Weekly Preview: Shriners Children's Open

Weekly Preview: Shriners Children's Open

This article is part of our Weekly Preview series.

Shriners Children's Open

TPC Summerlin
Las Vegas, NV

The PGA Tour heads to Las Vegas for another edition of the Shriners Children's Open.

As we get into the heart of the fall season, I find it interesting how unique this time of the year is. It's not necessarily the events themselves, but rather the fields. During the stretch that lasts from around February through roughly August each year, there are essentially four types of tournaments: majors, WGC events, haves and have nots. This is referring only to the quality of field of course. In the fall, however, almost every week is a strange type of hybrid between the haves and have nots. Sure, there are some larger events that draw a nice field, but for the most part, we get something like we have this week: an intriguing but limited crop of players at the top of the field and a nice second tier as well. It's certainly a nice departure from what the fall season used to be, which was essentially three months of lower-tier golfers trying to secure a Tour card, which to be honest, was entertaining in its own right, but not the same as watching some of the best golfers in the world battle it out each week. 

As for the tournament at hand, we've got plenty of course history, and we're also starting to build up some data, as most of the golfers have played at some point in the past month.
     

Shriners Children's Open

TPC Summerlin
Las Vegas, NV

The PGA Tour heads to Las Vegas for another edition of the Shriners Children's Open.

As we get into the heart of the fall season, I find it interesting how unique this time of the year is. It's not necessarily the events themselves, but rather the fields. During the stretch that lasts from around February through roughly August each year, there are essentially four types of tournaments: majors, WGC events, haves and have nots. This is referring only to the quality of field of course. In the fall, however, almost every week is a strange type of hybrid between the haves and have nots. Sure, there are some larger events that draw a nice field, but for the most part, we get something like we have this week: an intriguing but limited crop of players at the top of the field and a nice second tier as well. It's certainly a nice departure from what the fall season used to be, which was essentially three months of lower-tier golfers trying to secure a Tour card, which to be honest, was entertaining in its own right, but not the same as watching some of the best golfers in the world battle it out each week. 

As for the tournament at hand, we've got plenty of course history, and we're also starting to build up some data, as most of the golfers have played at some point in the past month.
                              
All odds via FanDuel Sportsbook as of 5:00 PM ET Tuesday.

LAST YEAR

Sungjae Im shot a final-round 62 on his way to a four-stroke victory over Matthew Wolff.

FAVORITES

Patrick Cantlay (13-2)

You know how I feel about odds shorter than 10-1 for anyone other than Tiger Woods in his prime. With that said, Cantlay is the best and most accomplished player -- majors notwithstanding -- in the field and his track record on this course is very impressive. Cantlay won this event in 2017 and finished runner-up in 2018 and 2019. His "worst" showing here was a T8 in 2020. Winning is never guaranteed in this game, but a top-10 seems like a certainty for Cantlay. His price is extremely short, but it might be worth it in this instance.

Sungjae Im (12-1)

The reigning champion of this event checks in next, and surprisingly, there's a bit of separation between the top two and the next group of players. Like Cantlay, Im's track record here is solid, with a win in 2021 and two other top-15s in three starts. There's no reason to expect either golfer to play poorly this week, but the odds aren't doing anyone any favors. This might be a good play if Im wasn't defending and someone of Cantlay's caliber wasn't in the field, but as it is, this number is not good enough to go after.

Max Homa (18-1)

Homa broke out during the 2020-2021 season and followed that up with an even better campaign. He's already picked up a win this season, so is he going to take another step? Homa just continues to climb the ladder and there's no telling where he stops. This week could be tricky, though, as he's never really played well in this event and has missed the cut in four of five tries. It's safe to say he's a much better player than he was when he last teed it up in this event in 2020, but does the course still have his number?

THE NEXT TIER

Tom Kim (22-1)

Kim's rise has been about as fast as any golfer I've seen in my lifetime. He went from "this kid looks pretty good" to "this guy might win multiple majors" in the span of about three months. It certainly helped that he had a large audience witness his talents at the Presidents Cup, and that performance helped lend some support to the notion that yeah, Kim is actually really good. He's not going to catch anyone by surprise at this point, but once he gets a win, we won't see odds this high again.

Taylor Montgomery (37-1)

Montgomery finished solo third at the Fortinet Championship in September, which pushed his odds to 30-1 at the Sanderson Farms Championship, where he ended up T9. His odds have dropped a bit due to the strength at the top of this field, but only five players reside above him on the board, and he has a chance to win if he continues playing like he has.

Cam Davis (42-1)

Davis seems like a candidate to break out, much like Homa did in recent years. He's in his mid-20s, has already won on the PGA Tour and makes a high percentage of cuts. His track record here is just okay, with two top-30s in three starts, but he played the weekend each time. This is admittedly a bit of a hunch.

LONG SHOTS

Matthew NeSmith (65-1)

When picking a favorite to bet on you want to find several things you like about a golfer. However, when you are looking for long shots, one or two will do. NeSmith checks a couple boxes. First, his track record is solid, with top-20s in all three starts here. Second, he's coming off a top-10 at the Sanderson Farms Championship.

Kurt Kitayama (65-1)

I didn't quite understand Kitayama being listed at 80-1, so it's no surprise to see the larger number dropping. Few PGA Tour golfers could claim a better second half of last season than Kitayama, who carded two runner-up finishes after May and closed with a respectable T19 at the BMW Championship. Perhaps the long layoff is responsible for this price, but you aren't going to find much better odds on a guy with a legitimate chance to win.

ONE-AND-DONE LEAGUES

Highly-owned Pick: Patrick Cantlay - It's the age-old question: Can you go with someone at this level during the fall season? What's really the difference between using him here and using him later in this season? If you are in the business of saving players, you should only be concerned with the majors, right? Cantlay isn't a guy I'm saving for a major just yet.

Moderately-owned Pick: Tom Kim - The golfing public is already in love with Kim, which means that the OAD players are going to make sure they use him at some point. The question with him, though, is do you pull the trigger in this spot? Fresh off his Presidents Cup performance, I'm expecting Kim's ownership to be fairly high. Personally, I'd hold off.

Lightly-owned Pick: Matthew NeSmith - The odds are long and he's never won on the PGA Tour, so his chances of winning this week aren't great. Still, his chances of cashing a nice check are pretty good. NeSmith has fared well here in all three starts and, given last week's result, we know his form is sound.

Buyer Beware: Tom Kim - Honestly, no one really fits the bill this week, as the top options seem solid. With Kim, though, we might be collectively a bit of ahead ourselves. He looks the part and obviously has plenty of game, but he's still so young and he's human. Great things are in store for Kim, but I wouldn't be surprised if he struggles at times in the months ahead.

This week: Matthew NeSmith - This was not an easy call, as normally I'd just go with the heavy favorite. After all, when is Cantlay going to be 7-1 again this season? However, I like the value here with NeSmith. In addition to what NeSmith is capable of, there's really not a scenario that I can envision where I'm kicking myself for using him this early in the year. I'm trying to avoid using most of the bigger names during the fall and just hoping to maintain pace.

Previous Results

TournamentGolferEarningsRunning Total
Sanderson Farms ChampionshipDenny McCarthy$31,995$301,995
Fortinet ChampionshipSahith Theegala$270,000$270,000

FANDUEL PICKS

Upper Range: Patrick Cantlay ($12,000)
Middle Range: Matthew NeSmith ($9,300)
Lower Range: Kurt Kitayama ($9,100)

SURVIVOR LEAGUES

This Week: Matthew NeSmith - If you can keep your streak alive while using someone like NeSmith, that's a huge bonus. This is not even a huge risk, though, as NeSmith has proven himself on this course and his form is where it needs to be. You know motivation isn't in question either, as he will see this week as a big opportunity to earn a lot of money and points.

Previous Results

TournamentGolferStreak
Sanderson Farms ChampionshipDenny McCarthy1
Fortinet ChampionshipChez Reavie0

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Greg Vara
Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the FSWA Golf Writer of the Year in 2005 and 2013. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.
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