I hope you enjoyed the one week break! The PGA TOUR’s 2022-23 season officially begins this week with the Fortinet Championship. The event has been played at the Silverado Country Club (North Course) since 2014 and will feature a full field of over 150 golfers, with regular cut rules applying — only the top 65 and ties will play the weekend. This year’s version kicks off the fall swing, but there will be a one week hiatus after this event with the President’s Cup scheduled for next week.
The field this week features a bunch of players who will be partaking in the President’s Cup and three players are ranked in the top 25 in the OWGR. Defending champion Max Homa is the only American President’s Cup team member in the field while Hideki Matsuyama and Corey Conners will both be representing the international side and are both in the field this week (Taylor Pendrith and Cameron Davis will also be on the international side and are both playing). This event will also feature some new names like Justin Suh, MJ Daffue and Harry Hall who have graduated up to the PGA TOUR from the Korn Ferry Tour. These players all come in with good competitive form and could be great flyers in the first event of the new year.
Silverado CC (North) • Napa, CA
7,166 yards, Par 72; Green: Poa Annua/Bentgrass
This will be the eighth year in a row that the players will tee it up at the Silverado CC. The Silverado North course isn’t extremely long, but there are several challenging features about it that will often work to keep the winning score in the mid-to-high teens. Many holes have tighter tee shots — with a few doglegs thrown in — that require some accuracy off the tee. However, many of these holes can also be challenged by longer hitters who don’t mind taking on some risk, and longer hitters have fared well here in past iterations. The driving accuracy numbers here tend to be quite low (often 10% below the PGA TOUR average), so long and straight hitters have an advantage in terms of course setup.
The smaller greens are primarily Poa annua, and players with good records at West Coast venues with similar green types (Riviera, Torrey Pines and Pebble) have often excelled here, as well. Again though, the four shorter par 5s means the course sets up well for those with length. Overall, the four par 5s at Silverado have played as the four easiest holes on the course. With three of them falling within the 550-600 yard mark, looking at efficiency ratings from that distance isn’t a poor idea. Additionally, there are three par 4s that measure in under 400 yards and only two that measure at over 450 yards. The course has a lot of birdie opportunities available, and those who can set themselves up well off the tee on the long and narrow fairways have tended to post the most consistently low scores here.
Recent winners have traditionally averaged much higher in driving distance for the week. In 2020, Stewart Cink averaged 315 yards off the tee and the field also averaged slightly above the PGA TOUR average for driving distance. Max Homa ranked sixth in strokes gained off the tee at this venue last season and averaged over 310 yards per drive. Make sure your players are trending well in tee to green stats and around the green stats, but be sure to emphasize off the tee stats first when researching.
One final note, the warm temperatures and lack of rain in California tend to make the greens at Silverado some of the fastest on the PGA TOUR. If you can find data on players with good records on fast greens, looking to emphasize those players as targets in daily fantasy golf this week could be helpful as well.
2022 Outlook: The late summer weather in California typically doesn’t give us much to worry about. This year appears no different as warm temperatures with little chance for rain seem to be on the horizon. Highs on Thursday and Friday look like they’ll top out in the 77-80° F range with only mild afternoon winds to worry about. The greens will almost certainly play fast this week with the lack of rain, so looking to players who have handled fast green complexes well over their career or in the short term, could certainly be something to monitor. Slightly cooler temperatures look to be in store for the weekend and the heavier air should give more advantage to big hitters.
Last 5 winners
2021—Max Homa -19 (over Maverick McNealy -18)
2020—Stewart Cink -21 (over Harry Higgs -19)
2019—Cameron Champ -17 (over Adam Hadwin -16)
2018—Kevin Tway -14 (over Ryan Moore/Brandt Snedeker playoff)
2017—Brendan Steele -15 (over Tony Finau -13)
Nine of the last 10 winners have all had a finish of T21 or better in one of their past four tournament starts.
Five of the last six winners of the Fortinet Championship made it to the second leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs (BMW or Dell Championships) — none of the past six winners made it to the final 30 of the FedEx Cup Playoffs and the Tour Championship.
Winner’s Stats and Course Overview
Max Homa 2021 (19-under-par)
2021 Lead-in form (T63-T47-T51-T40-T25)
- Recent form has been a decent indicator with most recent winners, although Max Homa wasn’t doing anything exceptional prior to his win here last year. The mini-break did help him reset and the last six winners of this event have all been players who didn’t play in the season ending Tour Championship.
- The venue contains four par 5s, three of which are likely to fall in 550-600 yard range for the week, making efficiency from this range important; on a similar note, seven of the par 4s this week measure in at 400-450 yards.
- The field here has averaged two-plus yards more in driving distance than the PGA TOUR average, suggesting this is a good course for players who dominate with the driver. Driving accuracy remains difficult for the entire field, as it typically trends 8-10% lower than the PGA TOUR average.
- Each of the past five winners at this week’s venue have gained at least +1.6 strokes or more off the tee in the week of their win, with three of the last four winners gaining +2.5 or more OTT.
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
- Taylor Pendrith +3000 and $9,800
- Maverick McNealy +2200 and $9,900
- Sahith Theegala +2800 and $10,000
- Chris Kirk +5000 and $7,900
- Gary Woodland +6000 and $8,000
- Wyndham Clark +6500 and $8,000
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Brendan Steele ($8,900; best finishes: win-2017 and 2016): Steele has won this event twice and hasn’t missed the cut at this event in eight straight years. His consistency off the tee has paid off for him on Silverado’s tight holes.
2. Chez Reavie ($7,600; best finishes: T3-2020, T13-2017): Reavie has been very consistent at this venue despite being a short hitter. The Arizona State graduate has made the cut at this venue/event in 10 straight appearances and has gained over +3.0 strokes on approach in his last five visits.
3. Emiliano Grillo ($9,200; best finishes: win-2015): Grillo won this event back in 2015. He’s been a little hit or miss on the greens at Silverado, but we can say that about Grillo pretty much everywhere. He ended last season on a heater with two runner-up finishes in his last five starts.
4. Patrick Rodgers ($7,300; best finishes: T6-2022, 2015): Rodgers ranks out third in strokes gained total stats at this event over the last five years. The American has made the cut at Silverado five years running and has gained over a stroke putting on the Poa greens at Silverado in each of those five seasons.
5. Chesson Hadley ($7,000; best finishes: T14-2020, T3-2017): Hadley is a streaky player, but when he’s playing well off the tee, he can compete. He has finished inside the top 25 at this event in three of the last four years and has gained over +4.0 strokes putting on these greens twice. He ended last year on a nice uptick and could follow through this week.
1. Taylor Pendrith ($9,800; T8-T68): Pendrith finished second in Detroit in August and backed up his superb play there with a T8 at the BMW against an elite field. The Canadian looks poised to continue his great play in the fall.
2. Justin Suh ($8,200; win-T9): Suh had a great season on the Korn Ferry Tour and posted a T9 and a win in his final two starts in the playoffs. The young American has all the talent in the world and could make a quick impact on the PGA TOUR.
3. Taylor Moore ($7,600; T44-T31-T5): Moore had a great end of year run punctuated by T6 and T5 finishes in August. He displayed elite ball-striking both off the tee and on approach that should bring success at a tighter course like Silverado.
4. Trey Mullinax ($8,300; T12-T5): Mullinex capped off a great comeback in 2022 with a win at the Barbasol. He posted two top-20 finishes in the FedEx Cup playoffs and his length off the tee makes him a prime target for this week’s setup as well.
5. Austin Eckroat ($7,100; 2nd-MC-T12): Eckroat is another Korn Ferry Tour player who comes into this week with momentum. He grabbed a runner-up finish at the KFT Championship and has three top-10 finishes across his last seven starts.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Go balanced with Steele
There’s some decent talent up at the top this week, but with the President’s Cup on the mind of some of the entrants, I'd still look to a more balanced approach in cash games. Brendan Steele ($8,900) gives us all the good feels in this event for daily fantasy golf with a salary that is under 9k in price and some great recent form that includes him ranking out first in strokes gained off the tee stats over the last 50 rounds. Steele’s prowess off the tee fits perfectly with Silverado and that fact is of course amplified by his two wins at this event. We have lots of easy targets to pair Steele with as well. Cameron Davis ($9,600) and Taylor Pendrith ($9,800) have been ATM machines in DFS of late and fit perfectly with our strong OTT approach at this venue. Trey Mullinax ($8,300) is another player who ended 2021-22 extremely well and looks like a huge value at under 8.5k given how he ended last season.
Tournaments (GPPs): Think on Theegala for upside
One theme I’ll be focusing on this fall is younger players in their early-to-mid 20s who are looking to breakthrough on the PGA TOUR for that elusive first win. We witnessed Sahith Theegala ($10,000) come ever so close to achieving that goal multiple times on the PGA TOUR in the 2021-22 season, and there’s really no reason to think the confidence he gained in his rookie year won’t flow into some big time finishes this fall. From a DFS perspective, the 10k salary should also help keep ownership low in big fields. Another young player of similar ilk is Justin Suh ($8,200), who is now entering his rookie year and coming off a win in his last start at the Korn Ferry Finals. Suh isn't the biggest hitter but that narrative should help keep ownership lower on him. He’s a west coast born and raised player so familiarity should help breed confidence this week as well. Other potential GPP targets thus week include Brandon Wu ($7,000), Harry Hall ($6,700) and Byeong-Hun An ($6,500).
MY PICK: Davis Riley ($8,600)
The fall season is when we should be looking to back some of the young talent on the PGA TOUR for potential breakthrough wins. Riley posted five top 10s last season, including a playoff loss at Valspar and a T4 at the Charles Schwab where he held the lead with seven holes to play. The learning experiences in those spots will be key but those performances also might indicate a preferred setup. Copperhead and Colonial are both tight, driving venues with lower than usual driving accuracy numbers. Riley excelled at both and it feels like he’ll have a great shot at replicating his past success at those venues at Silverado.
The American ranks out ninth in this field in strokes gained off the tee stats over the last 50 rounds and, interestingly enough, he’s grouped right around former Silverado winners in Max Homa and Emiliano Grillo in that statistical category. At six different events in 2022, Riley gained 2.5 strokes off the tee or more and this event will mark the first time he’ll be getting an official second look at a PGA TOUR venue after completing his rookie season. Ranked third in DraftKings points gained over the last 50 rounds, a rested and sharper Riley should means we should have a good chance of seeing his A-game this week, which would mean plenty of birdie and eagle chances on a course with multiple short par 5s. At +3500 he’s got a big enough number for me to back in the outright market on the DraftKings Sportsbook as well.
MY SLEEPER: Luke List ($7,000)
Silverado certainly has a type and as a GPP flyer, it’s interesting to see one of the most prolific off the tee ball-strikers lurking down in the 7k-range. Luke List didn't exactly have a banner end of the year as a T61 is the biggest highlight on his resume over his last five starts. However, we can hardly fault a guy for a little end of season fatigue, especially after he expended so much energy early in grabbing his first ever PGA TOUR win at the Farmers back in January.
List is back on another Par 72 West Coast venue this week in Silverado, and it’s one where his prowess off the tee could again lead to something special. List (who ranks third in strokes gained off the tee stats over the last 50 rounds) has performed well at Silverado, again calling attention to the impact distance off the tee can have on this course. Over five career appearances, List has made the cut four times and finished T4 at this event back in 2018, gaining 5.9 strokes OTT that year. It’s always an adventure on the greens with List, but he certainly handled quick Poa greens well at Torrey Pines last season. At just 7k in salary he’s a great GPP flyer to use in your big field lineups and a player with great course history who should have minimal ownership on him this week.
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