The PGA Tour returns to Las Vegas, Nevada this week for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, getting some golf going in the desert during the opening leg of the 2019-2020 season.
When it comes to this next stop on the early season slate, what is there to know? Here’s a look at everything about the stop in Las Vegas, including who to watch and a pick to win the event.
TPC at Summerlin in Summerlin, Nevada. Designed by Bobby Weed (1991). A par 71, it plays to 7,255 yards for this tournament. Course record is a 60, and was fired by J.J. Henry in 2013.
Last Five Champions
Bryson DeChambeau (2018)
Patrick Cantlay (2017)
Rod Pampling (2016)
Smylie Kaufman (2015)
Ben Martin (2014)
Players to Watch
Brooks Koepka. Back on the scene for the 2019-2020 season, Koepka walks into Las Vegas and has to be considered an immediate contender based on his mindset. Koepka confirmed he is on the hunt for titles this PGA season, and that’s something which should terrify the competition. How he rebounds off of his reported knee surgery will be a huge variable to watch, but Koepka is a player to remember that could make a fast statement at this particular tournament by blowing away the field.
Tony Finau. Last season, Finau was nibbling around the top 10 of golf tournaments consistently and is always a threat to have a solid finish in a tournament. Like many others on the list, he simply hasn’t put away a ton of victories yet, but this could certainly get him going if he were to have a good week. Finau has played consistent golf before and will want to get things off on the right foot this year.
Cameron Champ. Last week’s emotional winner at the Safeway Open, Champ will look to go back to back weeks with a victory and he certainly has plenty of motivation to do so given he is playing for his grandfather Mack Champ, who is ill. What better way to announce your presence on the big stage than to go back to back on the PGA? Champ hits the ball a mile with the driver and will be a contender in most tournaments thanks to this, especially if he can keep the short game hot.
Patrick Cantlay. The number seven player in the world, Cantlay came in second last year to DeChambeau and has already claimed this title once before in 2017. That makes him a major player to take home the crown this weekend in Las Vegas. One of the true young stars on the rise, Cantlay could feel right at home at Summerlin and win another early season title here to kick start what he hopes is a significant campaign in the 2019-2020 season.
Phil Mickelson. After missing the cut at the Safeway Open last week, Mickelson was hyped up a bit by 2020 Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker this week. In order to not leave his status on the team up to chance, Mickelson will want to start stringing together solid efforts in order to make that a reality. It’s early to be thinking about the Ryder Cup of course, but Mickelson would love to make an early season statement with a win.
Joaquin Niemann. One of the current PGA leaders in scoring average, it simply seems like a matter of time before Niemann has a phenomenal week and makes his name a household one to golf fans. That could come this week. Early in the year, a 68.909 average is very nice and something which could keep Niemann in contention during all four days of the tournament.
Harold Varner III. Varner had a top 20 finish at the Safeway Open last week with a T17 and finished 9-under par in the event. He’s been hanging around plenty of leaderboards in the 2019 calendar year but simply hasn’t closed the deal for his first win on tour thus far. It only seems like a matter of time before he manages to slam the door on a significant PGA Tour victory. This week, Varner will get that chance and will make it happen. His strong start to the season will only improve with this victory.