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Sep 15, 2021

Fortinet Championship Picks and Predictions

Sept. 16, 2021

Golf Expert

After just a 10-day offseason, a new PGA Tour season is ready to start, as the 2021-22 season gets going with the Fortinet Championship, a week before all the eyes in the golf world turn to the Ryder Cup.

With that being the case I don't really have any idea why Jon Rahm has decided to tee it up at the Fortinet Championship this week, the only Ryder Cup player on any side to do so. Sure, statistically Rahm should dominate this shorter Par 72 track and is priced accordingly as the heavy, heavy favorite in this field mostly void of the best names in the game.

If there ever was a time to bring a handicapping idea from team sports and apply it to golf – the look ahead- this would have to be it with Rahm this week. So despite his spectacular recent form and statistical profile that suggests he should tear up Silverado Resort and Spa for four days, I want nothing to do with him, and that's even before talking about the idea that his current price (+350) has next to nothing in value.

Win or lose, that's an absurd price to be backing Rahm in a full field tournament the week before he competes in the Ryder Cup.

Golf Betting Resources
2021 Fortinet Championship

Still not looking to aggressively fade Rahm in any form this week either though, as there is no denying how great his current form has been on the golf course, and Silverado Resort and Spa should fit Rahm's skill set like a glove (likely why he is teeing it up). It's a very short Par 72 for these PGA Tour pros, so it's not eliminating any of the shorter hitters off the bat like longer Par 72's do, and this event can bring out a variety of winners.

Bombers like Kevin Tway and Cameron Champ managed to win this tournament in 2019 and 2020 respectively, but Tway beat out Ryan Moore and Brandt Snedeker in a playoff in 2019 – two guys that are shorter hitters but known for their wedges and short game – and Adam Hadwin – another shorter hitter that's great with wedges and the putter – finished runner-up to Cameron Champ in 2020. Shorter hitters have reached this mountain top in the past as well, and even guys with distance like Jason Kokrak and Tony Finau have runner-up finishes on their resume from this track as well.

Because of the lack of overall length here, it's the wedge games and putting that's going to make the biggest difference for guys this week in my eyes. Some will choose to go the accuracy route off-the-tee to ensure they are in the fairway – gaining strokes off-the-tee would be the 3rd important stat to consider this week – but with guys willing to just bomb it out there and muscle out a wedge from the rough if they have too, bettors have the ability to consider multiple statistical profiles this week if they so choose. Blending out the card to have some shorter, short game wizards with some bomb and gouge is not something you can say every week on Tour, but it is something worth considering this week.

Jon Rahm enters the Fortinet Championship as the favorite to win, with convining odds at +410 with FanDuel. (AP)

Fortinet Championship
Betting Odds

Jon Rahm (+350) has already been mentioned as the massive favorite this week, with Webb Simpson (+1400) and Kevin Na (+1600) the only other names below the +2000 range. After that it's names such as Hideki Matsuyama (+2200), Will Zalatoris (+2200), Cameron Tringale (+3500) and Charley Hoffman (+3500) as the only names currently below the +4000 threshold which is massively different from basically any other PGA Tour week.

Usually you find 15-20 names priced at +4000 and below for any given week, but with so many big names resting up for the Ryder Cup next week (and others just taking some time off after last season ended 10 days ago), that's just not the case this week. And while that does suggest that taking some shots further down the board – definitely not the worst option this week – it's actually one of those seven names already mentioned below the +4000 mark where this week's card starts.

Fortinet Championship Contenders

  • Jon Rahm +410
  • Webb Simpson +1500
  • Hideki Matsuyama +1700
  • Kevin Na +1900
  • Will Zalatoris +2100
  • Cam Champ +3300
  • More Golfers
  • (Odds Subject to Change)

Golfers to Watch - Fortinet Championship
Top Picks and Predictions

Contender to Back
Hideki Matsuyama +2200

Matsuyama is a guy at the top of the board that you shouldn't have to worry about any lingering mental baggage hampering his play this week – Rahm with the close miss at the Tour Championship/Ryder Cup upcoming, Webb Simpson not getting selected for the Ryder Cup – and I believe that will prove to be a nice positive intangible. Matsuyama's issues are always going to be on the greens with the putter, but when you're solid in everything else like he is, living with whatever results come from a streaky putter are just part of the gig.

His missed cut here in his only relatively recent start (fall 2019) is likely to force some bettors away from Matsuyama this week, but with him being the 2nd highest ranked golfer in the world in this field (behind Rahm #1), not having any concerns about what's going on in the golf world next week, and playing in a very weak field overall, this price looks and feels awfully cheap with him this week.

With this level of field, Matsuyama has to at least have one lens that views this tournament as an easy way to scoop up plenty of FedEx Cup points for next year's playoffs, and get a nice big paycheck in what used to be called the “silly season” on the PGA Tour. I may have no idea why Rahm decided to enter this week, but I would guess the idea of it being an “easier score” for Matsuyama had to have crossed his mind in determining whether or not to play.

Even with a shaky putter, if Matsuyama goes out there and plays his normal game, being inside the Top 20 come the weekend is an easily attainable goal. From there, I'll take my chances with how Matsuyama goes on Saturday/Sunday at better than 20-1.

Mid-Range Value
Sebastian Munoz +5000

Munoz teeing it up is never a surprise on the PGA Tour, as this guy played in 33 events in the 2020-21 season, this event last year actually not being one of them. But there was a T33 here the year before as he averaged 0.98 SG: Off-the-tee per round that year, with it being his approaches and scrambling (his usual weakness) hurting him that week. It was also a week after winning the Sanderson Farms Championship and if you know me and my propensity for looking to fade guys coming off a win, finishing 33rd in a horrible situational spot for him does come across as a positive for Munoz this week.

He's gained strokes off-the-tee against the field in nine of his last 11 starts with the two outliers being the extremely deep fields from the 2021 US Open, and 2021 BMW Championship (2nd of 3 playoff events). In a field of this caliber I'd expect Munoz's numbers to score out much better vs this field overall, and with his last six starts – nearly all much tougher fields – Munoz has gone 4th, MC, 4th, 29th, 21st, and 29th. He finished last year ranked T28th in Approaches from 50-125 yards (one of the more common shots guys will get at this course) and did so by playing more rounds of golf (105) than any of the guys who ranked ahead of him. That's a level of consistency with the wedges that I can't ignore this week.

He's a guy that can definitely hold his own with the putter as he's known to have some very low 18 hole scores when he gets things going. If he can get a hot round like that in early this week and do his best to maintain somewhere near a similar level of play the rest of the week, a 2nd career PGA Tour victory could be the end result.

Long Shot Pick
Charles Howell III +8000

Howell is a guy I'm never completely fond of taking in the outright market because his win equity never tends to be there – he's had 97 Top 10 finishes on the PGA Tour in his career but just 3 victories. But he ranked 12th on Tour in that category of approaches from 50-125 yards, and with so many wedge shots available to guys this week, the fact that Howell's biggest weakness in his game a year ago – SG: Approach ranked 177th – isn't as concerning to me. Nearly all the guys at this level consistently put their wedges nearly exactly where they want, and it's no different for Howell. He's a name I only ever really consider for an outright play if the course is quite short.

And that's precisely what we've got here, as Howell's last outing at Silverado Resort and Spa came in the fall of 2019 and resulted in a T4 thanks to closing rounds of 65-69-68 after opening up the festivities with a one-over par 73.

A placement wager for Top 5 (+1600) or Top 10 finish (+700) is by far the smarter way to go about including Howell on your card this week and will be the landing spot for the majority of earmarked funds for Howell this week, but don't be surprised to see him up there making noise at this event this week because this course does set up very nicely for him.

72 Hole Matchup to Take
Champ +115 over McNealy

I don't understand this price at all as on one hand we've got a former champion of this event in Cameron Champ as the underdog to a guy who's only shot in the 60's four times in 14 career rounds at Silverado Resort and Spa, not one of them lower than 68. And that 68 that McNealy put up (once) came during his first competitive round here back in Round 1 of 2017. And he's the favorite here?

McNealy missed the cut at this event last year with scores of 69-71, after shooting either 70, 71, or 72 in all four rounds here the year before; the same year that Cameron Champ never shot worse than 69 in any of his four rounds en route to the title. Champ used his length to overpower this short track, being plenty comfortable flipping in wedges from the rough if need be.

Statistically, McNealy is the more well-rounded player in general and it's probably part of the reason behind him being the favorite. But this tournament is considered as one of the few on Tour where SG: Off-the-tee is a much bigger predictor of future success than most other courses these guys see in a season, and outside of Rahm (ranked 2nd in SG: OTT) last year, Champ's the best in the field in that category.

Champ's inaccuracy in his bag is far less concerning at a short course that he's already won at with his skill set, and it's not like I'm asking him to beat everyone again this week. He's just got to be better than a guy who hasn't really had any success at this venue in the past. Can't pass that up at this price.

How to Bet on Golf

Golf betting has gained much more exposure and interest in the past few years, and with plenty of plus-money prices littered throughout the various forms of golf wagers, the chance for bigger scores is part of the reason behind that increased popularity.

2021 Golf Betting Schedule

Sportsbooks ensure that there are no shortage of wagering options on golf tournaments every week, and it isn't all about picking the winner. Grabbing the outright winner of a golf tournament is the best way to get that 'big score' but it's also the hardest wager to cash. After all, a typical professional golf tournament has a field of 140+ different players to consider.

Understanding Golf Odds and Bets

Most golf odds are listed in the fractional format – 10/1 on Dustin Johnson for example – and in that particular case you would multiply the amount bet by that first number to project your winnings. So a $100 bet on DJ to win that particular event would win you $1000.

If you are more comfortable with the American version of odds listings that you typically see across the other major North American sports – ie +1000 – these numbers are easily convertible. Online and app based books may already have that option built in, but the easiest way to do it yourself is to add two zeros to the first number in the fraction. So a 10/1 price on DJ converts to +1000 in that format.

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