Having taken just a week off after the all-star FedEx Cup had brought the curtain down on the 2021-22 season, the PGA Tour rolls back into action with the low-key Fortinet Championship launching the new wrap-around “year” in California.
Fortunately it will be out-with-the-new and a return to the old calendar-year format in 2024 and meanwhile we head off to Napa, a region more famous for wine-growing than golf, with Max Homa defending at the Silverado Country Club.
It’s the second edition of a six-year Fortinet sponsorship of a tournament that used to be called the Safeway Open when 2009 Open champion Stewart Cink, caddied by son Reagan, ended an 11-year win drought at Silverado in 2020.
Homa is the only competing member of the US Presidents Cup team taking on the Internationals at Quail Hollow next week in what looks like a mismatch thanks to LIV Golf taking away what little chance the underdogs had by signing arguably their two greatest assets, Open champion Cam Smith and Riviera winner Joaquin Niemann - not to mention Abraham Ancer, Marc Leishman, Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace and Carlos Ortiz.
While accepting how difficult it is to defend a trophy, the underrated Homa has to be the man to beat. At 22nd in the men's world golf rankings, only Hideki Matsuyama ranks above him at Silverado and he played a blinder for fifth at East Lake the last time we saw him. Before that he’d bagged a third tour victory at Wells Fargo in a breakout year in which he finally started to realise how good he was and deserving of sitting at golf’s top table.
While Matsuyama, sixth here last year and a winner in Hawaii at the start of 2022, seems the main danger, there are plenty of golf’s newer generation hungry to get their share of the PGA Tour’s enhanced prize money of $8m.
It’s less than two weeks since Justin Suh captured the Korn Ferry Tour Championship and with it the No. 1 spot on that satellite circuit. This 25-year-old Californian was an outstanding amateur and it took him a couple of years to get used to the pro game but he has arrived, so watch him go!
Already proven at top level are Sahith Theegala and late bloomer Taylor Pendrith. They will repay following at this level when none of the world’s elite is in attendance.
Theegala was all over the winner until luck played a scurvy trick on him on the final hole at the Travelers and he took two to get out of a fairway bunker. His double bogey there let Xander Schauffele overtake him and it was another late error at Phoenix that stopped him opening his account back in February.
Canadian Pendrith lost four big-money months with a rib injury but returned to action in August with his game in great shape. He led in Detroit but didn’t handle the last-nine pressure and had to settle for second.
The setback didn’t faze him and he roared back with big performances at the Wyndham (13th) and in Boston (8th). Having had a taste of what being in main-tour contention is like, expect Pendrith to use the experience to get the job done next time.
He’s not the only Canuck with a big shout as Corey Conners is one of the favourites. Top class tee to green, Conners’ weakness is with the flat stick. This classy swinger has to come into the conversation but doesn’t win as often as he should and there’s little juice in the 16/1 quote.
Tom Hoge, Luke List (4th in 2020), Davis Riley and Cam Davis all have the game to succeed here as does 2019 winner Cameron Champ but the final pick is Trey Mullinax, not the prettiest swinger in town but it works for him.
The 6ft 4in Alabaman has grown since winning the Barbasol as his later efforts, fifth at St Jude and 12th in Boston, were a big improvement on his pre-Barbasol form. Best to strike while the iron is hot.
Belgian stylist Thomas Detry starts his US career after qualifying for main-tour action and arrives on the back of a terrific effort at Wentworth when fifth, tight on the tail of some of the world’s finest. A repeat of that would make his 55/1 quote well worth investing in but this serial loser won’t be carrying my money.
It’s California so you won’t be surprised to read that a rain-free four days are forecast with only a gentle breeze and temperatures in the 24-26C range.
Fortinet Championship golf betting tips 2022
- 1.5pts each-way Max Homa at 16/1
- 1.5pts each-way Sahith Theegala at 35/1
- 1pt each-way Taylor Pendrith at 28/1
- 1pt each-way Trey Mullinax at 55/1
- 1pt each-way Hideki Matsuyama at 14/1
- 0.5pt each-way Justin Suh at 66/1
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Celebrating my 52nd year tipping and writing about golf. Tipped more than 800 winners (and more than 8000 losers!). First big winner Lee Trevino at 8-1, 1972 Open at Muirfield. Biggest win £40 each-way Ernie Els at 80-1 and 50-1, 2012 Open. Most memorable: Giving the 1-2-3 at 33-1, 50-1, 33-1 out of 4 tips from a field of 180 in 2006 Pebble Beach Pro-Am. According to one bookmaker “Undoubtedly one of the greatest tipping performances of all time”. And, of course, putting up a 150/1 winner with Stewart Cink in my very first column for Golf Monthly. Lowest handicap 9 Present handicap 35.6. Publications tipped for: Sporting Life, Racing Post, Racing&Football Outlook, Golf World, Golf Weekly, Golf Monthly, Fitzdares Times. Check our Jeremy's latest tips at our Golf Betting tips home page
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