Updated throughout each tournament week, 'The Starter' will provide key news, notes, and other nuggets prior to the first tee time on Thursday morning. Think of it as an all-in-one resource to help guide you in the days leading up to the start of the tournament, as you prepare your fantasy golf lineups and entries. As soon as we receive valuable news updates on things such as tee times, featured groups, withdrawals and other course reports we’ll be sure to post them all here.
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Mackenzie Hughes won his second career PGA Tour event, with the previous one coming all the way back at the 2017 RSM Classic.
Hughes, a native Canadian, did not make the International Team for the Presidents Cup. He was asked about it after both of his weekend rounds; this was Hughes' response after winning on Sunday:
"I guess you could say it was fuel, because I definitely worked a little harder after (not making the International Team), and felt like that was a team I really, really badly wanted to be on it...But I'm definitely motivated for Montreal, and I don't want to have to let that come to a captain's pick next time when that comes around."
Sepp Straka lost to Mackenzie Hughes in a two-hole playoff. That makes two playoff losses in his last four starts. In August, Straka lost a playoff to Will Zalatoris at the FedEx St. Jude Championship.
PGA Tour rookie Taylor Montgomery posted his second top-10 finish in as many events to start the season. Montgomery ranked 1st in SG: PUTT (+11.19) at the Fortinet Championship, and then he ranked 5th in SG: PUTT (+5.85) this past week at the Sanderson Farms Championship.
Dean Burmester, also a PGA Tour rookie, finished 4th in his first event of the season.
TPC Summerlin - Las Vegas, Nevada
Event #3 of 2022-23 FedExCup regular season
From 1983-2003, this event was played over 5 rounds (90 holes). It went by a few different names, including the Panasonic Las Vegas Invitational and the Invensys Classic at Las Vegas. In 2007, Shriners Hospitals for Children took over the event operations, and they've continued to do so ever since.
The Shriners Children's Open has been played at TPC Summerlin since 1992. The site of Tiger Woods' first ever PGA Tour victory came at TPC Summerlin in 1996.
Last season, TPC Summerlin ranked as the 32nd easiest course (out of 38) in terms of scoring difficulty. TPC Summerlin plays as a Par-71, and last year it yielded a scoring average relative to Par of 68.93 (-2.07). The course played even easier in 2020, where the scoring average was 68.44 (-2.66)--that year, the cutline landed at an unprecedented seven-under Par.
Sungjae Im won at -24 in 2021; Martin Laird won at -23 in 2020; Kevin Na won at -23 in 2019; and, Bryson DeChambeau won at -21 in 2018.
SG Total: +16.00
SG T2G: +10.48 (1st)
SG OTT: +2.56 (9th)
SG APP: +5.42 (6th)
SG ARG: +2.50 (13th)
SG PUTT: +5.51 (9th)
Looking at the strokes gained numbers, it's evident that Sungjae Im had his entire game dialed in en route to victory. Both his ball-striking and short game were excellent over his four rounds at TPC Summerlin in 2021.
Sungjae fired a bogey-free Sunday round of 62 (-9) to win last year's tournament by four shots. Sungjae--who ranked 1st for the week in GIR%--hit 17 of 18 greens in a fairly dominant final round. Additionally, he tied the event scoring record.
Sungjae ranked as the 29th best golfer in the world coming into last year's Shriners Children's Open, and then he moved to 21st with the win. Sungjae's maintained that high-level of play over the past year, producing numerous top-10 finishes on Tour. Notably, Sungjae has three runner-up finishes on the PGA Tour over his last five events, including a 2nd place at the TOUR Championship to cap off last season.
Trey Mullinax pulled out of the field and was replaced by Harrison Endycott. However, Endycott was moved to first alternate and replaced by Kevin Yu. Per Rob Bolton on Twitter, "Thomas Detry originally was in on a sponsor exemption, but now he's in via a top-10 at The Sanderson Farms Championship, thus the opening for Yu." In short, Mullinax is OUT and Yu is IN.
Keith Mitchell and Si Woo Kim were not listed on our original tweeted out field list, but they are indeed playing this week.
Patrick Cantlay is the first OWGR top-5 golfer to compete in a regular season PGA Tour event this Fall swing.
Max Homa is coming off winning at the Fortinet Championship and then producing a 4-0-0 record at his first Presidents Cup. Will he continue his ascent despite missing the cut at the Shriners Children's Open in all four of his past appearances here?
Jared Sawada, Spencer Levin, Xuewen Luo, and Ryan Ruffels open qualified into the field on Monday. Sawada notably shot a 61 (-11) in his Monday qualifying round.
Harrison Endycott was added to the field on Tuesday (10/4) after Davis Riley withdrew.
Brandon Matthews (OWGR 252nd)
Brandon Matthews pulled out of the Fortinet Championship during the first round on 9/15 due to a back injury. He returned last week and finished in a tie for 39th at Sanderson Farms. Matthews was asked about the injury after his opening round last week, and this was his response:
"Yeah, well, listen, everybody has their issues, right? Unfortunately, I have some back issues. It was the first tournament all year that it kind of went on me...I wanted to make sure I wasn't out for a month or two instead of just being out for that event and having a week and a half to rest and get married and do all that good stuff."
Sebastian Munoz (OWGR 68th) / Lucas Glover (OWGR 88th)
Both Sebastian Munoz and Lucas Glover pulled out of the Sanderson Farms Championship last week, prior to the event starting. Neither golfer gave a reason for their pre-tournament WD, and neither are competing at the Shriners this week. Just something to keep an eye on for the next time they do tee it up.
Davis Riley (OWGR 70th)
Davis Riley withdrew from the Shriners Children's Open on Tuesday (10/4) without reason.
Shriners Children's Open golfers with the highest "True Strokes Gained" (avg. adjusted strokes gained, min. 8 rounds played) at TPC Summerlin:
Patrick Cantlay (+2.89)
Sungjae Im (+2.47)
Matthew NeSmith (+1.89)
Adam Hadwin (+1.63)
Adam Schenk (+1.45)
Patrick Cantlay's success at this event is well-documented. He's never finished worse than 8th at the Shriners Children's Open. These are Cantlay's results over his four appearances:
As previously noted, Sungjae Im won here last year; in his other two trips to TPC Summerlin, Sungjae finished Tied-13th and Tied-15th.
Matthew NeSmith's best finish at this event is Tied-8th in 2020. He finished in the top-10 at last week's Sanderson Farms Championship after shooting the low round of the day on Sunday. Additionally, NeSmith ranked 3rd last week in SG: APP (+6.27).