After a fortnight off following Rory McIlroy's victory at the Tour Championship in the final event of the 2021/22 season, the 2022/23 PGA Tour season begins on Thursday in California with the Fortinet Championship.
The Fortinet Championship, formerly the Safeway Open, and before that, the Frys.com Open, is a fairly-new event and it's only been in existence since 2007.
The North Course, Silverado Resort and Spa, Napa Valley, California.
Par 72, 7123 yards
Stroke Index in 2021 - 71.05
After three years at Grey Hawk in Arizona and four at Cordevalle in San Martin, California, the Fortinet Championship moved to the North Course at the Silverado Resort in Napa Valley, California, in 2014 so this will be the ninth year in-a-row the course has hosted.
The Robert Trent Jones Jr designed North Course opened in 1957 but it has been substantially reworked in recent years by Troon Golf and one of the venues co-owners, Johnny Miller.
In addition to the last eight editions of this event, Silverado hosted the Kaiser International between 1968 and 1976 and the Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic from 1977 to 1980 and some of the game's legends won here during those 13 years.
Johnny Miller, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Ben Crenshaw all tasted victory at Silverado and some big names also won here during the 14 years it saw Champions Tour golf when it hosted the Transamerica from 1989 to 2002.
The likes of Bernard Langer, Lee Trevino, Tom Kite and Dave Stockton all winning here.
This is what the 2014 winner, Sangmoon Bae, had to say about the venue.
"I really like this course because it's a classic. Always classic courses you need really good iron shots. Really narrow, small greens, a lot of undulation."
The fairways are largely tree-lined and reasonably tight with the rough set to a height of three inches and the Poa-annua greens will be set to run at 11.5 on the stimpmeter - a fairly modest pace by PGA standards.
Live coverage starts on Sky Sports from 17:30 on Thursday but because we're on the west coast, it's on quite late in the UK over the weekend with coverage beginning at 23:00 on Saturday and Sunday.
Last Six Winners with Pre-event Exchange Prices
2021 - Max Homa 80.079/1
2020 - Stewart Cink 570.0569/1
2019 - Cameron Champ -17 200.0199/1
2018 - Kevin Tway -14 110.0109/1
2017 - Brendon Steele -15 36.035/1
2016 - Brendon Steele -18 75.074/1
2015 - Emiliano Grillo -15 75.074/1
We now have eight years of course form to survey, so here's the top-three and ties at the last eight editions with all the key stats - Driving Distance, Driving Accuracy, Greens In Regulation, Scrambling, Putting Average and Strokes Gained Putting.
1 Max Homa -19 DD 22 DA 7 GIR 19 SC 42 PA 2 SGP 14
2 Maverick McNealy -18 DD 13 DA 29 GIR 10 SC 61 PA 1 SGP 13
3 Mito Pereira -16 DD 11 DA 1 GIR 3 SC 31 PA 33 SGP 42
1 Stewart Cink -21 DD 11 DA 24 GIR 1 SC 2 PA 52 SGP 13
2 Harry Higgs -19 DD 21 DA 48 GIR 59 SC 17 PA 5 SGP 17
T3 Chez Reavie -18 DD 61 DA 1 GIR 11 SC 34 PA 21 SGP 42
T3 Doc Redman -18 DD 54 DA 5 GIR 40 SC 21 PA 8 SGP 24
T3 Kevin Streelman -18 DD 49 DA 20 GIR 11 SC 49 PA 3 SGP 12
T3 Brian Stuard -18 DD 55 DA 13 GIR 15 SC 5 PA 18 SGP 16
1 Cameron Champ -17 DD 1 DA 21 GIR 10 SC 1 PA 38 SGP 1
2 Adam Hadwin -16 DD 46 DA 29 GIR 1 SC 37 PA 12 SGP 4
3 Marc Leishman -14 DD 8 DA 18 GIR 20 SC 5 PA 47 SGP 2
1 Kevin Tway -15 DD 14 DA 40 GIR 18 SC 1 PA 22 SGP 18
T2 Ryan Moore -15 DD 59 DA 1 GIR 2 SC 24 PA 18 SGP 6
T2 Brandt Snedeker -15 DD 33 DA 30 GIR 40 SC 42 PA 1 SGP 2
1 Brendan Steele -15 DD 1 DA 3 GIR 4 SC 7 PA 60 SGP 29
2 Tony Finau -13 DD 11 DA 39 GIR 52 SC 10 PA 16 SGP 16
T3 Chesson Hadley -12 DD 7 DA 24 GIR 47 SC 48 PA 1 SGP 9
T3 Phil Mickelson -12 DD 45 DA 74 GIR 32 SC 44 PA 3 SGP 19
1 Brendan Steele -18 DD 23 DA 5 GIR 21 SC 4 PA 8 SGP 6
2 Patton Kizzire -17 DD 35 DA 67 GIR 21 SC 21 PA 4 SGP 1
T3 Paul Casey -16 DD 10 DA 34 GIR 35 SC 2 PA 6 SGP 29
T3 Michael Kim -16 DD 50 DA 34 GIR 16 SC 12 PA 5 SGP 18
T3 Scott Piercy -16 DD 12 DA 29 GIR 7 SC 48 PA 8 SGP 4
T3 Johnson Wagner -16 DD 42 DA 29 GIR 9 SC 9 PA 9 SGP 8
1 Emiliano Grillo -15 DD 37 DA 8 GIR 16 SC 5 PA 41 SGP 61
2 Kevin Na -15 DD 30 DA 5 GIR 10 SC 40 PA 12 SGP 51
T3 Jason Bohn -14 DD 64 DA 5 GIR 1 SC 71 PA 4 SGP 39
T3 Justin Thomas -14 DD 25 DA 67 GIR 2 SC 23 PA 11 SGP 19
T3 Tyrone Van Aswegen -14 DD 44 DA 31 GIR 10 SC 21 PA 12 SGP 8
1 Sang-Moon Bae -15 DD 26 DA 45 GIR 6 SC 3 PA 18 SGP 44
2 Steven Bowditch -13 DD 17 DA 67 GIR 71 SC 2 PA 12 SGP 9
T3 Retief Goosen -12 DD 29 DA 49 GIR 50 SC 15 PA 14 SGP 1
T3 Martin Laird -12 DD 34 DA 16 GIR 9 SC 1 PA 39 SGP 8
T3 Hunter Mahan -12 DD 21 DA 37 GIR 6 SC 52 PA 6 SGP 16
T3 Hideki Matsuyama -12 DD 25 DA 8 GIR 3 SC 12 PA 22 SGP 45
T3 Bryce Molder -12 DD 64 DA 45 GIR 48 SC 15 PA 2 SGP 12
Although nobody hit it further off the tee than the 2019 winner, Cameron Champ, the first three home all ranked inside the top-30 for Driving Accuracy, the most accurate driver has finished third in each of the last two editions, and the first three winners here ranked inside the top-eight for DA.
I'd suggest being straight and short is slightly better than long and inaccurate but with the exception of last year, when putting was key, the really key stat has been Scrambling.
The first seven course winners ranked inside the top-seven for that stat, Stewart Cink ranked second for Scrambling two years ago, and the two winners before him both managed to get up-and-down more often than anyone else.
The front three only ranked 42nd, 61st and 31st for Scrambling last year but Patrick Rodgers in tied sixth ranked first and Talor Gooch, who finished tied for fourth, ranked third.
Is There an Angle In?
Putting on Poa is always a bit tricky and the locals are often at an advantage on the west coast.
The first two home last year, the 2019 winner, Cameron Champ, and the two-time winner, Brendan Steele, are all Californians and we've also seen California's Phil Mickelson contend recently so that's something to consider.
From a course correlation angle, form at TPC San Antonio - home of the Texas Open - looks worthy of consideration.
The front two last year don't have any form at San Antonio but the man in third, Mito Pereira, finished 13th there this year in his only appearance.
The 2020 winner, Stewart Cink, has only ordinary form at TPC San Antonio (22nd on his last appearance), but two of the players to finish tied third that year have performed well there.
In 315 PGA Tour starts, Brian Stuard has only eight top-four finishes on the PGA Tour in a career that stretches back almost 13 years so his fourth in Texas in 2019 is significant and Kevin Streelman has finished eighth, sixth and 18th in his last three appearances at TPC San Antonio.
Ryan Moore, who finished second here four years ago has form figures at TPC San Antonio reading 53-8-18-7-3-76.
Tony Finau, who was second here in 2017, was third in Texas that year too, alongside the 2018 winner here, Kevin Tway.
The aforementioned Snedeker was fourth there in 2011, and so too was Chesson Hadley in 2015, a year before he finished third here.
Brendan Steele has won the Texas Open at San Antonio and so too has the second and third here in 2014, Steven Bowditch and Martin Laird. It looks like a really decent correlation.
Coincidently, Jimmy Walker has also won both tournaments but his victory in the October of 2013 was in the final renewal at Cordevalle Golf Club in San Martin, California, before the switch to Silverado.
It's not as strong a link, but form at the Sony Open in Hawaii pops up repeatedly too.
Is There an Identikit Winner?
Jimmy Walker was fairly well-fancied eight years ago (generally a 36.035/1 shot) and Steele was the same price to defend the title five years ago, but outsiders have a fine record.
Max Homa was an 80.079/1 chance 12 months ago and the three winners before him went off at triple-figure prices. And so too did Sang-Moon Bae in 2014 and the 2011 winner, Bryce Molder, so don't be afraid to go for an outsider or two.
Winner's Position and Exchange Price Pre-Round Four
2021 - Max Homa - trailing by two 10.09/1
2020 - Stewart Cink T7 - trailing by two 42.041/1
2019 - Cameron Champ led by three strokes 2.6413/8
2018 - Kevin Tway second - trailing by three strokes 7.26/1
2017 - Brendan Steele T3 - trailing by three 6.411/2
2016 - Brendan Steele T6 - trailing by four 32.031/1
2015 - Emiliano Grillo T4 - trailing by two 14.013/1
We've only had eight renewals here but it's already shown to be a venue where winning from off the pace is perfectly possible.
Cameron Champ was never more than three strokes back or outside the top-five three years ago and Kevin Tway was five, four and three strokes adrift after rounds one, two and three four years ago, so he was never too far away either but Ryan Moore trailed by seven with a round to go before getting into the playoff.
Brendan Steele was always up there in 2017 but Chesson Hadley, who began the final round just a stroke behind the 54-hole leader, Tyler Duncan, was tied for 61st after round one before a course-record 61 in round two moved him up to third at halfway.
Sang-Moon Bae was always on the premises in 2014 and he was four clear after 54 holes but the runner-up, Stephen Bowditch, was tied for 80th after round one and he was still six adrift and tied for 36th at halfway.
Emiliano Grillo was six back and tied for 19th at halfway when he won seven years ago and the first nine home were all outside the top-five through 36 holes.
Homa was matched at a high of 240.0239/1, after a poor second round saw him trail by seven in a tie for 24th at halfway last year, the 2020 winner, Stewart Cink, trailed by eight at halfway and finally, Steele was nine strokes adrift at halfway and still four back with a round to go when he won here for the first time six years ago.
It may well be a place to take on any clear leaders too. Brandt Snedeker began the final round with a three-stroke lead four years ago and after birdies at five and seven, he opened up a five-stroke advantage.
He was matched at a low of just 1.081/12 but he soon lost his grip on the title and was eventually beaten in extra time.
With five reasonably tough holes (11 - 15) preceding three easy finishing holes, there's all sorts of scope for trading at Silverado and if the leaderboard looks tight going into Sunday's final round, a late night's trading may well reap rich rewards.
After his tied fifth in the Tour Championship last time out (shot the third best 72-hole total), at approaching 20/1 on the exchange, the defending champ, Max Homa, looks reasonably priced to emulate Steele and win back-to-back titles. .
With four PGA Tour titles to his name and three in the last 20 months, the 31-year-old is fairly prolific and it would be no surprise to see him win his second title twice. Homa won the Wells Fargo Championship in 2019 at Quail Hollow before winning it for a second time at TPC Potomac in May.
With course form figures reading 3-17-MC-6, Hideki Matsuyama commands respect.
His form tailed off slightly after his fourth in the US Open in June and his last victory was in the Sony Open back in January but he's a terrific scrambler and could easily go well after the short break.
Corey Connors is a winner of the aforementioned Texas Open (2019), with course form figures reading 30-MC-13, but he makes little appeal at 22.021/1 given that is still his sole success on the PGA Tour.
Last year's 54-hole leader, Maverick McNealy, did very little wrong 12 months ago and he was matched at a low of 1.331/3 on Sunday before Homa's flying finish so he's clearly suited to the venue but backing PGA Tour maidens at less than 30.029/1 in a tournament in which outsiders have thrived isn't a strategy I'm about to adopt.
I like several big-priced outsiders here and they'll feature in tomorrow's Find Me a 100 Winner column, but I've also backed three outsiders that haven't quite reached a triple-figure price...
The two-time PGA Tour winner, Troy Merritt, is an interesting runner this week. He has a mixed bag of course form figures reading MC-MC-15-69-4-MC-MC-16 and he was fourth at TPC San Antonio back in April so with course and correlating course form, I thought he was worthy of inclusion at 75.074/1.
Renowned for his accuracy from the tee, Merritt went to college in California, and he was fourth in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am back in February in the Golden State.
Since turning 30 at the end of June, Trey Mullinax's PGA Tour career has taken off.
Following his maiden victory in the Barbasol Championship in early July, he's put-up form figures reading 21-37-5-12 in some huge events and although he has only ordinary course form figures to date, prior to his Barbasol success, his best finish on the PGA Tour had been his second to Andrew Landry in the Texas Open in 2018.
It'll be interesting to see how he fares after almost a month off, but he strikes me as someone ready to fulfil his potential and at 80.079/1 he looks worth chancing.
And finally, given he was ninth here in 2020 (very much a highlight in a long run of very poor results) and that he won the Valero Texas Open in April, I couldn't leave out J.J Spaun at 85.084/1.
Troy Merritt @ 75.074/1
Trey Mullinax @ 80.079/1
J.J Spaun @ 85.084/1
I'll be back later with the Italian Open preview.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter