2022 Fortinet Championship Fantasy Golf Power Rankings and Picks
Welcome back, fantasy people.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks. Since we last met, another round of professionals opted to play their golf elsewhere. And, the Korn Ferry 50 jumped into the player pool. Some are familiar names, hoping to benefit from their previous PGA Tour experience. Others are Tour rookies, bombing tee shots and putting boldly, anxious to start fast and secure tournament invites when the calendar turns.
Their names will be familiar soon.
The 156-man field is gathering at Silverado, deep in the heart of California wine country, for the Fortinet Championship, played on the par-72, 7,123 yard North Course, originally designed by Ben Harmon in the 1950s and renovated by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and tournament host Johnny Miller.
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The challenge they face this week? Attack the four reachable par 5s, show a sharp short game around the small, undulating putting surfaces and putt well on poa annua greens. Max Homa and Maverick McNealy, both Californians, finished 1-2 here a year ago.
Half the approach shots are struck from inside 150 yards here and a winning score around 18-under par is likely. Better make some birdies. The par 5s are by far the four easiest holes and past champions and top-10 finishers gained an advantage there.
As always, good luck.
Fortinet Championship Fantasy Golf Power Rankings
25. Callum Tarren – The Englishman locked up his status last summer by playing well on shorter courses Detroit GC, Sedgefield and TPC Deere Run. He’s 11th in the field in driving distance and scrambling gained, ranking third in scoring on 550-600 yard par-5s.
24. Troy Merritt – Mixed bag here in recent years but a T-4 and T-16 in his last five appearances in Napa are worth noting. One of the best in the field in par-5 scoring and also solid in the 5-15 foot range on poa annua greens over the last 75 rounds.
23. Chris Kirk – No recent experience at Silverado but ranks fourth in the field in SG: Around the Green and third in SG: Tee-to-Green over the last 50 rounds. Accurate driver is also top 20 in Opportunities Gained on shorter courses.
22. Chez Reavie – If you like course horses, here’s your guy. Has finished 33rd or better each of the last five years here and is still riding high after claiming the Barracuda Championship last summer.
21. Lee Hodges – Should be able to strike his way to many opportunities, ranking eighth in the field in SG: Approach and 32nd in Good Drives Gained. Missed the cut here last year in only appearance.
20. Nick Hardy – After an injury interrupted rookie season on the PGA Tour earned his way back through the Korn Ferry finals. Doubt he returns there anytime soon. Bomber putts his best on poa annua greens.
19. Stephan Jaeger – He’s 26th in SG: Approach and eighth in SG: Around the Green over the last 50 rounds. Gained 12.5 shots Tee-to-Green in two strong finishes at Detroit and the Wyndham.
18. Adam Svensson – Settled in to a solid rookie season and starts 2022-23 campaign on course made for his proficiency from inside 150 yards. Top 10 in Birdies or Better Gained and Opportunities Gained on shorter courses.
17. Mark Hubbard – Steady player finished in the top 20 here two of the last three years. Ranks sixth in SG: Approach and 31st in SG: Tee-to-Green over the last 50 rounds. Putts well enough to take another step up the Tour hierarchy.
16. Taylor Montgomery – Birdie machine bombs it, finished top 10 in one of the KFT playoff events and was T-11 on poa annua at Torrey Pines in January. He’s a strong candidate to earn Rookie of the Year.
15. Davis Riley – Would be higher if not for poor past results on poa annua greens but we’ve seen poor putters win here before. He’s ninth in SG: Tee-to-Green and 19th in Birdies or Better on shorter courses.
14. Brendan Steele – The two-time champion here (2016, 2017) was striking the golf ball as well as anyone in the world for a stretch last summer. The best combination of power and accuracy off the tee in the field and is 10th in SG: Approach.
13. Alex Smalley – Felt like he had a beneficial rookie season on the PGA Tour and is poised to contend more frequently in ‘22-23. Only weakness is his short game but he’s above the field average in the other key categories.
12. Kevin Streelman – Another course horse who flashed hot streaks over the summer, finishing second in the Barbasol. He has three top 25s here in the last five years, ranks 23rd in SG: Approach, eighth in Good Drives Gained and 16th in Opportunities Gained on shorter courses.
11. Webb Simpson – Last season was a disaster for Simpson and he’ll feel that pain again when the Presidents Cup is held on his home course and he’s not representing the U.S. Expect him to rebound quickly. His world-class short game and strong history on shorter courses make Silverado an ideal place to start.
Fortinet Championship Fantasy Golf Best Bets
10. Chris Gotterup – He can obliterate this course with his power and strong all-around iron play. Lacking status for the 2022-23 season, he’ll need to take advantage of every opportunity and a softer field such as this one.
9. Justin Suh – Turned pro alongside Morikawa, Hovland and Wolff but injuries denied him the same early success. He’s here now though and has all the tools to climb to the top tier. Finished top 10 in his last four KFT starts including a win in the Tour Championship.
8. Austin Eckroat – The runner-up to Suh at Victoria National he’s thrived in easier scoring conditions during his young career, ranking top 25 in Opportunities Gained and Birdies or Better Gained on shorter courses.
7. Tom Hoge – After a dismal stretch in the summer, closed a career season by finishing 10th in the Tour Championship. Won on poa annua greens at Pebble Beach and ranks fourth in the field in SG: Approach over the last 50 rounds.
6. Sahith Theegala – Checks all the boxes to succeed here with his consistent Tee-to-Green game, excellent short game skills and ability to putt on poa annua greens. California native who attended Pepperdine.
5. Hideki Matsuyama – Each of the top 5 players in the Power Rankings is participating in the Presidents Cup next week, so proceed at your own risk. Are they prepping for the matches or focused on contending? Matsuyama tied for sixth here last year, ranks second in SG: Approach and thrives on shorter courses.
4. Corey Conners – Gains more birdie opportunities than anyone in the field on shorter courses because of his impeccable accuracy off the tee and with his irons. Also top 20 in scoring on both 500-550 and 550-600-yard par 5s.
3. Max Homa – The defending champion would surprise no one if he repeated. Excellent poa annua putter ranks sixth in SG: Tee-to-Green and fifth in Scrambling. Improved wedge play keyed his outstanding two-win ‘21-22 season.
2. Taylor Pendrith – If his outstanding play down the stretch last season didn’t buoy his confidence then getting the call from captain Trevor Immelman to join the International side certainly must have. Just needs a good week around the greens and he’ll be in the mix.
1. Cam Davis – Quietly put together the most consistent golf of his career late last season when most golf thoughts were elsewhere. Finished T-17 here in 2019 and T-36 last year. Bombs it, crushes the par 5s and makes large checks on shorter courses. He’s ready to win again.
Fortinet Championship Fantasy Golf Picks: Bargain Bin
Erik Barnes, Ben Griffin, Chesson Hadley, John Huh, Ryan Moore, C.T. Pan, Cameron Percy, Adam Schenk, Austin Smotherman, Davis Thompson.