Shriners Open featured groups: Koepka with Woodland, Scott

LAS VEGAS – The PGA Tour returns to Las Vegas for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, where Bryson DeChambeau will look to defend his title against the strongest field of the fall slate. Here are marquee groupings for this week at TPC Summerlin.

7:10 a.m. Thursday, 12 p.m. Friday: Kevin Na, Phil Mickelson, Tony Finau

The Las Vegas stop was a fixture on Mickelson’s schedule in the 1990s and early 2000s, but he’s been away for 14 years. He’ll make his first start since 2005 as he looks to bounce back from a missed cut in Napa and make a late case for a Presidents Cup pick. Finau is making his sixth straight start in the desert and is likewise looking to impress captain Tiger Woods in his season debut. Na won this event in 2011 and lost in a seven-way playoff in 2015 but has otherwise missed the cut or withdrawn in four of his last five trips to Summerlin. 

7:20 a.m. Thursday, 12:10 p.m. Friday: Brooks Koepka, Gary Woodland, Adam Scott

World No. 1 Koepka is making his season debut and returns to the Shriners after two years away. From 2013-2016, he recorded a runner-up, a tie for fourth and two missed cuts. The reigning U.S. Open champ Woodland was T-18 and T-10 in 2017 and 2018, respectively, and rounded out last year’s event with a final-round 63. Scott spent his brief college career at nearby UNLV and is playing this event for the first time.

12 p.m. Thursday, 7:10 a.m. Friday: Joaquin Niemann, Matthew Wolff, Collin Morikawa

A trio of newly minted PGA Tour winners all aged 22 or younger. Wolff took last season’s 3M Open, Morikawa the Barracuda, and Niemann this season’s Sanderson Farms. All three players managed to wrap up full-time status on Tour in limited starts as non-members, with Niemann doing so via points in 2017-18. Wolff is making his season debut, which Morikawa got out of the way last week with a top-10 in Napa. 

12:10 p.m. Thursday, 7:20 a.m. Friday: Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Webb Simpson

A collection of three past champions and the last two winners here at Summerlin. DeChambeau edged Cantlay last year thanks in large part to a late eagle at the par-5 16th. He was the only player keeping Cantlay from a successful defense of his maiden PGA Tour victory, which he earned in a wind-swept playoff with Alex Cejka and Whee Kim back in 2017. Simpson rolled to a six-shot victory and a 24-under total back in 2013.

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Niemann cracks top 50 for the first time after maiden win

Joaquin Niemann on Sunday became the first player from Chile to win on the PGA Tour.

Another first for the 20-year-old: He cracked the Official World Golf Ranking’s top 50.

The former amateur No. 1 is now OWGR No. 50 coming off his win at the Greenbrier. 

The victory earned him full-time PGA Tour status through the 2021-22 season and secured him exemptions into next year’s Players, Masters and PGA Championship. 

Niemann is now slated to make his first appearance in a World Golf Championship next year in Memphis but can do so months sooner at the HSBC Champions in China if he’s still inside the top 50 on Oct. 14.

In Amsterdam, Sergio Garcia picked up his 16th European Tour title at the KLM Open. The victory advances Garcia to 32nd in the world and vaults him past Rafa Cabrera Bello (No. 42) in the race for the second Spanish Olympic berth to next year’s Games in Tokyo, behind No. 6 Jon Rahm.

The runner-up to Garcia, 18-year-old Nicolai Hojgaard managed to rocket up 622nd spots, from 1002nd to 380th. Hojgaard, who turned pro earlier this year, also secured himself a spot in the field at this month’s Alfred Dunhill Links, where he’ll look to further his nascent career. 

The only move inside the top 10 this week, Francesco Molinari jumped from No. 11 to No. 9, dropping Xander Schauffele to 10th and Bryson DeChambeau to 11th.

Here’s the OWGR top 10 for the week of Sept. 16: 1. Brooks Koepka, 2.  Rory McIlroy, 3. Dustin Johnson, 4. Justin Rose, 5. Justin Thomas, 6. Jon Rham, 7. Patrick Cantlay, 8. Tiger Woods, 9. Francesco Molinari, 10. Xander Schauffele.

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