08:00 - September 18, 2022
Having been matched at odds-on as early as Friday, the defending champ, Max Homa, entered the weekend with a one-stroke lead at the Fortinet Championship but a lacklustre level par 72 on Saturday has seen him slip back into a tie for second as the early pacesetter, Justin Lower, returns to the front. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 7:50.
Justin Lower -13 5.14/1
Max Homa -12 3.3512/5
Danny Willett -12 7.06/1
Byeong Hun An -11 12.5
Matt Kuchar -10 23.022/1
Adam Svensson -10 25.024/1
Davis Thompson -10 32.031/1
Paul Haley II -10 38.037/1
Sahith Theegala -9 27.026/1
Mark Hubbard -9 50.049/1
Austin Smotherman -9 70.069/1
Harrison Endycott -9 120.0119/1
-8 and 100.099/1 bar
Sangmoon Bae successfully converted a four-stroke 54-hole lead on the first occasion that the Fortinet Championship was staged at Silverado back in 2014 and Cameron Champ won by a stroke having led by three with a round to go in 2019 but they're the only two 54-hole leaders or co-leaders to win here.
That's not a great omen for Justin Lower who blew a three-stroke 54-hole lead on the Korn Ferry Tour last year. He also failed from the front on the Korn Ferry Tour twice in 2019 and looks readily opposable.
The defending champ, Homa, is the man the market still expects to prevail and rightly so. He's in search of his fourth PGA Tour title in 20 months and he's looking forward to the changing conditions.
With wet weather forecast, the tee times have been brought forward for today's final round with the leaders teeing off at 18:12 UK time (great news for us in the UK). They'll go off in three balls and Homa is certainly not fazed by the forecasted wet weather.
"I'm from southern California," Homa said after yesterday's third round. "I don't know why I play well in the rain, but I do. So, I'm just going to try and do that again tomorrow."
Homa is nicely poised alongside Danny Willett in a tie for second given the poor record of 54-hole leaders here, although it is possible to win from much further back.
Brendan Steele won the first of his back-to-back titles form tied sixth and four adrift in 2016 and Ryan Moore was beaten in a playoff in 2018 having trailed by seven with a round to go but two strokes back is the most common deficit overcome here.
The last two winners, Homa and Stewart Cink, trailed by two, and so did the 2015 winner, Emiliano Grillo, and the 2017 champ, Steele. That's a positive omen for Byeong Hun An, who sits alone in fourth and two behind Lower.
The affable Korean was born in Seoul and he lives in Florida but he went to the University of California, Berkeley, so he's yet another to contend here with a strong link to the state and I can't see the conditions troubling him either.
This looks a tough one to call still and I could have easily left it alone but given he was on my shortlist before the off and that he's improved every day, with rounds of 71, 69 and 67, I'm happy to throw a few pounds in the direction of Californian-born 28-year-old, Austin Smotherman, who trails by four in a tie for ninth.
20:05 - September 17, 2022
The DP World Tour officials couldn't have hoped for a better 54-hole leaderboard at the Italian Open.
The pre-event third favourite and world number ten, Viktor Hovland, is out of the reckoning, languishing in a tie for 32nd after a disappointing 73 today, but the first two in the betting before the off, Rory McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick, look all set for a titanic tussle tomorrow if the current betting is any sort of guide. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 20:00.
Matt Fitzpatrick -10 3.1511/5
Rory McIlroy -9 3.185/40
Aaron Rai -9 10.519/2
Lucas Herbert -8 14.5
Kurt Kitayama -8 17.016/1
Victor Perez -8 17.5
Robert MacIntyre -7 30.029/1
Oliver Bekker -7 55.054/1
Tyrrell Hatton -6 46.045/1
-5 and 200.0199/1 bar
The market is finding it tough to separate the front two but it looks like McIlroy is going to edge favouritism and I'd agree with that. We look set for a benign day tomorrow and that will favour the world number two.
Rory should be able to bully the course with his prestigious length and he's the man to beat but I'm still not in any sort of rush to side with him at just 2/1.
It's highly likely that one of the front two in the market go on to win but I'm happy to stick with what I have - pre-event pick, Kurt Kitayama, and this morning's in-play selection, Lucas Herbert who Matt Cooper picked out before the off- and I've also had a small wager on the 2017 winner, Tyrrell Hatton, who trails Fitzpatrick by four.
I'll be back tomorrow with a look at the Fortinet Championship at the 54-hole stage.
07:35 - September 17, 2022
We've reached the halfway stage of the 2022/23 PGA Tour season's opener, the Fortinet Championship, and Max Homa is a warm favourite to emulate Brendan Steele (2016 and 2017) and make a successful defence. Here's the 36-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 7:20.
Max Homa -12 2.588/5
Danny Willett -12 6.25/1
Byeong Hun An -10 15.014/1
Justin Lower -10 17.5
Sahith Theegala -8 15.014/1
Taylor Moore -8 25.024/1
Matt Kuchar -8 30.029/1
-7 and 60.059/1 bar
Playing in the morning wave yesterday, and starting at the 10th, Homa threatened to run away with the tournament when he played his first ten holes in five-under-par and he was matched at a low of just 1.910/11 before a bogey at the second.
A run of pars followed the drop at two before he picked up another birdie at the ninth and the pre-event favourite looks a fair price to convert, although we're in unknown territory, as Homa as never led or co-led any event at halfway.
Homa has won six times in total, twice on the Korn Ferry Tour and four times on the PGA Tour, but he's always been trailing at this stage, and he came from behind through three rounds to win five of those six titles...
He was tied for the lead through 54 holes when he won the first of two Wells Fargo Championship titles back in 2019 but he's come from off the pace on every other occasion he's won.
The fact that he's already won the same title twice (won the Wells Fargo again last year) has to be seen as a plus and given all three of his closest rivals at this stage were big outsiders before the off, it's hard to make a solid case for taking him on.
He was a fair price at getting on for 20.019/1 before the off and he's a fair price now at around 6/4 but we do have to bear in mind that the last two winners (Homa and Stewart Cink) both rallied from some way off the pace.
Homa trailed by seven in a tied for 34th and Cink sat tied for 26th and eight adrift so an off the pace winner certainly can't be ruled out.
Over at the Italian Open on the DP World Tour, for the second day in-a-row, the pre-event favourite, Rory McIlroy, started sluggishly.
After playing his first 11 holes in one-over-par on Thursday morning, the world number two played his first ten holes on Friday afternoon in level-par but as he'd done on day one, he warmed up on his back-nine, playing the last eight holes in five-under-par to hit the front.
Several groups are yet to finish their second rounds but everyone inside the top-ten has reached the halfway stage so here's the current leaderboard with prices to back at 7:30.
Rory McIlroy -9 2.0421/20
Matt Fitzpatrick -8 4.3100/30
Tom Lewis -7 26.025/1
Victor Perez -6 23.022/1
Tyrrell Hatton -5 23.022/1
Lucas Herbert -5 [40,0]
Jordan Smith -5 40.039/1
Joost Luiten -5 95.094/1
Luke Donald -5 140.0139/1
Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez -5 310.0309/1
-4 and 50.049/1
Rory and Matt Fitzpatrick obviously dominate the market but I'm in no rush to side with either.
Somewhat surprisingly, this is the first time Rory has held a clear lead going into the weekend on any Tour in more than four years and his record when holding a clear advantage at halfway isn't great.
Rory's been beaten on the last three occasions he's led at this stage (and he was leading by at least two) and he's converted only six of 14 clear 36-hole leads throughout his distinguished career. Although four of those six wins came when he led by only a stroke - a situation he's been in eight times.
He's clearly the man to beat but at just a shade of odds-against, given how slowly he's started on each of the first two days, and given his record when leading after 36 holes, I'm happy to swerve him.
Matt Fitzpatrick was one of the many pros that played in this event last year to criticize the course. Here's a quote from last year when he missed the cut.
"Today I was in the middle of a fairway, on a downslope, hitting a 5-iron to a green way above me. It made no sense. I've hit a good drive, I'm in what should be the ideal spot, and I couldn't keep my ball on the green."
The US Open winner is coping better with the course this year but he's dropping plenty of shots and although I'd rather play him at in excess of 3/1 than I would Rory at around evens, I'm happy to leave them both alone and take a punt on one of the chasers - Australia's Lucas Herbert.
Trailing Rory by four and Fitzpatrick by three, he clearly has his work cut out but he's a winner on both the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour and odds of around 40.039/1 look fair.
10:45 - September 16, 2022
After the lengthy fog delay yesterday morning, the first round of the Fortinet Championship will need to be finished off today, but the defending champ, Max Homa, has already stamped his authority on the tournament, firing a seven-under-par 65 to sit solo second behind 310.0309/1 chance, Justin Lower, who posted -9.
Homa has already been matched at a low of 4.67/2 but given he tees off this morning today, before the wind picks up, it's understandable that he's been well supported.
The wind isn't predicted to blow hard at all but it's forecasted to be dead calm first thing and I expect the earlier starters to score well.
We've only had eight renewals at Silverado but we've already seen three winners trail by five after the opening round and the last two winners, Homa and Stewart Cink, trailed seven and eight strokes respectively at halfway so we don't need to go rushing in here.
Both men shot opening rounds of 67, before they dropped back in round two with rounds of 72 (Homa) and 70.
Over at the Italian Open, Matt Fitzpatrick finished off his first round this morning with a birdie at the 18th, before starting out on an interesting second round.
The world number 11 bogeyed his opening hole of round two (the 10th) before birdying the next five in-a-row to lead the event by four! He was matched at a low of just 2.0621/20 but he followed the rash of birdies with a pair of bogeys at 16 and 17 and at the time of writing, his lead is down to two.
Unless it's a huge event, Sky Sports don't show the morning play live on the DP World Tour anymore, which is really disappointing, and especially so on a Friday like this when we've got a top-drawer player threatening to take control of the tournament.
I'll be back later today or first thing in the morning to have another look at the event at halfway.
16:15 - September 15, 2022
Rory McIlroy was well supported before the start of the Italian Open (previewed here), going off at around 4.77/2, having opened at around 6.611/2 on Sunday night, but after a sluggish start around next year's Ryder Cup venue - the Marco Simone Golf Club - the world number three was matched at a high of 15.014/1.
Playing the back-nine first, Rory played his first 11 holes in one-over-par, but everything changed at the par four third when he holed out from the fairway for an eagle two and he kicked on brilliantly after that, picking up birdies at five, eight and nine.
Playing alongside Rory, the defending champ, Nicolai Hojgaard, was matched at just 9.417/2 after he made the turn in five-under-par but in contrast to the pre-event favourite, Hojgaard played the front-nine shoddily, making three bogeys and a birdie.
Playing in the afternoon wave, the second and third favourites before the off, Matt Fitzpatrick and Viktor Hovland, are both under-par for their rounds and at the time of writing, Scott Jamieson has edged ahead of Rory and co to lead on -5 so it looks like the later starters may just narrowly be advantaged.
There's a chance we won't quite get the first round finished today in Italy, after an hour long weather delay this morning and over in the states, there's been a delay at the Fortinet Championship (previewed here) due to fog so it's very early days there.
Italian Open Pre-Event Selections:
Min Woo Lee @ 60.059/1
Kurt Kitayama @ 60.059/1
Lucas Herbert @ 42.041/1
Tyrrell Hatton @ 46.045/1
Fortinet Championship Pre-Event Selections:
Troy Merritt @ 75.074/1
Trey Mullinax @ 80.079/1
J.J Spaun @ 85.084/1
Austin Smotherman @ 75.074/1
Find Me a 100 Winner Selections:
Back 1u Daniel Van Tonder @ 290.0289/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.35/4
Back 2u Andrew Putnam @ 110.0109/1
Place order to lay 8u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.35/4
Back 2u Beau Hossler @ 170.0169/1
Place order to lay 8u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.35/4
Back 0.5u Andrew Landry @ 1000.0
Place order to lay 8u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.35/4
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