The Ryder Cup, the last significant event of the season for the world’s elite, may be over, but for those outside the top 100 on the PGA Tour money list, the most important four weeks of the season is about to begin.
The ‘Fall Series’ – a collection of four events that ultimately decide who retains their tour card – gets underway this week with the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at the TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas.
Kevin Na won his first PGA Tour title in this event last season, but a relatively strong field has assembled to attempt to stop a repeat success this time around.
TPC Summerlin, situated in the desert just outside the gambling capital of the world, ranks as one of the easiest courses on the PGA Tour roster.
Indeed, the winning score has been 20-under-par or better in three of the last four stagings of the event.
As such, Birdie Average and par-5 Birdie or Better leaders statistics are important to consider, as is form in previous events contested in warm, dry desert conditions.
Ryan Moore and Nick Watney are the favourites with the bookmakers this week, but there are many others in the field capable of making a run at the title.
Robert Garrigus, at 20/1 with Ladbrokes, will be heavily backed this week. Garrigus has recorded three 2nd-place finishes, as well as two other top-5s, this season, and comes into the tournament full of confidence after a hugely-successful play-off series. Garrigus resides in the desert and has played some good golf in the past at TPC Summerlin, finishing third in 2007. He currently ranks 8th on the PGA Tour in Par 5 Birdie or Better leaders, 3rd in Driving Distance, 10th in Greens in Regulation, 10th in Birdie Average and 1st in Par 3 Birdie or Better Leaders.
Ryan Palmer, at 33/1 with Ladbrokes,
is coming into the week slightly under the radar, but could well
feature. The Las Vegas native ranks 11th in Birdie Average, 22nd in
Strokes Gained: Putting and 16th in Driving Distance. What’s more, he
finished in a tie for 8th in this event in 2008, and has already
recorded four top-10 finishes this season.
Kyle Stanley, at 40/1 with Ladbrokes, has shown signs recently he is returning to the form that saw him win his maiden PGA Tour title in Phoenix earlier this season. That victory was achieved at the TPC Scottsdale, a desert track, and Stanley’s game is well suited to such courses. He is 8th in Driving Distance, 7th in Par 5 Birdie or Better Leaders and inside the top 30 in Greens in Regulation Percentage. If he has a good week with the putter, expect him to be in contention.
David Hearn, at 66/1 with Ladbrokes, is worth considering this week. The Canadian finished in a tie for 5th here last year, including four rounds in the 60s and a bogey-free Sunday. He will come into the tournament under no pressure, having already secured his 2013 tour card, and he ranks 5th in putting from 5-10 feet, ideal on a low-scoring golf course.
Charlie Beljan, at 300/1 with Ladbrokes, is a reasonable each way punt. He finished third at the Greenbrier Classic, where he shot 62 in the second round to head into the weekend with the lead. When he is on form he is capable of making a plethora of birdies, and he is currently 2nd on the PGA Tour in Driving Distance.
Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open advised bets:
3pts outright on Robert Garrigus at 20/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Ryan Palmer at 33/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Kyle Stanley at 40/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on David Hearn at 66/1 with Labrokes
1pt each way on Charlie Beljan at 300/1 with Ladbrokes