2022 Shriners Children’s Open: Alex Noren, Brian Harman Among Most Underrated Players at TPC Summerlin
Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Alex Noren.
Ah, yes! Welcome to my backyard of Las Vegas, Nevada, the entertainment capital of the world and your host for this week’s Shriners Children’s Open.
For anyone watching the event for the first time and wondering what to expect from a game theory standpoint, you will get scenery, greenery and excitement, but for what the course brings to viewers from a visual perspective, you lose almost all the difficulty along the way.
The average winning score has been 23-under during the last four iterations of this contest, and golfers are hitting an astronomical 72% of their greens in regulation. That total is seven percent higher than the expected level of a random track on TOUR, showing that upside and scoring will hold a premium from a day-to-day perspective.
For that reason, I will look at some of the golfers whom my model believes are underrated this week, as opposed to overrated, since mistakes aren’t going to get as glorified at this stop. We want players we trust from a daily outlook standpoint, and while pricing is extremely stout across the board, let’s see if we can’t pinpoint a few players whom the market is marginally too low on for the week.
If you aren’t doing so already, you can find me on Twitter @TeeOffSports. There I will provide my pre-tournament model, a powerful and interactive data spreadsheet that allows user inputs to create custom rankings for golf. That sheet is free and released every Monday, so be sure to check it out and construct your own numbers from my database of information.
Three Underpriced/Overlooked Golfers On The Slate
The public perception of Alex Noren is that he is a golfer that prefers grind-it-out affairs over these typical birdie shootouts, but can we say with certainty that is the case from a production standpoint?
I do realize Noren has shown past success on challenging tests like The Open Championship and other random European-style tracks, but the data also presents an opening for him on easy scoring venues, where he ranks sixth in this field when diving into the numbers and removing all courses that aren’t considered your typical PGA TOUR “birdie shootout.”
I alluded to this yesterday on my Links + Locks podcast with Roberto Arguello about how value is the only thing that should matter to you when trying to figure out your wagers for the day or week, and one of the things I meant by that is anytime the public starts to shift in one direction, but my data points in an opposite path, there is an opening to acquire that golfer as an under-the-radar commodity.
Noren works exceptionally well in DFS as a contrarian target to consider, but there could be an opening at your shop to find him in a matchup against someone presenting too high of a market outlook for the week. Is that against a player like Emiliano Grillo or Taylor Pendrith? Maybe. But if nothing else, I’d have to imagine Noren makes for an interesting pivot choice in round one showdown contests for DFS.
Let’s chalk up Brian Harman’s missed cut last year at TPC Summerlin to be an outlier finish, as he had provided back-to-back top 20s in 2019 and 2020 before that showing.
I want to make it clear that I am not some course history advocate, which we see by me typically trying to fade market movers who are getting a boost based solely on their past results on a test. However, the combination of Harman’s statistical profile, and this being a venue that is highly predictive in sustained long-term success, does push me in a direction that I want to be more aggressive on the former Georgia product.
Harman has provided four straight made cuts, two of which were inside the top-six, and only one golfer in my model (J.T. Poston) has a better track record on TPC designs than the 35-year-old. I always say, “if you have seen one TPC test, you have seen them all,” and that long-term history of excellence will play nicely at a venue that removes some of Harman’s distance woes from the equation because of the wide-open nature and elevation that Las Vegas presents.
We have quietly gotten a Matt Kuchar resurgence after the American has posted 10 made cuts in his last 12 tournaments. My model doesn’t necessarily disagree with how he is being priced from an outright perspective since I do have him aligned adequately with that sector, but my intrigue more so stems from a safety perspective, which opens up avenues for us to consider him as a placement or head-to-head target this week.
I have a wager on him to land a top-40 at +120 and have a bet for him to finish 55th or better on bet365, but there are a plethora of options for us to consider of how he might work best for you. Kuchar’s TPC skills have been shown over time, ranking 10th in this field, and the short game magic seems to be back, which will help him get up and down for birdie on the more accessible holes on the track.
Other Leverage/Value Options To Consider On Day One: Maverick McNealy, Michael Gligic, J.T. Poston, Brendon Todd and Troy Merritt