Kevin Na is backed to win his two-ball on the final round of the Shrinners Hospital for Children Open - don't miss Martin Matthews' latest in-play preview.
Before I fully embark on this preview I shall, appropriately for Vegas, lay my cards on the table, and disclose to those who didn’t see my own pre-tournament preview, that I am sitting on a ticket for 54-hole, co-leader Martin Laird at 250/1.
From that point of view I will readily admit that my personal focus will be to cheer on the Scotsman as, needless to say, opportunities for winners at that sort of price don’t come along too often.
So to assess his chances, and mine, of having a very happy Monday let’s take a look at the overall state of play.
Over the years the snappily-titled Shriners Hospital For Children Open has become known to be something of a birdie-fest and this year is proving to be no exception, with the 36-hole number required to make the cut of seven under the lowest on the PGA Tour since 1970.
The pre-tournament weather forecast had called for something of a 'game of two halves' with easy scoring conditions for the first couple of days to be followed by 25mph+ winds over the weekend reigning the players in.
However, despite the breeze picking up a bit yesterday afternoon, this didn’t really materialize and with today's forecast suggesting what slight breeze there is will, if anything, drop as the day progresses, then it is more than likely we will see a winning score which beats the lowest we have seen here (-24) since the event changed to its current, traditional, four-round format from the old five-round format in 2004.
The two who have taken advantage the most are Patrick Cantlay and, as alluded to earlier, Martin Laird who both sit on -20 through 54 holes, two shots clear of the chasing pack.
Behind these two on -18 we than have a group of five players: Matthew Wolff, Wyndham Clark, Brian Harman and Austin Cook.
Looking at the two at the top and despite their career paths being on very different trajectories over recent years, in relation to this event they actually have plenty in common with both being past champions here and both having also lost in a play-off – Laird memorably to Jonathon Byrd’s walk-off, hole-in-one in 2010.
Cantlay, who won the event in 2017 to bag his first tour title, is yet to finish outside of the top two in three visits to TPC Summerlin and, having finished strongly on Saturday with three birdies in his last five holes to draw alongside Laird, is undoubtedly the man to beat.
It should be said, though, that from tee to green this week Laird has been more impressive than the Californian who will be his playing partner for the second day running.
Basically, Laird’s long game has been exemplary as he leads the field from tee to green, approach play and driving accuracy for the week, hitting all fourteen fairways on Saturday on his way to shooting a 65, which was about the worst score it could have been, and it is only the slightly better putting display which has seen Cantlay stick with him.
Laird clearly then, as he said himself in his post-round interview on Saturday, has his “game in a good spot” and if he can keep the Sunday nerves in check - something it must be said he struggled with when in the final group in Puerto Rico earlier in the year - he has every chance as he tries to bag his first PGA Tour title since 2013 in Texas.
One overwhelming factor in favour of the leading pair is that despite TPC Summerlin offering up low scores, the event over recent years has very much favoured those out in front going in to Sunday, with six third-round leaders getting the job done over the past ten years.
In fact on only two occasions over this period, in 2015 and when Cantlay was victorious in 2017, has the winner come from outside of the top two going in to day four, and it is worth noting the latter occasion was very much an unusual edition as with the wind blowing that week the winning score was only nine under.
Very good omens for the front two then.
Of the four who sit on -18, one who logically stands out has to be Matthew Wolff, who shot a career-low 61 on Saturday which included three eagles in a back nine of 28, one of which was a hole out from the fairway on the par four 11th.
Having said that, with everything going his way on Saturday it will, as we know from experience, be tough for him to follow that up on Sunday and of those on the -18 mark my sneaking suspicion would be for Vegas resident Wyndham Clark.
In all honesty, though, the overwhelming feeling is that one of the front two will prevail and from that point of view I will leave the outright market alone and will focus on the two players who sit on -17 and three shots back for a two-ball bet.
The players in question are defending champion Kevin Na, who will tee it up alongside the impressive young star Will Zalatoris at 8.25pm UK time.
All things point to a great future on tour for Zalatoris and with the incentive of a Special Temporary Membership at stake, something he will most likely achieve with a top-five finish on Sunday, he has plenty to play for outside the obvious opportunity of winning on the PGA Tour for the first time.
For all of Zalatoris’ potential, though, his playing partner Na is a two-time champion here, with three PGA Tour wins in just over the past two years, who currently sits 37th in the OWGR having recently made the top thirty in the Fedex Cup.
From that point of view there is absolutely no way that Na should be the slight outsider of the pair in this two-ball and anything odds against has to be taken.
Posted at 1010 BST on 11/10/20