5 takeaways at Shriners Children’s Open: Mito Pereira leads parade of Presidents Cuppers; the Kim and Kim show is not far behind
LAS VEGAS — There’s a heavy Presidents Cup contingent at the 2022 Shriners Children’s Open.
Members of the International squad are making the most noise so far, taking four of the top eight spots after 36 holes.
With that kind of early success, there may be a push to move the 2024 Presidents Cup from Montreal to TPC Summerlin.
Ok, not really, but there are 10 Cuppers (eight Internationals, two Americans) in the field, six of them are in the top 10 and every one of them advanced to the weekend.
Mito Pereira leads the way in Vegas. An 8-under 63 will do that, as he charged up the leaderboard in the afternoon wave Friday. He’s at 12 under and leads by two.
Tom Kim and Si Woo Kim are among four golfers tied for second at 10 under. Cam Davis is at 9 under, tied for sixth.
Sungjae Im, the defending champ in Vegas, shot 65-70 and is tied for 16th.
Taylor Pendrith and Christiaan Bezuidenhout as well as the two American President Cuppers, Max Homa and Patrick Cantlay, also made the weekend.
Mito means business
Mito Pereira lines up a putt on the third green during the second round of the 2022 Shriners Children’s Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo: Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images)
Mito Pereira had nine birdies Friday, offset by his lone bogey on No. 7, his 16th hole of the day, en route to a PGA Tour career-low 63.
At the PGA Championship in May, he opened 68-64-69 before stumbling home with a 75. His second-round 64 in Tulsa tied his career low at the time, but he’s now got a new number to aim for.
As for the way the PGA ended, Pereira said: “It’s just way over there in the past. I’m just trying to get my first win here.”
The experience he and others gained from the Presidents Cup, meanwhile, seems to be paying off with so many International players high on the leaderboard.
“I was thinking about it, and I think Trevor [Immelman, International team captain] did a really good job with us, encouraging us how good we are, how good we play golf,” Pereira said. “So I think we carry that over here. Right now we’re just playing really good.”
It's the Kim and Kim show
Tom Kim lines up a putt on the ninth green as Si Woo Kim looks on during the second round of the 2022 Shriners Children’s Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas. (Photo: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Vegas is known for its card games and slot machines, but there is a horserace of sorts breaking out at TPC Summerlin.
Playing with American Max Homa for a second straight day, Presidents Cup teammates and fellow Koreans Tom Kim and Si Woo Kim moved quickly up the leaderboard on a warm Friday afternoon.
Si Woo Kim opened with a 64 and Tom Kim a 65 on Thursday, and they kept it going Friday, both getting to 10 under before the seventh hole.
Si Woo Kim had a disaster hole on 12 when he took a triple-bogey 7 but he eagled the 15th and birdied the 16th to get those strokes back and get back to double digits under par.
Tom Kim’s swing was a little loose Friday, and several of his iron shots went sailing left. But he made four birdies on his front nine, including three straight on Nos. 5, 6 and 7. He then made 11 straight pars to round out his scorecard for a 67.
“Obviously Presidents Cup, we fell short,” Tom Kim said. “It’s just showing how much we’re playing well. I think it’s really good to see, and it’s showing everyone that international golf is growing.”
Si Woo Kim agreed.
“Presidents Cup, I was a little bit nervous like the first two days. Play getting better and better. Then like Saturday we played together, and Sunday I had a great round.
“I think that really helps to start the season, and that’s why we’re playing pretty good. Then with the good experience. So I think that was the real help.”
Another Cupper having solid week
Cam Davis plays his shot from the ninth fairway during the second round of the 2022 Shriners Children’s Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas. (Photo: Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images)
Australian Cam Davis went 2-3-0 in his Presidents Cup debut in Charlotte two weeks ago, gaining valuable experience from his time on the International squad
“It’s always great to experience playing really good golf under the highest pressure that I’ve experienced playing this game,” he said after his Friday 66, which was a shot better than the 67 he posted Thursday.
His second round was highlighted by the 31 he shot on the back nine, where he started his day. A bogey on 12 wasn’t great but then he got hot. Like, splitting a pair of aces and drawing two kings hot.
Birdie on the par-5 13th. Birdie on 14 after sticking it to five feet on the par-3 hole. Eagle on 15 after he drove the green and buried a 10-foot putt for a 2. Birdie on 16, another par 5 in which he carried the lake fronting the green and two-putted. Birdie on 17, a 195-yard par 3 in which he stuffed his iron shot to 11 feet before making the putt.
That’s 6 under over a five-hole stretch.
“Pretty much my whole score has been built on that little four, five-hole stretch there,” said Davis, who birdied Nos. 13-16 in Thursday’s round. Vegas local Maverick McNealy said the Tour pros who are regulars at TPC Summerlin call that stretch Birdies Alley.
“If that’s what needs to be done in order to shoot whatever I am through two rounds, 9 under or so, that’s doing well,” Davis said.
'I don't freak out too often'
Patrick Cantlay reacts after putting on the first green during the second round of the 2022 Shriners Children’s Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas. (Photo: Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images)
Patrick Cantlay, the highest ranked golfer in the field, has a win, two solo seconds and four top-10s in four visits to the Shriners event. He has broken 70 in 16 of his 18 rounds, including both this week so far, and has made almost $3 million in Vegas.
Friday, he got to 8 under after he shot a second straight 67, but his two rounds were a bit different. Thursday he had four birdies and 14 pars. Friday, he had six birdies but also posted two bogeys.
On a course with birdies are key, is making a bogey kind of like freak out time?
“I don’t freak out too often,” said Cantlay, known for his cool, calm, even-keel demeanor.
“I’m only halfway. This is only halftime,” he said. “With how well I’m rolling it, which I feel like I’m rolling it really well, I could make a bunch [of birdies] the next two days. If I can keep playing from the fairway, I can make a bunch of birdies.”
Max Homa also has a pair of 67s so far in Vegas, matching his Presidents Cup American counterpart, and the two are among seven golfers tied for ninth at 8 under, four shots off the lead.
Re-sodded course still a fast track
Tee markers on the ninth hole at the 2022 Shriners Children’s Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas. (Photo: Michael Owens/Getty Images)
The Shriners is known for lots of birdies and low scores, and after a massive re-sod this summer, that reputation is holding up.
TPC Summerlin, the exclusive host venue since 2008, underwent a complete re-sodding of the turf from tee to green on all 18 holes.
“They took about two inches of soil off of all the greens, seeded the greens, started that process and then stripped all the fairways,” said Patrick Lindsey, tournament director for the past eight years. “This golf course was closed April 15 and it didn’t open up again until Monday, October 3, which is the Monday of our tournament.”
The pros seem to be loving the fast, firm conditions. As for the temperatures, the locals report it’s about five degrees cooler this week than normal.
The talk early in the week was needing to get to at least 20 under to win. Five golfers are at least halfway there.
In 2017, Cantlay won with a final score of 9 under but winds of 25-30 mph over Friday, Saturday and Sunday wreaked havoc on the field that year. In all, of the 14 Shriners events since 2008, 11 have seen a winning score of 20 under or better. Three times, the winner got to 24 under. In 2008, Marc Turnesa got to 25 under (the course played as a par 72 that year; it’s been a par 71 since 2009).
For many, it's a work week so going to the Strip not in the cards
The fourth hole at TPC Summerlin for the 2022 Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas. (Photo: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
The Vegas strip is about 15 miles away from the Summerlin area, so depending on traffic, an easy drive for someone interested in card games or a slot machine.
Patrick Rodgers, who opened 66-68 and is four shots back after 36 holes, is not among those who intends to partake.
“I’m not, especially during a work week,” he said. “I understand those casinos were built for a reason, and I don’t like playing losing games. I’ll trust myself on the golf course.”
Kevin Streelman, staying near TPC Summerlin, has plans with his family Friday night after posting a 67 during the morning wave. Coupled with his first-round 66, Streelman is in contention to win for the first time in eight years on Tour. But he’s not stressing about Sunday pressure just yet.
“We’re going to the Cirque du Soleil Michael Jackson show tonight,” he said. “We’re going to Joe’s Stone Crab, which is like our family tradition, and we’re going to see that Cirque du Soleil show tonight.”
There are times when he’ll do a little wagering.
“I like to play a little bit of blackjack. The Wheel of Fortune machine, when that wheel gets going, I start running around and having a good time with that. I always lose money on that, but I kind of have fun doing that as well. I never go into it thinking I’m going to make too much.”
Like Rodgers, Aussie Cam Davis is keeping his focus on golf this week.
“Every year this has been played that I’ve been here, I’ve never gone to the strip,” he said. “I enjoy my sleep too much. I’m not going down there. If I was back here outside of the tournament, I might explore, but this is a work week, and I’ve got to make sure I keep my head in the game.”