Viva Las Vegas!
The desert city known for high rollers, nightlife, and the biggest performers will be welcoming the PGA TOUR for the 40th consecutive season.
Established in 1992, TPC Summerlin, designed by Bobby Weed with help from Fuzzy Zoeller, has been part of the hosting committee. The 2008 edition was the first exclusively held at the Par-71, 7,255-yard design.
While The Strip and surrounding areas have exploded in growth recently, TPC Summerlin has played to 7,255 yards since the 2014 edition. The comfortable, well-known surroundings are annually tormented by the game’s best players.
Top of the Board
Tom Kim (12/1): Last year on debut he didn’t make a bogey and comfortably won by three shots. Picking up his second win in four starts, he matched Tiger Woods as the only player to win twice on TOUR before turning 21. Nobody has successfully defended since TPC Summerlin became the exclusive host in 2008. The Korean, who checks in at No. 16 in the OWGR, is currently on a run of T24 or better in his last seven worldwide. I usually avoid the chalk, but he will make me think twice this week.
Ludvig Åberg (12/1): The concern I had with the Swedish sensation and his Ryder Cup whirlwind week slowing him down at SFC last week was completely overblown. By me. The 23-year-old had no problem grinding out four rounds at 18-under and forcing himself into the five-man playoff late Sunday afternoon. The Swede also ranked fourth in GIR and holed 391 feet of putts, good for T5. Another week, another time zone, and another course he’s playing for the first time as a professional, he’s impossible to ignore. It’s also impossible to ignore that he’s cashed T2, T10, WIN, and T4 in his last four starts on either side of the Ryder Cup victory.
Australian Cam Davis (22/1) hit the podium in Wine Country in the first week of the FedExCup Fall. The top-10 payday was his fourth in five events dating back to the 3M Open in late July. Relying on premium ball-striking, he will have plenty of chances to get his putter hot in the Las Vegas desert. Making his fifth visit, he should have a plan to break through.
With his team’s victory at the Asian Games to begin the month of October, Si Woo Kim (22/1) is now exempt from mandatory military service in his native Korea. A previous winner in the desert at The American Express, Kim has a pair of T8 paydays in his last three visits to Las Vegas. Signing his card for 21 of 22 rounds at par or better at TPC Summerlin over six events, he’s posted T25 or better four times.
Of the three players listed at , I’ll highlight J.J. Spaun. The West Coast native cashed T10 at Barracuda and followed with T11 at Fortinet to open the FedExCup Fall. Making the cut in four of his last five on property three results have cashed T15, T15, and T10.
Tom Kim tied the tournament scoring record last year, posting 24-under 260. Webb Simpson and Ryan Moore, both entered this week, have also posted 24-under in victory. Patrick Cantlay (not entered) tied the course record with 60 in Round 3.
Kim joins Sungjae Im (not entered), Martin Laird, and Kevin Na as the last four winners, all internationals.
The last champion to win for the first time on TOUR was Patrick Cantlay in November of 2017.
Cantlay is the only winner of the last eight NOT to post 20-under or better for the winning total. The Californian won a playoff on nine-under-par 275 in the windiest event in recent memory.
Others to Consider:
Adam Hadwin (40/1) is the only player in the field with four top-10 paydays to his name without a victory. The Canadian also plays well in the California desert and has my attention this week.
Adam Svensson (45/1) is on a streak of seven straight weekends on TOUR. Cashing T7 at Wyndham has been the highlight, but he collected T15 at the BMW Championship and followed with T16 last week at Sanderson Farms. A winner 13 months ago at The RSM Classic, he posted 64-62-64 to close, so going low won’t bother him.
Rounds in the 60s
The scoring average at this event over the last five years has been sub-70. With birdies and eagles flying in from every direction, keeping up and going low is the order of the week. The last four winners have posted 260 or 261 as the winning total. The cut the last three years has been 4-under, 5-under, and SEVEN UNDER. Over the last three years, the top 40 has been 10-under par or better.
SG: Approach the Green
Getting to 20 under or better to contend this week will involve outstanding approach play and a hot putter. Tom Kim ranked in the top five in SG: Approach and SG: Putting last year and won by three. Guys who find the 7,400 square-foot Dominator Bentgrass putting surfaces will have plenty of chances with the putter. The guys who are dialed in with their wedges will reduce the stress on the flat stick.
Matthew NeSmith (66/1): Making his fifth start, he’s posted T18 or better in his last four appearances. Finishing T2 last year continued his streak of never posting a round worse than 69 at TPC Summerlin.
Taylor Montgomery (90/1): The Las Vegas native could use his normally hot putter to spark back to life. A home game might be just what the doctor ordered, especially after debuting T15 this time last year.
Patton Kizzire (225/1): After finishing T2 and T4 in two of his first three visits, he’s only cashed in the top 25 once in his next four tries. If you’re looking for form, he’s not at this number because he’s on a tear.