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Fortinet Championship DraftKings Picks

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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 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 the DraftKings slate.

$10,000 range

Kevin Na, $10,000 (15.66%)

At 15.66% Kevin Na, is actually projected to be the lowest owned of the golfers over $10,000. That is not entirely surprising, as this field certainly lacks elite talent and fantasy managers are simply going to gravitate to the players that they feel they can trust.

If fantasy managers can fathom a universe where Jon Rahm doesn’t win this tournament, then they will understand the issue with a $12,100 Rahm at 30% ownership. I am honestly okay with all of the non-Rahm options in this range, but Na would be my preferred choice given his course fit, recent form, and projected ownership.

$9,000 range

Sebastian Munoz, $9,200 (12.75%)

I’m not entirely in love with the $9,000 range either. I think there are a ton of fantastic options in the sevens and eights, but Munoz makes the most sense to me at this ownership. The former Sanderson Farms Championship winner is plenty long off the tee, elite from 100-125 yards, and loves himself a birdie fest.

He is coming off of three top-30 finishes in a row, and the two most recent ones came against stout fields in the FedEx Cup playoffs. Munoz should definitely be able to take advantage of Silverado off the tee and seems an obvious pivot from the Harold Varner chalk.

$8,000 range

Talor Gooch, $8,000 (5.22%)

Gooch is a friend of the column at this point, and while he did not make the cut for my outright selections, he is an absolute must play in DraftKings at this ownership. Apparently, 25% of fantasy managers are choosing to play Mito Pereira instead. Is Mito Pereira five times more likely to outperform Talor Gooch, who made 20 of 26 cuts last season, finished fifth at the Players, 12th at Riviera, and made the cut in every major he played in? This is a fantastic opportunity to fade everyone’s shiny new toy and take an objectively better golfer at one fifth of the ownership.

$7,000 range

Charles Howell III, $7,700 (4.49%)

Similar to Gooch, Charles Howell III also just missed the cut for my outright selections. I didn’t agree with the fact that he was sub-100/1, and an argument could made that he is over-priced in the DraftKings slate as well. I think that’s telling us something. He’s priced up for a reason, and I do believe it might have something to do with the fact that he gained 4.3 strokes ball-striking in his most recent start, good for his best ball-striking week since the Players.

Very sneakily, Charles Howell is plenty long, can dominate with his driver, and is an elite wedge player. Over his last 36 rounds, the three-time PGA Tour winner ranks 32nd in driving distance, third in strokes gained off the tee, and seventh in proximity from 100-125 yards. Sign me up.

$6,000 range

Vaughn Taylor, $6,100 (0.46%)

At near minimum pricing, Vaughn Taylor is grossly mis-priced. There is no logical reason why a proven PGA Tour veteran in solid form is priced next to the likes of Turk Pettit and Max McGreevy. Despite the mis-pricing, the three-time PGA Tour winner is still coming in at sub-one percent ownership, which is hard for me to understand. Taylor has gained over three strokes on approach in four of his last five starts, and he is certainly capable of getting red-hot with the flat-stick as well.

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19th Hole

Lawyer uses Tiger Woods analogy in court…and it does not go down well

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If you love relating golf to all aspects of life, you are not alone. Unfortunately for a golf-loving Kentucky lawyer, a recent Tiger Woods analogy in a court room fell flat.

The case in question featured a man by the name of Maurice Gasaway (named by Sportico) who was convicted of possessing heroin and marijuana. During the jury selection process, the prosecutor attempted to explain the idea of “reasonable doubt” through the lens of a hypothetical golf match with Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.

The lawyer stated: “But, who in here believes if I was to go out and play golf with Rory and Tiger, that it’s possible, possible that I could beat them in nine holes? Does everyone agree it’s possible? Anything’s possible. Both their arms could fall off. Okay. It’s possible. Maybe extreme, but it’s possible. Anything could happen, okay.”

He continued, “Is it reasonable to believe that I would beat both of them? No. No, it’s not reasonable. Um, it’s not. If you play golf, you know it’s not reasonable. Does everybody understand the difference between possible and reasonable though? Okay. Now, does everybody agree to hold this man responsible for his actions if I meet my burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt?”

Woefully for the lawyer, the judge ruled that while prosecutors may define to juries what reasonable doubt is not, using hypothetical scenarios is far from ideal.

Judge Taylor ultimately deemed it an incorrect use of the analogy. While we are firm believers that every aspect of life can relate back to golf, this attempt might have been a little ambitious.

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19th Hole

Gary Woodland surprises friend with Special Olympic selection

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Gary Woodland and Amy Bockerstette’s friendship dates all the way back to the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open. Bockerstette parred TPC Scottsdale’s famous 16th hole during the pro-am, with Woodland cheering by her side.

Bockerstette and Woodland remained in touch. The four-time PGA Tour winner even credited her, “I got this,” mantra for helping him with the 2019 U.S. Open later that year at Pebble Beach.

Bockerstette, who has Down syndrome, was one of five golfers chosen for the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games, which will be held next June in Orlando, Florida. Through a zoom call, Gary Woodland was the one to deliver his friend the news.

“I was so happy to see Gary invite me to go to Florida next year for the Special Olympics USA Games. We are best friends. I am very excited to go to Disney too,” Bockerstette told ESPN.

Bockerstette, who plays golf for Paradise Valley Community College, was also the first person with Down syndrome to ever play in a collegiate championship, when she competed in the NJCAA Division I women’s national golf championship. She will be amongst over 200 athletes competing in the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games.

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19th Hole

Tour pro gets rock “stuck” in club, prompts strange ruling

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Kiradech Aphibarnrat embarked on quite the adventure on the par-five 12th hole at Wentworth Golf Club during the third round of the European Tour’s BMW Championship.

The four-time European Tour winner hit his tee shot into a drainage ditch, and elected to play the ball as it was. Aphibarnrat was able to advance the ball close to 10-yards out of the hazard, getting doused by water in the process.

As Aphibarnrat emerged from the hazard, he noticed that there was a stone embedded inside his club. The Thailand native promptly called an official.

The issue was that Aphibarnrat was having difficulty removing the stone from the club, yet according to Rule 4.1a, he was still allowed to use the club for the remainder of the round.

Aphibarnrat still managed to par the hole as part of a third round two-over par 72. He proceeded to finish the tournament one stroke back of eventual winner Billy Horschel.

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