Sunday, February 25, 2024

Fortinet Golf Championship – Event Overview


The Fortinet Championship from Silverado Resort and Spa kickstarts the 2022/23 PGA Tour golf season. Last year this event kickstarted the rise of Max Homa, now famous for both his impeccable golf game and top-class Twitter account.

The field this week is somewhat depleted compared to the 2021 renewal and this is a combination of the effects of the new LIV Golf Tour and the BMW Championship at Wentworth last week.

The Silverado course has seen vast improvements over the last 10 years, led by Jonny Miller. He has added length and a rerouting of holes since the original Trent Jones Jr design back in the 1960s.

The North Course is a traditional, tree-lined course that has been arranged to be ‘scoreable’ at the Fortinet Championship. The Par 72 course is not overly long at just over 7,120 yards. It has plenty of dog-legs and Napa Valley Oaks and Redwoods strategically placed to block approach shots, none of this should phase the players this week.

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The course’s main defence is the tight and narrow fairways as they are some of the hardest to hit on the PGA Tour circuit ranking in the top five hardest in four of the past five years. Given the narrow fairways, one could be fooled into thinking this course suits players with precision off the tee. However, winners like Tway, Cameron Champ, and Brandon Steele give a twist to that narrative as all are super long off the tee and not the most accurate.

The rough on this resort course isn’t penal enough to stop the world’s best with a wedge in hand, something to bear in mind if making your own picks this week. Expect a winning score in the high teens (15-20 under par) as the field strength isn’t the best and so a winning score of this nature feels about right.

Let’s break down the key skill set required in order to lift that trophy come Sunday evening.

Event & Course Details

  • Course : Silverado Resort & Spa
  • Location: North Carolina
  • Date: Sept 15th -18th 2022
  • Par: 72 / Yardage 7,120
  • Purse: $7.5 Million / Winner
  • Fairways/Rough: Bermudagrass/poa annua
  • Greens: Bentgrass / Poa Annua
  • Defending Champion: Max Homa 2021

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Key Skill Sets Required

  1. SG T2G  – Although this is a resort course, it still demands solid T2G performance. It may pay to look for players who generally gain strokes over their competitors from T2G.
  2. SG Off The Tee – This is one of the hardest driving courses the players will face all year, especially in terms of fairway width where it ranks among the five hardest on tour. The rough here isn’t too tough, meaning players can still attack pins from the rough so long as they miss on the correct side. Look for players who dominate the SG gained stats Off The Tee.
  3. Proximity 75-125 Yards – Over 30% of shots will likely come from this range, significantly more than the average PGA Tour event. The course is relatively short by modern-day standards and despite the narrow fairways the rough isn’t a huge punishment, therefore players can bomb it off the tee and try their luck from close to the greens with a wedge in hand.
  4. SG Around The Green – Not often is it seen that SG Around The Green is a key skill set on a resort course, but that’s the case this week. Silverado Resort and Spa has ranked in the top 10 hardest courses to get up and down from in four of the last five years.
  5. SG Putting – A mix of Bentgrass and Poa Annua to contend with this week for the players, which won’t be to everyone’s liking. Look for players who can excel with the Poa mix. Outside of Brendan Steel’s win in 2018 and Emiliano Grillo in 2016, putting has been a significant factor in determining the outcome of this event.

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Players to be against at the top of the market

  1. Corey Conners
  2. Tom Hoge
  3. Troy Merrit
  4. Denny McCarthy

Best Outsiders /big priced player/ bomb picks to consider

  1. Nick Hardy 70/1
  • A serious young talent who hits its miles off the tee, much like many of the previous winners here.
  • A top 10 back at The Travelers and a Top 20 at the US Open only a few months back, shows his game has been in good order.
  • Finished tied 36 th last year, gaining 1 stroke per round on the field T2G and also dialed in with his approach play.
  • Putts his best on the surfaces with Poa Annua in which he faces this week.
  1. Trey Mullinax 60/1
  • A volatile player who has shown signs of a big performance is around the corner.
  • A win and 2 other top 20 finishes in his last 5 starts worldwide.
  • Dominant Off The Tee, gaining strokes vs his competitors in 7 of his last 9 events.
  • Gained strokes T2G in 4 of his last 5 events, showing the majority of clubs in the bag are firing right now.
  • On a course that doesn’t punish inaccurate driving, he could go well at an attractive price.

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  1. Chesson Hadley 125/1
  • 4 top 10 finishes in his last 7 events shows his game is peaking right now, the most consistent his game has been for years.
  • He is an aggressive golfer who makes plenty of birdies.
  • Ranks in the top 20 for Par 4 scoring over the past 24 rounds.
  • Ranks in the top 20 for SG Putting over the past 24 rounds on tour.
  • Ranks in the top 20 for SG Approach play over the past 24 rounds.
  • Now may be the time to support Chesson

4. Alex Smalley 100/1

  • Solid all-round game who plays aggressive golf.
  • 3 top 20 finishes in his last 6 starts worldwide shows his game is solid right now.
    Long off the tee which is advantageous here at Silverado Resort & Spa.
  • A stellar iron game, although this week isn’t all about iron play it’s sure to set him up nicely if he continues to gain a stroke on the field with his approach shot.
  • His putting is the biggest concern but at a big price he may be worthy of consideration.