Shriners Open 2012: Top Contenders to Win Popular Tournament

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistOctober 4, 2012

KIAWAH ISLAND, SC - AUGUST 10: Jason Day of Australia hits off the 12th tee during Round Two of the 94th PGA Championship at the Ocean Course on August 10, 2012 in Kiawah Island, South Carolina.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
David Cannon/Getty Images

Now that the Ryder Cup hoopla has died down, it's time for the PGA Tour Fall Series. It starts with the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, which is hosted in Las Vegas by Justin Timberlake and is always a popular event.

Let's take a look at some of the top contenders to win the tournament. Although most of the golf superstars won't be in attendance, there are still a lot of players capable of going low and putting on a terrific show for the fans.


Nick Watney

Watney started off the PGA Tour playoffs with a bang by winning the Barclays, but wasn't able to back up the performance in the final three events. That's not surprising, however, because the American is a streaky player.

The good news for Watney is this tournament plays right into his hands. He excels at courses where the scoring conditions are more favorable and TPC Summerlin definitely falls into that category. Last year's winning score was 23-under par.

Watney finished second at last year's second at 21-under with four rounds of 67 or better. As long as he's able to avoid trouble off the tee, which has been his biggest problem all year, he will be right back in the mix this weekend.


Jason Day

After a strong 2011 season that saw Day finish in the top 10 of nearly half his events, it seemed like he was due for a huge breakout season. It didn't happen. He finished with just three top 10s and zero wins in his 15 starts.

The reason he's still a contender this week is based purely on talent. He's capable of finding his rhythm and running away with the tournament. It should also help that the pressure level decreases significantly in the Fall Series.

Day is also one of the best putters in the sport. At an event where the winning score is typically quite low, players are going to have to sink plenty of putts to be in contention coming down the stretch. Day can do that.


Kevin Na

It was an up-and-down season for Na. He had two consecutive fifth-place finishes early in the regular season, but also endured a stretch of six missed cuts or withdraws in a span of 11 starts. He just wasn't able to sustain a high level of play.

His last win came in this event last year, so he should at least start the tournament with some of the confidence he's been lacking throughout the season. When at his best, he's one of the most well-rounded players on Tour.

Even though it's an uphill battle to win the same tournament two years in a row, Na should put himself in position to have a chance on Sunday. He's had nearly a month off to clear his mind and fine tune his game, so he should be ready to roll starting Thursday.