Stat attack!: Shriners Hospitals for Children Open preview

By John AntoniniOctober 14, 2014, 7:28 pm

Welcome to the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas, where the desert is hot and the golfers are hotter. In the 10 years that the Las Vegas event has been a four-round tournament, only once has the winner shot less than 20 under par.

Last year, Webb Simpson posted 24 under, en route to a tournament-record, six-stroke victory over Jason Bohn and Ryo Ishikawa. Simpson didn’t shoot higher than 67 in any round last year. In the last five years no champion has shot higher than 68, and no winner at Las Vegas has had a round in the 70s since Jim Furyk in 1999.

The field average has been in the 60s every year since the TPC Summerlin became a par-71 course in 2009. Four times in the last five years more than half of the rounds were in the 60s. The Shriners was one of four Tour events last season where players were in the 60s in more than half their rounds. Expect the low scoring to continue this week.

Going low at TPC Summerlin: 2009-2013

 Year Winner Score Field avg. Rounds in 60s 65s or better
 2013 Webb Simpson -24 69.55 208 of 405 (51.36%) 36
 2012 Ryan Moore -24 69.71 203 of 408 (49.75) 24
 2011 Kevin Na -23 68.82 249 of 418 (59.57) 37
 2010 Jonathan Byrd -21 68.96 260 of 409 (63.57) 37
 2009 Martin Laird -19 69.15 238 of 408 (58.33) 41

Tournaments with the highest percentage of rounds in the 60s in 2014

 Tournament Percent of rounds in 60s Par
 Humana Challenge 58.11% 72
 Wyndham Championship 56.77 70
 Sony Open 56.52 70
 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open 51.36 71
John Deere Classic 49.57 71

Casting his Webb

During his victory, Simpson finished in the top five in the field in Las Vegas in greens in regulation (T-2), proximity to the hole (fourth), scrambling (T-3), strokes gained/putting (first) and putting from more than 10 feet (first). Simpson made 15 putts from more than 10 feet in 2013, no other player in the field made more than 12 from that distance.

Shriners Hospitals for Children Open leaders in putting from more than 10 feet in 2013

 Player Putts made/total Percentage Tournament finish
 Webb Simpson 15 for 49 30.61% Won
 Will Mackenzie 12 for 40 30.00 T-15
 John Huh 12 for 43 27.91 T-30
 Stephen Ames 12 for 46 26.09 T-48
 Jason Bohn 11 for 45 24.44 T-2

Home cookin’

Simpson’s victory a year ago ended a streak of Shriners winners who live in Las Vegas, as Kevin Na in 2011 and Ryan Moore in 2012 didn’t have to commute far to get to TPC Summerlin. Charley Hoffman came close to making it three straight home winners a year ago, finishing fourth. In addition, Las Vegas resident Nick Watney finished second in 2011 and former UNLV player Chad Campbell was T-2 in 2009.

Can a player with ties to the host city win again this week? Eleven players in the 2014 Shriners field went to school in Las Vegas or live in the city. Seven of them have finished in the top 10.

How players with Las Vegas ties have fared in the Shriners

 Player Shriners starts Cuts made Top 10s Best finish
 Chad Campbell 11 10 2 T-2 in 2009
 Alex Cejka 8 4 0 T-24 in 2009
 Derek Ernst 1 0 0  
 Andres Gonzales 4 2 0 T-63 in 2006
 Charley Hoffman 10 6 3 Fourth in 2013
 Bill Lunde 7 4 1 Fifth in 2012
 Ryan Moore 8 7 3 Won in 2012
 Kevin Na 8 6 1 Won in 2011
 Scott Piercy 8 6 2 T-6 in 2012
 Alex Prugh 3 2 0 T-29 in 2011
 Nick Watney 9 7 4 Second in 2011

Moore than enough

Ryan Moore is the only player to shoot four rounds in the 60s at the Shriners in each of the last two years. Moore won in 2012, shooting 24-under 260, including an opening 61. It was quite an October for Moore, whose wife, Nichole, gave birth to baby Tucker two weeks later.

Last fall, Moore shot 69-63-69-68—269 to finish T-9, nine strokes back of Webb Simpson.

Simpson, by the way, has shot nine consecutive rounds in the 60s at TPC Summerlin, including four in 2010 and one in 2009. Simpson did not play the tournament in 2011 or 2012.  Carl Pettersson also has nine straight rounds in the 60s at Summerlin, having played every other year since 2009.

Here’s the list of players in this year’s field who had four rounds in the 60s in 2013. 

Four rounds in the 60s at TPC Summerlin in 2013

 Player Rounds in 2013 Finish Consecutive 60s at TPC Summerlin
 Webb Simpson 64-63-67-66 Won 9
 Jason Bohn 67-64-69-66 T-2 4
 Ryo Ishikawa 67-66-68-65 T-2 4
 Charles Howell III 67-69-67-65 T-5 5
 Ryan Moore 69-63-69-68 T-9 8
 Carl Pettersson 68-67-69-66 T-12 9
 Andrew Svoboda 68-67-67-69 T-15 4

Picking up where he left off

Billy Horschel, the 2014 FedEx Cup champion, makes his 2015 season debut at the Shriners. He took a short, one-month break to enjoy his windfall for winning the BMW Championship, the Tour Championship and the $10 million annuity that goes with the Cup – not to mention the birth of his first child, daughter Skylar, two days after the Tour Championship ended. Now he returns, hoping to extend his winning streak to three straight events. 

Since 2000, two players have ended one year with a win and began the next season the same way.  Tiger Woods has done it three times and Jonathan Byrd did it once. We’re not talking about a season-ending/season-opening tournament, but the last and first start by a particular player in the given years.

Players who won their last start of one season and first start the next since 2000

 Player Last start First start
 Tiger Woods 1999 WGC-American Express 2000 Mercedes Championship
 Tiger Woods 2006 WGC-American Express 2007 Buick Invitational
 Tiger Woods 2007 Tour Championship 2008 Buick Invitational
 Jonathan Byrd 2010 Shriners Las Vegas 2011 Hyundai T of C

One final thought: Martin Laird, T-3 last week at the Frys.com Open, has a strong resume in Las Vegas. The Scotsman made the Las Vegas stop his first PGA Tour win in 2009 and he was second a year later. In 2010 Laird lost a playoff to Jonathan Byrd, who became the first player to win a playoff with a hole-in-one, ending Laird’s hopes of a repeat victory with an ace on the fourth extra hole.

If you haven't already done so, please follow me on Twitter at @johnantoninigc

 

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."