Out of the Rough: Fortinet Championship (2022)
After a very brief two week “off-season” for the PGA tour, it's back for the upcoming 2022-2023 season. This is the last season we will see this split in the season before the tour goes back to a calendar year season in 2024.
The tour heads to the heart of wine country in the Napa Valley to take on the Fortinet Championship at the North Course at Silverado Country Club.
Silverado Country Club has been the host of the tournament since 2014. This tournament too has served as the opening event of the PGA Tour season dating back to 2013 when the tour began its season in the fall opposed to a calendar year.
Silverado Country Club’s North Course plays as a Par 72 at 7,123 yards.
The course underwent a recent redesign a decade ago under the guidance of tour legend and course co-owner Johnny Miller.
It’s known for its tree lined fairways that also allow for big bombers to have an advantage across the tournament with getting off the tee and setting themselves up.
The fairways tend to narrow heading towards the greens as some reach as small as 23-feet across.
Silverado Country Club’s North Course is also known for its challenging greens that will give even the best of putters fits. The greens are slanted and if the ball is left short, will run off, requiring a skilled around-the-green touch to get up-and-down.
As always, ball striking is key, especially approaching these greens to find the best location to prevent the run offs.
The course features seven par fours between 400-450 yards so keeping an eye on efficiency scores in that distance will be important. There are four par fives in play as well, capitalizing on those holes will be a must for any hopeful winner.
It ends with a par four, par-five and par-four finish meaning no lead will be safe heading into the final three holes. These holes need to be managed correctly on all four days for anyone looking to kick off the season with a victory.
Notable attendees include last year’s winner Max Homa, former Masters’ winner Hideki Matsuyama, next week’s Presidents Cup U.S. Captain’s Assistant Webb Simpson as well as Corey Conners, Taylor Pendrith, Cam Davis, Rickie Fowler and Sahith Theegala.
As the season is set to get under way, we will see the first glimpse of some of the tour rookies who recently were promoted from the Korn Ferry Tour. Notable Korn Ferry graduates include Carl Yuan, Robby Shelton, Paul Haley II and Brandon Matthews just to name a few.
As for weather this week there is little-to-no precipitation in the forecast with highs set to be around 77-degrees with a cooler 70-degrees on Sunday. Wind will peak at 14 miles-per-hour over the course of the four days and is set to be nine miles-per-hour at the lowest. Not ideal in terms of temperature but weather is set to not be a factor.
Important statistics to consider this week include Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (SG: TTG,) Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP,) Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (SG: OTT,) Average Driving Distance, Par Five Average Scoring and Strokes Gained: Around the Green (SG: ATG.)
Leading the charge for this first tournament of the season in this most expensive price range is last year’s winner Max Homa ($10,500.) Going off of last year’s statistical results, Homa was seventh on tour in par five average scoring, 24th in SG: TTG, 25th in SG: OTT, 36th in SG: APR, 52nd in average driving distance and 57th in SG: ATG. Not only has Homa proven that he can win at Silverado, this is a bit of a home event for him. He went to highschool in Santa Clara, California and played his college golf at the University of California, Berkeley which is just an hour away from Silverado Country Club. He is the second highest priced golfer and will arguably be one of the most owned, but that’s for good reason. Also consider Hideki Matsuyama ($10,700.) Matsuyama is an elite ball striker and is known for his iron play. He was sixth on tour last season in SG: APR. He was also 19th in SG: TTG, 32nd in average par five scoring, 46th in SG: ATG, 62nd in average driving distance and 75th in SG: OTT. A player of poise and grace with elite ball placenet to limit his mistakes will do just fine this week. You will be spending up to grab him as he’s the most expensive option, but he’s well worth the money.
One of the headliners of this week’s event is Taylor Pendrith ($9,800.) Pendrith is elite off the tee as he was tenth on the entire tour last season in average driving distance and was 12th in SG: OTT. That will be beneficial here at Silverado Country Club. He’s also 32nd in par five average scoring, 36th in SG: TTG and 89th in SG: APR. He was slightly below average last season around the green but being elite off the tee and competent with his irons will go a long way in limiting strokes this week. Also consider Tom Hoge ($9,300.) Hoge is a name we leaned on heavily last year in the cheaper prices and in this less star filled season opener he’s found his way into this second tier. Now he still is at the bottom of the tier so he will go a long way with lineup flexibility especially with spending up for the likes of Matsuyama or Homa. Last season Hoge showed why he is capable of winning on tour with his win at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am behind the strength of his game in ball striking. He was 11th on tour a season ago in SG: APR. He was also 33rd in SG: TTG, 53rd in par five average scoring, 88th in SG: OTT and 89th in SG: ATG. Now, Hoge was slightly below average in average driving distance but the elite iron play will make up for that this week.
This is routinely a price range I struggle in doing well with but I like the options the module has spit out to us this week. At the very bottom of this price range is Gary Woodland ($8,000.) Now, not to beat a dead horse, but lineup flexibility is half the battle when it comes to DFS and he allows for some creative lineups. He was also 23rd last season in average driving distance, 34th in SG: TTG, 43rd in SG: OTT, 44th in SG: APR, 60th in SG: ATG and 69th in par five average scoring. In other words, he’s very well rounded for this type of event. He’s also +4000 to win and a few of my dollars will be invested there. Also consider Brendan Steele ($8,900) who is at the opposite end of this price range. Steele was one of the tour’s best in terms of SG: OTT last season as he ranked sixth. He was also 26th in SG: TTG, 42nd in average driving distance, 43rd in SG: APP and 91st in par five average scoring. What really limits him is his well below average finish in SG: ATG. We’ll hope he finds the green more often than not and won’t have to do much work around the green this week.
According to my module this week, my favorite for this week’s event can be found in this price range. Not only can he be found here, he can be found at the very bottom. I’m talking about Luke List ($7,000.) List is a very good statistical golfer. Last season he was sixth in SG: TTG, seventh in SG: OTT, 12th in average driving distance and 17th in SG: APR. He ranks very high in the most important statistics I’m taking into consideration this week. He was also 78th in SG: ATG and the only knock to his game was his below average finish in par five average scoring. At +11000 to win, this is easily my favorite bet this week. Also consider Chris Kirk ($7,900) who can be found in the complete opposite of this price range than List. Kirk too ranks high in our module this week for being in this price range. He was tenth a season ago in SG: ATG and was also 20th in SG: TTG, 35th in SG: OTT, 53rd in SG: APR and 98th in average driving distance. The only place he finished below average across the entire season was par five average scoring. I think he’ll have a great season opener as well.
With a smaller field and limited statistical data to go off of for the Korn Ferry Tour graduates, this price range was a bit challenging to weed through but the two options we’ve come up with could help you place high this week in DFS! First off we have Joseph Bramlett ($6,800.) He’s a bomber off the tee and was seventh on the entire tour last season in average driving distance. The rest of his game isn’t all that bad either. He was 39th in SG: OTT, 57th in SG: TTG and 85th in SG: APP. If you need to save a few more dollars, also consider Austin Smotherman ($6,500.) Smotherman ranked in the top 63 in the four most important statistics last season that we’re taking into consideration this week. He was 24th in SG: OTT, 32nd in SG: APR, 49th in SG: TTG and 63rd in average driving distance. I’d say for both Bramlett and Smotherman, their rankings a season ago aren’t too shabby for someone in this bottom price range.