The PGA Tour season kicks off in California with the Fortinet Championship and there are plenty of players ready to make their mark right away.
The tournament will once again be held at Silverado — its home since 2014. It is a narrow course and driving accuracy will be very important. Like anywhere, length is an advantage but hitting the fairways is so much more important here. It is all about accuracy and if you do miss, being able to get up and down. A look at the recent winners backs that up so those are the key areas to look for this week.
We have just one player who will be at next week’s Ryder Cup playing in Napa and that is Jon Rahm. The world number one is in phenomenal form and it is no surprise to see him heading the market in an area where he is very much at home. 15/4 is incredibly short for any golf tournament though, and he is sure to have at least one eye on next week’s trip to Whistling Straights so it may be a tournament to look for a little more value, even if it would be no surprise to see the Spaniard add yet another title to his already great collection.
Jon Rahm is +400 to win the Fortinet Championship.
Rahm has the lowest odds for a favorite since Tiger Woods (+275) at 2013 Arnold Palmer per @GolfBet.
26% of the handle (most) is on Rahm to win the tournament at @BetMGM.
— John Ewing 🦁 (@johnewing) September 15, 2021
One player who will be disappointed not to be joining Rahm on that trip is Kevin Na. He was in the running to make the US team and despite some superb form he did not get the nod. As well as some great finishes of late, including throughout the FedEx Cup playoffs, he has a very good record at the course. At almost six times the price of Rahm he may prove to be much better value.
Harry Higgs is a player that really jumps out when you look for players that could suit this layout. He is excellent around the greens and a runner up finish a year ago backs up his suitability. He has quickly adjusted to life on the PGA Tour and he is certainly a player that could get in the winner’s circle sooner rather than later. While some players take the early part of the season off to rest up, it allows players like Higgs to have a real shot at a win. 80/1 is a big price for somebody as talented as the 29-year-old.
"I might be too jacked up now to actually fall asleep."@HarryHiggs1991 made an albatross at last year's @FortinetChamp and it may have ruined his plans for a post-round nap.#TOURVault pic.twitter.com/DLUkUE07Yz
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 14, 2021
Another player that looks almost certain to get a first win at some stage this season is newly crowned rookie of the year, Will Zalatoris. He caught most people’s eye with a fabulous performance at the Masters but he had a superb season that was cut short by injury. He is healthy now though and this is a superb opportunity for him to get off the mark. He has an excellent all round game but he is so accurate and the course should play into his hands. He is hard to look past and at 22/1 there is still plenty of value, even as an each way shot.
It is not often you can get a two-time tournament winner at 100/1 but that is the case with Brendan Steele. So often a return to a course can trigger some form and that could well be the case for Steele here. He did not have the best 2021/21 season but things can turn around in one weekend on the PGA Tour and a third win at Silverado would be a great way to do that. He is one of the best drivers of the ball on tour and he can certainly challenge here, even if his form does not suggest that.
The opening to the season is often quite low key on the PGA Tour — and the Ryder Cup being just days away obviously doesn’t help that — but this is an excellent tournament with some big winners over the years and some great history. A bit of a weaker field can provide an opportunity for players like Higgs and Zalatoris to really make their mark and it would be no surprise to see either do so this week.