The 2021-22 PGA TOUR season begins this week with the Fortinet Championship at the North Course of Silverado Country Club (par 72, 7,166 yards, bentgrass greens) in Napa, California. Previously known as the Safeway Open, this fall event has been played at Silverado every year since 2014. Finishing at -21, Stewart Cink took home the novelty check in Napa last season, and the average winning score has been -16.6 since Silverado became the host course seven years ago. At this par 72, being a long hitter off the tee is a distinct advantage. All of the last five winners at Silverado have ranked inside the top-15 in driving distance during their victories, and two of these players led their fields in SG OTT. Unsurprisingly, iron play is also crucial at Silverado. Of the seven players to tally a win at this venue, only one of these golfers didn’t finish the tournament inside the top-10 in SG APP.
As a par 72, there are four par fives to attack at Silverado, all of which are reachable in two shots by most of the field. They rank as the four easiest holes on the scorecard and exposing these par fives for at least a birdie will be essential this week. Three of the seven golfers to claim a victory at Silverado have led their fields in SG on the par fives. As usual, par four play is also critical at this track, specifically on par fours that are between 400-450 yards. Six of the 10 par fours at Silverado fall in this range, and three of the past five champions in Napa have ranked in the top-six in efficiency on these specific holes.
While the inaugural Fortinet Championship’s field is weak overall, world No. 1 Jon Rahm and 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama will be teeing up this week in Napa. After the smaller fields for the FedExCup playoffs, we get back to a full field of 156 players this week, and there will be a standard top-65 and ties cutline following the first 36 holes.
Below, I present to you four sub-$7.5K options I will be utilizing on DraftKings for the Fortinet Championship.
Brendan Steele, $7,400
While most will ignore Steele considering he has failed to make the cut in four of his past five starts, I will be rolling the dice on the 38-year-old at this cheap salary. He showed some serious signs of life in his last round, gaining 2.2 strokes on APP en route to a four-under 67 at THE NORTHERN TRUST, and Steele is a true course horse at Silverado.
The California native owns a perfect 7/7 record at this par 72, including back-to-back wins from 2017-18. For this field, Steele ranks first in career strokes gained at Silverado, and for this event last season, he was priced all the way up at $10,000 on DraftKings.
Hudson Swafford, $7,200
Including a T8 in 2014, Swafford has never missed a cut at Silverado in five appearances, and he returns to wine country in immaculate form. In this order, the 34-year-old closed out the 2021 season with a T37 at the Wyndham Championship, a T11 at THE NORTHERN TRUST and then a T17 at the BMW Championship. Swafford shot even par or better in 11 of these 12 rounds, and during this run, his T2G game was simply brilliant, ranking first in ball striking when we compare this field’s last 12 rounds on TOUR.
Combine this compelling form with Swafford’s spotless course record, and the former Georgia Bulldog is arguably the best value on the board this week.
Luke List, $7,100
List ended his 2021 campaign making four of his final five cuts, most notably with a T4 at the John Deere Classic and a T5 at the Barbasol. He has generated positive strokes from T2G in 13 of his last 14 starts and was without question one of the best drivers of the golf ball last season. For the year, List finished eighth in driving distance and 13th in SG OTT. The 36-year-old also ranked 13th in par five efficiency and made 10 of 13 cuts on par 72s, with five top-25 finishes, when we exclude his first round WD from Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship.
Plus, List was in the mix for a win at 2018 Safeway Open, carding a T4 finish, and he is 4/5 in made cuts at this venue for his career. At only $7,100, List is an excellent GPP target that brings much higher upside than his low salary suggests.
Kevin Tway, $6,600
Tway is another inexpensive bomber that needs to be on your radar this week. He recorded the first PGA TOUR victory of his career at Silverado in 2018, and now heads back to Napa making six of his past seven cuts.
Four of these finishes were inside the top-30, and over his last 24 rounds, Tway ranks eighth in driving distance, fourth in SG on par fives, 10th in BOB% and fourth in SGP. He checks every box this week and Tway is a legitimate threat for a top-20 in this weak field.
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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 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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