After a three-week break, the 2022-23 PGA TOUR season kicks off in Napa Valley at the Silverado Resort and Spa to play the Fortinet Championship.
Prior to 2021, the event was called the Safeway Open, but the tournament sponsor changed to Fortinet with a contract that will last for three more seasons. Although the name has changed multiple times, Silverado’s North Course has been featured on the PGA TOUR since 1968.
The course is a par 72, measuring at 7,166 yards. Silverado features Poa annua greens which can be tricky, especially as the surface becomes bumpier in the afternoon. The tree-lined fairways aren’t easy to hit, but the rough shouldn’t be exceedingly penal. Shorter hitters are in play on this relatively short course, and accuracy will be at a premium.
There will be a re-routing at Silverado for this year’s Fortinet Championship. Ten holes will be played in a different order. Holes 1-7 and 18 will remain as in years past. The new finishing stretch – No. 14 (par 4), No. 15 (par 5), No. 16 (par 4), No. 17 (par 3) and No. 18 (par 5). The new 17th was previously the 11th, which is the signature hole on the course.
The field will consist of 155 players. Being the swing season, the field for this event is usually relatively weak. However, there are some intriguing names in the field, including Justin Thomas, Webb Simpson, Sahith Theegala, Joel Dahmen, and Kevin Kisner.
For contests on DraftKings, I will be breaking down the key stats (past 24 rounds) and selecting golfers from different price tiers to provide flexibility for a DFS lineup.
And if you missed it, we added two new metrics in our models — Perfect% and SimLeverage. You can find an explainer on those metrics here.
The cliff notes version is that you can use SimLeverage to quickly find leverage plays in tournaments, while Perfect% is excellent for finding the best price-considered plays for cash games.
This analysis may reference Strokes Gained, a set of proprietary metrics generated by the PGA TOUR using millions of data points to calculate how many shots, on average, it takes a player to get the ball in the hole from every distance and situation.
Strokes Gained is now available in the FantasyLabs PGA Models.
Strokes Gained: Approach
Historically, one of the North Course’s defenses will be tightly tucked pin placement, so effective shot-shaping and a higher ball flight may be an advantage this week. In order to find success, players need to hit the correct level of the sloping Poa annua greens.
- High-end target: Cameron Davis — $10,100 (13th Strokes Gained: Approach)
- Mid-range target: Doug Ghim — $8,000 (5th Strokes Gained: Approach)
- Value target: Sam Ryder — $7,600 (2nd Strokes Gained: Approach)
Good Drives Gained
Hitting fairways in regulation at Silverado is more difficult than TOUR average, as players have done so in the past at a rate of only 52.2%. While the rough isn’t extremely long here, controlling spin out of the thick grass is much more difficult than doing so from the fairway. In order to find success, players need to hit the correct level of the sloping Poa annua greens.
In 2021, the top eight players on the leaderboard all had a positive week in “Good Drives Gained. The winner, Max Homa, was +3.3 in the category, and Mito Pereira, who finished third, was +8.3.
In 2022, 12 of the top 13 players on the leaderboard gained in the category, including the winner Max Homa (+6.0) and runner-up Danny Willet (5.0).
- High-end target: Max Homa — $11,000 (10th Good Drives Gained)
- Mid-range target: Doug Ghim — $8,000 (1st Good Drives Gained)
- Value target: C.T. Pan — $7,400 (19th Good Drives Gained)
Strokes Gained: Putting (Poa Annua)
Poa annua greens on the West Coast can be quite difficult for golfers to adjust to if they don’t have much experience on the surface.
Prior to the 2019 Safeway Open, Phil Mickelson talked about how the type of putting surface is a major factor:
“I think a lot of guys struggle with the Poa annua greens, which is a grass that I grew up playing, so I’m very comfortable on the greens. When you grow up and spend most of your time back east in Florida on the Bermuda, this is a very awkward surface to putt on. The color looks different — it’s hard to sometimes read. But when you’re used to it, I don’t know of much better surfaces than these right here.”
This week it is important to look for the golfers who historically excel on Poa annua.
- High-end target: Max Homa — $11,000 (2nd in Strokes Gained: Putting (Poa Annua)
- Mid-range target: Justin Suh — $8,600 (4th in Strokes Gained: Putting (Poa Annua)
- Value target: Peter Malnati — $6,800 (3rd in Strokes Gained: Putting (Poa Annua)
Par 4: 450-500
There are six par 4s at Silverado that are between 400 and 450 yards. It will be important to target players who excel at playing these holes. With the par 5s being fairly short and reachable, the par 4 scoring may prove to be the bigger difference-maker.
- High-end target: Max Homa — $11,000 (2nd Par 4: 450-500)
- Mid-range target: Justin Suh — $8,600 (3rd Par 4: 450-500)
- Value target: Nate Lashley — $7,400 (10th Par 4: 450-500)
Birdie or Better: Gained
With scores at Silverado potentially approaching the 20-under-par range, making plenty of birdies will be a requirement in order to contend this week.
- High-end target: Max Homa— $11,000 (4th Birdie or Better: Gained)
- Mid-range target: Justin Suh— $8,600 (7th Birdie or Better: Gained)
- Value target: Scott Piercy— $6,900— (2nd Birdie or Better: Gained)
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