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Top Five To Watch At The 2013 Shriners Hospitals For Children Open

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Power Rankings: 2013 Shriners Hospitals For Children Open

Shriners Power Rankings
Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports

The 2013-14 PGA Tour season couldn’t have gotten off to a better start last week at the Frys.com Open. If you thought last week was entertaining, though, just wait until play starts in the Las Vegas desert at TPC Summerlin.

The Tournament Players Club in Summerlin, Nevada has been a popular stop on the PGA Tour since 1992, but only became a permanent annual host in 2008. Since then, the warm, dry air and friendly course setup have led the Shriners Open to be a shootout each year. This isn’t the U.S. Open, folks, and birdies will be flying.

According to the PGA Tour’s official website, the 35-36 par-71 track ranked as the second easiest par-71 on Tour last season, with a scoring average of a hair over 69.7. Players don’t often get a chance to pin-hunt like they will this week, and a hot start will be key to victory.

One of the storylines to watch this week will be if yet another first-time winner emerges in Las Vegas. Not only has the Tour been littered with first-time champions like Jordan Spieth and Billy Horschel over the last year, but Summerlin has somewhat of a reputation for new winners, with ten of the last 20 champions raising their first Tour trophy. You might remember the 1996 winner – a 20-year-old up-and-comer by the name of Tiger Woods.

Now, that’s not to say that this tournament is an automatic star-maker, but with a field full of players hungry for not just the winner’s check, but also the 500 FedEx Cup points that go along with it, everybody should be bringing their A-game to Sin City. Let’s take a look at some of my favorites for the week.

Brandon Raper is a golf writer for RantSports.com. "Like" him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @Brandon__Raper, and add him to your Google+ network.

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5) Brooks Koepka

Koepka
Mark Konezny - USA TODAY Sports

This is just a perfect case of riding the hot hand. Certainly Koepka could be reeling a bit from surrendering his lead at CordeValle in the final round, but more likely he’ll be laser-focused on a strong finish in Las Vegas. He was so close to his Tour membership that he could taste it, and I expect him to put up a good fight again this week.

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4) Brendon de Jonge

de Jonge
David Butler II - USA TODAY Sports

Don’t let his lack of a win fool you, de Jonge is playing some very good golf recently. He finished 2013 with top-20 finished in each of the FedEx Cup playoff events, and dominated the par-fives, shooting -139 in 30 tournaments. He won’t always blow you away with low scores, but he’s had success at Summerlin, finishing second here last season.

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3) Hideki Matsuyama

Matsuyama
Allan Henry - USA TODAY Sports

One tournament into his official PGA Tour career, and Matsuyama already has a third-place finish from last week’s Frys.com Open. Matsuyama put on a ball-striking clinic at CordeValle, ranking first in the all-around and making a serious run at the top of the leaderboard. Expect more of the same this week in Las Vegas.

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2) Webb Simpson

Simpson
Kevin Liles - USA TODAY Sports

Even though Simpson went winless in 2013, he closed finding some form and finishing fourth at the Tour Championship. Ranked 13th in scoring average for the last season, he would do well to match or surpass his fourth-place finish here in 2010.

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1) Zach Johnson

Johnson
Peter Casey - USA TODAY Sports

Zach Johnson comes to Las Vegas as the top-ranked player in the field at No. 11 in the world. Johnson is still riding a hot streak that saw him win the BMW Championship and help the American team to FedEx Cup victory. His game fits the course well, as he finished tied for 10th in 2008 in his last appearance at TPC Summerlin.