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There are no Presidents Cup snubs on the 2022 Shriners Children’s Open leaderboard, only those who competed a couple weeks ago at Quail Hollow Club. Mito Pereira leads the charge after a sizzling 8-under 63 on Friday, and is atop the leaderboard alone at 12 under heading into the final 36 holes at TPC Summerlin.
Utilizing a team competition as a launch pad for one’s season is nothing new on the PGA Tour (just look at Scottie Scheffler last year), and for Pereira it appears he is not alone. His fellow teammates from Quail Hollow, Tom Kim and Si Woo Kim, are some of his closest pursuers as they check in two strokes off the lead at 10 under alongside Las Vegas resident Maverick McNealy.
Cam Davis, Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Sungjae Im all find themselves inside the top 20 for the time being, but to say the Shriners Children’s Open has strictly been an international party would be a lie. Americans Patrick Cantlay and Max Homa will surely have something to say about the outcome of this tournament with both only four strokes adrift in a tie for ninth.
The two men from the United States have yet to display their A-games around TPC Summerlin, and are more than capable of firing a round in the low 60s on Saturday to take control. While scoring is down a touch compared to recent years, favorable pin positions and ideal weather may lead to a birdie barrage finally coming to fruition over the weekend in Sin City.
1. Mito Pereira (-12)
After flashing serious form in the middle stages of the 2021-22 season, Pereira went cold. Showcasing his skillset at the 2022 PGA Championship, the Chilean went on to miss four of his final six starts to end his first full campaign on the PGA Tour. While he limped to the finish line, Pereira’s play was still enough to garner him a spot on the Presidents Cup team, where some of this lost confidence may have been rediscovered.
“[Captain Trevor Immelman] Just really tried to put us in a position that we really want to play well and really trusting ourselves,” Pereira said of the international confidence. “Every day he did like a little speech of how good we are and how we can do this. So I think it really touched us.”
2. Robby Shelton (-11)
T3. Tom Kim, Si Woo Kim, Maverick McNealy
T6. Kevin Streelman, Cam Davis, Chad Ramey (-9)
T9. Patrick Rodgers, Patrick Cantlay, Matthew NeSmith, S.H. Kim, Adam Hadwin, Max Homa, Sam Ryder, Keith Mitchell (-8)
It was a run-of-the-mill first 11 holes for Si Woo Kim, who reached 10 under early in his second round. Stalling around the turn, disaster struck for the South Korean when he bladed his chip shot into the water on the par-4 12th leading to a triple bogey. Kim later made amends with a hole-out eagle on the par-4 15th from the greenside bunker and a birdie on the par-5 16th to reach 10 under yet again to keep his name in contention.
“I had a little between numbers and then hit a little pull hook. I think always pull hook is a little bit further, so I miss it. I just missed the one shot and then kind of had a tough lie. Then I had a bad chip and then make triple,” said Kim. “But Manny, my caddie, said keep it positive and we can get back. Yeah, I kept positive and just played my own.”
A roller-coaster on the back nine ???? pic.twitter.com/yXIghFihMz
At the start of the week, 10 Presidents Cup participants teed it up at TPC Summerlin with the vast majority coming from the international side. All 10 have made their way into the weekend with eight currently residing inside the top 20 — six of which are international. Led by Pereira and the South Korean duo, a new sense of confidence may been instilled from this team competition just a couple weeks ago.
“Obviously, with the amount of pressure there is in the Presidents Cup, and normally you play for yourself in individual tournaments, but you play for the whole team. For me, it’s actually like — it was so comfortable just knowing if I miss a shot, it’s on me,” said Tom Kim. “I’m not hurting anyone else. Just things like that, where you’re in a mindset where you’re a little more comfortable. For a lot of us players, it was a big learning experience, and I think we’re going to keep growing.”
Horse for the course, Patrick Cantlay is once again well-positioned to contend for the Shriners Children’s Open title. Coming into this week having notched a victory, two runners-up and a top-10 result in his four prior trips to Las Vegas, this time around has been drastically different. Known to be one of the best putters on the PGA Tour, Cantlay was vocal with his displeasure in regards to putting surfaces in the desert.
“It’s [TPC Summerlin’s] in a lot worse condition, and you can see that with the scores,” said Cantlay. “The greens haven’t quite settled, so you get all sorts of bounces out there. Every green and every little spot is a different firmness. It’s hard to predict and hard to get it close because of that, but it’s the same way for everybody. I’ll just do my best to hit it as close as I can and make as many birdies as I can.”
The world No. 4 continued: “The greens are not settled. It’s very hard to read the greens. Even if you read it correctly, it could bounce offline in a heartbeat. I think it puts even more of a premium on ball-striking around this place. If I could keep driving it the way I am and hit a few more shots closer, I’ll be in a good spot.”
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
All the big hitters came to play this week, but I have a sense of a Saturday run coming from a player not on this list. Sam Ryder has been a name I’ve been following this week as he arrived with both his irons and putter in good form. Through two rounds, he ranks 10th in strokes gained approach, and would be found on the first page of the leaderboard if not for a poor putting display on Friday. Instead, Ryder is 100-1 sitting at 8 under and in a tie for ninth where he takes a backseat to the likes of Cantlay and Homa despite still being in contention.
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