Those who found watching PGA Tour golf at 2 a.m. enjoyable will be unhappy to learn that the annual three-week Asian Swing is over.
The Tour now heads back across the Pacific to the Land of Luck for the sixth event of the Fall Series: the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Held at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas, the Shriners Open lacks the elite top-to-bottom talent that we watched last week in China, but it does boast a better-than-usual field, and the event will be the season debut for many popular, notable players.
There are a lot of players to like this week, but here are 15 that we value just a little bit more than the rest:
15. Ryan Moore
It is difficult to start a season in more “boom or bust” fashion than Moore, who finished T2 at the season-opening Safeway Open, and then posted finishes of T66 and T61 in two no-cut events with fewer than 80 players in the field.
There is a bit more to be optimistic about Moore, though – at least for this week. He was the 2012 winner of this event, and added a top-10 showing in the 2014 edition. He was also a star at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, so there is a level of comfort as well.
Moore hits fairways as anyone on Tour, which has consistently led to a good scoring average.
World Rank: 69th
Field Rank: 15th
Last Six: 61, 66, 2, 71, MC, 6
14. Matt Kuchar
One of the bigger names in the field, it is difficult to endorse Kuchar with his recent form, coming off a very disappointing season by his standards. It also does not help that he has not played this event this decade.
That being said, we do like that this is will be his season debut, and after he failed to reach expectations last season, he should be among the most motivated players in the field. In terms of all-around talent, he is still one of the best in the game.
World Rank: 38th
Field Rank: 8th
Last Six: 28, 43, 60, MC, 14, MC
13. Sam Burns
Burns is coming off an incredible season on the Web.com Tour, and appears destined for great success in the big leagues. Finishing T3 at last week’s Sanderson Farms Championship is a good sign for the 22-year-old.
At the very least, the former LSU star is much more likely to pull off a victory this weekend than his alma mater’s football team, who is a 14-point underdog at home against Alabama.
World Rank: 114th
Field Rank: 28th
Last Six: 3, MC, MC, 35, MC, 3
12. Abraham Ancer
We would not blame anyone who is skeptical about the state of Ancer’s game after the unmitigated disaster that was his final round in his most recent start, the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges. A Sunday 80 was, by far, the worst score in the field and caused a drop of 42 spots on a leaderboard that only had 77 names to begin with.
Still, he has been more good than bad in recent months, particularly his T7 in the second round of the FedExCup playoffs, and his T5 at the CIMB Classic the week before he imploded in South Korea.
World Rank: 116th
Field Rank: 30th
Last Six: 73, 5, 51, 7, MC, 24
11. Cameron Champ
Champ-mania is in full force after the Tour rookie won last week’s opposite-field event, the Sanderson Farms Championship.
It has been known for some time that Champ has a great deal of talent, but it was important for him to show that he can contend and play the entire course, and is not simply a Happy Gilmore-esque long-drive freak of nature. Yes, his distance off the tee was again an enormous benefit in Mississippi, but what was really amazing was the 9.1 strokes he gained on the field with his putter.
He also finished 9th in the field in greens in regulation, teasing one of the most unique all-around games the Tour has seen in recent years.
It may be asking too much to ask the 23-year-old to win in his TPC Summerlin debut, having to deal with all the distractions that came with his win last week, but he showed on the Web.com Tour last year that when he gets hot, he can stay hot.
World Rank: 121st
Field Rank: 31st
Last Six: 1, 25, MC, 33, 16, 30
Navigate to next five