Shriners Hospitals For Children Open preview, picks + predictions, plus the Driver-Off-The-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #VegasBaby

The tournament with the longest and most confusing name on the PGA Tour- The Childrens Shriners Hospitals For Childrens Shriners Cars Are Awesome Open For Hosptials Justin Timberlake’s Kids Open (hey, not making fun, just having fun—I know it’s for a great cause, it’s just a confusing name) is upon us once again, which means one thing- #birdieplethora.

The TPC Summerlin host course measures “only” 7,243 yards, which with Sin City’s elevation and in the ProV1 era (coincidentally the ProV1 made its world debut here back in ’01) is more or less a pitch-and-putt.  The highest winning score here since Summerlin became the sole host course (’08) has been 19-under, with Ryan Moore setting the tournament record here last year in shooting a salty 24-under for four rounds.  Something tells me with perfect wind-less weather in the forecast all tourney long (shocker)  that record falls again this week…

The tourney hosts a far better field than the season’s “kickoff” event (sorry Frys.com, but Finchem’s cash grab sure didn’t give you much of a boost) with Zach Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama, Webb Simpson, Nick Watney, Graeme DeLaet and other notables teeing it up this week.

So, let’s hop into some picks:

LOCKZILLAS (Woodland MC, Howell III t-33rd)

Zach Johnson
Zach Johnson
– This Iowegian feasts on birdie fests like the annual one at TPC Summerlin, and comes in as hot as anyone in the game with a whopping 7 top 8s in his past 8 events, including his victory at the BMW Championship during the FedEx Cup Playoffs.  Zach hasn’t played here since ’08 (t-10th), but that shouldn’t matter as he’s seeing nothing but perma-red numbers through those wraparound Oakleys of his at the moment.

Brendon de Jonge
Brendon de Jonge
– I’ve been saying it for months on end now- Brendon WILL win on Tour sooner than later.  His Presidents Cup birdie plethora was a coming out party of sorts, so parlaying that momentum with the fact that he finished solo 2nd last year and no doubt he’s going to be a factor this week.

SEMI-FLIER (Huh 70th)

David Hearn
David Hearn
– Speaking of talented players who inevitably will win on Tour, count David Hearn towards the forefront of that group.  Hearn was the forgotten man in the John Deere Classic playoff (Zach + Spieth being the others) and has played some mighty steady golf the past 18 months.  Finished a solid t-21st last week at the Frys.com and t-30th and t-5th in his two appearances here.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Cabrera MC)

Charles Howell III
Charles Howell III
– I’ve always been a Chucky three sticks fan, but birdie-fests and CHIII don’t mix.  Unfortunately, after nearly 15 years on Tour, Charles still hasn’t learned how to putt (111th in Strokes Gained Putting last season), so his 4th overall ranking in GIR is just one highly wasted opportunity after another.  Charles also missed the cut here in his past two appearances, look for him to have a third straight year of the weekend off in Vegas.

DRIVER-OFF-THE-DECK BOLD PLAY OF THE WEEK (Peterson t-21st)

Spencer Levin
Spencer Levin
– The cigarette smoking, khaki pants wearing goose returned from injury with a bang last week in posting a very solid t-12th at the Frys.com last week.  Finished t-4th and t-5th here the past two years and boom, talk about value on your side.  Look for Spencer to seriously contend this week in the desert.

#isitThursdayyet

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

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