The PGA TOUR is back. Only the one week off between seasons, of course, and that truth is revealed in the quality of the field. Not that it’s in any way a surprise. The TOUR’s finest have just completed the FedExCup and have the Ryder Cup to look forward to. The one exception to that rule is Jon Rahm, who missed plenty of summer action with two positive Covid tests. But the Fortinet Championship and this regular visit to the Silverado Resort is one when we’ve learned to enjoy seeing plenty of new names that have graduated from the second tier – plus other names hoping to be re-invigorated by the simple business of one campaign ending and another beginning. It’s 2021/22 folks. Game on.
Silverado Resort and Spa North
The venue’s North Course hosts and will do so for an eighth straight year. It presents an interesting challenge because it is far from straightforward from the tee, with tight-lines and trees forcing players to think twice about taking driver. Others won’t be so concerned because the rough has never been especially difficult to emerge from.
It’s a Robert Trent Jones Jr. creation with alterations overseen by Johnny Miller ten years ago. RTJ Jr. was also responsible for Le Triomphe, a regular Korn Ferry Tour site, but there is little evidence of the two tracks having overlapping form of any kind.
Perhaps a bigger factor is the grass on the greens. This is California, remember, and there is poa annua on those putting surfaces. Brendan Steele is a two-time winner here, Brandt Snedeker should have won here, Phil Mickelson has gone close, Stewart Cink is defending champion – these guys play poa very, very well.
It’s a par 72 playing at around 7,160 yard according to tee boxes and the quotes back up the notions discussed above. Previous winner Cameron Champ has said: “It just depends on the pins. Sometimes I don’t even care if I’m in the rough, it doesn’t really matter. I’ll just try to position it off the tee. If the pin’s far left, I’ll play the right side. And like I said, I’ll take it in the rough being up there hitting driver.” Justin Thomas said of the greens: “The poa annua’s not very good in the afternoon, very, very bumpy.” Mickelson added: “I think a lot of guys struggle with the poa annua greens, which is a grass that I grew up playing so I’m very comfortable on the greens.” It’s also true that the weather is worth a close watch: players frequently talk of cold mornings affecting the scoring.
The weather for Napa Valley, California is likely to pose few challenges bar the chilly mornings. The week will start cloudy but brighten at the weekend. Temperatures will be in the high 60s, humidity in the 70s, little chance of rain. Breezes of around 12 to 14 mphs are forcast..
Past Champions at the Silverado Resort
The course first hosted the Champions Tour, but Korea’s Sangmoon Bae landed the first PGA TOUR victory, taking control with a third round 65 and holding on in the final round.
Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo claimed the second win and he really ought to have kicked on since then. He has no excuse other than a short game that doesn’t match his super tee to green efforts. Bae has a rather more straightforward explanation for the downturn in his form – he got called up for national service and has never been the same player since.
Brendan Steele claimed back-to-back victories in 2016 and 2017, proving himself an exceptional fit for the test after blowing a 54-hole lead in 2015. It was Brandt Snedeker’s turn to do that in 2018; he led by three with 18 holes to play, but chased down by Kevin Tway.
In 2019 Cameron Champ announced himself at the top table and then 12 months ago something very different happened: veteran Stewart Cink reminded everyone he was still around with a first triumph since he won the British Open in 2009.
Here’s are some entirely FREE Golf suggestions for you this week with MORE for subscribers (DraftKings Prices)
|A list||J. Rahm||$12,100|
|B list||K. Na||$10,000|
|B list||M. McNealy||$8,600|
|C list||B. Snedeker||$8,300|
|C list||N. Taylor||$7,300|
Jon Rahm ($12,100) Rick Gehman (@RickRunGood) reports that Rahm at $12,100 is the most expensive non-TOUR Championship player since 2018 and it feels important to discuss his case. He’s landed seven straight top 10s in his completed starts and 18 of them in his last 24 strokeplay starts. He was T–15 in his only previous course start in 2016 and here’s the clincher: He’s made 14 starts on poa in California, all of them top 30s, 12 top 20s, nine top 10s. Gun.
Kevin Na ($10,000) In great form and might want to prove a point after not getting a Ryder Cup nod. Billy Horschel certainly did that last week at Wentworth and whether or not you believe either had anything to prove matters less than whether they themselves felt or feel it. Regardless, Na was the co-low-scorer two weeks ago at East Lake, hasn’t been outside the top 25 in six starts, has two runner-up finishes in that half dozen, and he has also finished T–2 and T–7 at Silverado.
Maverick McNealy ($8,600) The Californian native has thus far made three cuts in four starts at Silverado, but little else: he’s yet to make a top 50. But he’s a far more accomplished player now than in past visits. He’s been T–2 and T–5 at Pebble Beach, and he closed the 2020/21 season with eight straights weeks of four rounds of golf, seven of them top 30s, .
Brandt Snedeker ($8,600) Snedeker played some neat golf in the early summer, at one point making nine of 10 cuts, five of them top 20s. But he was also fighting form, fitness and grief. Being able to hit the reset button between seasons might seem a little unusual at this stage in the calendar, but it could easily work that way and this is the ideal spot for him to do so. He regularly celebrates his love of poa greens and he’s 4-for-5 at the course with three top 20s including that near-miss in 2018.
Nick Taylor ($7,300) His first three visits to the course were tricky. In fact, he missed the cut every time. But since then he’s played four rounds three times on the trot and twice made the top 10. He also closed last season with a top 10 at Sedgefield in the Wyndham Championship. Strong on poa, highlighted by victory at Pebble Beach in 2020.
Aaron Rai ($7,400) There will be times this season when the English rookie becomes excellent value but this might not be that time. True, he’ll be a little high on excitement, but in the last four weeks he has played three weeks in the Korn Ferry Finals, flown to London for the BMW PGA Championship, and then back right across the Atlantic and the States to California. He’ll be fighting fatigue.
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Here’s Another Alternate of Core Picks For The Fortinet Championship
|A list||W. Zalatoris||$10,500|
|B list||M. Homa||$8,700|
|B list||C. Reavie||$8,500|
|C list||P. Mickelson||$8,100|
|C list||R. Moore||$7,500|
Will Zalatoris ($10,500) No course experience for the newly crowned 2020/21 Rookie of the Year – a boost to the confidence to start with – but he’s enjoyed poa surfaces. Last season he was T–7 at Torrey Pines, T–15 at Riviera and made the cut at Pebble Beach. He injured himself at the British Open, but managed T–8 at TPC Southwind and T–29 at Wyndham before the odd PGA TOUR rules gave him the downside of no Playoffs, but the upside of recueration time.
Max Homa ($8,700) Proved his Californian poa skills earlier this season by going T–18 at Torrey Pines, T–7 at Pebble Beach and winning at Riviera. And the year before? He went T–9, T–14, T–5 at them. He’s 3-for-4 at making the weekend at Silverado and, as a more established performer at this level, can push on and contend.
Chez Reavie ($8,500) Has landed five top 30s in his last seven starts at Pebble Beach including third at the 2019 U.S. Open, he was also T–10 at last year’s visit to Riviera, and, best of all, is his course record. He’s never missed a cut in seven visits, six times he’s finished T–33 or better and he was third last year. Made eight of his last 10 cuts.
Phil Mickelson ($8,100) There’s a big upside to Mickelson at this price. So it’s not about a consistent play, but huge potential. He’s 4-for-5 at the course, with three top 20s including T–3 and T–8 in his first two visits. His ability on poa and in California is well-established. His form? He’s 12-for-19 on the PGA Tour in 2021 and this is among the weakest fields he’ll have faced.
Ryan Moore ($7,500) Moore loves returning to a favored track and this is one of those. He was T–10 on debut in 2015, T–17 when he returned in 2017 and second in 2018. Against that is a missed cut two years ago. We followed him at TPC Deere Run because he loves it there and he delivered T–2. With a low salary he can help us out again.
Denny McCarthy ($6,700) McCarthy continues to be dangerous when the conditions suit and, trust me, they’ll arrive before the year is out. But not here. He’s played the course three times and missed the weekend every time. Four trips to Torrey Pines have yet to reap a top 50, ditto two visits to Pebble Beach, and Riviera has seen him miss two cuts and finish T–37.
Bae had two top 15s at Riviera ahead of his win, Grillo won on greens everyone finds tricky (normally it’s just him), Steele is solid in California, Champ hails from the state, Cink is vastly experienced on poa. Add in the likes of Snedeker and Mickelson playing well here and that looks the play to me: High comfort level at the likes of Riviera, Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines.
Other Player Options For The Fortinet Championship
• Harold Varner III is ultra consistent here: six starts, six cuts made, but still looking for a first top 10.
• Cameron Percy has a neat record here with three top 30s including T–7 in 2019.
• Kiradech Aphibarnrat had a terrible 2020/21 but regained his card with a solid KFT Finals performance and was then T–2 last week at Wentworth. Like Rai, fatigue is an issue, but he admitted to playing with an enjoyable lack of fear after sorting out his playing rights.
COVID-19 and Injury Warning:
Pro DFS players know it makes sense to stay up-to-date on Twitter, DraftKings, FanDuel and-or subscribe to any number of email feeds and whatever to remain up to speed with injuries or COVID-19 withdraws. Players that don’t make the cut are tough enough. Players that don’t play all four rounds (even when pulling out at the last minute) make for a pretty weak lineup.
Go win your lineups and then tell us how you did. Twitter (@FantasyDFSX) is a good place for that.
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