Nate’s Fortinet Championship Card: Bet Kevin Yu & 2 More
NATE’S FORTINET CHAMPIONSHIP CARD: BET KEVIN YU & 2 MORE – The PGA Tour is finally back after a torturous two-week stretch that had me staying up all night watching my bets lose on the DP World Tour.
Typically, this would mark the beginning of a new FedEx Cup season, but recent changes mean that we’re still technically in the 2022-23 season. All this despite the Tour Championship already having been completed with Viktor Hovland raising the trophy and a big check.
The season will now run through December, finally concluding with the Hero World Challenge.
The North Course at Silverado Resort is known for having narrow fairways and small greens. On most courses, this would have us predicting a fairly stern test for the players, but this course tends to yield low scores. So forget what you may be thinking after a course flyover. Napa is deep in the heart of California wine country and overindulgence will probably prove to be a bigger handicap to most of the players this week.
The reason that it tends to play relatively easy is because it simply isn’t a very long golf course. Playing to around 7,100 yards at a par-72 means that guys have a few different ways to attack this course. Longer hitters especially can choose to find the fairway with shorter clubs without sacrificing a shorter approach.
The previous winners represent nearly the full spectrum of PGA Tour archetypes. Max Homa is defending back-to-back wins in this event. Stewart Cink won this event in 2020 when pretty much everyone thought his winning days were in the rear-view at age 47. In 2019, Cameron Champ won here as a player known as basically a pure bomber off the tee who is prone to struggling in most other areas.
What I’m saying is this: Lots of different players can win here. The through line is that winners tend to be strong off the tee (either distance, accuracy, or a combination). Even at 47, Cink was still plenty long for this course. Homa and Champ are both known for being very solid off the tee.
For the surface nerds, the greens are a Bentgrass and Pop Annua which is a pretty typical surface on West Coast courses. It may be redundant, but you could do worse than target players with a strong track record in California. Homa is famously more comfortable on the West Coast. For what it’s worth, Cameron Champ is a past winner and California native as well.
Fortinet Championship Outright Picks
Kevin Yu (+6000)
There’s just a lot to like about the rookie. Think of him as a poor man’s Scottie Scheffler. He absolutely stripes the ball, and absolutely cannot buy a putt.
Here’s some numbers. He’s 3rd in SG: Off the Tee and he’s 10th in SG: Tee to Green. There aren’t many holes in the long game to speak of.
I mentioned how I was sort of fixated on the idea of a good driver winning this tournament, and he’s the best in the this field according to the numbers. What’s more, he’s the best ball striker in this field from tee-to-green.
If we can just overcome a putter that has been nothing short of horrible this season (178th), we might be in for a fun sweat at a big price.
There’s just a ton to like about most of his game, and that’s not typically something you can say about someone at these big of odds. Putting is the least predictive stat on Tour and Lucas Glover has shown us what can happen to guys like this with event a decent performance on the greens.
I can talk myself into the best ball striker in the field at +6000.
Mark Hubbard (+6000)
If I’m being honest, this pick is probably a combination of stubbornness and indecision.
It’s stubborn because Hubbard is a guy who I tend to gravitate towards on shorter courses. He’s an excellent iron player and, typically, has been a good putter. He hasn’t putted as well this season, but normally it’s one of his calling cards.
He struggles on longer courses because they don’t play to his strengths. He’s 157th in driving distance, so a lengthy track simply isn’t as gettable for him.
Silverado is definitely accommodating for someone of below average length.
I could also be wrong about a strong driver being the best type of player on this course, where so many different types of players have won. He played pretty well here last year before a final round 73 sent him tumbling down the leaderboard. Maybe he can put four rounds together this year.
Garrick Higgo (+4500)
This is a guy who has been someone I’ve thought about a lot recently. He’s been someone I’ve bet on and been frustrated by often.
He looks poised to win again on Tour, but even during the string of three top-20 finishes he posted towards the end of the season, it never felt like he was seriously in contention despite playing well.
Nevertheless, this is a softer field and it looks like a setup that play to his strengths. He’s very long off the tee and a good putter. The iron game can let him down at times, but if he’s even just average with them, he can pop up with a good finish.
So, two elite players off the tee and a short course horse that I can’t get off of.
Good luck everyone!