The PGA Tour makes its annual stop in Las Vegas this week for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, where Jordan Spieth is an interesting addition to the field, Phil Casey writes.
By failing to qualify for the Tour Championship, Spieth did not play the required 25 events last season and was supposedly subject to a “major penalty” and fine, but PGA Tour chief of operations Andy Pazder said in September that the Tour and Spieth had “come to a resolution… in a way that’s going to be a win for our tournaments, our fans and golf in general”.
In other words Spieth’s punishment is to play in Las Vegas and next week’s Mayakoba Classic, two events he normally would not contemplate having on his schedule even as he tries to halt a slide down the world rankings which sees the former world number one down in 13th.
Spieth’s lack of form means he is a 14/1 shot and behind Ryder Cup team-mates Rickie Fowler and Tony Finau (both 11/1) in the betting, with Bryson DeChambeau and Webb Simpson also available at 14/1.
However, at the top of the market we’ll side with defending champion Patrick Cantlay at 20/1 as he looks to claim a second PGA Tour title at TPC Summerlin.
Cantlay has clocked up six top-10 finishes in 2018, the most recent coming with a tie for seventh in Shanghai, and while the long journey from China may be a concern for some, it is worth noting the 26-year-old was 15th in the same event last year before winning in Vegas seven days later.
Several PGA Tour players call Vegas home and one of those is our second selection, former US Amateur champion Ryan Moore being available in the each-way market at 50/1.
Moore won the title in 2012 and has two other top-10 finishes to his credit, while he lost out in a three-man play-off for the Safeway Open earlier in the month.
Fellow Vegas resident Aaron Wise was one of our tips for this event last year and although he could only finish 32nd on that occasion, the former NCAA champion won his first PGA Tour title in the AT&T Byron Nelson and was also fifth in the first FedEx Cup play-off event.
Wise, who was 10th in Las Vegas in 2016, was a much bigger price 12 months ago but could reward a show of faith at odds of 20/1 in the each-way market.
And finally, the time may have come to back Web.com Tour winner Sungjae Im, whose price has fluctuated considerably in the last few weeks.
After finishing fourth in the Safeway Open, Im was made one of the favourites for the CJ Cup in his native Korea and perhaps unsurprisingly could only finish 41st, while the following week he missed the cut in the Sanderson Farms Championship.
All that means the talented 20-year-old is a more sensibly priced 66/1 in the each-way market and could perform well now that the focus will be on the likes of Spieth, Fowler and Finau.
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