We have seen some emotional moments on the PGA Tour in the past, but Cameron Champ's victory at the Safeway Open was one for the books. Champ was dominant throughout, but needed to birdie the 72nd hole to avoid a playoff with Adam Hadwin. The young phenom came through to finish a shot clear of Hadwin and capture the second PGA Tour win of his career. The youngster was playing with a heavy heart, as his grandfather Mack is in hospice care just 60 miles from the site of the Safeway, which forced Champ to commute throughout the week.
We had high hopes for the Safeway due to the surprising strength of the field and it didn't disappoint. I was surprised by just how great a test the Silverado layout was for these guys and I can definitely understand why the property owner Johnny Miller has his eyes set on the course as a major championship venue in the future. The Safeway is a tournament that I will be circling on my calendar next year.
We stay out west this week for another traditional 'Swing Season' event, the Shriners Hospitals For Children Open in Las Vegas. We have another stout lineup of players in attendance this week. Let's dive in!Editor's Note: Golf is back! Come join the fun and win big with RotoBaller. Get our full-season PGA and DFS Premium Pass for 50% off! Our exclusive DFS Lineup Optimizer, Research Station, DFS Projections and weekly DFS/betting articles! Sign Up Now!
Shriners Hospitals For Children Open Overview
Like last week's Safeway Open, this Shriners Hospitals field is very strong for a fall event. Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau is back and he'll be joined by a host of high-quality players like previous Shriners winner Patrick Cantlay, and major champions such as Brooks Koepka, Gary Woodland, Webb Simpson, and Adam Scott. There will also be an injection of youth in Vegas this week, with last week's winner Cam Champ (I would keep an eye on Champ's status this week) set to play, as well as phenoms Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa.
From a DFS perspective, this week's slate looks eerily similar to last week...with a couple of marquee names up at the top and a lot of quality in the mid-to-high price ranges, which gives us tons of options when constructing rosters. The sample size is tiny - so I am still chalking it up to coincidence - but since the PGA Tour's new top-65 and ties cut rule went into effect, the percentage of 6/6 lineups on DraftKings has been very low. Do with that information whatever you will, but it is something to keep in mind when building lineups.
You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week.
The Course: TPC Summerlin
Par 71 - 7,255 Yards, Greens: Bent
We go from a fairly tough test at Silverado last week to a TPC Summerlin layout that will be a bit more forgiving for the field. Fairly short by modern standards at just over 7,200 yards, this Las Vegas track has reachable Par-5s and a driveable Par-4, which allows players to rack up birdies. The fairways are wide and firm with huge Bentgrass green complexes that generally roll on the slow side. Summerlin routinely ranks as one of the easiest courses on the PGA Tour schedule, but we have seen wind and weather occasionally play a factor on this layout that sits at high elevation. While this course is on the shorter side, we haven't traditionally seen bombers have a huge advantage here, as the past winners of the Shriners have mostly been sharp ball strikers. I'll be targeting ball striking and Strokes Gained: Approach this week, as well as players that can rack up birdies.
Patrick Cantlay (DK - $11,100)
Notable Course History: 2nd ('19), Win ('18)
Patrick Cantlay disappointed last week at the Safeway with an underwhelming 40th-place finish, but we get the young star in a juicy bounce-back spot at the Shriners this week. Cantlay had a huge season in 2018-19...taking down The Memorial, logging strong finishes at both the Masters and the PGA, and routinely putting himself in contention throughout the year. After flying under the radar last week in his first start since the TOUR Championship, he now heads to a TPC Summerlin track on which he's won and finished second in his last two trips.
Cantlay ended the 2018-19 season at fifth in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and second in SG: Total on the PGA Tour, so we know what we're getting this week...a player that's solid in all facets of the game and loves this layout. His ball striking numbers at last week's Safeway were very good - he gained 4.7 strokes T2G, 3.8 Off the Tee, & 2.8 on Approach - but he struggled both on and around the greens, losing over two shots in each category. I'm willing to chalk those up to two factors: rust and Poa. This week, Cantlay heads to Vegas with four tournament rounds under his belt and gets a putting surface which has traditionally been his best in Summerlin's Bentgrass greens.
He always seems to be popular, but I'm hoping that last week's disappointing outing will perhaps lower his ownership a bit (though that probably won't be the case!). He's my favorite play up top this week and will be where I start lots of lineups.
Webb Simpson (DK - $10,200)
Notable Course History: T15 ('19), T20 ('18), Win ('13)
I know I'm guilty of being a Webb Simpson apologist, but if you had rostered Webb Simpson every time he teed it up last season, you would've probably made a lot of money. Simpson was consistently great throughout 2019 and only missed one cut in 21 starts. He didn't get any wins, but logged 15 top-25s out of those 20 made cuts.
This will be the Webber's first start since the TOUR Championship, but he should feel right at home at TPC Summerlin. The 2018 PLAYERS champion has been the model of consistency at the Shriners throughout his career, having logged a win in 2013 and two additional top-five finishes. He finished 2018-19 ranked third on the PGA Tour in Scoring Average at 69, and ranked inside the top 20 in scoring average on Par 3s, 4s, and 5s (3rd in Par 4 Scoring Average!).
Like the aforementioned Cantlay, Webb is strong in all facets of the game and grades out fourth in this field in SG: Total over his last 24 rounds. Those of you looking for a more balanced build can feel great about starting your lineups with Simpson - and while we might be sacrificing a bit of win equity - there's something to be said for rostering a player as consistent as Simpson in this new DK climate where 6/6 lineups are hard to come by.
Brian Harman (DK - $7,800)
Notable Course History: T15 ('17)
There is really a lot to love in the $9k price range, with both Collin Morikawa and Joaquin Niemann being especially interesting to me, but just so we can touch on some players in different pricing tiers, I'm dropping down to Brian Harman at $7.8k.
Harman doesn't have a very extensive history at TPC Summerlin, which makes him an intriguing pivot from well-known course horse Scott Piercy at $7.9k. What the lefty does possess is some extremely sharp current form and a game that's a natural fit for this layout. Harman began trending toward the end of the '18-19 season by logging three top-10s between June and August. He hasn't slowed down after the short layoff, and scored a top-three at the Greenbrier and a top-15 at Sanderson Farms in the past month.
The veteran rates out an impressive third in this field in SG: T2G over his last 24 rounds and brings both sharp ball striking (eighth in SG: Ball Striking) and a silky short game (12th in SG: Short Game) to Vegas. I'm going to keep a close eye on Harman's ownership projections this week and if it appears that he's going to fly under the radar, I won't hesitate to go aggressively overweight on him in this spot.
Aaron Wise (DK - $7,500)
Notable Course History: T15 ('19), T32 ('18), T10 ('17)
Aaron Wise disappointed a lot folks (including me) a couple of weeks ago at the Sanderson Farms when he settled for a T39 as a very popular DFS option. I'm willing to let bygones be bygones with the former Oregon Duck in this spot, as he has a really solid track record at TPC Summerlin with top-15 finishes in two of his last three starts at the Shriners.
Though Wise didn't have the finish many of us wanted at the Sanderson, he actually played really well tee to green, gaining 4.4 strokes T2G for the week. His undoing was on the greens, where he lost 2.2 strokes putting. I'm encouraged by his solid play outside of the putting (he gained strokes in every major category at the Sanderson), his ability to light up Par-5s (first in the field in SG: Par 5s) and rack up birdies at a huge clip (first in the field in Birdies or Better Gained). I love his upside in large-field stuff and wouldn't mind rostering him in single entry tourneys.
Cameron Percy (DK - $6,900)
Notable Course History: T72 ('15), T2 ('10)
I don't often highlight sub-$7k players in this article, but I'm willing to dip into the high $6k price range to grab the Aussie Cameron Percy at what I feel is a bargain. Percy heads to the Shriners with trending form and irons that are smoking. He's gained over 10 strokes on approach combined in his last two starts, which resulted in a T11 at Sanderson Farms and a T7 at last week's Safeway. We can mix that recent form with some solid course history at TPC Summerlin, as Percy scored a T2 in this event way back in 2010 and owns a scoring average of 68.00 over his three appearances at TPC Summerlin.
Anytime I go fishing in this price range I'm looking to capture lightning in a bottle and Percy's recent ball striking form makes him very appealing in this spot. He stands sixth in this week's field in Birdies or Better Gained over recent rounds. Frankly, I probably won't be making this play in lineups where I need 6/6...but I love the upside Percy brings to GPP rosters at this price.