By Alex Lauzon from the “Course of Life” podcast
BANG – the two-week offseason is over, and the new PGA Tour season is hitting us all straight in the face. Welcome to what may be the final true “fall golf” season with the world’s best.
LET’S ROLL IT OVER
Everyone in golf, mainly the PGA Tour, is ready to reset and start a new campaign. Current and newly minted PGA Tour players love life with further expansion of prize money and event payouts, while executives are clamoring as they continuously battle with LIV Golf. On the other hand, I was not ready to take any hiatus with my picks after my FedEx Cup heater. I picked the outright winners right here in not ONE, NOT TWO BUT ALL THREE FedEx Cup playoff events. It started with landing the plane on Willy Z’s first victory, continued with Patrick Cantlay’s gutsy win, and capped with Rory’s $18 million trophy lift in Atlanta.
As they say, I’m fully on fire, so without further ado, let’s keep blowing on the lucky dice as we head into the new PGA Tour season.
SILVERADO IS NOT FOR SALE
Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa Valley has suffered a fair share of adversity in recent years, but the PGA Tour stop has become a constant source of strength and recovery. Drought, wildfires, and the whole kitchen sink have ravaged the region, but this tournament stays strong. It’s forged its place as the fall season opener in recent years and produced a random cast of champions as of late. Overdue winners like Max Homa and Cameron Champ have had emotional wins here, and fan favorite Stewart Cink turned back the clock here in 2020 with his son on the bag. The shorter Robert Trent Jones Jr. layout plays about 7200 yards and is flanked by vineyards and rolling hills that make up the land. Going low is a necessity, and the winning score will easily eclipse 15 under par.
PICKING FOR THE FORTINET
This week’s tour stop and the entire fall, for that matter, seem to get infinitely harder to forecast as football season intensifies. Field quality is down, and at the same time, there’s a brand new cast of characters on tour making their debut that we don’t have much info or PGA Tour record on. This presents maximum variability, and it intuitively has bettors leaning towards the top-ranked players in the field. Notably leading this week’s field in Napa are defending Champion Max Homa, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, and Webb Simpson. Some notable players joining the tour and making their tour debuts as members are the wild swinging Carl Yuan, the can’t miss kid Nick Hardy and my guy and Course of Life podcast regular Taylor Montgomery.
MAKING YOUR PICKS
I’m prefacing my weekly picks based on exactly what I value the most. With every play I make, I’m always considering these factors. For the season debut at Silverado, I’m taking a couple of rookie flyers and padding my card with some more reliable players who like this track.
1. Who’s hot and trending – recent high finishes, top 10 streaks, and consistent play are never bad.
2. Horses for courses – players love specific courses, and course familiarity and experience are invaluable in a field of the world’s best.
3. What the numbers tell you this week – while I’m far from analytical, there’s always a tournament darling or two scattered across the golf talk stratosphere that stuns on paper.
4. Intangibles – while this allows for a theater of the mind, there’s a mysterious optimism surrounding that feels “due” or if the price looks just suitable for buying.
There’s no escaping that my picks are ON FIRE as of late. Outright winners picked here for the entirety of the playoffs, and it concluded fittingly with Rory roaring at East Lake. Another A- week to round 21-22, and we’re on to the next season.
THE SIX-PACK OF PICKS
(Wanna start a Pick-X pool with your friends? Learn more here! Or, if you’re looking to start your own PGA One-and-Done pool, check those out here) (Hint: the main difference between the two is how many players you’ll pick each week)
1: Maverick McNealy: Last year’s runner-up is not too big for his britches yet, and he’ll be ready to roll this week in Napa.
2: Davis Riley: With a weaker field in tow, it’s time to revisit a play we feasted off of during Riley’s summer run of top 10’s. Davis is due to perform after some time off to reset.
3: Sahith Theegala: The loveable upstart from Pepperdine is back for his second campaign, and with an improved short game as of late, he should fare well around Silverado.
4: Taylor Montgomery: Lots of respect from the Vegas oddsmakers for Montgomery this week, making his debut as an official PGA Tour member. The Steph Curry of putting has multiple made cuts in majors and is here to stay, starting this week.
5: Cameron Champ: Though he’s lacked in form, the 2019 champ here should come back for some good vibes and find form in the Valley.
6: Stewart Cink: the favorite uncle of the PGA Tour, won here in 2020 and should play well at a track he digs.
My RYP One-and-Done Pick: Maverick McNealy
Where to watch: Golf Channel all weekend. Let’s talk wine and wildfires!
Why watch: It’s the 2022-2023 PGA Tour debut, and many fresh faces are making their first starts on Tour.
What to eat: I like my reds with an excellent filet mignon and my whites with a charcuterie plate. Let’s get bougie!
Purse: $8 million
Winner’s Share: $1.44 million