GOLF

PGA Betting Guide for the Fortinet Championship

The new PGA Tour season kicks off with a weak field in Napa Valley. Who can start it with a victory?

Picking winners of a golf tournament is hard. Doing it consistently is downright impossible. However, finding value is something all bettors must practice in order to give themselves the best chance to make hay when the day finally comes that they select a champion.

Below, we will cover the best bets for the Fortinet Championship based on current form, course fit, and -- of course -- the value of their odds over at FanDuel Sportsbook.

The 2021-22 PGA Tour season kicks off this week. A mixed field visits Napa Valley just two weeks after the TOUR Championship, as well as one week before the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. Jon Rahm leads the way at a +410 figure with little value, so we'll skip the World No. 1 this week in favor of a more balanced card.

Instead, we'll focus on ball-strikers further down the board who have played well at this event in the past. As the traditional season opener, the field is usually light on top talent and serves as an opportunity for many of the new Korn Ferry Tour graduates to dip their toes into PGA waters without being grist for the mill of a full-fledged field.

For more info on Silverado Resort and Spa (North), along with this week's key stats and comparable courses, check out the numberFire course primer.

At the Top

Hideki Matsuyama (+1700) - Matsuyama did well in his first three tries here, finishing 3rd, 3rd, and 17th from 2013-2015. He's played this event just once since then, and he missed the cut in September 2019. The Masters champion had just two finishes inside the top-25 after winning the green jacket -- T23 at the PGA Championship and a runner-up at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. He battled COVID-19 in the summer and had to miss the Open Championship, and when last seen he was near the bottom of the field at East Lake two weeks ago despite a second-round 65. But, Matsuyama's talent is enough to shine in this field, and some confidence at Silverado is enough to make him the co-headliner on the betting card this week.

Will Zalatoris (+2100) - The real attraction this week is Zalatoris, who was last seen wrapping up his Rookie of the Year campaign with a T29 at the Wyndham Championship. Ignore the dichotomy of him being not enough of a PGA Tour member to make the FedEx Cup Playoffs but definitely enough of a member to win the Rookie of the Year, and focus on the elite talent on offer here at five times the odds of Rahm. Runner-up to Matsuyama at Augusta, Zalatoris closed the season turning the corner on a very poor putting stretch, and the blip in ball-striking is not particularly concerning with his overall body of work. He finished 7th on tour in strokes gained: approach and 9th in strokes gained: tee to green for the season, and he is bound to find the trophy soon. Why not start out on the right foot?

Value Spots

Charley Hoffman (+4300) - One of the best ball-strikers and birdie-makers in the field, Hoffman gets the lone nod in the mid-range this week. With 13 finishes inside the top-25, Hoffman is coming off one of the best seasons of his career even if he tailed off toward the end of the season. He struggles with the stronger fields and tougher setups at events like the Memorial, the U.S. Open, the Open Championship, and the FedEx Cup Playoff events, but back in a wedge fest at Silverado, Hoffman is back in play. We have a little 2021 Augusta reunion going to start our card, and in that honor, we'll also back Hoffman as Leader After Round 1 (+5000).

Long Shots

Emiliano Grillo (+6000) - The 2015 winner of this event was Grillo, who is a ball-striking machine who frequently gives up too much on the greens to consistently contend. He benefits generally from a drop in field quality, and a poor run to close the season puts him at a much more appetizing price than had he played the summer as well as he played in the spring. Grillo had six finishes of T21 or better over nine starts from late February through late May -- one of the best high-end stretches of his career. When his putter and short game fell off in June, he made just one cut the rest of the way, a random 12th at The Open of all events. If he finds some magic (or luck) on the greens, he has a great shot to contend at a big number this week.

Doug Ghim (+7000) - Ghim was up and down last season, and like Grillo, he gets a boost when there's a drop in field strength. He had eight top-25 finishes last season, and all but the Charles Schwab Challenge could have been deemed a "weaker" field in relative terms. His best showing of the year was the PLAYERS Championship, where he made the penultimate group on Sunday before firing a shaky 78 to finish T29. He has pedigree as a former top-ranked amateur in the world, and he has an experience advantage in this field that is rarely the case. He started hot here last year with rounds of 67 and 66 heading into the weekend before ultimately finishing T14. It's not a sexy hedge, but we can also confidently back Ghim for a Top-30 Finish (+185) in this field.

Brendan Steele (+9500) - A frequent target in this space when at a course he likes, Steele is the two-time winner at Silverado. He won back-to-back titles in the falls of 2016 and 2017, and he knows at this stage of his career the early season fields are his best shot at another victory. Like Grillo, his late-season stumbles have weighed his price down to our advantage. He didn't miss a cut from January through early June, but he then missed cuts in three of his final four events of the season. We'll take the long odds and course history in this spot and pick up some equity with a bet for a Top 10 Finish (+850).