The 2022-23 PGA TOUR season kicks off this week with the Fortinet Championship, formerly known as the Safeway Open. This season-opening event will be played at the North Course (par 72, 7,123 yards, POA/Bentgrass greens) of Silverado Country Club in Napa, California, which has been the case since 2014. Last season, Max Homa (-19) picked up the third PGA TOUR win of his career at the Fortinet Championship, edging out Maverick McNealy by one shot.
The North Course is a parkland venue that is very short for a par 72. While the fairways are narrow, the rough isn’t penalizing at all and successfully navigating this course if you miss the fairways isn’t an issue. Combine this factor with the North Course’s modest length and this is a track that naturally favors bombers. A year ago, Homa proved this, being the third champion at Silverado CC over the last five years to collectively finish in the top five in SG OTT and in the top 15 in driving distance during their wins. The greens at the North Course are larger than the PGA TOUR average, but impressive work with your irons will still be essential to succeed this week, with four of the past victors in Napa finishing the tournament inside the top-13 SG APP.
As previously mentioned, the North Course is a shorter par 72 and all four of the par fives at this course should be reachable in two shots by most of the field. Predictably, these four holes rank as the easiest holes on the scorecard and exposing these holes for at least a birdie is a requirement to contend at the North Course. Of the past five champions of this fall PGA TOUR stop, three ranked T3 or better in SG on the par fives. While to a slightly lesser degree, being efficient on the par fours will also be important, specifically on the par fours ranging from 400-450 yards. Six of the 10 par fours at the North Course land in this range and three of the last five champions at this par 72 have finished the week inside the top-six in SG on these holes.
As usual, the Fortinet Championship’s field is underwhelming with most of the best PGA TOUR players choosing to sit this week out to extend their offseason. Only three of the top-25 players in the world will be making the trip to wine country this week, with Homa currently the betting favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook at +1000 as he defends his title. Following the smaller-sized tournaments for the FedEx Cup Playoffs, the Fortinet Championship is full field of 156 players and there will be a standard top-65 and ties cut taking place after the second round.
Below, I dive into four of my favorite bargain plays on DraftKings this week, which all cost less than $7.5K.
Michael Gligic ($7,400) – After a rocky start to his season, Gligic’s game came alive this past spring and summer, only missing one cut in 10 starts since the beginning of May. During this stretch, the Canadian posted five top-25 finishes, gained strokes OTT at seven events and shot even par or better in his 76% of his rounds. Furthermore, Gligic ranks third in SG on par fives and 21st in driving distance over his last 24 rounds, certainly setting him up well for a visit to Silverado CC, where Gligic has never missed a weekend in three appearances. The 32-year-old finished T14 here in 2020 and brings similar upside this week.
Patrick Rodgers ($7,300) – Rodgers owns a very encouraging resume at the North Course. The Stanford product has competed at this par 72 every year since the venue became a PGA TOUR host, making six cuts and recording a pair of T6 finishes, one of which came just last year. Now, Rodgers returns to Silverado CC as the maker of 11 of his past 14 cuts, with eight of these finishes being top-40 results. Additionally, Rodgers closed out last season gaining strokes OTT in 10 of his final 12 starts and ranks sixth in SG on par fives over the past 24 rounds. Rodgers checks all the boxes this week and is one of the safest bets to advance through the cut in this price range.
Callum Tarren ($7,200) – Tarren missed the weekend at the Fortinet Championship last season, but we shouldn’t hold this against the up-and-coming player. This was Tarren’s debut on the PGA TOUR after graduating from the Korn Ferry Tour and the 31-year-old is a far better player a year removed from this start. Tarren entered that week as the 437th ranked golfer in the world but comes into this week ranking 278th, thanks to a very promising conclusion to his first season on TOUR. In Tarren’s final seven starts of the rookie campaign, he produced five top-25 finishes, including a T6 at the John Deere Classic and T7 at the 3M Open. Ranking 13th in driving distance and 12th in SG on par fives across his past 24 rounds, Tarren has the tools to flourish at the North Course and he should redeem himself with a solid finish in his second attempt in Napa.
Luke List ($7,000) – While List missed 13 of his 28 cuts last season, he still flashed great upside, with seven top-25 finishes, including a win at the Farmers Insurance Open in which he defeated Will Zalatoris in a playoff. Since turning professional, List has always been regarded as one of the best drivers of the golf ball on the PGA TOUR and this past season was no exception, with him ranking seventh and 15th in SG OTT and driving distance, respectively. Unsurprisingly at a bomber-friendly venue like the North Course, List has been successful, making five-of-six cuts. Most notably, the 37-year-old carded a T4 finish at this par 72 in 2018. That week, List finished first in driving distance, second in SG OTT and ended the tournament with a 5-under 67 — which tied for the lowest number of the weekend — putting him only one-shot outside of the three-man playoff that was won by Kevin Tway. List clearly loves competing at the North Course and is a hard value play to argue against at his soft price.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Hunta512) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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