Fortinet Championship Odds, Picks & Predictions: Why Sahith Theegala Will Begin a Breakthrough Campaign
DETROIT, MICHIGAN – JULY 30: Sahith Theegala of the United States lines up a putt on the first green during the third round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club on July 30, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)
- The new PGA TOUR season starts this week with the Fortinet Championship at Silverado Resort and Spa.
- Jason Sobel sees this as a great spot to back a rising star on the PGA TOUR in Sahith Theegala among other picks.
- Check out his full betting preview for the Fortinet Championship below.
Click arrow to expand 2022 Fortinet Championship odds via WynnBet
|Byeong Hun An||+15000|
|Paul Haley II||+25000|
|Scott de Borba||+250000|
Whew. Our long nightmare is over. After a whole two weeks off in between seasons, the PGA TOUR returns to action at this week’s Fortinet Championship.
Hey, I promise: This is the last time I’ll use this tired joke.
Starting next year, even though tournaments will be contested during the autumn months, the official schedule will only begin when the calendar turns over in January.
For the time being, we’ve got reason for optimism, as hope springs eternal – which is especially important when our fantasy football teams look dead in the water after Week 1.
If you’re only looking at the recent list of champions at Silverado, you’ll be led to believe that length off the tee is a necessity, as each of the last seven winners can be considered very long (Cameron Champ) to moderately long (Max Homa), without even an average-length hitter in this group.
And yet, we don’t have to go too far down the leaderboard to disprove this theory.
Players who have finished runner-up here in last few years include the likes of Ryan Moore, Adam Hadwin and Brandt Snedeker, each of whom can be considered more of a fairway-finder than a bomber.
The reality is, such discrepancies are the sign of a suitable host venue, one where any type of skillset can find success.
Keep that in mind when browsing through this week’s board, where a superstar-in-the-making caught my eye as a favorite outright play.
One player to win the tournament
Sahith Theegala (+3500)
First things first: There were no “snubs” left off the U.S. Presidents Cup team which will compete next week at Quail Hollow. Of his six wildcard selections, five were pretty cut-and-dry for captain Davis Love III. The last one was up for grabs and wound up going to Kevin Kisner, a player with a brilliant match play record who contended for the PGA Championship when it was held at this same course five years ago.
Nobody should have a problem with that.
Many observers, though, felt that DL3 might go with a youth movement, giving a player some experience in this competitive environment, much like Scottie Scheffler received at last year’s Ryder Cup (and we all know how that’s turned out so far).
The logical choice here would’ve been Sahith Theegala, about whom it should be mentioned that he reached the TOUR Championship while Kisner didn’t. Whether he views it as a snub or not, the 24-year-old might be just a little more motivated to prove something this week, though the reality is that he’ll do plenty of proving this season.
As I wrote in my piece on five players who remain undervalued entering the new season, Theegala bounced around from 20-1 to 250-1 over the year’s first eight months. He’s going to win, and he's going to win soon, and he’s possibly going to win multiple times, so jump on a decent number before it disappears for the next 10 years.
He's a native of California, and I’ve always thought a West Coast venue might make the most sense for Theegala’s first win. If it happens this week, it should propel him to a massive campaign over the next 11 months.
Potential selections for one-and-done pools
If you’re one of the hearty souls who plays in an OAD which starts with the season’s first week, I salute you. Most pools begin with the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January, but I love the idea of diving in headfirst while everyone else is more worried about their fantasy football teams.
Brendan Steele (+4500)
There might be no singular horse for specific courses on the PGA TOUR than Steele, who tends to bank about half of his earnings on the same half-dozen tracks every year. This certainly qualifies as one of them.
Back in 2015, he was the 54-hole leader, shot 76 and was nearly despondent afterward. Little did he know at the time that he’d win this title in each of the next two years.
For a guy whose tee-to-green game was among the best for much of this past summer, it might only take some familiar greens to get his putter working right again, so there’s reason to believe lightning could strike for a third time.
Webb Simpson (+6500)
Look, if you’ve already written Simpson’s name down in ink for the RBC Heritage or the Wyndham Championship, I won’t find any fault with that strategy. He’s got a couple of places where he cleans up every year.
But if you’re looking to start the season off with a bang and use a big name who’s undervalued, this could be a nice landing spot. Same goes for outright bettors, who will find Simpson at the same price as players like Alex Smalley and Wyndham Clark.
Hey, I like each of those two guys, but that’s not much respect from the books. He’s had some injury issues and doesn’t have a great record here (two top-20s in six starts), but 65/1 is too big of a number to ignore.
One player to finish top-five
Chez Reavie (+1200 for top-five)
Way back in 2008, when this tournament was called the Frys.com Open and contested in Scottsdale, Reavie missed the cut. None of that should matter 14 years later, of course, other than to point out that it’s his lone MC to date in this event.
In 11 starts since then, he owns six top-25 finishes, including a share of third place two years ago. He’s fresh off a summer during which he was gaining steam until his victory at the Barracuda Championship, then lost some after it, finishing between 47th and 54th in his final four starts of the season.
There’s reason to believe he’ll greatly improve upon that here, though. Some guys show up in Napa simply to ease their way into the season and check out a few vineyards along the way; others come ready to compete.
Reavie’s track record shows he’s firmly in the latter camp, so we should expect another strong performance.
One player to finish top-10
Mark Hubbard (+800 for top-10)
If this was 10 years ago and you casually followed golf without betting on it, you might’ve completely missed Hubbard’s ascendancy during last season.
As I’ve often said, though, putting some money on the proceedings produces more engagement, and more engagement makes us better fans. All of which is a way of saying that of course you knew Hubbard posted back-to-back top-fives at the Barbasol and Barracuda this summer to retain his full playing privileges for the coming season.
Here at Silverado, he’s been top-20 in two of the last three years. With a little more momentum right now, here’s saying he jumps a few spots higher up the board and cashes those top-10 tickets.
One player to finish top-20
Chris Kirk (+250 for top-20 on DraftKings)
While he’s not exactly what we’d call an all-or-nothing type of player, Kirk does have a fairly large discrepancy between his ceiling and floor. So far in 2022, his good has been really good, with seven finishes of 17th or better.
His bad, though, has been, well, not so good, with nine results outside the top-50. I’ll play him for more good than bad this week, as this should be a nice place to start for a guy who clearly can contend on any given week.
One player to finish top-30
Back when I worked at ESPN, those who didn’t see the reason for a 16th national broadcast of a Yankees/Red Sox game would often accuse the Connecticut-based network of an East Coast bias – and looking back, maybe there was something to it.
I’ve never quite heard whispers of the Korn Ferry Tour having an East Coast bias, but maybe there’s something to this, as well. Last season, the developmental circuit never strayed west of Utah.
If you’re a poa annua expert who was hoping to make it to the PGA TOUR, well, good luck finding success elsewhere. Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that not many West Coast players claimed their cards, but Montgomery qualifies as a semi-outlier, as the Las Vegas native enjoyed a strong season after missing by one spot in the previous campaign.
Like playing with a shiny new toy, we all want to bet some of the new kids in town right away, but without much of a West Coast record to draw from, I’ll take a wait-and-see approach for many. Montgomery is one, though, I’ll play with confidence right away.
One player to finish top-40
Andrew Putnam (+100 for top-40 on DraftKings)
This is a very conservative play on a guy who’s finished 30th–36th–30th here over the past three years and was 27th or better in each of his final four starts of last season. If you’re looking for an easy way to increase the bankroll right off the bat, this should qualify. I don’t mind him for bigger plays, either.
DFS Free Bingo Square
A safe plug-and-play option for DFS lineups
I’m not too enamored with the top of this week’s board. Max Homa, Corey Conners, Hideki Matsuyama, Cameron Davis and Taylor Pendrith might all be looking ahead to next week’s Presidents Cup to varying degrees. That doesn’t mean they’ll each pull a Jon Rahm, who inexplicably showed up here last year and missed the cut before heading to the Ryder Cup, but there’s definitely a sense of, say, Georgia playing a Samford before preparing for its SEC schedule.
It’s a look-ahead game. McNealy is the only player in the top half-dozen who won’t be at Quail Hollow, and that could offer him a nice edge in preparation and mentality. He was runner-up last year on home turf, and even if he doesn’t own that same ceiling, he’s proven to have a regularly high floor which still makes him a strong option for DFS lineups.
A lower-priced option for DFS lineups
Full disclosure: As usual, I’m writing this preview Sunday night/Monday morning, before DFS pricing has been released, so I can only take a guess that Suh isn’t priced too high. That should signify a full green-light on the “other” player who turned pro alongside Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland and Matthew Wolff a few years ago.
The truth is, I like him for top-10s, matchups, maybe even a small outright and yes, plenty of DFS lineups. My reasoning here is hardly some secret formula. In his last 10 starts on the Korn Ferry Tour, Suh posted the following results: 15th–11th–10th–MC–7th–2nd–5th–37th–9th–1st.
He’s obviously playing some great golf right now. With his card locked up for the season, expect him to keep stepping on the gas pedal this week.
One player to post the low round Thursday
It might seem counterproductive to list a player for FRL who hasn’t broken 70 in six previous Thursday rounds at this event. But we know Spaun owns an ability to go low, especially in West Coast events, and extra-especially now that he appears to be playing with more confidence after winning for the first time at last season’s Valero Texas Open.
While he’s yet to go low in an opening round here, he does own five sub-70 scores in 11 other rounds, so he’s certainly capable. In his two most recent starts, he opened with a 62 at the FedEx St. Jude Championship and a 68 at the BMW Championship, so there’s some rationale behind backing him here.
One player who should beat comparable players
Adam Long (+7500)
Quizzically, I’ve often heard Long described as a “long hitter,” but his surname doesn’t work as an appropriate adjective, considering he ranked 165th in driving distance last season. He is, however, a “longshot,” which isn’t just proper terminology based on his name, it’s also his Twitter handle.
If you’re not confused yet, you’re about to be. Long finished in the top 25 in four straight starts during the middle of the summer, then WD’d from the Wyndham and MC’d at FedEx Jude to end his season. Those last two results have me a little concerned, but I still like him in head-to-head matchups on a course where he was T-23 just a few years ago.
Also Receiving Votes
Other players who should provide value
Emiliano Grillo (+4000), Patrick Rodgers (+10000), Callum Tarren (+11000), C.T. Pan (+13000), Harris English (+15000), Michael Kim (+15000), Doug Ghim (+18000), Joel Dahmen (+18000), Brandon Hagy (+50000)