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2018 Shriners Open in Las Vegas features best field in years

Welcome to PGA Tour Week. Or is it Shriners Week? Or is it TPC Summerlin time?

No matter what you call it, one of Las Vegas’ biggest sporting events of the year has arrived.

The Shriners Hospitals for Children Open tees off this week at TPC Summerlin. The event will have one of its best fields in years with almost half of the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

There are a few other reasons why this PGA Tour stop in Vegas — which again includes tour player Jhonattan Vegas — is worth watching.

Two golfers on a roll

Two of the top finishers from last weekend’s tournaments are converging on TPC Summerlin.

SHORT DESCRIPTION (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Cameron Champ won the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Mississippi, by four strokes Sunday. The Texas A&M product had made one PGA Tour cut in six tries prior to last weekend.

Earlier Sunday, Tony Finau tied for first in the World Golf Classic-HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai, China. However, he lost by a stroke on the first playoff hole to Xander Schauffele.

Finau, who had three top 10 finishes last season, is making his 2018-19 tour debut this week.

About those Ryder Cup players?

Normally this event touts a big name or two. But this year’s lineup includes U.S. Ryder Cup participants Bryson DeChambeau, Finau, Rickie Fowler, Webb Simpson and Jordan Spieth — plus captain Jim Furyk.

It also will include some recognizable names like Rory Sabbatini, Vijay Singh and defending champion Patrick Cantlay.

Watch those qualifiers

Every year four spots go to the top four finishers from a qualifying event, which will be held Monday at Boulder Creek Golf Club.

It’s rare that any of these golfers finish in the money, but at last year’s Shriners Open two qualifiers played in all four rounds. Jim Knous of Basalt, Colorado, was tied for 41st, with a one-under 283 and Ryan Hogue was tied for 63rd with a three-over 287.

Monday’s qualifier is scheduled to include PGA Tour veterans Aaron Baddeley and Tommy Armour III, current UNLV golfers Harry Hall and Garrick Higgo and Alex Kang, brother of LPGA star Danielle Kang.

Past winners return

Tigers Woods, who won his first PGA Tour event in Las Vegas, is not in this year’s field, but a lot past champions are returning.

Besides Cantlay, the field is expected to include 2017 winner Rod Pampling, 2014 winner Simpson, 2012 winner Moore, 2011 winner Kevin Na, 2009 winner Martin Laird and Furyk, who won 1999, ‘98 and ‘95.

Also, Jonathan Byrd, who the 2010 event, is competing in the Monday qualifying round.

RJ coverage team

For the second year in a row, we’ll have the team of Assistant Sports Editor Tom Spousta and longtime Las Vegas golf writer Brian Hurlburt covering the event. Columnists Ed Graney and Ron Kantowski also will be on the course.

Spousta has covered golf for the New York Times and USA Today as well as other publications prior to his arrival in Las Vegas. Hurlburt writes the Review-Journal’s weekly golf notebook and has reported on the sport for two decades in the city.

Also, the RJ will be bringing back its annual golf map this week. It’s a graphic listing over every golf course, pro shop and driving range in the Las Vegas. Find it in the print edition Thursday and at reviewjournal.com/golf on Wednesday.

Bill Bradley is sports editor of the Review-Journal. He can be reached at 702-387-2909 or bbradley@reviewjournal.com. Follow on Twitter at @billbradleyLV.

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