PGA Tour Picks: Shriners Children’s Open

By TOM LaMARRE

Patrick Cantlay is a Southern California guy, but he loves Las Vegas, especially TPC Summerlin.

The 30-year-old Cantlay (pictured), from Los Alamitos and UCLA, claimed the first of his eight PGA Tour victories in the 2018 Shriners Children’s Open at TPC Summerlin, and is favored to win again this week in the third event of the new wraparound season.

“Yeah, it’s snice to be back to a place where I’ve had some success,” said Cantlay, who posted a 3-1 record to help the United State retain the Presidents Cup two weeks ago. “I like the golf course and I’m looking forward to another good week. You know, the golf course is good and it really suits my game, so I think hitting a bunch of fairways and taking advantage of the hole locations when they’re accessible is key around this place.

“Every time I come here, I feel like I have a chance to win. It doesn’t surprise me because I really like the golf course, but obviously I have to execute. I have so far, so I’m looking forward to the weekend. I think, especially around here you need to make so many birdies, and I’m just used to it out here.

“It never feels like I’m stressing out, because it feels like there are so many birdie holes. It actually allows me to be patient.”

In addition to winning the Shriners in a playoff over Alex Cejka of Germany and Kim Meen-Whee of South Korea in 2014, Cantlay lost the tournament to Kevin Na of Diamond Bar in a 2019 playoff, finished one stroke behind Bryson DeChambeau in solo second in 2018, and tied for eighth in 2020 after leading through three rounds before closing with a 73 to wind up five strokes back.

Sungjae Im of South Korea claimed his second PGA Tour title in the Shriners las year by four strokes over Matthew Wolff of Agoura Hills and another champion in the field is Martin Laird of Scotland, who won this tournament in 2009 and 2020, both times in playoffs.

“It was very tough to get my first win (on the PGA Tour), but I felt like the second one was harder and harder,” said Im, who was 2-2-1 in the Presidents Cup and also won twice on the Korn Kerry Tour and once on the Korean PGA Tour. “But I kept my patience. I tried to stay composed and I’m glad it came.

“When I saw that I was leading by five, I said to myself: ‘Let’s not make a mistake and I can get this done.’ It was a very meaningful win. It was hard coming, but I think today how everything went, I think it was a gift from above. I played so well and I’m glad I got the win.”

Also in the field are Rickie Fowler, Si Woo Kim of South Korea, Max Homa of Valencia and Cal, Cam Davis of Australia, Aaron Wise of Lake Elsinore, 20-year-old rising star Tom Kim of South Korea, Alex Noren of Sweden, Kurt Kitayama of Chico, Gary Woodland, Cameron Champ of Sacramento, Taylor Montgomery,  Nick Taylor of Canada, Emiliano Grillo of Argentina, Brian Harman, Christian Bezuidenhout of South Africa, Davis Riley, Taylor Pendrithof Canada, Thomas Detry of Belgium, Nick Hardy, Adam Hadwin of Canada and Mito Pereira of Chile.

However, Cantlay definitely is the favorite.

BEST BETS

1. Patrick Cantlay, United States – The fourth-ranked Cantlay claimed the first of his eight PGA Tour victories in the 2018 Shriners before finishing second each of the next two years and tying for eighth last year. Cantlay, who posted a 3-1 record to help the U.S. retain the Presidents Cup, is making his first start of the new season after winning twice among 12 top-10 results.

2. Sungjae Im, South Korea – Coming off a 2-2-1 record in the Presidents Cup, Im will defend the second of his PGA Tour titles, having also won the 2020 Honda Classic. Last year in the Shriners, he shot 63 in the first round and 62 in the last to win by four strokes over Matthew Wolff. That was one is his nine top-10 finishes last season, include three runner-up results.

3. Max Homa, United States – Coming off a 4-0 record in the Presidents Cup and his fifth PGA Tour victory when he successfully defended his title in the Fortinet Championship, Homa has been on a roll, also tying for fifth in the Tour Championship, his 15th top-10 finish last season, including a win in the Wells Fargo. His best result in the Shriners was a tie for 30th in 2013.

4. Aaron Wise, United States – Making his first start of the new season after tying for 15th in the BMW Championship and tying for 13th in the Tour Championship, which gave him 11 top-10 finishes last season, including a solo second in the Memorial a tie for fifth in the CJ Cup and a tie for sixth in the Mexico Open. Wise also tied for eighth in his eighth start in the Shriners.    

5. Tom Kim, South Korea – The 20-year-old star on the rise recorded a 2-3 record in the Presidents Cup after claiming his first PGA Tour victory and seventh as a professional in the Wyndham Championship in addition to finishing third in the Scottish Open and seventh in the Rocket Mortgage Classic last season as a rookie. Kim is making his debut in the Shriners.

6. Cam Davis, Australia – Recorded a 2-3 record in his first Presidents Cup, losing to Jordan Speith in a hard-fought singles match. A three-time winner as a pro, including his only PGA Tour victory in the 2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic, he had five top-10 results last season. Davis made his first start in the Shriners a year ago and finished in a tie for 27th by closing with a 66.

7. Taylor Montgomery, United States – The rookie from Las Vegas has started his first season on the PGA Tour by finishing third in the Fortinet Championship with a 64 and tying for ninth in the ninth in the Sanderson Farms Championship. Montgomery early his PGA Tour card with nine top-top results on the Korn Ferry Tour last season. He’s making his debut in the Shriners.

8. Alex Noren, Sweden – Has 11 titles as a pro, including in the 2017 BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth outside London, and Noren tied for second on Sunday, one stroke behind Ryan Fox in the Dunhill Links Championship on the Old Course at St. Andrews. He was second in the Barracuda Championship, one of his three top-10 results on the PGA Tour last year and makes his Shriners debut.

9. Emiliano Grillo, Argentina – A four-time winner as a pro, including the 2016 Frys.com Open on the PGA Tour, Grillo started the new season with a tie for 25th in the Fortinet Championship and a tie for fifth in the Sanderson Farms Championship. Grillo, who tied for second in the John Deere and the 3M Open last season, had his best results the Shriners with a tie for 34th in 2020.

10. Brian Harman, United States – The left-hander, who won the 2014 John Deere Classic and the 2017 Wells Fargo Championship, is making his season debut on the PGA Tour after he had nine top-25 finishes last season, including a tie for sixth in the Open Championship. Harmon is making his eighth start in the Shriners and his best result was a tie for 13th two years ago.

OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH: Rickie Fowler, United States;Christian Bezuidenhout, South Africa; Davis Riley, United States; Taylor Pendrith, Canada; Thomas Detry, Belgium; Nick Hardy, United States; Adam Hadwin, Canada; Mito Pereira, Chile; Keith Mitchell, United States; Si Woo Kim, South Korea.

SLEEPERS

1. Zecheng Dou, China – A seven-time winner as a pro, Dou started the new season with a T-21 in the Fortinet Championship and a T-54 at Sanderson Farmers and is making his Shriners debut.

2. Kurt Kitayama, United States – Has won three times around the world and finished solo second in the Mexico Open at Vidanta and the Scottish Open on the PGA Tour last season.

3. Stephan Jaeger, Germany – A six-time pro winner, he had six top-25s on PGA Tour last year and started new season with T-43 in Fortinet, T-30 in Sanderson Farms. T-20 in 2017 Shriners.

4. Adam Svensson, Canada – Three-time winner on Korn Ferry Tour was T-12 in the Fortinet and T-54 in Sanderson Farms after three top10s last season. Missed cut in first two Shriner starts.

5. Beau Hossler, United States – Lost to Ian Poulter in a playoff at 2018 Houston Open and was third at Pebble Beach and T-4 Texas Open last season. T-25 in Fortinet to start the new season.

For first-round tee times, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html

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