This article is part of our FanDuel PGA DFS Picks series.
Course: Silverado Resort and Spa North Course (7,123 yards, par 72)
Winner: $1,440,000 and 500 FedExCup points
Well, I hope everyone enjoyed their two-week offseason because the 2022-23 season is about to tee off. The offseason was even a week shorter if you were a Korn Ferry Tour player or PGA Tour veteran trying to secure full status via the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. This will be the last season that happens, however, as the PGA Tour will return to a calendar-based schedule for the 2024 campaign beginning with the Tournament of Champions in early January and ending at the Tour Championship in late August. The Fortinet Championship has been at the forefront of the wraparound-season format during this decade-long run as the primary season-opener in September. The exact future of many of the fall tournaments is unclear, but they are expected to be part of a qualifying series for those with PGA Tour cards that finish outside of the new top-70 threshold that make the FedExCup Playoffs.
But enough about things that are a year down the road. This week at the Fortinet Championship and the following eight fall series tournaments in the 2022-23 season is a big opportunity for players to take advantage of and score some FedExCup points to get themselves on the right side of that before mentioned new top-70 bubble. With the extra incentives placed on the elevated events in 2023, many of the top players will likely take some more time off this fall, which should open up chances for some of the young KFT graduates to make a name for themselves. A name to watch this week in Napa would be Korn Ferry Tour Championship winner Justin Suh, who topped the combined points list and also earned a spot in The Players Championship and U.S. Open. Suh had an impressive collegiate career that included battles with PGA Tour stars Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland. While Suh didn't get to the party as quickly, he certainly has the talent to accomplish some of the great feats that Morikawa and Hovland have already achieved on their way to becoming top-10 players in the OWGR.
This will be the ninth straight year that Silverado Country Club's North Course has hosted the Fortinet Championship. In the six years prior in this event's history the tournament was hosted at both Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona and CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, California. At all three host courses, not once has the tournament decided by more than two strokes. There has also been a total of five playoffs. Expect another tight battle to the end in 2022. Max Homa will be back to defend his title one week before he heads to the Presidents Cup as a member of the U.S. team. Hideki Matsuyama, Corey Conners, Taylor Pendrith and Cam Davis will also tee it up in Napa as they hope to get some confidence before trying to help the International side to just their second Presidents Cup victory.
2021 – Max Homa (-19)
2020 – Stewart Cink (-21)
2019 – Cameron Champ (-17)
2018 – Kevin Tway (-14)
2017 – Brendan Steele (-15)
2016 – Brendan Steele (-18)
2015 – Emiliano Grillo (-15)
2014 – Sangmoon Bae (-15)
2013 – Jimmy Walker (-17)
2012 – Jonas Blixt (-16)
Key Stats to Victory
- SG: Approach
- GIR Percentage
- SG: Off-the-Tee
Over the years we've seen a number of different styles of golf find success at Silverado's North Course. It is a stock par-72, but at just over 7,100 yards it is not going to be a test of length. The key will be navigating the undulating fairways that meander through large trees. Driving accuracy numbers are pretty low here because the fairways are narrow, but the rough usually isn't much of an issue. Small misses off the tee won't hurt you at Silverado, but the big ones are going to create all kinds of issues. The greens are not overly large and play smaller due to some of the slopes, which can repel balls off the greens in some situations. The poa annua surfaces will be a challenge for everyone and typically ball striking has won out at Silverado. Homa ranked second in SG: Tee-to-Green en route to his third of now four PGA Tour wins last year. As you might expect it is going to be a dry week in Napa, so hopefully we can see some extra spring in the fairways and greens. Winds will consistently be in the 10-15 miles per hour range, which isn't a lot but that's also more than players had to deal with throughout most of the playoffs. One last nugget to consider is that four of the last six winners of the Fortinet Championship have hailed from the state of California.
FanDuel Value Picks
Hideki Matsuyama ($12,000)
This event's place on the calendar usually makes it a skip for many top players, but clearly Matsuyama likes this course because he continues to show up and put in strong showings. In four career starts here, the 2021 Masters champ has posted a third, a T6 and a T17. It's really no surprise when you think about it considering his always high level ball striking combined with the fact that you don't have to be a good putter to find success at Silverado.
Corey Conners ($11,800)
This should be a prime course for an accurate ball striker like Conners. He is coming off another strong season in which he ranked fifth in SG: Off-the-Tee, 16th in SG: Approach and second in GIR percentage. Conners finished top-15 in his last time at Silverado. The Canadian has made 15 of his last 17 cuts with four top-six finishes and seven top-15 finishes in that stretch.
Taylor Pendrith ($11,000)
Pendrith had an excellent finish to the season after suffering a ribs injury at the Players Championship. The Canadian finished T13-or-better in six of his last seven starts. His ball striking has been a weapon as last season he ranked 12th in SG: Off-the-Tee and 10th in GIR percentage. Pendrith will bring great value to the International Team at Quail Hollow next week and will bring a lot of strong value to DFS owners this week in Napa.
Brendan Steele ($10,700)
After some early struggles to start 2022, Steele found his groove and ended up making 10 of his last 12 cuts with three top-10's and eight top-35 finishes in that stretch. The California native will get an instant boost of confidence going to Silverado where he owns two victories and has never missed a cut in eight appearances. Steele is still getting it out there at age 39, as last season he ranked sixth in SG: Off-the-Tee and was also 16th in GIR percentage.
Longer Shots with Value
Taylor Montgomery ($9,600)
Montgomery tore it up last season on the Korn Ferry Tour. He led the Tour in scoring average and a ridiculous 4.88 birdies per round. The 27-year-old is a complete player with distance, solid iron play, good touch around the greens and he's been wielding a hot putter all summer. Montgomery has scored top-10 finishes in seven of his last eight starts.
Mark Hubbard ($8,900)
The 33-year-old had a very nice showing over the summer to make the FedExCup playoffs for the third time in his career. Hubbard made seven straight cuts in a stretch that included a T13, third and four place finishes. He's a short hitter, but that won't hurt him at Silverado. If you look at the rest of his game which includes ranks of 20th in SG: Approach, 19th in scrambling and 34th in putts per GIR, there's really not much to complain about. Hubbard also has top-16 finishes in two of the last three years in Napa.
Patrick Rodgers ($8,400)
In a range filled with young and inexperienced players, Rodgers stands out here. The 30-year-old hasn't had a ton of really high finishes as of late, but he has cashed in 10 of his last 13 starts. Rodgers finished 47th on Tour last season in SG: Total behind some much improved iron play and his always consistent putting stroke. The Stanford product loves this area and has two career top-six finishes and has made six-of-eight starts overall at Silverado.
Austin Eckroat ($8,300)
Eckroat was a standout player in college for Oklahoma State and now he owns a PGA Tour card after a great season on the Korn Ferry Tour. Eckroat finished second at the KFT Championship and owns ten top-25 finishes over his last 14 starts. The 23-year-old ranked top-11 last season in scoring average, birdie average, GIR percentage, total driving and ball striking.
Strategy Tips This Week
Based on a Standard $60K Salary Cap
The good news with an incredibly short offseason is that there really isn't time for rust. Most of the guys in this field have been either grinding their way through the FedExCup playoffs or trying to earn a card via the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. This is a year where there are quite a few intriguing KFT player options as it is quite honestly comparable in competitiveness to the DP World Tour. Guys like Carl Yuan ($9,000), Nick Hardy ($9,000), Will Gordon ($8,100), and Michael Kim ($8,000) are all deserving of looks this week. The unknown of those players in how they transition to the PGA Tour is why the pricing is very spread this week, which I think lends itself to a ton of different options for lineup creation. As mentioned in the Champion's Profile, lean towards players striking the ball well and don't worry so much about the putting numbers on these unique greens.