Steve looks back on past results at TPC Summerlin, where outsiders and first time winners aren't just unusual, they're the norm! If you like a punt on a long-shot, this could be your week...
“Roberto Castro is trading at almost twice the price he is on the High Street and I’m not quite sure why.”
The JT Shriners Open will be the first event of the final Fall Series, as next year the Tour will end with the Tour Championship and then the 2013-2014 schedule will begin soon after. The rebranded Shriners Hospitals for Children Open will be one of the first events of the 2013-2014 FedEx Cup Series and Shriners have committed to the next five years, but Justin Timberlake won't be hosting any more.
Tournament chairman, Raoul Frevel, has been less than kind about Mr T, stating, "Justin's a wonderful person. But we tried everything we could to get him more involved with our kids and the hospitals. But it seemed that when the TV cameras weren't on, he disappeared." Ouch. If they're going to search out a new host they might just struggle - the chances of a long line of celebs forming after a catty statement like that are pretty slim I'd say.
TPC Summerlin, Las Vegas, Nevada
Par 71, 7.243 yards
Stroke index in 2011 - 68.88
Designed in 1992 by Booby Weed and Fuzzy Zoeller, TPC Summerlin is a very easy track. There's plenty of room off the tee, the bentgrass greens are large and receptive, running at around 11 on the stimpmeter, and it's sure to produce a low-scoring birdie-fest.
Live on Sky, 9.30pm on Thursday and 9.00pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Last Five Winners
2011 - Kevin Na -23
2010 - Jonathan Byrd -21 (playoff)
2009 - Martin Laird -19 (playoff)
2008 - Marc Turnesa -25
2007 - George McNeil -24
What will it take to win the JT Shriners Open?
What you do off the tee is largely unimportant at TPC Summerlin, you don't need to be particularly long or accurate to succeed. Finding greens and/or putting well are the keys to success. Winners here either rank highly for greens hit or putting - it's all about making birdies.
Is there an identikit winner?
Six of the last seven winners were first time winners on the PGA Tour and outsiders are the norm. If ever there was a week to get the pin out and just go for it, this is it. Some of the winners here have been frankly downright impossible to spot.
As is so often the case in low-scoring events, it's devilishly hard to win from off the pace. Four of the last five winners were already in front by halfway and the only one that wasn't, Martin Laird, was just one shot back through 36 holes.
I'm not remotely tempted by Ryan Moore, who simply doesn't win enough to warrant favouritism and I'm a bit surprised he's shorter than recent winner of The Barclays, Nick Watney, who has plenty of course form with three top-six finishes in the last seven years, including a second place last year.
Watney definitely looks a better prospect than the likes of Robert Garrigus (backed at [95.0] last year and just [21.0] this), a woefully out of form Jason Day and a surely too short at [25.0], Scott Piercy, but I can't entertain playing a short one in this event - outsiders have such a strong record.
I'm a little disappointed not to have dug out a relatively strong fancy here, I thought I might do. I've gone through the field umpteen times though and nobody really gets the juices flowing.
I ummed and ahhed about backing Chad Campbell before deciding not too but then he drifted slightly and was assigned a draw that sees him first out on Thursday morning, so I've had a change of heart and a small bet after all. He has plenty of course form and was 4th at the Wyndham Championship on his penultimate start.
Californian Charley Hoffman resides in Nevada and went to college here too. He always enjoys desert golf and he has some decent form at Summerlin already, having finished 5th in 2006 and 6th in 2009. He's more than capable of bursting into form from seemingly nowhere and I thought he looked well worth a few bob at [80.0].
Having won the event in 2007, George McNeill was beaten in a playoff two years later so he's another with plenty of course form. He hasn't been in great nick of late but that doesn't particularly concern me as like the Hoff, George can burst into life with little warning and I'd consider him the strongest fancy I have this week.
I've followed Paul Krishnamurty in with Garth Mulroy, who so nearly did me a huge favour in Italy last time out and who should be ideally suited by the test. Garth fits the first time PGA Tour winner criteria too and so does Roberto Castro, who I'd consider my second best pick.
Hitting greens is Castro's biggest strength and it's interesting to see that his best results in this, his maiden season, have come at the Greenbrier Classic and the True South Classic - two events I'd consider fairly similar to this one, where making birdies and yet more birdies is the way to the win. Castro is trading at almost twice the price he is on the High Street and I'm not quite sure why.
I've also backed Alexandre Rocha (2nd in Nevada in August), Scott Brown (5th at the True South Classic) and my perennial weakness Matt Bettencourt, but in truth, those three are pretty much my very own pin jobs!
Chad Campbell @ [65.0]
Charley Hoffman @ [80.0]
George McNeil @ [90.0]
Garth Mulroy @ [130.0]
Roberto Castro @ [190.0]
Alexandre Rocha @ an average of [450.0]
Scott Brown @ [510.0]
Matt Bettencourt @ [660.0]
I'll be back on Friday morning with the In-Play Blog.