This is the week to gamble on the PGA Tour. After all, we are in Las Vegas.
But that’s not what we mean.
We’re talking about the players taking big gambles on two of the best risk/reward holes on the PGA Tour: The 15th and 16th holes at TPC Summerlin, the site for this week’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
These two holes — the 15th is a driveable par-4 that is right around 300 yards depending on the tournament day, and the par-5 16th, a hole that is definitely reachable in two by everyone in the field at around 520 yards — will definitely be big factors in who wins this week.
If you’re going to be the last man standing on Sunday, you’re going to have to score on these two holes every day. End of story.
To that end, Patrick Cantlay, at 12-1, looks to have this course figured out and just may be your winner this week.
The reasoning is simple. He finished runnerup to winner Bryson DeChambeau, 16-1 odds this week, by a stroke last year. And over the four days, Cantlay played those two holes at seven-under-par with seven birdies and a lone par on the 16th during the opening round.
Oh, and did we forget to tell you that he won the event in 2017 in a playoff over Alex Cejka and Whee Kim? So he’s got that going for him as well.
DeChambeau will be back to defend his title but that’s not likely to happen as the odds are stacked against him. Since the tournament’s beginning in 1983, only Jim Furyk has repeated when he won back-to-back in 1998 and 1999. It was also his third time winning as he also picked up the title in 1995.
Cantlay could make his own mark this year by first-second-first if he wins. Right now he keeps plugging along. He finished the FedEx Cup playoffs with a T12 at the Northern Trust, a second at the BMW Championship and a T21 at the Tour Championship. He also opened the season in last week’s Safeway Open so he should have shaken off some of the rust.
If he’s coming in focused, (and with his success in this event on this course, why wouldn’t he?) he’s likely to be stalking the leaderboard heading into the back nine on Sunday, if not outright leading.
And we’ve told you about his success on the back nine. Last year, he had five birdies (along with two bogeys) over his final eight holes on Sunday, including a birdie on the 18th that left him just one shot away from forcing a playoff.
This event also marks the return of a crowd-favorite, Brooks Koepka, to action. Not surprisingly, he’s the favorite at 10-1. Look for him to be in the hunt, but it will be his turn to try to shake the rust off with all the time he’s had off since the FedEx Cup’s final event.
Will he be in tip-top shape and ready to go or will he be easing into the season? That’s the question bettors need to ask themselves before they get to the betting window. Plus, it has been feast or famine for him at TPC Summerlin. In his first event here during a four-year run, in 2013, he missed the cut. Then there was a T4, another missed cut the following year and three years ago there was a second-place finish. There’s a pattern there. We’ll let you figure it out.
With the Shriners being his first outing of the year—plus this not being in his wheelhouse of being one of the four majors — we’re going to stay away from him this week.
Overall, this is one week that gambling can really pay off in Las Vegas, especially with $7 million in prize money up for grabs. And with the strongest field in years, including Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson, Hideki Matsuyama and Koepka plus perfect fall weather in the forecast, expect large galleries at TPC Summerlin and a dogfight for the championship.