mix again.
2. Troy Merritt ($7,000; T7-T9): Merritt has finished top 10 in each of his last two starts. He’s finished top 20 in four of his last seven starts and gained 9.2 strokes putting + around the green stats combined last week in Jackson.
3. Adam Svensson ($8,200; T15-T16): Svensson ranks fifth in strokes gained total stats over the last six events. He’s made seven cuts in a row and is playing well in most facets of the game.
4. Davis Thompson ($7,800; T16-T30): Thompson has finished well at each of the first two fall series events. His approach game took a tick upwards last week, which should pay dividends in the future when his putter heats up again.
5. Kelly Kraft ($6,400; T16-T25): Kraft is quietly playing some good golf. The veteran has made six of his last seven cuts and gained 6.1 strokes on approach last week at the Sanderson.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Don’t stray from Aberg
It was an easy letdown spot, but Ludwig Aberg ($11,000) still nearly pulled off the impossible last week, as he finished T2 (five-man playoff) in his first PGA start after the Ryder Cup. This week, he’ll take on an easy venue where eagles and birdies will be flying — and the Swede has proven that he has the game to take apart these kinds of venues. His win at Crans (Switzerland) a month ago also came on a shorter course at altitude and it would not be overly shocking if he felt comfortable at Summerlin from the get-go, given the symmetry. Below Aberg, I also like Cameron Davis ($10,300 - see below) and his chances, along with Adam Svensson ($8,200) and Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($8,000) — who finished one shot out of the playoff last week.
Tournaments: Merritt and Noren, two veterans who could excel
The easy nature of the course has also allowed a few long-shot veterans to triumph at this tournament. Martin Laird ($7,100) won at 150-1 in 2020 and Rod Pampling (2016) was another veteran who won recently at massive odds. If we’re looking at names who could potentially pull off a similar surprise win for our DFS lineups at low ownership, both Troy Merritt ($7,000) and Alex Noren ($7,700) are names that come to the forefront. Merritt is coming off two top-10 finishes in a row and both of his two wins have come on approach-driven courses where he gained over 10.0 strokes on approach for the week. Noren has yet to win on the PGA but he’s performed well at these lower-scoring events and was second in 2022 at the Barracuda, played in nearby Truckee at slight altitude as well. Other potential GPP targets include Adam Schenk ($9,200), Sam Ryder ($7,400), David Lipsky ($7,000 - see below), and Brandt Snedeker ($6,500).
MY PICK: Cameron Davis ($10,300)
My pick his year for the Shriners is the exact same player who was in this spot for 2022 — the uber-talented Aussie Cameron Davis. Davis enters this year’s Shriners off a week of rest but will be playing his second fall event of 2023 after he finished 3rd at the Fortinet to Sahith Theegala. Davis’s ball-striking dipped a little at the Fortinet but he was extremely sharp on and around the greens, gaining 10.8 strokes putting + around the greens combined.
If you look at his overall history, shorter more technical courses have been a good place to back him. For his career, he’s placed 2nd at Harbour Town, 6th at TPC Sawgrass, 8th at PGA National, and 3rd at TPC Stadium in nearby Palm Springs — which is a solid course comparison for this week outside of the obvious altitude difference.
From a longer-term form perspective, Davis is a player I expect to start piling up more wins soon. He’s displayed elite ball-striking for long points in his career and is an underrated mid-range putter. While his season started poorly, he posted a career-best major championship finish (4th at the PGA) and a career-best finish at the PLAYERS (6th) in 2023.
Considering the field, you could look to go heavy stars and scrubs, using him with either Tom Kim ($10,900) or Ludvig Aberg ($11,000), or simply look to create more balanced lineups with Davis as your first man in. Either way, Davis as the cheapest of the top three names is appealing for DFS and makes sense as an outright target at +2000 or bigger on the DraftKings Sportsbook.
MY SLEEPER: David Lipsky ($7,000)
Lipsky is a quality pro who has shown the ability to get into the mix at lesser field events, where accuracy and consistent iron play come to the forefront. His best finishes last year consisted of a 4th at the Sony Open, a 12th at the Memorial (which he led after three rounds), and a 16th at the claustrophobic Colonial setup.
While it’s unlikely he has the firepower to compete with the big guns at the top of this field, his recent form suggests he could certainly find a top-20 finish for us this week — a result that would more than pay off his 7k-flat salary. Lipsky comes in having gained over 2.0 strokes in each of his last four starts and finally took a tick upward with his around-the-green game at the Sanderson Farms, gaining 2.0 strokes ATG there for the week.
His ball-striking alone should have him in good shape to get us a made cut (which is a decent enough result for a 7k player) but his history at both this event (44th last year), the Amex (Palm Springs - 14th last year), and at altitude (winner at Crans 2014 — European Tour) suggests he could push for much better. He makes sense as a top 40 target (+330) on the DraftKings Sportsbook this week as well.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.