We're off to California in search of a monster-priced winner this week with three selections at the 2021-22 PGA Tour seasonal opener the Fortinet Championship...
"The Californian knows Silverado intimately and he really knows how to play the tricky track, so I was more than happy to take a chance on him at a triple-figure price."
We've seen plenty of outsiders win on the European Tour this summer and two of the last three winners of this week's event, the Dutch Open (previewed here) have gone off at triple-figure prices. But it's a very difficult event to assess with the tournament visiting another new venue.
German youngster, Matthias Schmid, who was the low amateur at the Open Championship, came closest to being a selection in the Netherlands. He led after round one in his homeland on the Challenge Tour last week before slipping down to ninth, but I've reluctantly left him out and concentrated my efforts entirely on this week's PGA Tour seasonal opener - the Fortinet Championship.
As highlighted in the preview, the last three winners of the Fortinet (formerly the Safeway Open) have gone off at a triple figure price and after seven years at Silverado in the Napa Valley, California, in contrast to the Dutch Open, we have lots to go on.
Silverado specialist a Steele at triple-figure odds
Brendan Steele has won this event twice already at Silverado, back-to-back in 2016 and 2017, and he's a very straightforward selection given this isn't the only course at which he's played well repeatedly.
Steele has traded at odds-on without winning at each of the last two editions of the Sony Open. On the second occasion in January this year, when he hit a low of 1.374/11 on Sunday, he began the event as an unconsidered 240.0239/1 chance so I'm not unduly worried about his poor form.
The Californian knows Silverado intimately and he really knows how to play the tricky track, so I was more than happy to take a chance on him at a triple-figure price.
Take a chance on Todd
As highlighted in the preview, the Texas Open and to a lesser extent, the Sony Open, look like events that correlate nicely with the Fortinet Championship. It's also worth noting that last year's winner, Stewart Cink, is a two-time winner of the Travelers Championship, a tournament that also seems to link quite nicely, so anyone with form at all three was always going to perk my interest.
Having contended in all three events to varying degrees, the three-time PGA Tour winner, Brendon Todd, is someone I thought might be able to shine at Silverado.
Todd's 26th here on debut was his last decent result before an almighty slump saw him tumble down the official world rankings so we can ignore his missed cut four years later as that was just months before he emerged from his depression.
Having won the HP Byron Nelson in 2014, Todd had been a top-50 player before his dramatic downturn. But prior to winning back-to-back on the PGA Tour in November 2019, so poor had his form been that he'd slipped to outside the world's top-500.
Todd has had a consolidating couple of years since those two victories but there have been signs that he could be about to heat up again. He missed the cut at the Northern Trust on his final outing of the 2020/21 PGA Tour season but there was a lot to like about his top-10 finish in the Wyndham Championship the week before after a slow start.
The key stat at Silverado appears to be Scrambling and Todd's ability to get up-and down to save par is arguably his best asset.
Korn Ferry grad Creel can make a big impression
As it's the opening event of the PGA Tour season, this is the first opportunity that the Korn Ferry Tour graduates have to showcase their skills on the bigger stage and Emiliano Grillo, back in 2015, has already shown, it's possible to get off to a lightening start.
Grillo won this event on his first PGA Tour start after graduating, following his victory at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship just two weeks earlier, so I'm happy to take a chance on one of the grads at a huge price - 31-year-old Joshua Creel.
Creel won the Utah Championship back in August - a tournament won by Todd in 2008 and by the Fortinet Championship winner of 2019 Cameron Champ back in 2018, as well as the Silverado second in 2016 Patton Kizzire back in 2015.
He's very accurate off the tee and a terrific scrambler so he might just get involved at a humongous price.
I'll be back on Thursday or Friday with the In-Play Blog.
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