2021 Shriners Children’s Open Betting Stock Report: Can Burns Keep the Momentum Rolling?
Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Sam Burns.
The return back to golf this week on the PGA TOUR led to a victory for Sam Burns who looks poised for a big season after breaking through for his second win. He led the field in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, including leading all players both off the tee and on approach. Burns was a deserving champion and is another young star to watch going forward.
Now they head back west to Las Vegas for the Shriners Children’s Open at TPC Summerlin. This event will draw out a number of big names for their first events of the season including a couple of top-10 players in the world in Louis Oosthuizen and Brooks Koepka.
Let’s take a look at who has the hot hand coming into the week ahead.
I can’t start this section without talking about Sam Burns. He was far and away the best player this past week at the Sanderson Farms Championship where he was a stroke and a half better tee to green per round than the next best player in the field. He did it with elite ball-striking, leading the field in both of those metrics as well, and he started to get some key putts to drop, especially on Saturday en route to a comfortable victory.
Assuming he stays in this field, the LSU alum will undoubtedly be one of the favorites as he has really proved his merit on this TOUR over the past 12 months. If there is any worry of a letdown, he put that to rest when he finished second in his first tournament after his maiden victory in May at the Valspar. He will be a name to watch this week once again despite his mixed results at this tournament.
There are few players on TOUR that closed out the season hotter than Kevin Na. He worked his way into the Ryder Cup conversation with the way he closed out last season, with three top 10s in his last four events, including a runner-up and a third at the TOUR Championship.
Na missed the cut to start the new season at the Fortinet, but I am willing to give him a pass there and will look for a strong week here in his current hometown of Las Vegas. He won this event two years ago, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the mix again this weekend.
Webb Simpson’s 2019-2020 season certainly wasn’t what he had hoped for as he struggled much of the year, especially following an injury that caused him to withdraw from the Wells Fargo Championship. He never quite seemed right until the season was closing out where he put together three top-15 finishes in the last four events.
Webb played a few weeks back at the Fortinet and finished 30th, but he will be looking for more this week at TPC Summerlin. He has made the cut at this event the last five years and clearly has an affinity for the course with the number of times he’s played here. His last three trips to Vegas have all resulted in top 15s, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him continue that trend this week.
Despite a win at the Wyndham Championship down the closing stretch of the season, it was a year to forget for Kevin Kisner. He really struggled to compete week in and week out, and surrounding that victory was a missed cut and two finishes outside of the top 60. Kiz will be looking to gain some form and consistency at the start of the new year, but I’ll be waiting to see it before I buy in on the former Georgia Bulldog
Speaking of players that are trying to find something in their game, Rickie Fowler will be looking to do the same this week in Las Vegas. We haven’t seen much of Rickie over the last couple of months after he failed to make the playoffs, and his only result dating back to August was a missed cut at the aforementioned Wyndham Championship.
Fowler struggled a majority of the season last year, only showing some flashes here and there with his results. Similar to Kisner, I will likely be waiting to see some semblance of form for a guy that we normally have to pay a premium on in the odds markets due to his popularity.
I’m developing a trend here as Matt Kuchar certainly fits a similar mold to my other two fades, but I think they are all interesting storylines going into the new season. We have become accustomed to all three of these Americans being fixtures near the top of the TOUR, but that was not the case last year.
Kuchar hasn’t had a top-20 finish since May and has mixed in five missed cuts across his last eight events. He did see the weekend at the Fortinet, but it was another middling result in a weak field as he finished 36th. He is a player that may be to the stage where his best golf is behind him and is someone I am unlikely to have much interest in until he pairs together a few solid weeks.