This article is part of our DraftKings PGA DFS Picks series.
Winner's Share: $1.44M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the winner
Location: Napa, Calif.
Course: Silverado Resort & Spa (North)
2021 champion: Max Homa
Now that the PGA Tour has just completed a season unlike any other in their history, they will now embark on ... another season unlike any other in their history.
The Fortinet Championship kicks off the 2022-23 campaign with a pretty decent field, and a very good one considering the Presidents Cup is next week. More on the field in a minute. But first, there's a lot of unpack off the course.
The PGA Tour surely has not seen the last of the LIV Golf defections -- Mito Pereira has long been rumored to be out the door immediately following his participation for the International Team next week. But the general feeling is that the pipeline from Ponte Vedra Beach to, um, Saudi Arabia (?) has slowed. For the time being.
Twelve months from now, we will have a much better sense of the short- and long-term ramifications for professional golf over the next decade and beyond. By then, we'll have seen:
- The top 20-plus players compete against each other some 20 times in a series of elevated events and for significantly higher purses.
- Where all four majors stand on the admission of LIV golfers.
- The DP World Tour and LIV back in court for a February hearing that could determine whether LIV golfers continue to gain entry into European Tour events.
- A possible OWGR ruling on whether LIV tournaments earn world ranking points -- which could be the most important development of all and, depending on the outcome, could lead to further litigation.
- Who else leaves for LIV, be they established Tour players or future stars from the college/amateur ranks.
- What LIV really looks like once the new-car smell has worn off. It would not be a surprise to see larger fields than the current 48, and tournaments extended to four rounds and with a cut.
One more big change on the horizon will be the end of the wraparound season after a decade largely filled with discontent by the top players. Beginning in 2024, the PGA Tour season will run from January to August. That means next year's Fortinet and the entire Fall Swing will not dispense FedExCup points. There will still be a lot of cash to be won, but the tournaments will have no bearing on the playoffs.
All of that is far down the road, though, so let's jump right into the 2022-23 PGA Tour lid-lifter. If you want more information for this week and beyond, check out RotoWire's voluminous preview package, which includes player rankings, DFS strategy and so much more.
Fortinet, a global security firm that signed on for six years, is back for a second go-round as title sponsor of the old Safeway Open. Last year, host Johnny Miller and tournament organizers were greeted by then-world No. 1 Jon Rahm the week before the Ryder Cup. This year, it welcomes perhaps the biggest global get this side of Tiger Woods -- Hideki Matsuyama. The Japanese superstar and key to the all-important Asian golf market was rumored to be LIV-bound, but as of now he has stayed with the PGA Tour. He will head to the Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow next week, but not before putting more eyeballs on Miller's tournament.
Defending champion Max Homa is also on hand before heading to North Carolina, along with fellow President Cuppers Corey Conners, Cam Davis and Taylor Pendrith. Other notables include Rickie Fowler, Sahith Theegala, Davis Riley, Jason Day, Harris English, Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar, Gary Woodland and 2020 champion Stewart Cink. Forty-eight of the 50 incoming Korn Ferry grads will be on hand, led by Justin Suh, who won the KF Tour Championship. The USC alum was part of the famed class of 2019 along with Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland and Matthew Wolff.
In years past, California wildfires came a little too close to Silverado Resort for comfort, but that is not expected to be the case this year, even though there are numerous fires burning in northern California. As you may recall four years ago, just hours after the tournament ended, wildfires crept onto the edge of the Silverado property. The resort was evacuated, and that included players staying overnight. No one was hurt, and the grounds and golf course were largely unscathed. It serves as a permanent reminder that there always is a threat in this area at this time of year.
This is the ninth year that Silverado has been the host course and the eighth time this event has opened the season since the Tour went to the wrap-around schedule in 2013-14.
Miller overhauled the track in 2011 with the hopes of one day attracting a U.S. Open or PGA Championship. He thought getting Woods to play would help. And for a couple of years, Miller did have visions of Woods showing up -- mostly because Woods said he would, first in 2016 and then in 2017, only to play the part of Lucy yanking the football away just as Charlie Brown was about to kick it. Now, of course, there is no shot Woods will ever play Miller's tournament. But he does still have a pretty good field this year.
Silverado is not long. It is heavily tree-lined with narrow fairways, a few of which are dog legs, though that hasn't deterred the biggest hitters from freely letting fly. Still, hitting the fairways matters here. In the past, there has been a lower percentage of driving accuracy, which leads to lower greens-in-regulation numbers, which ramps up the emphasis on scrambling. Most of the time, putting has not been paramount in determining a winner, notably because most of the golfers have found the going tough on the bentgrass/poa surfaces. The greens are average in size, averaging a little more than 6,000 square feet, and run around 11.5 on the Stimpmeter. Water comes into play on only two holes.
Silverado usually lands somewhere in the middle of the pack on the difficulty meter among all courses. Last season, it ranked 32nd hardest among the 50 on Tour, when Homa won at 19-under par, a year after Cink took home the trophy at 21-under.
Three of the four hardest holes tend to be the par-3s. Conversely, the finishing trio of Nos. 16-18 are generally among the easier holes, which is to be expected when two of them are semi-reachable par-5s and the other is a 375-yard par-4.
Weather-wise, it should be a spectacular week with high temperatures in the 70s, moderate wind and virtually no chance of rain.
Key Stats to Winning at Silverado
The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key Stats" follow in importance.
• Strokes Gained: Approach/Greens in Regulation
• Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green/Scrambling
• Driving Distance/Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
• Birdie Average/Birdie or Better Percentage
2021 - Max Homa (Silverado)
2020 - Stewart Cink (Silverado)
2019 - Cameron Champ (Silverado)
2018 - Kevin Tway (Silverado)
2017 - Brendan Steele (Silverado)
2016 - Brendan Steele (Silverado)
2015 - Emiliano Grillo (Silverado)
2014 - Sangmoon Bae (Silverado)
2013 - Jimmy Walker (CordeValle GC)
2012 - Jonas Blixt (CordeValle GC)
What we've seen in recent years is that ball strikers excel here. Grillo and Steele are great from tee to green and then become challenged once on the putting surface. In fact, in the eight years the tournament has been played at Silverado, we have seen some really horrible putting rewarded. Now, part of that is just the difficulty in negotiating poa. Homa ranked 14th in Strokes Gained: Putting and Cink was 13th -- far from terrible but they won based on the rest of their game. Homa ranked sixth in SG: Off-the-Tee, 12th in Approach and fifth in Around-the-Green. In the prior seven years, the winner ranked in the top-7 in the field in scrambling, including Cink. Really, the winner can come from great tee-to-green play with just enough putting to get by. If there's a ball striker who can putt, all the better. The over/under on the winning score on golfodds.com was set at 269.5 -- 18.5 under par. That's the same as last year, when Homa came through at 19-under.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap
Tier 1 Values
Hideki Matsuyama - $10,700 (Winning odds at the DraftKings Sportsbook: +1600)
Matsuyama is no stranger to Silverado, having played here four times, tying for sixth last year and third way back in 2014. He surely fits the profile of a great tee-to-green game. Finishing sixth last year, his putting was almost enough. Matsuyama seems to be over the neck issues that slowed him last season. After withdrawing from the Northern Trust, he played all eight rounds at the BMW Championship and TOUR Championship.
Max Homa - $10,500 (+1000)
Even though Matsuyama is the priciest DFS option, the Sportsbook honor goes to Homa, and by a wide margin. That price of 10-1 seems quite aggressive, but the $10,500 number surely is more manageable. Homa is coming off his best season, which began with winning here last year. He won again at the Wells Fargo and finished with a tie for fifth at the TOUR Championship. Homa is a pretty good ball striker and a very good putter.
Taylor Pendrith - $9,800 (+3000)
The Canadian returned from a four-month injury absence to finish last season with a flourish, and it was enough to get him selected as a International captain's pick in the Presidents Cup (also thanks to some LIV defections). In six events to close the season, Pendrith had a runner-up at the Rocket Mortgage, another top-10 at the BMW in the playoffs and four other top-15s. And before his injury, Pendrith was top-15 at THE PLAYERS. He ranked 10th on Tour in greens in regulation and 26th in birdie average.
Cam Davis - $9,600 (+2200)
As we discussed often last season, Davis did most of his best work on shorter tracks, which was surprising for such a big hitter. He thrived last season by taking his foot off the pedal just a little bit, ranking 35th in driving distance after being in the top-20 his first three seasons on Tour. Davis' best finishes in regular events last season were third at Harbour Town and seventh at Colonial, two short tracks. He has played Silverado three times, with a best of T18 in 2018.
Tier 2 Values
Tom Hoge - $9,300 (+5000)
We saw Hoge with some really low DFS prices late last season, and we were able to take advantage when he had a top-5 at the 3M Open and a tie for 10th at the TOUR Championship -- which was a fifth-place finish when removing the staggered start. So seeing $9,000-plus was a surprise and a disappointment but not a deterrent. Hoge has played Silverado almost every year and made four of his past five cuts, including T17 in 2018. He's a far more accomplished golfer than even a year ago, having finished 11th in SG: Approach on Tour last season.
Taylor Montgomery - $8,500 (+5000)
It's hard to keep up with the wave of first-name Taylors invading the Tour. This isn't Pendrith, mentioned above, or Moore, mentioned below. Montgomery was a Korn Ferry standout last season with two runners-up and a tie for third. He finished last season T2-T3-T4-T9 and is my Sleeper pick for this season. He played only two PGA Tour events last season. One of them was a tie for 11th at Torrey Pines. This will be his Silverado debut.
Justin Suh - $8,200 (+6000)
The USC product was every bit as acclaimed as Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland and Matthew Wolff coming out of college together in 2019. But he obviously did not match them on the PGA Tour. He excelled on the Korn Ferry Tour last season, winning the season-ending Korn Ferry Tour Championship. He is fully exempt on the PGA Tour this season. Suh played the Fortinet last year and was good for three rounds before fading on Sunday.
Alex Noren - $8,100 (+4500)
Noren has a lot of play for in the fall season. He sits 54th in the world rankings and getting inside the top-50 by Dec. 31 would send him to the Masters. He's never played Silverado, but the course does not have a huge learning curve and we love Noren's scrambling chops -- he ranked 12th on Tour last season, along with 18th in Putting.
Tier 3 Values
Taylor Moore - $7,600 (+6000)
The third and final Taylor here, Moore was my Sleeper pick last season, and he delivered in his rookie year. He had four top-10s and a whopping 10 top-25s to make it through two playoff events, thanks largely to two late-season top-6s at the Rocket Mortgage and Wyndham. Moore finished top-40 on Tour last season in greens in regulation and birdie average, and he made his final eight cuts.
Matt Kuchar - $7,600 (+6500)
Kuchar is now 44 years old and far from his best playing days. But his short game was as good as it ever was last season. He led the Tour in Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green, and he ranked second in scrambling and 11th in Putting. Kuchar made 15 of 20 cuts last season, including a tie for 36th here.
Patrick Rodgers - $7,300 (+10000)
Rodgers is a regular at Silverado, having played all eight editions. He's made seven cuts, twice finishing tied for sixth, including last year. Rodger wasn't very accurate with his drive last season, but he still ranked 41st in greens in regulation. And was also 30th in SG: Putting. Rodgers made 10 of his last 13 cuts to close last season.
Tyler Duncan - $7,000 (+13000)
Duncan was one of our favorite value plays on shorter courses last season. He was not long off the tee but he was accurate. And he ranked 54th in greens in regulation across all tournaments -- even better on the shorter ones. Duncan also ranked 61st on Tour in birdie average. He has missed his past two cuts at Silverado -- not optimum -- but he made three straight before that, including a tie for fifth in 2017.
Beau Hossler - $6,900 (+13000)
Hossler closed last season by making seven of his final nine cuts. He has an interesting skill set -- he hits his driver very far (30th in distance off the tee) and is a great putter (fifth in SG: Putting). That wouldn't necessarily translate to good play at Silverado, yet he's finished top-20 the past two years.
Peter Malnati - $6,600 (+13000)
There's not a ton of upside with Malnati, but he has a bit of a floor. His best chance for success comes on shorter tracks, and he's made the cut here four of the past six years, including two top-25s, one of them last year. His result will be determined by his short game -- he finished in the top-60 on Tour last season in both SG: Around-the-Green and Putting. Surprisingly, Malnati ranked 41st last season in birdie average.
Nick Taylor - $6,600 (+13000)
Very simple: We're looking to make it to the weekend down here, and Taylor gives us a good chance. He's made five straight Fortinet cuts, two of them top-10s.
Ben Griffin - $6,400 (+25000)
Griffin had a a fantastic Korn Ferry season, with three runners-up and two other top-10s, then turned heads with a top-5 at the Wyndham Championship, closing with twin 64s. He's a very long hitter, and he also ranked eighth in putting average on the KF Tour.