Fortinet Championship: FedEx Cup Fall starts!
Social media jokes aside, more than two weeks have passed since the season stopped for a majority of this field. In the group of 156, only six players competed in the BMW Championship a month ago. Most ended their run at the Wyndham Championship in the first week in August. Rust is a concern for many coming out of a long break, with another one looming — the Fortinet Championship is the only PGA TOUR event on the FedEx Cup Fall schedule in September.
Viktor Hovland won the Tour Championship and became Read The Line’s 12th winner of the season. His weekend total of 129 catapulted him up the gross leaderboard (no strokes) to victory and secured a +1000 win for RTL newsletter readers! That made it two wins in two weeks for us after Hovland won the BMW. Can we get three in a row?
Twenty-one of the top 100 in the OWGR will be competing for $8.4 million dollars in purse money, with $1.5 million going to the winner. Silverado’s Resort and Spa’s North Course is the venue for the 17th year in a row. Although the players will be familiar with the resort, the course will see a significant change. Ten holes have been changed in the routing. The North Course is a par-72 setup covering 7,123 yards.
The scorecard shows holes one through 18, but for the Fortinet they will be played in the following order: front nine 1-7, 12-13, and the back nine 14-17, 8-11, 18. The average winning score over the past decade is 17 under par. Yet, most of the excitement came earlier in the round. With these changes, the field now faces three par-5s in the last seven holes and the signature par-3 11th as hole number 17.
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Picturesque wine country weather has been forecasted in Napa, with temperatures projected in the low 80s during the day and 50s at night. Perfect for growing grapes and grass! The region has been dry, and officials expect the course to be firm and fast for the competitors. Granted, football takes center stage in the fall, but give the Fortinet a couple minutes this week. Max Homa is the two-time defending champion and Justin Thomas highlights the field.
Seven of the last 10 Fortinet winners held pre-tournament odds over +5000. Let’s be real: a +4000 winner has a very real chance of cashing this weekend. It would take a 10-team parlay on Saturday and Sunday to accomplish the same payout. Include the golf in your weekend betting card and continue to count Read The Line money on Mondays.
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For a complete list of my betting predictions covering the Fortinet Championship winners, placements, and H2H matchups, please go to Read The Line and subscribe.
Fortinet Championship: Outright Odds
Odds courtesy of BetMGM. Click HERE to sign up!
|Erik van Rooyen||+10000|
|J. B. Holmes||+100000|
|Ted Potter Jr||+200000|
Fortinet Championship: Precision grapes
The path to victory at Silverado’s North Course has been paved for quite some time. The resort layout has 53 bunkers, two holes with water in play, and an average green size of 5,400 square feet. At just under 7,200 yards, the course is quite short. All four par-5s are reachable and nine of the 10 par-4s are under 440 yards. Letting the shaft out off the tee and wedging it close is a simple PGA TOUR recipe. Since many players can wedge it well, what gives one player an edge over another?
That’s where a deep dive into the course really helps. As a PGA coach, I would train my player to score from inside 50 yards. With a plethora of par-4s under 400 yards and reachable par-5s, those scoring shots will not be used to save pars. Players will be trying to get up and down for birdie or better with their short game. Couple that with small flat greens and those who can putt and chip possess an advantage.
Power is a strong theme amongst the winners at Silverado. The last four are Max Homa, Stewart Cink, Cam Champ, and Kevin Tway. None of them are light on ball speed. It’s ironic, but the tight fairways on the North Course don’t play very tight. Tree-lined and twisting, Silverado ranks in the bottom-five on TOUR for the penalty of missing fairways. Attack aggressively from the tee and you’ll have a better chance for contention.
An eight-foot putt is made 50 percent of the time on TOUR. Putting is not a lost art and this week is where it will help players separate. Similar to the short game, it gives you a scoring edge others just don’t have. Over the past ten years, the winners have gained an average of fours strokes against the field with their flatstick. Considering they have gained a similar separation with their approaches, a strong putting week will do wonders toward winning.
Comprehensive skills — such as birdie or better percentage (BoB%), bogey avoidance, and par-4 scoring (SG:Par 4) — also play a vital role. These combination analytics confirm a player’s ability to fit. The better a skill set complements the course, the better your chances of winning will be over 72 holes.
The Fortinet Championship is an excellent first event on the schedule. The skill set needed to contend at Rocket Mortgage, Wyndham, and 3M all apply here. Forget the break — these guys have seven events to secure their card. There will be a sense of urgency amongst the field, and that just adds to the entertainment value for the rest of us.
Fortinet Championship: West-coast kid
Best bet to win: Andrew Putnam (+3500 on BetMGM)
Andrew Putnam is a west-coast kid, born in Washington and a three-time All American at Pepperdine. He resides in Arizona and is one of six players in the field who played in the BMW Championship. Silverado is a great fit for his wedge game and putter.
Putnam’s weakness comes off the tee. The lack of penalty for missing the fairway on the North Course is huge. He’s navigated nine straight cuts and with his west coast roots can putt these greens. Truth is, he can putt any greens, but this week he’ll feel at home and contend come Sunday.
Fortinet Championship: Chez vs. Webb
Bet Chez Reavie over Webb Simpson H2H (-120 on bet365)
Webb Simpson has struggled on TOUR for over a year and just got back to the US from Italy. He’s in the bottom half of the field for ball striking and par 4 scoring. Two areas Simpson was known for. In seven starts at Silverado, Webb has never cracked the top 10 and has three missed cuts. Chez Reavie has played here 13 times and holds a sub-70 scoring average. Ranked first in the field on approach, and second in proximity even if the putter is lukewarm he’ll play well.
Fortinet Championship: Best Bet of the Week!
Best bet to finish in the top 40: Dylan Wu (+120 bet365)
It takes serious scoring ability around the green to be ranked top three in putting and fourth in short game. Dylan Wu can score with the TOUR’s best. I love his fit this week in Napa. The versatility of his wedge game can be witnessed on approach as well. Excellent at avoiding bogeys, he plays aggressively off the tee. That confidence will allow him to capitalize around the North Course and contend.
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