The PGA Tour kicks off its 2021-22 season on the west coast with the 15th edition of the Fortinet Championship at Silverado Country Club in Napa Valley.
Contested at the famed North Course, the tournament formerly titled the Safeway Open will be headlined by three of the four 2021 Major Champions in Jon Rahm (U.S. Open), Hideki Matsuyama (Masters) and Phil Mickelson (PGA).
Additional top-25 ranked names include Webb Simpson (22) and Kevin Na (25). They will be joined by newly-minted 2021 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Will Zalatoris.
In all, nine of the top 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings will tee it up this week in Napa, California.
Tournament: Fortinet Championship
PGA Tour Debut: 2007
Dates: Sep. 16-19, 2021
Where: Napa, Calif.
Venue: Silverado Resort & Spa
Course: North Course
Distance: 7123 Yards, Par 72
Architect: Robert Trent Jones Jr. (1966)
Redesign: Johnny Miller (2011)
Format: Stroke-play, 72/36
Field: 156 players
Winning Share: $1,260,000
FedExCup Points: 500
2020 Champion: Stewart Cink
How to Follow the Fortinet Championship
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RADIO: Thu-Fri: 3-9 p.m.; Sat-Sun: 4-9 p.m.
(PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com)
While the Fortinet Championship lacks a long, illustrious history filled with Hall of Fame Champions, the event, which began in 2007, had an important place in the recent state of the PGA Tour. First as the opening event of the Fall Series (2007-2012), and then (2013-2018, 2020-21) as the opening event of the new FedExCup season.
The Fortinet will bat leadoff for the tour’s nine stop wrap-round portion of its 2021-22 season which will conclude in Sea Island, Georgia with the annual RSM Classic.
The inaugural 2007 event was won by former Masters Champion Mike Weir; other notable winners include Rocco Mediate, Jimmy Walker, Emiliano Grillo and Stewart Cink. Brendan Steele is the tournament’s only two-time winner (2016-17).
The course venue itself, the North Course at the Silverado Resort & Spa, is among the many prides of legendary course designer Robert Trent Jones Jr.
Prior to becoming the home of the Safeway Open, Silverado’s North held another PGA Tour event from 1968-1980, the Kaiser International Open, which later became the Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic.
History: Tournament Names
- Fortinet Championship (2021-)
- Safeway Open (2016-2020)
- Frys.com Open (2008-2015)
- Fry’s Electronics Open (2007)
History: Recent Winners
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)
To Par: -21, Stewart Cink (2020)
Score: 262, Troy Matteson (2009), Rickie Fowler (2009), Jamie Lovemark (2009), Cameron Beckman (2008), Kevin Sutherland (2008)
2 – Brendan Steele (2016, 2017)
The field in Napa includes a handful of top-ranked stars, but is headlined by a trio of superstars in Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, and Phil Mickelson – who also happen to be three of the four major champions of 2021.
Leading the way is world No. 1 Rahm, who will make his first start in Napa. The 26-year old superstar will enter off an MVP type season which included a tour-leading 15 top-10 finishes.
Bookmakers smartly have Rahm listed as the clear favorite with odds of 4-1.
Next up is Matsuyama, who ran out of gas in the FedEx Cup playoffs but was in strong form in the two elite events prior to the postseason (The Olympics and WGC Memphis), where he finished T4 and T2, respectively. The Japanese star is offered at 18-1, alongside Webb Simpson(18-1).
At 20-1, Will Zalatoris and Kevin Na round out the top-five favorites in northern California.
Finally there’s Mickelson – who will draw some of the biggest galleries, but has done little of anything since winning the PGA Championship in May. The 51-year-old has odds of 66-1.
Top-5 Betting Favorites
1. Jon Rahm (3-1)
2. Hideki Matsuyama (18-1)
3. Webb Simpson (18-1)
4. Will Zalatoris (20-1)
5. Kevin Na (20-1)
1. Jon Rahm – There is only one member of the OWGR top 10 in this week’s field, but fortunately, it is the No. 1.
2. Kevin Na – After finishing third at the Tour Championship, his fourth top 10 in his last six starts, there was a lot of chatter that Na could snare one of the Captain’s Picks for the upcoming Ryder Cup.
3. Will Zalatoris – The 2021 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, Zalatoris arrives at Silverado fresh off a remarkable season where he posted eight top 10s, bested by just five golfers, including a runner-up finish in his Masters debut.
4. Hideki Matsuyama – Hideki played well at The Olympics and impressively finished T2 at a WGC event the very next week, but has not quite found his footing since.
5. Webb Simpson – It was a somewhat underwhelming 2021 season for the accomplished Tour vet, who never really contended anywhere, although he did have 13 finishes inside the top 25, and had the Tour’s 10th best scoring average.
Sleeper: Maverick McNealy – A 25-year-old who starred at Stanford, McNealy appears close to his breakthrough, finishing the 2021 season by making his last eight cuts, with seven of those being finishes of T30 or better.
Read Joel Cook’s Full Power Rankings: The Top-15 with rankings and odds.
Full Field & Odds
Silverado CC . Napa, California . Sept. 16-19, 2021
Credit: PGA Tour Media, Getty Images, Joel Cook