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The Approach: PGA DFS Picks for the Fortinet Championship This Week Based off Awesemo’s Expert Rankings

Geoff Ulrich



The fall swing and the new 2021-22 PGA season get started this week with the Fortinet Championship. This event was previously the Safeway Open, and it will be staged at the exact same location in the Silverado Resort North Course. This event also marks the beginning of a nine-event fall swing on the PGA Tour, which will include a one-week hiatus next week for the Ryder Cup. Silverado is located in the Napa Valley, Calif. and plays as a shorter par 72 at just under 7,200 yards. The event features traditional West Coast greens that are a blend of poa and bentgrass. Skinny fairways and fast greens are a trademark of the course, although its lack of distance means there are still plenty of low scores to be had here. The last two winners at this event (Stewart Cink and Cameron Champ) reached 17 under and 21 under par, respectively. This article will utilize the Awesemo expert PGA DFS projections and daily fantasy golf ownership for DFS golf lineup picks this week on DraftKings and FanDuel.

Silverado Resort Stats and Info

  • Par 72, 7,166 yards; plays as a traditional West Coast design that features poa blends on the greens and four short par 5’s that act as the best scoring opportunities.
  • Driving accuracy numbers are typically lower than the tour average, but the rough is not overly penal; big hitters have prospered here, and the last six winners have averaged 307 yards off the tee (Cink averaged 315 yards last year).
  • Strokes gained off the tee have been a strong indicator here, as the last three winners have all gained 1.5 strokes or more off the tee for the week

Putting Splits

The greens at Silverado are technically a poa/bentgrass blend, but poa splits are a better indicator for who putts well out West. Use caution with these in fantasy golf picks; they are not the be-all, end-all, but they make for a nice tiebreaker.

Positive Poa Annua Putting Splits, Last 50 Rounds

  1. Brandt Snedeker: +33.0 strokes on poa Annua, -1.0 strokes on all other surfaces
  2. Maverick McNealy: +22 on poa Annua, +1.0 on all other surfaces
  3. Wyndham Clark: +23 on poa Annua, -4.0 on all other surfaces

+ equals total strokes gained | – equals strokes lost

Negative Poa Annua Putting Splits, Last 50 Rounds

  1. Patton Kizzire: -8 on poa Annua, +31 on all other surfaces
  2. Peter Uihlein: +4.0 on poa Annua, +24 on all other surfaces
  3. J.T. Poston: +7.0 on poa Annua, +31 on all other surfaces

Daily Fantasy Golf Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel

*Grades are ordered DraftKings, FanDuel. Initial grade indicates a player’s strength of output for the week with the value grade indicating their strength as a play in relation to their salary.

Jon Rahm: Grades: A+, A+ | Values: B, A

Rahm comes into this event off one week of respite. He finished a close second to Patrick Cantlay at the Tour Championship, nearly grabbing the win after starting the handicap format event four shots behind. He is likely looking to make up for lost time here, as he had to take some time off after the British Open (COVID) and missed a few starts. With that in mind, Rahm is fresh and leads this field in strokes gained tee to green, strokes gained off the tee and DraftKings points over the last 50 rounds. Rahm also loves playing out West and on poa greens, as he won his first major out in California this year at Torrey Pines. Rahm played this event back in 2016 (his first event as an official PGA Tour member) and finished 16th place. Course history does not matter, though, with a player this elite. Rahm is simply a class above this week and has a top-six percentage of 51.6% in the Awesemo model and a points projection which is over 10 points higher than the next-highest golfer. Pay up here and look to differentiate elsewhere.

The Stats:

  • First in strokes gained tee to green and first in DraftKings points over the last 50 rounds.
  • Rated first in par-5 efficiency (overall) and second from 550 to 600 yards over last 50 rounds.

Projected PGA DFS ownership: DraftKings: 44.8%

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Charles Howell III: Grades: B,B | Values: A, B

Charles Howell III is one of the best values on the board this week according to the Awesemo expert daily fantasy golf model. Howell comes into this event off a couple of decent starts, as he gained strokes on approach and off the tee in his last two outings on the PGA in the summer. He has taken more time off than most since the end of the year but ranks third in this field in strokes gained off the tee over the last 50 rounds.

Howell is also somewhat of a history play, as he is notorious for lighting it up on the West Coast early every season. He has a great track record at places like Torrey Pines (multiple runner-ups) and has finished 17th or better in three of his last six visits to Silverado (including a fourth place here in 2019). Howell has the 11th-best points projection on the slate (despite being under $8,000 on DraftKings) and has the best value score of anyone above $7,500 this week in Awesemo model. He is a great mid-range value here.

The Stats:

  • Ranks third in strokes gained off the tee over the last 50 rounds and has gained strokes off the tee and on approach in his last two PGA starts.
  • Has made the cut at Silverado in five of his last visits and has finished 17th or better at the venue in three of his six starts here.

Projected PGA DFS ownership: DraftKings: 9.6%

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Low-Owned PGA DFS GPP Flier

Marc Leishman

Leishman comes into this event off a pretty lackluster end to his 2020-21 season. He could not manage anything better than 47th in two playoff starts, where he also displayed mediocre ball striking. The good news here, though, is that he has not really been priced down at all for those bad performances, and that should allow him to go for insanely low ownership in large-field GPPs this week. The appeal with Leishman goes beyond just low ownership, though, as he is a player who can certainly turn things around quickly given how well he putts, especially on poa.

Leishman ranks fourth in this field in strokes gained putting over the last 50 rounds and has done some of the best work of his career on the West Coast. He won on poa greens at Torrey Pines in 2020 and also finished third at Silverado back in 2019, a week where he gained 4.7 strokes on approach. Leishman has turned into a major boom-or-bust candidate of late (three top-five finishes in his last 16 starts and four missed cuts in that same span), but the boom is worth risking here considering the venue, low ownership and weaker field.

Projected PGA DFS ownership: DraftKings: 5.4%

DraftKings Top Three Under 5%

I am targeting three players here that will end up under (or close) to 5% ownership in bigger DraftKings GPPs. We are searching for boom/bust players here with an almost 100% focus on upside.

Patrick Rodgers ($7,000)

Rodgers is coming off a nice Korn Ferry playoff where he secured his PGA Tour card with a great Sunday round in the finale. He is also a great fit for Silverado, as he is a long and consistent driver of the ball and has had some of his best success on Western poa greens (ranks 12th in strokes gained putting over the last 50 rounds on poa).

Trey Mullinax ($6,600)

Mullinax is another long driver who is coming off a strong Korn Ferry Tour playoff. Mullinax had his career waylaid by a freak accident, so getting back on tour this week is going to be extra sweet for him. He can kill the par 5’s here and finished 22nd at this venue on debut back in 2016.

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Mito Pereira ($8,000)

Pereira had a great late summer on the PGA, recording fifth- and sixth-place finishes late in the year. He is a solid driver and won three times on the Korn Ferry Tour last season. He is great daily fantasy golf pick at this price.

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