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Draws & Fades: Don’t Bank on Defending Champ Tom Kim Going Low (Again) in Las Vegas

Conditions were ideal in Las Vegas on Saturday. Temperatures hovered between the high 70’s and low 80’s and the wind was well under 10 mph. It was a truly beautiful fall day in the desert. This translated into quite a few low scores at TPC Summerlin in the third round of the Shriners Children’s Open.

Thirteen players shot 65 or better in Round 3, but unfortunately for 36-hole co-leader Cameron Champ, he was not one of them. Champ stumbled out of the gate on Saturday, making a triple bogey on the third hole. He shot a 4-over 39 on the front side and went on to post a 3-over round of 74. At 9 under for the tournament, Champ went from tied for first place to tied for 24th.

Lanto Griffin, who held a share of the lead at the halfway point with Champ, shot a respectable 3-under 68 and remains tied for the lead after 54-holes at 15 under. Joining Griffin at the top is defending champion Tom Kim, who fired a Saturday 62, and Adam Hadwin, who shot a bogey-free 63.

+250: Tom Kim (-15)
+425: Adam Hadwin (-15)
+800: Lanto Griffin (-15)
+1000: K.H. Lee (-14)
+1200: J.T. Poston (-13)
+1400: Taylor Pendrith (-14)
+1600: Adam Svensson (-13), Vince Whaley (-14)
+2500: Callum Tarren (-13)

In this column on Friday night, we highlighted Griffin as a “fade.” He got his approach game in order on Saturday but the putter went cold, losing nearly two and a half strokes to the field with the flatstick. J.T. Poston was a “draw” for us going into the weekend and through 15 holes on Saturday, it looked like a good call as Poston was tied for the lead at 15 under. Poston made a triple bogey on the easy par-5 16th hole and finished the day two off the pace after making birdie on No. 18.

Las Vegas is filled with quite a few microclimates. TPC Summerlin is about 25 minutes northwest of the Las Vegas Strip. Sunday in the Summerlin area, looks like it will be another day conducive to low scoring with the forecast calling for winds well under 10 mph and temperatures in the mid-80s. In the last four editions of the Shriners Children’s Open, the average winning score has been 23.5 under par. The low rounds of the day on Saturday, 62 and 63, would put your leaders at 23 or 24 under for the tournament. Ten players span the leaderboard between the scores of 13-under and 15-under par. This is where your winner will come from, I believe. Players currently sitting at 12 under or worse, I feel, are too far back to capture the victory – unless someone has a real outlier round up their sleeve like a 60 or a 61.


Adam Svensson (+1600)

After shooting a disappointing 70 on Thursday, Svensson has followed it up with two-straight rounds of 65. He’s doing everything well and nothing sticks out as being too far off the beam. He’s been steadily solid and could be building toward an especially low round. It is the same way Svensson came into this tournament when I crunched the stats – steady and solid in all areas across the board. At 13-under par, he’ll probably need more than a 65 to get a win but I believe he is very capable and the price is fair. When Svensson won for the first time on TOUR last fall at The RSM Classic, he opened with a 73 and then followed it with rounds of 64, 62 and 64.


Tom Kim (+250) & Adam Hadwin (+425)

I’m going to bundle these two into one here because my reasoning is very similar. Both players shot crazy low rounds on Saturday after being relatively pedestrian for the first two days of the tournament. Kim was 6 under heading into Saturday and Hadwin was 7 under. Both players more than doubled that with rounds of 62 and 63, respectively. It is more the norm than the exception that we see a player bounce off of an especially low round one day, only to cool off the very next day. Kim is the defending champion here in Las Vegas and Hadwin is one of the better, more accomplished players in the mix – but no matter who you are, it is tough to replicate a 62 or a 63, especially amidst the pressure of a final round Sunday.

Source : PGA Tour