Weekly Preview: Fortinet Championship

Weekly Preview: Fortinet Championship

This article is part of our Weekly Preview series.

Fortinet Championship

Silverado CC
Napa, CA

The PGA Tour heads to Napa Valley as another PGA Tour season gets underway.

This year, we were treated to an extra-long break -- two weeks instead of one -- so I'm guessing we'll see some extremely refreshed golfers this week. In all seriousness, it's strange how the PGA Tour's short break is called an offseason, while the longer period of time off later in the year is called, well, just a break. An extra week off probably did not hurt anyone, but with LIV Golf hanging over everything now, I'm more excited than usual to see the PGA return, so there's actually more anticipation than in previous years. 

Speaking of LIV, it will be interesting to see if they make any gains over the next few months. Unless the startup continues to pilfer players, it will lose momentum, and as I've stated many times, the golf aspect of LIV Golf is not enough to pull most PGA Tour fans away. They need a big get -- bigger than Dustin Johnson or Cameron Smith -- and if that doesn't happen soon, there goes all the steam they have built up. It won't be the end -- LIV has money for decades or even centuries -- but again, when does the golf itself become the draw? LIV is trying to take a slice out of the golf viewing pie, if you will, and they are currently doing that with gimmicks like team play, a rowdier

Fortinet Championship

Silverado CC
Napa, CA

The PGA Tour heads to Napa Valley as another PGA Tour season gets underway.

This year, we were treated to an extra-long break -- two weeks instead of one -- so I'm guessing we'll see some extremely refreshed golfers this week. In all seriousness, it's strange how the PGA Tour's short break is called an offseason, while the longer period of time off later in the year is called, well, just a break. An extra week off probably did not hurt anyone, but with LIV Golf hanging over everything now, I'm more excited than usual to see the PGA return, so there's actually more anticipation than in previous years. 

Speaking of LIV, it will be interesting to see if they make any gains over the next few months. Unless the startup continues to pilfer players, it will lose momentum, and as I've stated many times, the golf aspect of LIV Golf is not enough to pull most PGA Tour fans away. They need a big get -- bigger than Dustin Johnson or Cameron Smith -- and if that doesn't happen soon, there goes all the steam they have built up. It won't be the end -- LIV has money for decades or even centuries -- but again, when does the golf itself become the draw? LIV is trying to take a slice out of the golf viewing pie, if you will, and they are currently doing that with gimmicks like team play, a rowdier atmosphere and so on, but in the end, it's the quality of golf that will win over most golf fans. Right now, the PGA Tour is still miles ahead in that category.

Regarding the season-opening PGA Tour event this week, we've got a lot of course history, and rust really isn't a factor since most of those in the field have played somewhat recently. We've got a couple of big names, but it's a pretty standard fall field, with a bunch of players looking for that first PGA Tour win.

All odds via FanDuel Sportsbook as of 4:00 PM ET Tuesday.

LAST YEAR

Max Homa shot a final-round 69 on his way to a one-stroke victory over Maverick McNealy.

FAVORITES

Max Homa (10-1)

Homa brought his game to the next level this past season, but he didn't play his best golf over the final two months of the campaign. He closed with a T5 at the TOUR Championship, however, so perhaps he's back to where he was a few months ago. He is the defending champion, which is both good and bad. All in all, there's simply not enough value at this number.

Corey Conners (16-1)

Conners entered this past season around the same level as Scottie Scheffler as a young talent with high upside. What Scheffler ultimately accomplished skewed our view of Conners a bit. Conners had a good season, but he obviously fell way behind Scheffler. The good news is golf is usually not played one-on-one, so Conners can do well on his own, and that's what I'm expecting this season. Conners should play well out of the gate, and although this price is a little light it is worth considering.

Hideki Matsuyama (16-1)

Matsuyama became the most wanted man in the world near the end of this past season, as LIV Golf reportedly made a huge offer to the man that could deliver Japan. In the end -- or rather, for now -- Matsuyama has decided to stay on the PGA Tour. Getting past that drama should help his game and he's returning to a spot where he finished T6 this past year. He's a contender and at these odds deserves a look.

THE NEXT TIER

Sahith Theegala (28-1)

It will be interesting to see which way Theegala goes this season. He snuck up on a lot of people a little shy of a year ago, but the secret is out: this guy has game. Theegala is just 24, and the success he experienced happened awfully quick, so there's no telling if he continues on an upward trajectory or stalls a bit. Either way, I think he starts the season well, as he still has some momentum following a quality finish to the previous campaign. Theegala finished T47 at this event this past year, and he could have done better if not for a final-round 75.

Taylor Pendrith (30-1)

Pendrith did not get off to a good start this past season, as he posted just one top-10 in his first 18 starts. However, he closed in style, notching two top-10s in his final four starts, including a T8 in his most recent start at the BMW Championship. He's had a long layoff, and perhaps his form won't be as good as it was in late August, but if he indeed discovered something late in the last season this would be the time to pounce. Pendrith finished T36 in his first start here in 2021.

Davis Riley (35-1)

Riley is coming off a fantastic rookie season in which he posted 10 top-25s, six top-10s and a runner-up at the Valspar Championship. He played his best golf during the spring, but he did fizzle a bit down the stretch. Perhaps it was just too much golf, as he appeared in 29 events this past season. I can see how that would grind on a rookie after a while. With some time off, look for Riley to start fast and post some low numbers this week.

LONG SHOTS

Denny McCarthy (45-1)

McCarthy is almost there. He's hanging in longer and longer when in contention, but he can't quite get over the hump. Though he hasn't won on the PGA Tour yet, his results have steadily improved. McCarthy will get a win at some point, and the fall portion of the season is usually where guys who have struggled to find the winner's circle do just that. McCarthy's track record here is not good, but the best version of himself should be on hand this time around.

Brendan Steele (45-1)

I'm not going too far down the board this week, but that's only because we have a couple good options in this price range. Steele is a two-time winner of this event, and although he struggled to find his best game in the three years that followed his most recent win here, he managed to post some solid results this past season. If his game is truly back, we'll see a good showing.

ONE-AND-DONE LEAGUES

Highly-owned Pick: Max Homa - The betting favorite should be a popular pick, as he's the defending champ and there aren't any other spots on the schedule where he's going to be lower than 10-1. I'd prefer to take him when I'm sure his game is back, but as mentioned previously, he did have a nice performance at the TOUR Championship, so maybe he's ready.

Moderately-owned Pick: Sahith Theegala - There's no sneaking in Theegala any longer. If you use him this week, just know that plenty of other OAD players will be on him as well. With that said, he looks like a great option and it's early in the season, so who cares who your league-mates go with?

Lightly-owned Pick: Brendan Steele - You would think that a two-time champion would get more respect, but as we've seen already, he's still in long-shot territory, so I have to imagine he won't be overly popular in this format. Going with Steele could be a great spot to get a jump on your competition.

Buyer Beware: Almost everyone - I usually single out one player here, but there are only a handful of favorites and none of them stick out as someone to avoid. It's the first tournament of the season, so you should be wary of just about everyone in the field. For OAD purposes, it's best to tread lightly early on.

This Week: Sahith Theegala - I could see this going one of two ways. The first is Theegala continues to come through and everyone is happy. The second is he starts slow, becomes a factor in 2023 and I wind up wondering why I used him so early. These first few weeks are tough, which is why I try not to go too big. Theegala is as big as I'd like to go at this point, but I'm already worried that he's going to be even bigger at some point soon, so I might be burning a great option too soon.

FANDUEL PICKS

Upper Range: Sahith Theegala ($11,500)
Middle Range: Brendan Steele ($10,700)
Lower Range: Callum Tarren ($8,900)

SURVIVOR LEAGUES

This Week: Chez Reavie - Reavie is a perfect 7-for-7 in weekends played when this event is held at this course. He's not coming off his best year, but it was his best season of the last three, so perhaps he's on the way back up. Whatever the case, he should be fine here, as he hasn't missed a cut at this event in over a decade and has never failed to deliver on this course.

Want to Read More?
Subscribe to RotoWire to see the full article.

We reserve some of our best content for our paid subscribers. Plus, if you choose to subscribe you can discuss this article with the author and the rest of the RotoWire community.

Get Instant Access To This Article Get Access To This Article
RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only Golf Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire Golf fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Greg Vara
Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the FSWA Golf Writer of the Year in 2005 and 2013. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.
Golf Barometer: Power Up
Golf Barometer: Power Up
FanDuel PGA: Hero World Challenge Picks and Strategy
FanDuel PGA: Hero World Challenge Picks and Strategy
2022 Hero World Challenge Betting: Picks, Odds, Predictions and Best Bets
2022 Hero World Challenge Betting: Picks, Odds, Predictions and Best Bets
DraftKings PGA: Hero World Challenge Picks and Strategy
DraftKings PGA: Hero World Challenge Picks and Strategy