The PGA TOUR is back and heads to wine country in Napa Valley, Calif., for the 2023 season opener, the Fortinet Championship. The tournament will be at Silverado Resort and Spa (North), playing as a par 72, measuring 7,123 yards. The greens will be bentgrass mixed with poa annua.
The North course features tree-lined fairways and can get pretty tight around the 300-yard mark, measuring only 24 yards wide. We could see winning scores get into the high-teens as a stock par 72, with four par 5s. The course also features six par 4s measuring between 400 to 450 yards, one over 450 yards and another stepping off under 400. Where golfers can potentially struggle is when they get up to the greens. Silverado features undulating greens and severe runoff areas on seven holes with thick rough surrounding them. Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green leaders and those with an above-average short game could find themselves on the front page of the leaderboard, even if they’re missing their irons. Even though golfers will need to putt well with Silverado playing difficult in approach proximity, golfers will need to be elite with their irons to win this week. Past winners have been a mixed bag of pure ball-strikers like Emiliano Grillo ($9,200) and golfers who hit it long Off-the-Tee like Kevin Tway ($6,300), Cameron Champ ($7,800) and Brendan Steele ($8,900). Still, Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green will be priority No. 1 this week, with winners gaining 25% more strokes with their approach than off the tee and twice as many over putting in the previous five years.
Some of the President’s Cup rosters will be in attendance, and you can bet they’ve been practicing and staying in form leading up to Quail Hollow next week. Hideki Matsuyama ($10,700), Corey Conners ($10,300) and Cam Davis ($9,600) will represent the International Team, while the United States will feature the defending Champion Max Homa ($10,500).
Cam Davis ($9,600)
Davis should feel confident gearing up for next week’s President Cup on a course he’s played relatively well on for two of the previous three years. A 36th-place finish last season and a 17th on debut here in 2018 are good indications he’s keen on playing in California. Two out of three made cuts at The Genesis Invitational, two top 30s and a third-place finish (2021) at The American Express and a 14th (2021) at the AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach are superb indications the big-hitting Aussie loves playing on the West Coast. Sixth in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, 22nd in approach and first in DraftKings points scored over the previous 24 rounds putting him right near the top as a favorite play this week. Taylor Pendrith ($9,800) should also be a daily fantasy golf roster consideration with how well he played coming down the stretch last season. Davis’ International team member gained strokes off the tee in eight straight tournaments to close out last season and finished runner-up at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in July as well as eighth at the BMW Championship, the second leg of the FedExCup Playoffs. A 36th-place finish last season came off poor iron play, a part of his game he improved coming into this year.
Brendan Steele ($8,900)
An inconsistent 2022 season shouldn’t deter you from rostering Steele at one of his favorite tournaments. Some golfers love their “spots.” This week is one of Steeley’s favorite tracks, with two of his three wins at this tournament (Safeway Open). Steele ranks second in Strokes Gained: Total at Silverado and second in Tee-to-Green over the previous 24 rounds.
Carl Yuan ($7,800)
The Fall Swing introduces us to some new faces on TOUR and it’s our opportunity to take some longshots early in the season, especially with golfers coming over from the Korn Ferry Tour (KFT). Justin Suh ($8,200), Taylor Montgomery ($8,500) and Yuan are a few names we’ll be hearing a lot of this season. One of my favorite sleepers from KFT graduate is Yuan, who could be fantastic for Daily Fantasy Golf rosters. He played 22 events last season and missed the cut in nine of them. Still, the tournaments he did make the cut were great, recording nine top-10 finishes, three runners-up and a win (Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by Mistras). Last season he ranked 11th in driving distance, 25th in approach and 14th in scrambling. He was second in par 5 scoring average and first in par 5 birdie or better percentage. Yuan was T5 at the KFT Championship and 38th in the 2020 Summer Olympics, which are positives coming into your first week on the PGA TOUR. He was a streaky player on the KFT, which is what you want with golfers in this salary tier; a wide range of possibilities where his ceiling is high with a risk of a very low floor, hopefully keeping his sentiment low.
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