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2021 Fortinet Championship betting tips and selections

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After the shortest offseason in sports, the PGA Tour kicks off its new 2021-2022 season with the Fortinet Championship in Napa, California. If this tournament sounds unfamiliar, fear not, it will still be held at Silverado Country Club, which has been the host course for the past seven years. It merely received a new title sponsor, as this was primarily the Safeway Open. While many of the world’s best players will be opting to rest up after a grueling super-season, three of last year’s major champions, Hideki Matsuyama, Jon Rahm, and Phil Mickelson will be in attendance.

As far as the task at hand, Silverado Country Club is a par 72 measuring just 7,123 yards on the scorecard with a poa-bent greens and poa-Bermuda fairways. Players will certainly be able to take advantage of the Robert Trent Jones design, as all four par 5s are reachable, zero par 4s measure over 458 yards, water only comes into play twice, and there is not a huge penalty for missing the fairway. For those reasons, I will primarily be looking to attack elite wedge players who thrive in low scoring events.

Let’s dig into my outright selections.

Harold Varner III (40-1, DraftKings)

On a course where every player in the field will have a wedge in their hands often, I’m comfortable skipping the top of the board and beginning my card in the 40-1 range. I tend to feel that elite players lose some of their advantage on easier courses. Much more randomness is involved in tournaments that can turn into a putting contest, so you’ll notice that I am taking a couple more chances with selections at longer odds.

With that being said, Harold Varner feels like an adequate place to start. The East Carolina University alum is coming off back-to-back top-15 finishes in the FedEx Cup Playoffs where he gained over 3.5 strokes on approach. Now, he enters a tournament with a much weaker field on a course he has already experienced a fair amount of success at. Varner has four top-30 finishes in six appearances at Silverado, and he continues to come here every year and is often hovering around the first page of the leaderboard. Both his off the tee and approach game are trending positively as well. This feels like a logical breakthrough spot for the Ohio native.

Chez Reavie (70-1, DraftKings)

Moving down the board, Chez Reavie has my attention as a player who is both riding some impressive form and has already experienced success at Silverado. The two-time PGA Tour winner has made the cut in every appearance at this event, culminating with a career-best third-place last year, where he gained 7.4 strokes on approach.

While Reavie is not long off the tee, he is able to mask that with elite driving accuracy and wedge play. With impressive performances at Pebble Beach, TPC Scottsdale, Waialae, and PGA West, the Arizona State product also has a clear affinity for west coast golf and poa greens.

Most importantly, I love the way his ball-striking is trending. Reavie has gained over 1.7 strokes off the tee in four consecutive starts, and he is coming off a performance at the Northern Trust where he gained 3.2 strokes on approach. I will gladly back Reavie at this very reasonable price.

Doug Ghim (90-1, DraftKings)

Doug Ghim is a player I continue to believe is on the precipice of a break-through win. At the tender age of 25, the former University of Texas standout boasts a decorated amateur and collegiate career, and while he has yet to find the winner’s circle on the PGA Tour, a contending performance at the Players Championship in March displayed his talent.

The reason I have interest in Ghim on this specific course is two-fold. First of all, Ghim is an incredible wedge player. Over his last 36 rounds, he is one of only two players in this entire field to rank inside the top 15 in every proximity distance between 75-150 yards, where the large plurality of Silverado’s approach shots come from.

Secondly, Silverado can be picked apart with elite driving, and Ghim is coming off a week at the Northern Trust where he gained 5.3 strokes off the tee, good for the best performance of his career. If the former Ben Hogan Award winner has truly found something off the tee, and irons can continue to trend positively, Ghim will be firmly in the mix come Sunday afternoon.

Pat Perez (95-1, FanDuel)

Pat Perez might be my favorite play on the board this week, and I would encourage readers to shop around, as he can be found as low as 60-1 at other books.

With four top-20 finishes in his last six starts, the three-time PGA Tour winner is clearly percolating. Most recently, Perez gained 5.7 on approach at the Northern Trust, which featured one of the strongest fields of the entire season. Now he returns to a much weaker field in a fall series event, where he is certainly most comfortable.

Two of Perez’s three career wins have come in fall series events, and his affinity for resort-style courses where birdies are the currency runs deep. I expect the Arizona State product to mesh perfectly with the vibe this week in Napa, and pick up win number four in the process.

Dylan Frittelli (140-1, FanDuel)

While Dylan Frittelli’s 2021 season has been marred with inconsistency, Silverado is the perfect set-up for the big-hitting South African, as evidenced by a 25th and seventh in two appearances.

While Frittelli is mediocre at many things, he is downright elite at two very specific things that have been proven to be very important at Silverado. The University of Texas product is long off the tee, and he is an excellent wedge player. Frittelli is actually one of only two players in this entire field to rank top-40 in all of the proximity distances between 75 and 150 yards, as well as driving distance.

At an extremely elementary level, selecting players that can bomb it off the tee and stick their wedges is not a terrible strategy to adopt this week. Obviously, recent form cannot be ignored, and while Frittelli has missed two of his last three cuts, he is coming off his best off the tee performance in over a year, and his irons are trending positively as well. This is far too large of a number for a PGA Tour winner with a recent top-five at the British Open, who also happens to fit this course to a tee.

Patrick Rodgers (160-1, FanDuel)

After a standout career at the University of Stanford, there is only one way to describe Patrick Rodgers’ PGA Tour career: disappointing. Rodgers is not short on talent, but he has yet to put all of the pieces of the puzzle together and pick up that elusive first PGA Tour victory. While some may have already lost hope, I’m not yet willing to give up on the big hitting former Ben Hogan Award winner with one of the silkiest putting strokes in the game.

In a nutshell, Patrick Rodgers hits the ball a long way and can get insanely hot with his putter, which is never a bad formula in a birdie-fest. I think Silverado is the perfect course for Rodgers, and not just because it is in California, where Rodgers has un-coincidentally recorded some of his best career finishes.

With seven of his last eight made cuts, Rodgers’ game is really starting to come around. He has gained off the tee in seven of his last eight starts and gained with his irons in three straight as well. I’ve already alluded to the putting stroke, and now Rodgers returns to his preferred surface, poa annua, where he was last seen gaining 7.2 strokes putting at Torrey Pines.

Featured image c/o Fortinet Championship on Twitter

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WOTW: Patrick Cantlay’s Rolex Datejust Rolesor in Black

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For the second week in a row, we get to see Patrick Cantlay play some amazing golf, battling the best players in the world.

We also got to see him win another tournament and hold a couple of trophies in the air wearing his Rolex Datejust in Rolesor (stainless steel and white gold) and Black.

WOTW Specs

Name: Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 41
Reference: 126334-0017
Limited: No
Date: 2017 – Present
Case: 904L Oystersteel
Bezel: White Gold Fluted
Dial: Bright Black
Size: 41 mm
Movement: Calibre 3235, 31 Jewels
Power Reserve: 70 Hours
Glass: Saphire Crystal, Cyclops Lens
Waterproof: 100 Meters
Bracelet: Oyster, 904L Oystersteel
Price: $9,650 (~$12,500)

Patrick just came off a two-week stretch where he played some stunning and entertaining golf. From a six-hole playoff against Bryson to holding off a hard-charging Jon Rahm to win the Tour Championship, Cantlay defined “strong finish.”

In his back-to-back wins, Cantlay was wearing what looked like a Rolex Datejust 41 in Rolesor — Rolex’s combination of Oystersteel and white gold — on his wrist. Patrick could be wearing the 36 mm version as a comment suggested, but it is hard to tell from photos. The 41 mm is the most popular size.

We don’t want to write the same article as last week, so today we jump into a few more details of Cantlay’s Datejust.

The Rolex Datejust was introduced in 1945 and was the first self-winding automatic watch with a date window that changed over instantly at midnight. For most date windows ,you will see the number in the window start to creep up as the time gets closer to midnight, but for Rolex that wasn’t acceptable. They engineered the Calibre 3235 movement, and the others before it, to rotate the internal date wheel so quickly at midnight that you cannot see it move. Instant change.

The Calibre 3235 was designed and is completely built in-house by Rolex. Released in 2015, the 3235 was replacing the beloved Calibre 3135 movement that was considered one of the more durable for daily wear. A larger Blue Parachrom hairspring and Chronergy Escapment upped the power reserve to 70 hours (3135 had 48 hours) and increased the efficiency by about 15 percent. Rolex added its Paraflex shock absorbers for durability and ball-bearings to the main rotor for smoother feel and rotation.

Cantlay’s Datejust is made from stainless steel, but it isn’t just bought from the steel producer with the best price. Rolex owns its own foundry and makes the 904L Oystersteel itself to ensure that it is of the quality it demands and has no variations from watch to watch. The 904L is extremely corrosion resistant for its dive watches and takes a polish better for either brushed finish or a mirror-like shine. T

he 41mm case and the Oyster bracelet are both made from this Rolex alloy. The white gold bezel is also created in this foundry and is formulated to keeps its color longer than a typical formula. The fluted white gold bezel is a Rolex design icon and not only looks classic and dressy but also screws into the case to help with the water-resistant rating.

The legendary Oyster bracelet is made from solid flat links of 904L and the center links are polished while the outer links are brushed for a great two-tone look. Rolex’s Oysterclasp features an Easylink extension for 5 mm of tool-free adjustment to dial in the fit.

Rolex dials are typically hand-finished and set by experts with years of experience in-house. Dials start off as brass discs and go through up to 60 steps to ensure they are painted and finished off perfectly. Patrick’s dial is Bright Black with a sunray finish that refracts light for a deeper look. The hour markers are made from white gold, filled with Rolex’s Chromalight luminescent material, and handset on the dial. The date window is at 3 o’clock and that is covered by a synthetic sapphire crystal with a cyclops lens over it for easier reading.

We should all give a big congratulations to Patrick on winning the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup! He proved just how difficult that is to do and why not many have done it. I hope he takes a little time for himself and gets a new watch to celebrate the occasion! I suggest a white gold Rolex Daytona with a Meteorite dial on an Osyterflex strap!

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Tour Rundown: Solheim Cup, Tour Championship, KFT

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Lots of twin things happened this week. Twins won on a tour in consecutive weeks for most likely the first time in recorded history. Twins rounds on the weekend proved to be the key for at least one winner. And the Korda sisters aren’t twins, but they represented the USA in the Solheim Cup. Maybe it’s a reach, but it’s early September and the story leads are thinning out. It’s Tour Rundown time again, so find your BFF, or your twin and read up together. #MoreFunWithFriends

Solheim Cup claims EGOT for best performance of the year

It figures that a course called Inverness would bring out the best in team professional golf competition. The recent restoration of the iconic Toledo club by Andrew Green set the stage for the performance of many lifetimes. Despite having three acts on the dais, no one expected an EGOT from this biennial event. And yet, the women of Europe and the USA gave us performances usually reserved for Emmy, Globe, Oscar, and Tony winners: they gave us their hearts, their soul, and their blood, sweat, and tears. What more could we ever hope to have, especially during these still-trying times?

After one day, the visitors from across the Atlantic let it be known that they would go quite noisily into the weekend. A 5.5 to 2.5 advantage told the host team that Saturday had better be different, or Sunday would be a formality of a singles competition. Rise to the occasion did the Red, White, and Blue. The home side won 4.5 of the 8 points on offer, and reduced the 3-point margin to a 2-point disadvantage. This, friends, is why singles are reserved for Sunday. Much like wrestling, you walk alone onto the mat, under the gaze of all in attendance, and have only yourself and your singlet. It is raw, it is forceful, and it is unforgettable.

The early portion of the day belonged to the blue of Europe. Three matches were won by Maguire, Sagstrom, and Boutier, while a fourth was halved. The old world stood two mere points from declaring one more piece of luggage on its return flight to the Union. At 4:30 EST, Nelly Korda held off Georgia Hall and notched the first point for the Red flag. At that same moment, it seemed, every other match went to all-square or red as well. Could a comeback take root?

It did, and it almost flowered. Meghan Kang had a six-up lead on Sophia Popov, and such a trouncing would send reverberations throughout the Inverness 18. Somehow, Popov dropped it to five, then four, then three. She ultimately lost by 3 & 2, but who is to say if her delaying the inevitable somehow allowed Matilda Castren to secure a 1-up win over Lizette Salas, and allowed Emily Pedersen to reach 3-up with three to play against Danielle Kang. Those two points made the difference, as Europe retained the Solheim Cup, and won for the first time on USA soil since 2013.

These team events were created to be exhibition matches, but they have (d)evolved into much more than that. They are a source of pride, and they hold their finish not for a moment, but for two entire years until the matches resume. Thus are explained the tears of Kupcho, Harigae, Popov, who suffered one-sided losses to their opponents. Thus is explained the exhaustion of Thompson and Nordqvist, who battled to a draw through 18 draining holes. And thus is explained the jubilation of a dozen women from Europe, who answered the call and realized the dream.

The Ryder Cup has been served notice: after the Curtis Cup and Solheim Cup competitions, the male professionals have much to live up to.

PGA Tour’s Tour Championship belongs to the Cantlifornia Cid

There was an age when Patrick Cantlay was the next and great thing in American golf. That time has returned, and not a moment too soon. As Team USA prepares to move into Ryder Cup competition, its current darling (two-time major champion Collin Morikawa) is struggling, at the same time its sinew set feuds on. Along comes Patrick Cantlay, with a win last week over DeChambeau, and another this week over Spain’s Jon Rahm, to collect his first two, playoff titles, and his first-ever FedEx Cup.

In that yet-to-be-accepted format of starting the top players with an advantage, Cantlay posted just the fourth-best score on the week, and he was tied at that. However, given his bonus strokes as top horse in the race, his 269 was just enough to edge the U.S. Open titleist (Rahm) by one. Cantlay stood outside the top six who automatically qualify for Team USA, but he figured to be an automatic pick to all. With everything on the playoff line, the winner closed birdie-bogey-birdie to edge Rahm’s 72nd-hole birdie.

In an era of Twitter-this and Bluster-that, Cantlay’s demeanor is a contradictory throwback to an era when clubs did the talking. It’s a style befitting a spot on recent European teams, not the ones sporting RWB. Here’s hoping that his disposition and comportment rub off on his teammates and give us the Ryder Cup we all deserve.

Korn Ferry Tour Championship is a tale of highs and lows

Joseph Bramlett has battled his way around the tours for over a decade. Perhaps, only in his dreams did he expect to shoot 30 on the final nine of a Korn Ferry Tour Championship — including a five-birdie run — to clinch the tournament title and a return ticket to the PGA Tour. That’s precisely what happened on Sunday in Indiana. Bramlett stood on the 14th tee, on the heels of two consecutive birdies, precisely six shots in arrears of tournament-leading Trey Mullinax. Five holes later, the former Stanford golfer had made up six shots and earned a four-shot win over the former UAlabama star. Third place went to Christiaan Bezuidenhout of South Africa, one back of Mullinax at 15 deep.

Throughout the week, Trey Mullinax had held the spotlight. He opened with 63 over the water-laced Victoria National layout, and maintained first spot until the bittersweet end. At 14 and 15, his iron game betrayed him from perfect fairway lies. At 18, it was an errant driver that nearly cost him solo second. Despite the home-stretch troubles, Mullinax will join Bramlett next year on the PGA Tour. A win in his portfolio would have been nice, but the consolation prize will comfort almost as nicely.

Let’s remember that the gilded story of the week was the performance of Mr. Bramlett. He has visited the PGA Tour before, and here’s a raised glass to his taking up longer residence this time around.

European Tour Italian Open: Twins win in back-to-back weeks

Just two of the top eight failed to break par each day at Marco Simone near Rome. One of the two, Masahiro Kawamura of Japan, finished in a tie for fifth. The other, Nikolai Hjøgaard, won by a single shot. And he did so on the 72nd hole. And he is the twin of last week’s winner, Rasmus Hjøgaard. That’s pretty exciting, huh?

For the second time in his European Tour career, Adrian Meronk had a chance at victory. Unlike the 2020 Dunhill, when he gave up a final-round lead, Poland’s top golfer stood tied with Nikolai Hjøgaard as the Dane played the final hole. Meronk had posted a sparkling 66 on Sunday, highlighted by an eagle-birdie-birdie, back-nine stretch. His closing run of five pars proved to be precisely what undid his challenge. Nikolai Hjøgaard was brilliant for three days, then held on for dear life over the course of the final round. Faced with the prospect of an initial tour title, each bogey was countered by birdie, and vice-versa. At the closing par five, he zipped a wedge approach to about 30 inches and converted the putt for four and a one-shot win over Meronk and Tommy Fleetwood, who had also made birdie to reach minus-twelve.

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2021 Tour Championship DraftKings fantasy golf picks

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Welcome to a new installment of DraftKings picks from staff writer and host of the Inside Golf Podcast, Andy Lack.

The PGA Tour travels to Atlanta, Georgia, this week for the Tour Championship, the final event of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Only the top-30 players in the FedEx Cup standings will be in attendance at East Lake Golf Club, and all will be competing for the FedEx Cup trophy and the top prize of $15 million dollars.

While this is an incredibly compelling week from a viewing standpoint, it does present an interesting proposition for those inclined to play DraftKings this week. Beginning in 2019, this event switched to a staggered scoring format to eliminate the confusion of two potential winners for the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup title. Patrick Cantlay, who is in first place after his victory last week at the BMW, will begin the tournament at 10-under par. Tony Finau, the number two ranked player, will begin at eight-under par, and so on until we reach the 30th ranked player, who will begin at even par.

Because of this new format, pricing is all over the place. Patrick Cantlay is the most expensive golfer at $13,400, and Erik Van Rooyen is the cheapest option at $5,000. Since there are only 30 players in the field this week, multiple players will crack 30% ownership, and only one or two players will have single digit ownership. While this week certainly isn’t for everyone, I do believe we are presented with an appealing opportunity to lean on game theory (even more than we usually do) and capitalize on some value. Let’s dig into my DraftKings picks for the Tour Championship.

$10,000 range

Jordan Spieth, $10,400 (Projected ownership: 10.98%)

I had no real plans to deploy Jordan Spieth this week, but he is a must play at this ownership. Spieth is in a bit of a dead-zone in the $10,000 range with Dustin Johnson, and double the amount of people are choosing a slightly more expensive Johnson in this spot despite him starting a stroke behind Spieth. That makes little sense to me. While the three-time major champion’s ball-striking has regressed in recent weeks, Spieth has been known to show up on tracks that he loves, regardless of form, and rise to the occasion. So long as he can find some of these fairways, East Lake is a good course for the 12-time PGA Tour winner, as evidenced by his win here in 2017. Spieth has also won at Innisbrook, been solid at TPC Southwind, and experienced plenty of success on Bermuda-grass greens.

$8,000 range 

Harris English, $8,700 (Projected ownership: 10.84%)

Since there are only two players in the $9,000 range this week and I will be playing neither of them, let’s jump down to the eights. I usually fade the Harris English chalk at all costs, so I was shocked to find out that the recent Travelers Championship winner currently carries the third lowest ownership projection of all 30 players in the field. English has been dominant on TPC Southwind, excellent on Bermuda-grass greens, and he profiles well for East Lake statistically as well. Over his last 36 rounds, English ranks 11th in fairways gained and fifth in scrambling. The University of Georgia product should be right at home this week in the southeast.

$7,000 range 

Brooks Koepka, $7,800 (Projected ownership: 17.90%)

Another week, another under-owned Brooks Koepka. I get it, the TOUR Championship is not a major, but I have a hard time believing that the four-time major champion can’t sink his teeth into the task of tracking down his peers from a giant hole. There’s a lot of money on the line this week, even for finishing ninth, and judging from Koepka’s dogged interest in the “PIP”, I think it’s a safe bet to assume this tournament will have his upmost attention. It was obviously overshadowed, but Koepka was good last week at the BMW as well. The Florida native was never going to win, but he fought hard all week and finished a respectable T17 while losing strokes putting, which kind of pokes a hole in the “Brooks only cares when he’s in contention” narrative. If the eight-time PGA Tour winner can grind out a solid weekend while not in contention on what players claimed to be both the hottest week of the year and the most difficult walk of the year, I think it’s fair to surmise that he’ll play hard for four rounds at East Lake, a golf course he’s already finished third and sixth at before.

$6,000 range

Joaquin Niemann, $5,600 (Projected ownership: 18.43%)

While we are not exactly getting a giant ownership break with Joaquin Niemann, fantasy managers are gravitating to the likes of Daniel Berger, Sergio Garcia, Corey Conners, and Hideki Matsuyama in this price range instead. Give me Niemann at depressed ownership. There seems to be a prevailing narrative that the young Chilean should only be deployed on Bent-grass greens, but Niemann has actually averaged 2.6 strokes putting across seven Bermuda-grass starts this season. The former Greenbrier Classic winner is also coming off a performance at the BMW Championship where he gained 1.5 strokes off the tee and 3.9 strokes on approach. Niemann is under-priced and under-owned for the upside he possesses.

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