The first round leaderboard of the Shriners Children’s Open is fascinating. Tom Hoge leads after the round was suspended due to darkness Thursday with a stellar 8-under 63, but a host of players who bring interesting storylines to the table are just behind him.While some of the biggest names in the field — Patrick Cantlay, Rickie Fowler and Max Homa — didn’t ascend to the very top of the table, they’re all still very much in the mix after strong starts at TPC Summerlin. All will chase Hoge, though, over the final three days as he tries to add to his 2022 win collection after taking the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am earlier this year. Let’s take a look at his round as well as who else is in the hunt this week. The leaderT1. Tom Hoge (-8)Hoge was a menace in Round 1, although he said that was “a little bit unexpected” because he took some time away from golf over the last few weeks. He finished third in approach shots and third from tee to green, which means he didn’t have to putt it all that well to shoot the only 63 in the field on Thursday. This is nothing new though. Since Jan. 1, Hoge is a top 30 iron player in the world, and even higher than that if you look at PGA Tour-only players. He is unlikely to fade even if he doesn’t win what would be the second Tour victory of his career following his first in February at Pebble Beach.There’s a lot at stake for somebody like Hoge this week, especially considering only the top 70 in the FedEx Cup rankings will make it into the FedEx Cup Playoffs this year. He’s coming off a career year in which he cleared $4 million and finished inside the top 50 in the FedEx Cup standings for the first time in his life (he finished 10th). To improve on that would be pretty incredible.
“Yeah, I felt like last fall I got off to a good start,” Hoge said. “I’ve played well in the fall in the past. I feel like there’s a lot of good golf courses that set up well for me in the fall. That’s one of the reasons why I’m playing a lot this year still. I feel like I could get off to a nice start in the FedEx Cup. I felt like I had that last year and continue that into the west coast. Just trying to do more of the same. “I didn’t play as well as I would have liked in the summer last year, but you get off to this nice start, and you can kind of relax even when you’re not playing as well. Just trying to play as well as I can here in the fall and give it that head start.” Other contenders T2. Si Woo Kim, Maverick McNealy (-7)T4. Keith Mitchell, Thomas Detry, Will Gordon, Tom Kim, Sam Ryder, Sungjae Im (-6)
There are so many different directions we could go here, but let’s keep it locked on how well the Presidents Cup International Team showed out in Round 1. It has three players in the top 11, including last year’s winner at this event, Sungjae Im. Im got one of the featured groups this week, and he picked up where he left off not only last year but also a few weeks ago when he starred at Quail Hollow.
Si Woo Kim also mirrored his Presidents Cup finale, where he took down Justin Thomas, by getting within one of Hoge. Is it a coincidence that those guys are carrying so much into this week’s Shriner’s event? Maybe, but also maybe not considering the experience they all had.”I was not much confidence before Presidents Cup because I didn’t finish well like at the end,” Kim said. “I think that I had great confidence from the Presidents Cup, and then like everything feels comfortable and so much tension and so much pressure on the Presidents Cup week. So now like too much calm and nothing much pressure on it. So I try to keep more focused and like positive.”
Tom Kim foreverTom Kim, Si Woo Kim’s partner for a chunk of the week at Quail Hollow, also started strong in Vegas after an incredible quote he gave early in the week about catching Tiger Woods’ career PGA Tour record of 82 victories. “I’m always myself,” Tom Kim said. “The situation hasn’t really changed of who I am a little bit. No, I don’t really think it’s really changed for me. I think it’s going to be the same way. Tiger has 82 wins on the PGA Tour. Until I get to 83, it’s going to be hard for me to think a little different.” Tom Kim forever. 2022 Shriners Children’s Open updated odds and picks Sungjae Im: 7-1Patrick Cantlay: 15/2Tom Hoge: 15/2Tom Kim: 10-1Si Woo Kim: 10-1Maverick McNealy: 14-1I want to believe Tom Kim is going to win this golf tournament, of course, but I’m not sure 10-1 is a great number for him at this juncture. Instead I’d love to draw your attention to Keith Mitchell, who is just outside the shortest players at 18-1. He finished fourth from tee to green and fourth on approach shots on Thursday and will be a tough out if he keeps that kind of iron play up. He’s the sharp pick here even amid the bigger names. Homa (four back) at 25-1 is also worth a look.