Tony Finau favored in Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

Updated November 1, 2017 - 7:17 pm

Tony Finau is of Tongan and American Samoan descent, but he was born and raised in Salt Lake City and won the Utah state amateur title in 2006.

Finau, the runner-up at the Safeway Open on Oct. 8, is the 15-1 favorite to win the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, which tees off Thursday at TPC Summerlin.

“He’s running in great form right now, he’s got a decent history here and he’s considered somewhat of a local from the Utah area,” Westgate sports book golf oddsmaker Jeff Sherman said. “He’s a long hitter and should be able to attack the par 5s. You’ve got to go low here, and he’s capable of doing that.”

Several former UNLV and local prep golfers who always attract support at the betting windows in Las Vegas’ annual PGA Tour event are Ryan Moore (20-1) — who won here in 2012 — Charley Hoffman (25-1) and Scott Piercy (50-1).

Las Vegas resident Kevin Na, who won here in 2011 and was runner-up to Smylie Kaufman in 2015, is at 30-1.

“There’s a lot of local flavor,” Sherman said. “Na has a house on the course at TPC Summerlin, and Hoffman has a house at TPC (Las Vegas). They’ve all played the course many times.”

Five of the past six winners have finished at least 20 under par.

“The only defense the course has is the wind,” Sherman said. “If it’s not windy, it really turns into a putting contest.”

Other past Las Vegas winners in the field include Kaufman (50-1) and Webb Simpson (20-1), the 2012 U.S. Open champion.

“He’s playing consistently as well as he has in a long time,” Sherman said. “He won here in 2013 and finished fourth on two other occasions.”

Joining Moore and Simpson as the 20-1 second choice behind Finau is Patrick Cantlay, the former No. 1-ranked amateur in the world who returned to competition this year after more than three years of physical and personal setbacks.

“I’m really high on him. He’s going to win sooner or later,” Sherman said. “Cantlay is one of the young guys people have high hopes for.”

Sherman said he would recommend a play on Cantlay but the odds are too low. Instead, he suggests taking Luke List and Jamie Lovemark at 30-1, Austin Cook at 60-1 and Aaron Wise at 80-1.

The 2016 NCAA champion from Oregon, Wise tied for 10th last year in Las Vegas.

Notables include Bubba Watson (40-1), Vijay Singh (200-1) and Ernie Els (250-1).

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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