This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
Winner's Share: $1.26M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: Las Vegas
Course: TPC Summerlin
2017 champion: Patrick Cantlay
We are speechless. Yes, this is only the very beginning of the article, and we will have lots to say, but we don't know what to say. Somehow, the field at this annual who-cares-in-the-desert event is loaded. Jordan Spieth. Rickie Fowler. Bryson DeChambeau. Tony Finau. Webb Simpson. This afterthought of a tournament tucked inside the middle of the fall season, which didn't so much as have a top-20 golfer last year, has five of them now. Yes, we know Spieth doesn't really want to be here, that he's being punished by the Tour for a scheduling error, but something tells us that the fans who fork over cash to see Alex Cejka every year don't really care. Barring some last-minute field changes, the Shriners event incredibly has a higher strength-of-field number than the Turkish Airlines Open, which kicks off the European Tour's Final Series this week. So, it's a huge week for golf in Vegas, the biggest we'll see there until ... oh, three weeks from now, when Tiger and Phil square off.
Okay, we'll now stop gushing as if we were in college and on our first trip to the Vegas Strip.
This annually has been one of the biggest birdie-fests on Tour – maybe the biggest when you consider these numbers: The winning score at TPC Summerlin is almost always 20-under. Two years ago, there were more than 1,800 birdies, third-most on Tour, and more than 60 eagles, second-most on Tour. And that's with a field of only 132 and only three par-5s. In the four years from 2013-16, there were at least 1,700 birdies and 50 eagles every year. But – and you knew there'd be a "but" – the winning score was only 9-under last year, when Cantlay won in a playoff over Whee Kim and that noted box-office draw, Cejka. Summerlin was the 10th hardest course the golfers saw all season. There were only 1,429 birdies and 31 eagles. There were a whopping 33 "others" – that's triple bogey or worse – behind only Shinnecock and PGA National. What the heck happened? Well, the wind happened. It was howling most of the week. After the second round, Aaron Baddeley said it was "like a two- or three-club wind." The forecast says it won't be anywhere near as fierce this year, so we'll consider that in the key stats and Champion's Profile below.
There's plenty of opportunity for drama and wild swings late in rounds. No. 15 is a drivable 341 yards that last year was the easiest hole on the course other than the par-5s. There were five eagles – but there also were a whopping 11 double bogeys or worse. That's some serious differential. No. 16 is a 560-yarder that's reachable by most of the field. The 17th is a dicey par-3 of nearly 200 yards guarded by water, and the par-4 18th is 444 uphill and with more water. The last two holes both play over par.
Weather-wise, every day looks almost exactly the same: high temperature around 80, zero chance of rain and, most importantly, wind in the single digits.
Fun fact: Tiger Woods earned his first PGA Tour victory in this event in 1996, then called the Las Vegas International. He shot 27-under over 90 holes and still needed a playoff to defeat a still-young-at-the-time Davis Love III. Woods won a second tournament two weeks later and, legend has it, went on to a successful career.
Key Stats to Winning at TPC Summerlin
Note - The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key stats" follow in importance.
• Greens in regulation/strokes gained: approach
• Driving accuracy
• Putting average/strokes gained :putting
• Birdie-or-better percentage (BOB)
2017 - Patrick Cantlay
2016 - Rod Pampling
2015 - Smylie Kaufman
2014 - Ben Martin
2013 - Webb Simpson
2012 - Ryan Moore
2011 - Kevin Na
2010 - Jonathan Byrd
2009 - Martin Laird
2008 - Marc Turnesa
You don't have to be a long hitter to win at TPC Summerlin. Martin was 64th in the field in driving distance and Pampling was 38th. But the past four winners all were among the top-18 in accuracy off the tee, with Kaufman and Cantlay in the top seven. GIR and putting numbers have been mixed, with a fair share of mediocrity from champions and close contenders. No matter how they do it, however, it all adds up to birdies, and lots of them. This course has a history of low numbers, and be prepared for more. J.J. Henry shot a 60 here in 2013, and that was matched by eventual champion Pampling three years later.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
DraftKings Tier 1 Values
Rickie Fowler - $11,400 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 10-1)
This will be the season debut for Fowler, his first action since the Ryder Cup. For all his flash, he is a fairly conservative player. Fowler doesn't make many mistakes, and as such ranked 18th on Tour in birdie-or-better percentage last season. He played this event only three times over the last decade, but notched a top-25 in all of them.
Jordan Spieth - $11,000 (12-1)
We joked about Spieth not wanting to be here, but now that he is, we expect him to make every effort to win. Of course, winning didn't come easy for Spieth last season – in fact, it didn't come at all. But amid all his woeful putting, he still managed to tie for 10th in BOB percentage. We'll probably know very quickly – this week or next – if Spieth has been able to leave last season in the rear-view mirror. We are bypassing Tony Finau ($11,300) and Patrick Cantlay ($9,900) because they are asking a lot of themselves to tee it up four days after playing in China. This very well could come back to bite us because, in fact, Cantlay won here last year a week after playing in China. The field is stronger this time around, though.
Bryson DeChambeau - $10,800 (14-1)
DeChambeau led the field in greens in regulation last year amid those strong winds, and he wound up tied for seventh. At the time, he was half the player he is now. He finished last season ranked seventh on Tour in birdie-or-better percentage.
Webb Simpson - $10,300 (14-1)
Simpson played this tournament better before the anchored-putting ban kicked in, with a win and two other top-5s. But he turned in a not-too-shabby tie for 20th a year ago, when he was just getting started on a fantastic season. Simpson was perhaps the best on Tour with his second shot on last season: 22nd in strokes gained: approach, 16th in around the green and sixth in putting.
DraftKings Tier 2 Values
Gary Woodland $9,700 (18-1)
The way Woodland has been playing, a sub-$10,000 price is a steal. Eight top-25s in his past nine starts, including a runner-up at the CJ Cup last time out. Woodland tied for 18th here a year ago, when he ranked 32nd on Tour in BOB percentage.
Beau Hossler - $8,600 (40-1)
Hossler tied for seventh in 2017 in his maiden trip to Summerlin. This week's shootout conditions should better serve his game, as he is an elite putter who ranked fourth on Tour last season in strokes gained: putting. Hossler was 48th in BOB percentage last season. He tied for 18th two weeks ago in South Korea, his best showing in almost three months.
Lucas Glover - $8,300 (60-1)
Glover underwent turmoil in his personal life earlier this year, but his golf game has been spot-on in the early going of 2018-19. First, he locked up his card via the Web.com finals. Now, he has notched two top-20s in his first two PGA events of the season. Always straight as an arrow, Glover is ranked fifth in strokes gained: tee to green. He broke a string of three straight missed cuts with a T3 here in his most recent visit two years ago.
Scott Piercy - $8,100 (40-1)
Sometimes, guys don't play well in their hometown. Not Piercy. He has missed the cut only one time in the past nine years here with six top-25s. The soon-to-be 40-year-old is coming off a T5 at the CJ Cup. In the early going, Piercy is first on Tour in driving accuracy and finished last season 15th in greens in regulation.
DraftKings Tier 3 Values
Sungjae Im - $8,000 (50-1)
The 2017-18 Web.com star debuted as a PGA Tour member with a tie for fourth at the Safeway Open. We will dismiss the missed cut last week, as he flew from South Korea to Mississippi play (see Finau and Cantlay above). At the Safeway event, Im ranked top-10 in strokes gained: off the tee and putting. This will be his Summerlin debut.
Sam Ryder - $7,600 (80-1)
We'd like Ryder even more if he were $300 less. Like Im, he tied for fourth at the Safeway Open, and he has picked up where he left off with great iron play, ranking eighth in strokes gained: approach in the early going. But a funny thing happened at Napa: Ryder putted great. Even as a bad putter last season, he ranked 40th in BOB percentage.
Jason Kokrak - $7,500 (100-1)
Kokrak turned in his best showing here, a T20, last year, but he also made the cut the two previous years. Kokrak's strength is tee to green and, in rather benign conditions this week, should be able to fire at pins. He ranked 27th last season in birdie or better.
Adam Schenk- $7,300 (60-1)
Schenk didn't have a good rookie season; in fact, it was horrible. He had only three top-25s. But one of them was in Vegas. Now Schenk is back, thanks to the Web.com finals, and already he has two top-25s in two tries – a T14 at the Safeway Open and a T7 last week in Mississippi. Last season, some areas of Schenk's game were terrible, but he was better than average in both greens in regulation and strokes gained: putting, ranking 75th in each. The oddsmakers really like him this week, in comparison to his DK price.
DraftKings Long-Shot Values
Joel Dahmen - $7,100 (100-1)
Dahmen showed some flashes last season, including when he played a televised round with Tiger Woods. He missed the cut here last year, but has opened this season with some good results, finishing top-30 in two Asia events. Dahmen ranked 67th in BOB percentage last season.
Alex Cejka - $6,900 (80-1)
We joked about Cejka above, but he is another Vegas denizen who has enjoyed the home cooking. He was runner-up last year in the windy conditions, but also three years ago in weather similar to what can be expected this week. This is Cejka's season debut.
J.J. Spaun - $6,900 (100-1)
Spaun was busy in the early going, playing the first three weeks and nearly a fourth before bowing out of the Sanderson Farms event. Good move. Now, coming off a tie for 10th at the CJ Cup, Spaun should be well rested. He also tied for 10th here a year ago. Spaun ranked 31st on Tour in BOB percentage last season.
Bud Cauley - $6,800 (100-1)
Cauley returned at the Safeway Open after missing months because of injuries sustained in a serious car accident. He tied for 46th, and that was with a final-round collapse. So, we see a potential bargain here, thinking Cauley will do better now with four competitive rounds under his belt.