Ah yes, we can finally breathe again. After what felt like forever, the PGA Tour is back for a new season. Indeed, two weeks is too long not to bet on the world's best golfers, not to sweat out a late Friday cut line or, my favorite, Sunday sweats as one of my outright golfers is making a charge to win it all. This will be the last year we will be treated to the shoulder season. At the end of the 2022-2023 season, the PGA Tour will return to the calendar year season schedule. Regardless of what the future holds, I will enjoy betting on these fall-swing tournaments in hopes of finding a price on a few golfers that I can't turn down.
The golfers head to Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa, California, for the Fortinet Championship this week. An event where Max Homa is the defending champion. Homa's back in the field and is the tournament favorite with odds between +1000 and +1600. It makes sense for the California native and the University of California, Berkeley product to be a favorite here. His familiarity with the course gives him a significant upper hand.
The par-72 7,166-yard Silverado is on the interesting side regarding handicapping a winner. This course can be bested by the “bombers” and the shorter hitters who excel with driving accuracy. The rough here isn't overly penal, making it easy for golfers to bomb their drive as close to the green as possible, and hop to pitch the approach close and close out for birdie. From a betting perspective, I will be hoping to attack the placement market and proposition bets harder than the outright market. With that being said, here are my favorite outright bets this week:
Taylor Pendrith to win +3000:
All weekend, I was dreaming about betting on Taylor Pendrith. Where that's because of Rick Gehman's tweet last Friday where he listed the 15 golfers who gained at least 2+ strokes per round in 37%+ rounds last season. Two things stood out to me able that list. First, those golfers accounted for 27 of the 48 wins last season and all four major wins. The second, everyone on that list won at least one tournament except two golfers: Tommy Fleetwood and Pendrith.
I was pleased to find Pendrith as the first golfer on my primary model. He's eighth among the field in Strokes Gained: Total, second in SG: Ball-Striking, and 11th in both SG: Par 5 and Driving Distance. He finished T36 here last season and finished the 2022 season strong. He will have to putt better if he wants to find himself at the top of the leaderboard come Sunday, but with his skill on approach, he likely will have some very makeable putts.
Looking at the BMW, where he gained +4.9 strokes on approach, he lost -1.3 strokes putting but still finished T8. This field is closer in strength to Rocket Mortgage, where he finished T2. The course should be a bit similar. Bomb your drive down the fairway, knock the wedges close and make birdie putts. Imagine how much momentum he will have heading into the Presidents Cup if he picks up his first win this week.
Trey Mullinax to win +6000:
This was an interesting spot when I built out my primary model. Trey Mullinax is the second-ranked golfer behind Pendrith and ahead of Emiliano Grillo. I think that if a golfer is +6000 and ranked second on my model, I am betting him pretty much without question.
There's good reason for Mullinax to be rated highly on my model. He picked up a win late in the season at the Barbasol and finished the year off with a T5 at St. Jude and a T12 at the BMW Championship. Naturally, I am a huge fan when any Alabama golfer has success. Like Pendrith, Mullinax would need to get hot with his putter again. Which he's shown he can do. If you look at his starts from Barbasol through Rocket Mortgage, he was gaining strokes, putting like a madman. During his win at the Barbasol, he gained +8.7 strokes on approach, helping him gain +3.1 strokes putting.
He was awful here last season, but much of that had to do with losing strokes on approach. He's generally excellent on approach, so we should see a better performance this week.
Emiliano Grillo to win +4000:
I am prepared to sweat Emiliano Grillo all week, just for him to let me down on Sunday. However, I must bet him this week. Grillo rates highly this week, and it's for a good reason. He's ninth in SG: Tot, 10th in GIR, seventh in SG: BS, and fifth in SG: Par 5. He had flashes of brilliance last season. He had two runner-up finishes in a matter of weeks at the John Deere and 3M Open. When Grillo is on his game, he's a threat. He's good off-the-tee, a solid ball striker, and can get going with his putter. At his price, I'm interested.
Cam Davis to win +3000:
It's about time for Davis to pick up his second PGA Tour win. The Aussie had a great 2022 season with five top 10 finishes. As the season began to go on, he impressed me. It seemed as if he grew into his game. He was brilliant at the RBC Heritage, gaining +9.8 stroke on the field and finishing T3. He could've been a serious contender had he not fired off a 2-over-73 in round 2. Davis fits the type of golfer whom I am targeting this week. He's long of the tee averaging 309 yards per drive; he's a great ball striker and can get hot with his flat stick. Much like Pendrith, this week could serve as a major springboard for him heading into the President's Cup.