Smylie leads rookie charge at Shriners

Smylie Kaufman won by a shot at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas

Smylie Kaufman wins Shriners Open
Smylie Kaufman wins Shriners Open
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Smylie Kaufman became the second rookie winner in two tournaments of the new PGA Tour season, claiming victory in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Smylie Kaufman closed with a superb, 10-under-par 61 at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas and then faced a two-hour wait to see if any of those following could match the 16-under-par clubhouse total he had set.

The 23-year-old made seven birdies and an eagle over his final 11 holes to post the target number at Summerlin. Kevin Na had a chance to match him and was tied with Kaufman on 16-under after a birdie at the 16th. But he duffed a chip at the 17th and was unable to make up for the mistake on the home hole.

Na ended the week in a tie for second with five other players, just a shot behind Kaufman. Two of the men who shared the runner up spot were also rookies – Patton Kizzire and Brett Stegmaier.

4 Talking points from the Shriners Open

1 – This was a career-changing week for Kaufman. He earned his card for this season by finishing 6th on last season’s Tour. After coming home in 29 at TPC Summerlin and securing this win, he will now receive an invitation to play at next year’s Masters.

"It's unbelievable," Kaufman said. "If you would've told me that I had a round at the Masters ... if somebody was going to take me out and not completely with the Masters, just to play Augusta National, I would have freaked out. But now I'm playing the Masters. It's a joke. It's unbelievable."

Following Emiliano Grillo’s victory in last week’s Open, this is the second straight week that a Tour graduate has tasted success on the main circuit.

2 – Kevin Na finished second for the second week running. At the Open he lost in a playoff to Emiliano Grillo, this time out he was beaten by another rookie who played an awesome final round.

“I'm sure he's a great player. I don't know him very well,” A shocked Na said of Kaufman. “But he played a hell of a round, and hats off to him."

3 – William McGirt was another man to come from nowhere in the final round. He fired a 62 that included an incredible run of holes. He was nine-under par for a nine-hole stretch ending with an eagle on the par-5 16th.

“I found something out there with the putter,” he said. “Starting where I started the day, to end up where I did, I’m tickled to death.”

4 – Jimmy Walker was one of the favourites going into this week and he put himself into a strong position with one round to play, going out in the second to last group on Sunday. But be stumbled to a closing 78 and fell right back into a tie for 50th place – his final round was 17 shots worse than Kaufman’s. Rickie Fowler closed with a 68 to end the week tied for 25th.

Rickie Fowler swing sequence:

Shriners Hospitals for Children Open TPC Summerlin, Las Vegas, Nevada Oct 22-25 Purse: $6,400,000, par 71

1    Smylie Kaufman (USA)    67    72    68    61    268    $1,152,000 T2    Patton Kizzire (USA)    65    69    72    63    269    $355,733 T2    Cameron Tringale (USA) 68    65    70    66    269    $355,733 T2    Jason Bohn (USA)    68    66    69    66    269    $355,733 T2    Alex Cejka (Ger)        67    70    66    66    269    $355,733 T2    Kevin Na (USA)        68    66    68    67    269    $355,733 T2    Brett Stegmaier (USA)    66    66    68    69    269    $355,733 T8    Chad Campbell (USA)    65    67    70    68    270    $192,000 T8    William McGirt (USA)    66    73    69    62    270    $192,000 10    Russell Henley (USA)    68    69    68    66    271    $172,800

Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?