(Photo credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports)
The Fortinet Championship is the first tournament of the new seven-event FedEx Cup Fall that will finalize eligibility for the 2024 PGA Tour season.
It presents a final look for Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson at two players who will be competing for the United States in Rome in two weeks, and acritical opportunity for those outside of the top 50 in the FedEx Cup standings to secure a spot in marquee events next year.
The event begins Thursday on Silverado Resort's North Course in Napa, Calif., and our golf experts preview the tournament while providing their favorite prop picks and best bets to win this week.
LAST TOURNAMENT: Tour Championship (Viktor Hovland)
THIS WEEK: Fortinet Championship, Napa, Calif., Sept. 14-17
Course: Silverado Resort, North Course (Par 72, 7,123 yards)
Purse: $8.4M (Winner: $1.512M)
Defending Champion: Max Homa
FedExCup Champion: Viktor Hovland
HOW TO FOLLOW
TV: Thursday-Sunday, 6-9 p.m. ET (Golf Channel)
Streaming: Thursday-Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
--Peter Kuest to Finish Top 40 (120 at BetMGM): The last time we saw Kuest, he finished T45 at the Wyndham Championship. That was after he had earned special temporary membership, allowing for unlimited sponsor's exemptions for the rest of the season. That includes at the Fortinet, where Kuest will again attempt to make his mark against a softer field. He finished T4 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic as a Monday qualifier and backed it up with a T17 at the John Deere while also making the cut at the Barracuda Championship and 3M Open.
--Cam Davis to Beat Justin Thomas (100 at DraftKings): Thomas failed to make the playoffs and is in Napa only in an attempt to show Johnson that he's in good enough form to be used consistently in Rome. Thomas made desperate attempts to improve his FedEx Cup position by entering second-tier events such as the Rocket Mortgage Classic and 3M Open, only to miss the cut at both before rallying for a T12 at the Wyndham. Meanwhile, Davis secured his spot in the top 50 going into '24 by posting three consecutive top-10s before closing his playoffs with a 40th at the BMW.
--J.J. Spaun to Make Cut (-275 at BetMGM): Spaun is one of the players who has benefitted from the exodus of players to LIV Golf. Ranked 291st entering 2022, Spaun has been as high as 61st this year. To be sure, he has done so through consistent solid results. That includes making seven of his past eight cuts as Spaun qualified for the playoffs and finished T24 at the FedEx St. Jude Invitational in his last start.
2023 Prop Picks Record: 39-43-2
--Homa (750 at BetMGM) is the highest ranked player in the field at No. 7 as he attempts to become the first player to win the same event three consecutive years since Steve Stricker at the John Deere Classic in 2009-11. He is the clear pre-tournament favorite and the book's second biggest liability while being backed by 10.1 percent of the total bets and the most money at 24.8 percent.
--Thomas (1600) has top-10 finishes in each of his three previous event starts. He tees it up for the first time since the Wyndham Championship and missing the playoffs for the first time in his career. Thomas' odds have lengthened since opening at 1400 despite leading the field with 10.9 percent of the total bets backing him to win.
--Sahith Theegala (1600) didn't qualify for the Tour Championship but did post top-15 finishes at the BMW and FedEx St. Jude. He opened at 2000 but is BetMGM's biggest liability, having drawn the second most money to win with 15.5 percent.
--Davis (2000) has three top-10s in his past four starts but did miss the cut here last year. Locked into a top 50 spot for next year, Davis is third in the field with 8.4 percent of the money backing him.
--Eric Cole (3000) is still seeking his maiden victory on tour but is the only rookie who advanced to the BMW Championship this year.
--Akshay Bhatia (4500) has made one of the biggest moves after the Barracuda winner opened at 5500, and he is the book's third biggest liability. His maiden tour victory didn't qualify Bhatia for the playoffs, and he missed the cut at the Wyndham in his most recent start.
LONGSHOT PICK: Kevin Kisner (25000) makes his first start since withdrawing during the first round of the Travelers Championship. The four-time winner on tour has failed to reach the weekend in his past six starts, including four missed cuts and a pair of withdrawals.
--The top 50 players following the Tour Championship locked in their positions entering 2024. Nos. 51 and beyond carry their FedEx Cup points through the Fall. Those who finish Nos. 51-60 will qualify for two Signature Events in 2024: the ATT Pebble Beach Pro-Am and The Genesis Invitational.
--Players who have locked in spots inside the top 50 will earn FedEx Cup points during the fall, but the points will not be redistributed. For example, if Homa (No. 6) finishes in second place, the third-place finisher will receive third-place points rather than moving into second place.
--Ryan Gerard, who like Kuest has earned special temporary membership, is in this week's field. So, too, is Aaron Baddeley, who will make his 500th career start on tour.
--2023 NCAA Division I National Championship winner Fred Biondi will make his professional debut.
--Hayden Springer earned a sponsor exemption by finishing first in the Fortinet Cup standings on PGA Tour Canada.
--Field Level Media