September 13, 2023, 1:36 pm
The PGA “Fall Swing” is here after a long two-week hiatus. In previous seasons, this would indicate the beginning of a new season on the PGA Tour, but this year sees some dramatic changes to the schedule.
FedExCup points are still going to be accrued for those in the field who did not finish inside the top 50 of this past season’s standings. It is a little bit of a mess how they are doing this but here is my best attempt at summarizing everything:
- Those who finished inside the top 50 are qualified for Signature Events next season and can compete in the FedExCupFall events, but only for money and not accrue and FedExCup points.
- Those who finished 51-70 are guaranteed their Tour eligibility but can continue to earn points to make themselves eligible for the first two Signature Events (after the Sentry Tournament of Champions).
- Those who finished the season at 71 and beyond are competing to be inside the top 125 by the end of the FedExCupFall and receive an exemption for all full-field events and the PLAYERS Championship in 2024.
- All winners of events during the FedExCupFall series will receive invites to the Sentry Tournament of Champions, PLAYERS Championship, the Masters and the PGA Championship (if not already qualified).
Now that we got that out of the way, we can focus on this week for the Fortinet Championship played at Silverado Resort & Spa (North Course). Max Homa has gone back-to-back and will be looking for the ever-elusive three-peat.
The fields will be weak all fall, but there is still money to be made, so let’s dive in.
Silverado Resort & Spa (North Course) will once again play host to the Fortinet Championship this week as golfers have get a taste of Napa Valley.
Playing as a par-72 at just under 7,200 yards, Silverado ranked the 816h easiest course on tour last season. Water hazards are few and far between in wine country and there is a remarkably low bunker count on the North Course (50). The lack of hazards leads to a lot of birdies and not a lot of opportunity to make bogey, as long as golfers aren’t completely off their games.
Not surprisingly, the four par-5s on the course play as the four easiest holes on the course, with all of them yielding a birdie over 35% of the time with the 538-yard 5th playing the easiest, surrendering a birdie nearly 50% of the time. There are four par-3s as well with three of them ranking as three of the four hardest holes on the course (holes 2,7, &15). Only one of them plays over 200 yards (hole 7 plays at 212 yards), while the others fall in the 175–200-yard bucket. The par-4s are predominately pretty short by PGA Tour standards with six of them playing between 400-450 yards and three of them playing between 350-400 yards. The longest par-4 hole on the course is the 13th and plays at 458 yards and is the second hardest hole on the course (a bogey is made here about 20% of the time).
Off the tee is the most challenging part of the course for golfers at Silverado. Narrow fairways lead to a lot of approach shots out of the rough. However, the three-inch rough is often not a problem for golfers to combat, especially given how short many of the holes are.
The short yardages mean that there will be a lot of wedges coming into play on approach shots, as nearly 30% of second shots come from 100-150 yards out. This course often sees a below-tour-average distribution of shots from the 150+ yardage range.
As is traditional with most West Coast courses, the greens this week are predominately Poa annua, but do have some bentgrass mixed in as well. There are some tricky run-off areas that can expose a poor around the green game, and putting on these Poa surfaces can be a bit difficult, especially for those not accustomed to this surface.
Here is a link to a flyover of the course:
As will be the case with all of these fall events, the field is…not great, Bob! We do get some star power up top this week with two-time defending champion (and Fortinet sponsor) Max Homa as well as Justin Thomas doing some last-minute prep for the upcoming Ryder Cup. The other two top 50 players in the world (via OWGR) include Sahith Theegala, a California native, as well as the Aussie Cam Davis.
As of this writing, we have seen a withdrawal from Yuxin Lin. Yes, that is a real golfer and yes, I have never heard of him.
Cyril Bouniol, Blake Hathcoat, Henry Chung, and Jacob Bergeron are your Monday qualifiers for the week. This week is a full-field 156-player event.
Here are the key stats I am considering when building my lineups this week.
- SG: Approach– Iron play is always on this list and forever will be. It is the most correlated long-term stat with success. Winners have on average picked up over one stroke per round on approach at Silverado.
- Birdie or Better %– Scoring is going to be a theme throughout this write-up. We want golfers who are making birdies and not going through the motions with pars. That will not cut it this week.
- SG: ARG– As mentioned above, there are some tricky run-off areas around the green. We want to make sure the golfers we roster and bet on aren’t going to make a disaster out of these situations.
- Par 5 Scoring- In a potential birdie fest/low-scoring environment, we want our golfers to get after the par-5s, especially when the four on the course are the four most gettable.
- Proximity 100-150- With the lack of length on this course, being dialed in with the wedges will be important to set up birdie opportunities. I am also okay with adding the 75–100-yard range to this as well given how short most of these par-4s are.
Follow me on Twitter @mlafem10 for additional thoughts as the week goes on and I’d be happy to help out with any lineup questions you have. Let’s make some money!
DFS Top Tier Play
Cam Davis ranks number one in my model when looking at all the key stats for this week (over the past 24 rounds). Even if we bump the sample size up to the past 50 rounds, Davis ranks third. Not that a model is the end all be all, especially in golf, but there is a lot to like about Davis this week. Davis is one of the top iron players in the field, which is always going to catch my eye, especially in a weaker field event like this. We have also seen Cam Davis show the ability to fill up the scorecard with birdies (ranks 9th in the field in birdies or better over the past 24 rounds) as we saw when he was victorious in Detroit (which happens to be a pretty comparable course to Silverado) back in 2021. Adding to the list, Davis has one of the best around-the-green games in the field and ranks second in par-5 scoring (over the past 24 rounds). I could also see Davis getting a little squeezed with ownership as most of the field will flock to Max Homa at $11,000 (which is very affordable) and Sahith Theegala right below him at $9,800. You could plug Davis as the second guy into your lineup if you wanted to, but I am more than okay starting my lineups with him as well.
Others Considered: Sahith Theegala ($9,800), Eric Cole ($9,500)
DFS Mid-Tier Play
Bhatia was able to claim his first victory on tour a few months ago in an alternate event at the Barracuda Championship. The 21-year-old decided to skip college and work his way up the ranks and I am sure that is not the last time we see the talented youngster in the winner’s circle. The $8,700 price tag screams as a value play to me given the strength of this field and the talent that Bhatia has. Akshay has the complete game and typically gains off the tee, with his irons and around the green. The putting can be a little shaky at times, but in his limited rounds on Poa annua surfaces, he has gained strokes with the putter, which is more than we can say on Bermuda and bentgrass. He may dome with some ownership because people like being early to the party on young guns who show promise, but not enough to get me off of him, especially if we start out lineups with Davis instead of Homa.
Others Considered: Dyland Wu ($7,600), Mark Hubbard ($8,300)
DFS Value Play
There is nothing sexy about clicking Lashley’s name, but he is always one of my favorite low-priced options to play. Lashley has a lot of consistency to his game (17/24 made cuts last year) and has flashed some upside in Napa with two top-20 finishes in six visits. Nate is an exceptional putter on Poa surfaces which can be a real weapon this week, given how much scoring is expected. Other than his lack of distance off the tee, Lashley (over the past 24 rounds) doesn’t rank outside of the top 50 in any of the key statistics I am weighing this week. He does rank inside the top 10 in the par-4s 400-450 yards. His projected ownership is nothing of concern and given our lineup construction could be an excellent last man in our a strong 5th man.
Others Considered: Matthew NeSmith ($7,200), Stewart Cink ($7,300)
Sahith Theegala +1800 (1U-FD)
Andrew Putnam +4000 (.4U-FD)
Brendon Todd +4500 (.4U-FD)
Austin Eckroat +8000 (.2U-FD)
Position Player Name DK Salary G Cam Davis $11,100 G Akshay Bhatia $8,700 G Nate Lashley $7,400 G G G REMAINING BUDGET $23,800 for 3 golfers