The 2021-2022 PGA Tour season gets underway at a familiar venue as the players will make their return to Napa Valley for the Fortinet Championship.
This will be the first chance for many of the recent Korn Ferry Tour graduates to tee it up on the bigger stage.
Silverado Country Club measures at around 7,200 yards for a par 72 and has hosted this event since 2014.
The tee ball has been a strong trait of the previous winners here. Whether they bomb it like Cameron Champ or find an accuracy/length balance like Brendan Steele and Emiliano Grillo, having the driver dialed in this week will be key.
Even last year’s winner, Stewart Cink, cited improved length as his reason for winning. All four par 5s are short enough that a solid drive will set up easy birdie chances.
The short game and comfort on Poa greens will be a nice bonus as we shift back to California this week. Adam Hadwin, Brandt Snedeker and Kevin Na all have finished second here and aren’t necessarily known for their ability to drive it long.
Jon Rahm is the clear-cut favorite here at around +400 on most books. With the Ryder Cup a week away, he’s the only member of either team playing this week. His game has been as good as anyone’s all year long, so I don’t think he really need much of a tune-up heading into match play this week.
Normally I’d love it that Rahm is here to drive up the prices on other players. But I’m expecting we’ll get him completely dialed in, and that could be a problem for our bets. He’s only played here once and finished 15th five years ago. The driver was great that week, and he ended up struggling a bit on the greens which held him back.
Webb Simpson is next behind Rahm at +1400 and should be a solid fit here. He’s usually able to gain strokes off the tee with his accuracy and is as good as anyone with the wedges. He hasn’t played here in four years, but he gained 5.5 strokes ball striking that week on his way to a top 20 finish.
Hideki Matsuyama and Kevin Na open up the next group at +2000 and +2200 respectively. Hideki was third here in the first year at Silverado in 2014 but hasn’t done much since here and rarely plays the event. Na plays really well here when the irons are dialed in. He’s entering with top 10s in four of his last six starts, so his form is as good as anyone entering the week outside of Rahm.
Will Zalatoris closes out this range at +2800. The California native should be a good fit as well, but it will come down to the putter as always. If he can be around the field average on the greens, he should be able to contend here.
Of the group, I like Na the most, but I’m not really going to bet him at that type of number, so I’ll keep an eye on him for a slower start and maybe try to get it to drift a bit in the middle of the event.
I’ll start out my card here with Marc Leishman at +5000 on BetMGM. Leishman has a solid track record in California and was third here his last appearance in 2019. I tend to get drawn to him on these courses you don’t need to bomb away on and can just get hot with the wedges and putter, especially if the big names are gone.
|[Bet Marc Leishman at BetMGM and get a risk-free bet up to $1,000.]|
I’ll pepper in a few Korn Ferry Tour longshots starting with Taylor Pendrith at 140/1 on Fanduel. Pendrith is a bomber and a good iron player but has short game trouble. He’s shown that he’ll be able to hang around on this tour in some limited starts though, and I expect him to win somewhere and contend for rookie of the year. At this price, we’ll be in most of the year.
I’ll also go with Aaron Rai at 140/1 on Fanduel. He’s an established European Tour winner who should have picked up a win during the Korn Ferry playoffs in Boise about a month ago. He’s at his best on the shorter courses overseas where the irons and short game are most important.
Next, we’ll go to the recent Korn Ferry Tour Championship winner Joseph Bramlett at 150/1 on Fanduel. Bramlett is another guys with a solid driver and good irons that we’re just waiting to get hot with the putter. Hopefully, he didn’t use all that good short game winning a few weeks ago to earn his tour card back.
The Fortinet Card
- Marc Leishman +5000 (.66 units)
- Taylor Pendrith +14000 (.24 units)
- Aaron Rai +14000 (.24 units)
- Joseph Bramlett +15000 (.22 units)
Total Stake: 1.36 units