Best bets for the PGA Tour Fortinet Championship

61
 

Fortinet Championship

With the PGA Tour reverting to a calendar-year schedule beginning in January, the tournaments that follow the Tour Championship have taken on a new significance. The FedExCup Fall was created and begins this week at the Fortinet Championship.

 

The Ryder Cup is in two weeks and while all of Team Europe is in England this week for the DP World Tour’s BMW PGA Championship, only two of Team USA is represented in this week’s Fortinet Championship, although all of Team USA was in Rome at Marco Simone this past week getting a look at the course. Max Homa (+750) is the back-to-back defending champion of this event. He is joined near the top of the odds board by Ryder Cup teammate Justin Thomas (14-1).

Sahith Theegala (20-1) finished sixth here last year and is still knocking on the door for his first PGA Tour victory with four top-10s in 2023 after two runners-up in 2022. Cam Davis (25-1) finished his 2022-23 PGA Tour season with three top-10 finishes in his last four events. Stephan Jaeger (31-1) has been consistent in 2023, missing only two cuts in 22 events and posting seven top-20s but just one top-10.

Beau Hossler (35-1) is also looking for his maiden tour victory. Eric Cole (35-1) is a PGA Tour Rookie of the Year candidate and made the FedExCup Top 50 courtesy of a runner-up at the Honda Classic and two other top-6 finishes.

Aside from Homa, other former Fortinet winners include 2020 champion Stewart Cink (90-1), 2019 champion Cameron Champ (66-1), 2018 champ Kevin Tway (300-1), 2014 winner Sang-moon Bae (600-1) and 2013 winner Jimmy Walker (175-1).

The Event

The Fortinet Championship began in 2007 as the Fry’s Electronics Open. Cybersecurity company Fortinet, based in nearby Sunnyvale, Calif., took over in 2021 from retail grocer Safeway, Inc. (2016-2020) as the title sponsor. It also marks the beginning of FedExCup Fall. Below is an explanation of how the new fall format works:

Tournaments in the FedExCup Fall offer winners the same benefits as regular-season events — including a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour, 500 FedExCup points and spots in The Players, The Sentry and those major championships that invite PGA Tour winners.

But the FedExCup Fall also is when top-125 eligibility, which provides exempt status into full-field events and a spot in The Players, is finalized for the following season.

At the conclusion of the FedExCup Playoffs, players ranked 51st and beyond in the FedExCup will continue to compete for points in the fall. They will begin the fall with all points earned in the regular season and the first FedExCup Playoffs event, the FedEx St. Jude Championship.

Additionally, the top 10 players on the FedExCup Points List at the conclusion of the FedExCup Fall who are not yet eligible for the signature events will get into the two signature events following the season-opening The Sentry. This allows for trending players to emerge from the FedExCup Fall and test their skills against the game’s best.

Nos. 51-70 in the FedExCup at the start of the fall have already clinched their top-125 eligibility for the following year but are competing for spots in the first two signature events following The Sentry.

Nos. 71 and beyond can earn one of the 10 spots available in those signature events but they also are competing to finish in the top 125 of the FedExCup standings at the conclusion of the fall.

At the end of the FedExCup Fall, those who rank from 126-150 on the final FedExCup Fall Points List will have conditional status for the 2024 PGA Tour Season.

All players outside the top 125 can improve or regain tour status via PGA Tour Q-School presented by Korn Ferry.

Players in the top 50 of the FedExCup after the Tour Championship are guaranteed top-125 eligibility and their spots in all signature events for the following season, but they can continue to play FedExCup Fall events to pursue trophies, play in some of their favorite events and earn valuable perks like Official World Golf Ranking points.

The Field

Tyson Alexander

Ryan Armour

Arjun Atwal

Aaron Baddeley

Sangmoon Bae

Ricky Barnes

Jacob Bergeron

Christiaan Bezuidenhout

Akshay Bhatia

Fred Biondi

Zac Blair

Devon Bling

Cyril Bouniol

Scott Brown

Wesley Bryan

Jonathan Byrd

Greg Chalmers

Cameron Champ

Kevin Chappell

Henry Chung

Stewart Cink

Eric Cole

Trevor Cone

Austin Cook

Ben Crane

MJ Daffue

Joel Dahmen

Cam Davis

Morgan Deneen

Zecheng Dou

Jason Dufner

Tyler Duncan

Nico Echavarria

Austin Eckroat

Harrison Endycott

Derek Ernst

Dylan Frittelli

Tommy Gainey

Brice Garnett

Brian Gay

Ryan Gerard

Doug Ghim

Michael Gligic

Will Gordon

Tano Goya

Brent Grant

Cody Gribble

Lanto Griffin

Chesson Hadley

James Hahn

Paul Haley

Harry Hall

Nick Hardy

Scott Harrington

Blake Hathcoat

Lucas Herbert

Jim Herman

Kramer Hickok

Garrick Higgo

Harry Higgs

Charley Hoffman

J.B. Holmes

Max Homa

Beau Hossler

Mark Hubbard

Mackenzie Hughes

Stephan Jaeger

Zach Johnson

Tom Johnson

Sung Kang

S.H. Kim

Kevin Kisner

Patton Kizzire

Russell Knox

Satoshi Kodaira

Kelly Kraft

Matt Kuchar

Peter Kuest

Martin Laird

Derek Lamely

Andrew Landry

Nate Lashley

Hank Lebioda

K.H. Lee

David Lipsky

Luke List

Adam Long

Justin Lower

Peter Malnati

Ben Martin

Brandon Matthews

William McGirt

Max McGreevy

Troy Merritt

Taylor Montgomery

Ryan Moore

Matt NeSmith

S.Y. Noh

Alex Noren

Henrik Norlander

Andrew Novak

Augusto Núñez

Sean O’Hair

Geoff Ogilvy

Ryan Palmer

C.T. Pan

Taylor Pendrith

Cameron Percy

Scott Piercy

D.A. Points

Ted Potter, Jr.

Andrew Putnam

Chad Ramey

Chez Reavie

Doc Redman

Kevin Roy

Sam Ryder

Matti Schmid

Matthias Schwab

Robby Shelton

Chase Sienkiewicz

Greyson Sigg

Webb Simpson

Austin Smotherman

J.J. Spaun

Hayden Springer

Kevin Stadler

Scott Stallings

Kyle Stanley

Sam Stevens

Robert Streb

Kevin Streelman

Chris Stroud

Brian Stuard

Justin Suh

Preston Summerhays

Callum Tarren

Ben Taylor

Sahith Theegala

Justin Thomas

Davis Thompson

Brendon Todd

D.J. Trahan

Martin Trainer

Kevin Tway

Erik van Rooyen

Jimmy Walker

Nick Watney

Trevor Werbylo

Richy Werenski

Kyle Westmoreland

Vince Whaley

Dylan Wu

Carson Young

Kevin Yu

Carl Yuan

The Course

The Silverado Country Club’s North Course in Napa, Calif., has hosted since 2014. The course’s first major redesign occurred in 1966 by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and then again in 2011 by Johnny Miller. It plays a par-72 of 7,123 yards. The course has played at about a stroke under par on average over the last five years (16th easiest on tour).

The Bermuda fairways with Poa Annua and Ryegrass are narrower (second narrowest on tour) than tour average (25.5 yards wide on average). Miller wanted to reconfigure the bunkering on this course to create a bit of an "Augusta" type feel. A strong, balanced game off the tee (both distance and accuracy) is required here because the three-inch Bluegrass/Ryegrass Rough can be tricky.

Although there is some rolling terrain and a couple of holes with elevation changes, it is predominately a flat course. With only two holes with water hazards in play (seventh fewest) and only 50 bunkers (fifth fewest), there just aren’t that many ways for golfers to score bogey or worse.

Players will be hitting into Bentgrass/Poa Annua (11.5 stimpmeter) greens that are elevated with shaved run-offs and can be bumpy. The greens also average 6,200 square feet. Eight years is not a huge sample size, but West Coast players have fared relatively well on these Bent/Poa greens with Max Homa, Cameron Champ and Brendan Steele, all California guys, winning here recently.

Comparable courses include Detroit Golf Club, TPC River Highlands, TPC San Antonio, TPC Deere Run, TPC Twin Cities, TPC Scottsdale.

Fortinet Championship Recent History

2022: Max Homa (-16/272); 10-1

2021: Max Homa (-19/269); 60-1

2020: Stewart Cink (-21/267); 200-1

2019: Cameron Champ (-17/271); 150-1

2018: Kevin Tway (-14/274); 66-1*

2017: Brendan Steele (-15/273); 33-1

2016: Brendan Steele (-18/270); 50-1

2015: Emiliano Grillo (-15/273); 50-1**

2014: Sang-moon Bae (-15/273); 150-1

Playoff win over Ryan Moore and Brandt Snedeker – *

Playoff win over Kevin Na – **

Trends and Angles

— Every Fortinet Championship winner at Silverado, with the exception of Homa in 2021 (42nd), has ranked seventh or better in Scrambling during their respective winning weeks. (2022: Homa third; 2020: Cink second; 2019: Champ first; 2018: Tway first; 2017: Steele seventh; 2016: Steele fifth; 2015: Grillo fifth; 2014: Bae fourth).

— The Fortinet Championship winner has been rated in the top 8 or better for Driving Accuracy during their respective winning weeks.

Statistical Analysis

Last year, Silverado ranked as the 10th toughest to gain strokes on approach on the PGA Tour.

Strokes Gained Approach (Last 50 rounds)