The Shriners Children’s Open is one of the marquee events of the fall season. Aside from the CJ Cup and the Zozo, this will be the best field before 2022, with 11 of the top 25 in the world rankings teeing it up at TPC Summerlin. Accordingly, our Golf Digest betting panel is pumped to profit off the start of the Vegas Swing.
Our Rick Gehman cashed his Sam Burns outright ticket in this space last week, keeping the hot pace we ended the 2020-’21 season on (predicting 14 of the last 28 winners correctly on the PGA Tour). Gehman joined us on the Golf Digest “Be Right” podcast this week to give his insights on the course, having played there multiple times recently and attending the event this week. Give the podcast a listen (below), and read on for the analysis from our entire betting panel, which includes an anonymous caddiel Pat Mayo of Mayo Media Network and DraftKings; Brandon Gdula of numberFire/FanDuel; Gehman of RickRunGood.com and Lee Alldrick of FanShareSports.com.
Read on to see who we like this week at the 2021 Shriners Children’s Open.
Shriners Children’s Open 2021 picks: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Scottie Scheffler (23-1) — The stats guys aren’t good enough to where they can measure momentum yet. But Scottie comes into Vegas on an absolute high from the Ryder Cup. His confidence was high before Whistling Straits, but it must be through the roof. He will win in his next six or eight starts. I will keep betting on it.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Patrick Reed (40-1) — While statistically not the premier play on the board, a motivated Patrick Reed is tough to pass on—especially at a number we get in majors. This field is good, but it’s not close to major-like. If you bet Reed at this number in every event in his career, you’d be up a lot of money.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Paul Casey (35-1) — Casey’s profile is really promising for TPC Summerlin, which requires birdies. Casey’s putting is almost always problematic, but his splits on bentgrass greens are much more promising than on other surfaces, too, so this is just too long a number for Casey.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Viktor Hovland (22-1) — Hovland makes his season debut this week, looking to pick up where he left off a month ago. Hovland finished T-5 at the Tour Championship, which marked the 10th consecutive measured event that he gained strokes on approach, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. He’s likely the best ball-striker in the field and now he gets to putt on bentgrass, one of his better surfaces.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Webb Simpson (30-1) — The narrative on Webb is that he’s been struggling of late. Maybe, but he ranks 10th in this field in SG/total over the past 24 rounds, per Fantasy National. He’s second in this field in SG/total at TPC Summerlin—if you can catch this 30-1, I think it has some nice value.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Patrick Reed (40-1) — His most recent results do not portend to victory, but he’s had plenty of time off to get right. During that time, he watched the American team dominate the Ryder Cup, and he wasn’t a part of it. He should be highly motivated, and on TPC Summerlin’s bentgrass greens, he can fill it up with the putter. If he comes in sharp from the get-go, he’s going to contend, making this 40-1 number wildly disrespectful for a nine-time tour winner.
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Webb Simpson (30-1) — Webb has the form to combine with his great history in Vegas. He ranks seventh over the past two months in SG/total.
Shriners Children’s Open 2021 picks: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win
Caddie: Taylor Moore (150-1) — PGA Tour fans saw his game on display at the Sanderson. It ain’t a fluke. This kid has game to stay on tour for the next decade. His simple, repeatable swing will rack up a bunch of top-25s—and a ton of cash.
Mayo: Mito Pereira (50-1) — Mito Week didn’t happen for us at Sanderson Farms, but I see no reason to quit at a better number. TPC Summerlin has been a breakthrough spot for young players in the past, so he fits a narrative (always fun!), but it’s really the numbers which point us toward to the Chilean. After a T-3 in Napa to kick off the season, his T-31 in Jackson last week was actually much better than it appeared. He was second to only Sam Burns in ball-striking and was sunk by losing 4.7 strokes/putting. The worst mark in this career on the PGA Tour.
Gdula: Ian Poulter (130-1) — The number at FanDuel Sportsbook is super long on Poulter, so I’m willing to take advantage with another European Ryder Cupper here as a longshot. Poulter should benefit from a course where he doesn’t need to be long, and his birdie tendencies are probably better than most realise.
Gehman: Rickie Fowler (100-1) — This is a rare opportunity to attempt to be “early” on Fowler at a long number. It’s been nearly two months since we’ve seen him play, but there were some encouraging signs down the stretch of last season. He made the cut in five of his last seven starts, with a T-8 at the PGA Championship and T-11 at the Memorial. His tee-to-green game is slowly coming around and with two months to “get right,” you’d expect to see the best out of Fowler this week.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Maverick McNealy (60-1) — For those of you who bet McNealy in Napa, you have to go back to him here, right? TPC Summerlin requires precision off the tee, which is what’s required in Napa, and that’s McNealy’s strength. He also ranks 29th in this field in SG/putting on bentgrass, per Fantasy National, which is a nice stat in what might be a birdie fest. Finally, the narrative play for the adopted Vegas kid—I’m going back to McNealy.
Powers, Golf Digest: Talor Gooch (80-1) — In his 2021-’22 season debut, Gooch finished fourth at Fortinet, gaining 8.8 strokes tee-to-green. That plays at any course on tour, and it shows you he was grinding away in the offseason. A lot of sharper folks in the golf gambling industry are high on Gooch this year, and the reason for that is he does just about everything well except for one key ingredient to winning on the modern tour - gaining strokes off-the-tee. However, he did gain 0.7 in Napa. Progress! If he continues to progress in that area, he’ll continue to close in on a maiden tour win, something I’m willing to bet on as long as he’s north of 50-1 each time he tees it up.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Kevin Streelman (80-1) — Streelman comes into this event ranked second in the field for Opportunities Gained over the past two months. Streelman has a runner-up finish here, so if the putter warms up, he could contend.
Shriners Children’s Open 2021 picks: Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)
Caddie: Paul Casey (25-1) — His game was lucky at the Ryder Cup. He looked better on Sunday, but it was bad all week. I would wait to see some positive signs before betting him.
Mayo: Brooks Koepka (16-1) — I almost always pick the favourite in the fade spot. Even if a few of them win over the course of a year, best you’ll do is probably break even if you’re betting favourites in PGA Tour events.
Gdula: Brooks Koepka (20-1) — Koepka, a co-favourite at FanDuel Sportsbook, is always hard to project, and he’s actually been a lot better in non-majors recently than in years past. However, his win odds still lag behind the necessary rate in my simulations to want to get exposure to him at 20-1.
Gehman: Paul Casey (25-1) — It’s hard to pinpoint what’s wrong with Casey’s game right now. We saw him fail to earn a single point in four matches at the Ryder Cup, and his game didn’t pass the eye test in the process. When you combine that with his T-64 at The Northern Trust and a T-38 at the BMW Championship, he’s been leaving us wanting more. This will be his second trip to TPC Summerlin after a MC last year.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Brooks Koepka (16-1) — This week has been circled on Jena Sims’ calendar; I’m not so sure about Brooks. Brooks and Jena don’t pass up a week in Vegas. I don’t think he cares at all whether he wins or loses. I’d fade him in most matchups.
Powers, Golf Digest: Paul Casey (25-1) — I’d be out on Casey anyway at 25-1, but I’m definitely out on him after that brutal performance at the Ryder Cup.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Brooks Koepka (16-1) — Koepka’s strong finishes here are sandwiched within three MCs. I see this event as being one of those that Koepka doesn’t care about.