Course & History
TPC Summerlin at Las Vegas, NV
1st Place: Rod Pampling
2nd Place: Brooks Koepka
1st Place: Smylie Kaufman
2nd Place: Patton Kizzire, Cameron Tringale, Jason Bohn, Alex Cejka, Kevin Na, Brett Stegmaier
1st Place: Ben Martin
2nd Place: Kevin Streelman
1st Place: Webb Simpson
2nd Place: Jason Bohn, Ryo Ishikawa
Stats That Matter Most
Using the results of the last four years as the training set, Strokes Gained Putting, Scrambling, and Par 4 Scoring Average are the three most predictive stats for average number of strokes per round. Strokes Gained Around the Green and Par 3 scoring were also heavily weighted in the model based on previous results.
More interesting is how little Distance and Strokes Off the Tee have meant in prior results. Of the twenty best tournament performances of the last four years, only Brooks Koepka (2017), Charles Howell III (2014), and Harris English (2017) averaged drives over 300 yards that season. Putting has meant far more in this tournament as Rod Pampling last year was the only player to win with a negative Strokes Gained Putting for the year.
I will be targeting strong putters who scramble well. I’m also ignoring a lot of course history here. Outside of Webb Simpson and Scott Piercy (who also fit the +Putter/+Scrambler description), many players have inconsistent histories at this tournament. I’ll lean more heavily on recent form and those players with a hot putter.
Players are listed in order of preference for that tier
Chesson Hadley - My favorite to win the tournament. He has form in his favor after a 2nd place finish in Mississippi last week, and is the best putting/scrambler combo of the three 10k+ golfers.
Tony Finau - Coming off an 11th place finish on the EURO tour, I think Finau is in perfect shape for this tournament. He’s putting well, great around the greens, and has the distance to run away with this thing if it’s all clicking.
Webb Simpson - I probably end up fading Webb since I prefer Finau and Hadley, but it is worth noting his strong finishes at this course. Starting in 2014, Simpson has finished 1st, 4th, 56th, and 31st. He’s played only once in the past month - a 17th place finish in the Safeway Open the first week of October.
$8,500 - $9,900
Jamie Lovemark - Mixed results for Lovemark at Summerlin, a T13 in 2016 and a Missed Cut last year. Lovemark can fill up the scorecard with birdies and fits the profile well enough to where I would want to roll the dice with him. It’s a highly volatile play, but a 5th place finish in his last start leaves me confident.
Martin Laird - Laird scored well in my model and has made the cut each of the last three years of this tournament. He doesn’t fit the profile very well, but he’s been strong around the green, and has the distance to get hot and make a run. Another volatile player for the price, but I’m going to roll out Laird and trust the numbers.
Patrick Cantlay - Cantlay doesn’t qualify for PGA.com’s stats leaderboards, but he’s worth a look. He’s made 13 of his last 13 cuts with 4 Top 10 finishes. His consistency is unrivaled and he could make a splash in his first appearance at TPC Summerlin.
$7,500 - $8,400
Ryan Armour - Fresh off a win last week at Sanderson Farms, Armour grades out as the best player in the projection model. It is undoubtedly biased by the small number of rounds available in the 2018 season, but Armour fits the mold of previous winners to a T. Armour has been putting well, scrambling well, scores on Par 4s, and is best Around the Green. Clearly he has recent form on his side and his price is extremely affordable at $8,100.
Nick Taylor - My favorite play of the slate, I think Taylor will make some noise this weekend. His last three starts have been a 9th place finish, 13th place finish, and a 23rd place finish that looked like it was going to be much more three days into the tournament.
$7,000 - $7,400
Hunter Mahan - Another golfer whose overview stats don’t look great (12 cuts in last 24 tournaments and 0 Top 10s), but his recent form indicates he’s turning things around and his profile really fits the course. Mahan’s last three starts include a 16th place finish at the Wyndham Championship, 13th place at the Safeway Open, and 18th place finish at Sanderson Farms. Back-to-back missed cuts at Summerlin have me a little concerned, but I’m putting faith in the recent form.
Scott Piercy - Piercy has 3 straight Top 25 finishes in this tournament, and my model predicts him to finish in the Top 10 this year. I like him a lot as a cheap play that helps me spend up for Hadley/Finau.
Vaughn Taylor - Taylor does a little bit of everything. Solid off tee and the greens, and can score on all formats. A safe play down at this price and coming off a Top 10 finish at Sanderson Farms last week bodes well for Vaughn Taylor.
Jonathan Randolph - Another favorite sleeper of mine, Taylor is the top ranked putter in this tournament and finished 3rd at Sanderson Farms. He makes a bunch of cuts but has struggled to break through into Top 10s. I’m hoping last week jump starts a good run for Randolph. My big fear is that the putter is due for regression and Randolph falls apart.
Michael Kim - Kim can score in bunches, and down at this price point that’s all you need. His driving accuracy has been his kryptonite, but in a course where accuracy isn’t a necessity, I like Kim as a dark horse for a Top 10 finish.
Stephan Jaeger - 3 events on Tour, and 3 made cuts for Stephan Jaegar. He sports a positive Strokes Gained in Off the Tee, Approach, Around the Green, and Putting and has shown the ability to score on Par 4s and Par 5s.