This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Course: Silverado Country Club (7,123 yards, par 72)
Winner: $1,260,000 and 500 FedExCup points
Well I hope everyone enjoyed the lengthy offseason for the PGA Tour. When the first tee shot is hit on Thursday, it will have been a whole 11 days since the 2020-21 season concluded with Patrick Cantlay winning the TOUR Championship. There really is not time to rest on the PGA Tour, and while the fall portion of the schedule does not include two majors like it did last season due to COVID-19, this is still a very important time for players with limited status and who are coming off a Korn Ferry Tour Championship run. A lot of top tier players tend to take a lot of time off in the fall schedule to re-energize for the big events starting in 2022, which gives opportunities to players just trying to stay out on Tour and make it to the FedExCup Playoffs.
This week begins the 2021-22 schedule, but next week will be another week off for the golf world to focus on the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. Funny enough, the only Ryder Cup participant that is in the field this week is World No. 1 Jon Rahm. He enters the week as the hefty favorite over the likes of Webb Simpson, who just missed making the Ryder Cup team, and Hideki Matsuyama, who won the Green Jacket back in April. The PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Will Zalatoris will also be teeing it up this week after having to sit out of the FedExCup playoffs because he was not officially a member. Stewart Cink who won last year's Fortinet Championship 11 years after his last win at the 2009 Open Championship, will not be defending in Napa this week.
This will be the eighth time that Silverado Country Club has hosted this event. We had seen a winning score in the 14-to-18 under range each of the first six editions, prior to Stewart Cink setting the tournament aggregate scoring record of 21-under-par last year. The weather is looking absolutely perfect this week in Napa with temperatures in the mid-70's and no threat of rain throughout the week. Wind will be the only defense for this golf course, as each tournament round we could see winds reach 15 miles per hour.
2020 – Stewart Cink (-21)
2019 – Cameron Champ (-17)
2018 – Kevin Tway (-14)
2017 – Brendan Steele (-15)
2016 – Brendan Steele (-18)
2015 – Emiliano Grillo (-15)
2014 – Sangmoon Bae (-15)
2013 – Jimmy Walker (-17)
2012 – Jonas Blixt (-16)
2011 – Bryce Molder (-17)
2010 – Rocco Mediate (-15)
Key Stats to Victory
- SG: Approach
- GIR Percentage
- SG: Putting
Silverado Country Club is typically a pretty friendly start to begin the new season. It's a stock 72 with four par-5s and only tips at just over 7,100 yards. Last year the field averaged 70.21 for the week with Stewart Cink posting a winning score of 21-under-par. It is customary in this area to see some morning fog and dew, which should keep the course soft throughout the event. The rough is trimmed to three inches, but players shouldn't have an issue being able to control the ball into the greens from there. The only issues about missing fairways will be avoiding some of the trees that line these fairways. In a shootout, however, the biggest keys are typically hitting greens. Last season Stewart Cink paced the field in GIR and was second in SG: Tee-to-Green. The greens will be a changeup from what any of the players have been playing on recently. They will go back to poa annua on surfaces prepped to run about 11.5 on the Stimpmeter. Those familiar with this region typically are able to open the season well.
FanDuel Value Picks
Kevin Na ($11,300)
Na had a red hot close to the season that saw him post top-25's in each of his last six starts, including three times placing inside the top-three. Na also has good history at Silverado in which he has two top-10's in just four starts, including a playoff loss back in 2015. The 37-year-old led the Tour last season in SG: Around-the-green and wields an incredibly strong putting stroke.
Harold Varner III ($10,900)
Much like Na, Varner is another player who ended last season playing his best golf. In his last six starts, Varner produced four top-15 finishes. Silverado has always been a great place for him to begin the season, going 6-for-6 with a trio of top-20's. The East Carolina product is led by his ball-striking, in which he ranked top-35 in SG: Approach and SG: Tee-to-Green last season.
Charley Hoffman ($10,500)
Hoffman didn't finish last season great, but the year as a whole was very impressive for a 44-year-old. He made 24-of-29 cuts with 14 top-25's. Hoffman was also top-25 in SG: Off-the-Tee, SG: Approach, SG: Tee-to-Green, proximity to the hole, and birdie average. Hoffman grew up on these types of greens and his ball-striking makes him a great fit for Silverado despite him only having three starts in Napa.
Emiliano Grillo ($10,300)
Grillo is coming off a bit of an inconsistent season, but one thing that you can't question is how good his ball striking is. Grillo ranked 20th in SG: Off-the-Tee, 12th in SG: Approach, third in GIR percentage, and first in proximity to the hole. The 28-year-old picked up his first and only Tour win here back in 2015 and has just one missed cut in six career attempts at Silverado.
Longer Shots with Value
Stephan Jaeger ($9,800)
Jaeger led the Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season Points List and finished T4-T4-T2 in the KFT Finals. He was top-3 on the junior tour in both putting average and birdie average. Jaeger picked up two wins last season, which upped his total for his KFT career to six. He has experience at Silverado, having played this event twice and recording a 30th-place effort in 2018.
Brian Stuard ($9,500)
He certainly didn't begin last season how he wanted, but he was able to close out the campaign strong with top-15's in four of his last six starts. He had another good season with the putter and with a wedge around the greens. Stuard also ranked top-15 in both driving accuracy and proximity to the hole. He has finally figured out Silverado, posting a T17 in 2019 and a T3 in 2020.
Taylor Moore ($8,700)
Moore has been so consistent over the last handful of months. He has made 16 of his last 18 cuts, a stretch which includes a total of 12 top-10 finishes. Moore came back to finish fourth in the KFT standings after a tough start to the season. He ranked top-10 in on that tour in GIR percentage, total driving, ball striking, scoring average, and birdie average. There's no reason those won't translate to success at Silverado.
Hank Lebioda ($8,300)
Lebioda is coming off his best season on Tour in which he logged three top-10s and seven top-25's. His combination of iron play and putting makes him a very intriguing option this week at Silverado for this price. Lebioda ranks top-30 on Tour in SG: Putting, GIR percentage, proximity to the hole, and scrambling. This will be his fourth start in Napa in his short PGA Tour career.
Strategy Tips This Week
Based on a Standard $60K Salary Cap
A big thing to keep in mind this week is that a lot of the Korn Ferry Tour players are actually more tournament ready because they've been grinding it out in the KFT Finals the last few weeks, while a number of PGA Tour players from last season have been off for a few weeks due to not making it past the first leg, or not even qualifying for the FedExCup playoffs. We see it every year where a rookie comes right out early and takes advantage from a strong finish on the KFT and parlays it into success in some of these weaker fields in the fall. Jon Rahm is $700 more than any other player this week at $12,500. It still wouldn't surprise me if he was the highest owned player, but there's just no value there. Meanwhile, the $9,000-$10,500 presents a lot more intriguing options that I believe most of your roster should come from.