The PGA Tour had a whole week off between ending one season and beginning another. The 2021-22 season starts this week at the Fortinet Championship in Napa Valley, Calif.
World No. 1 Jon Rahm finished as runner-up to Patrick Cantlay two weeks ago at the Tour Championship but tied for the low 72-hole scorer and is a surprising entry this week. Rahm, a 9-2 favorite, looks to be using this week as a tuneup for next week’s Ryder Cup or perhaps providing himself and his wife a nice trip to wine country.
Webb Simpson (16-1) was bypassed by Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker and went winless in the 2020-21 season, as he was out of form and battled a couple of injuries. Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama (22-1) has made only one appearance here, missing the cut in 2019. Kevin Na (25-1) also missed out on being named a captain’s pick but could have some motivation and did have a top-10 here in 2016. Will Zalatoris (28-1) was just named PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.
Cameron Tringale (35-1), Harold Varner III (40-1) and 2019 event champion Cameron Champ (45-1) follow on the betting board along with four players at 50-1: Marc Leishman, Charley Hoffman, Si Woo Kim and Sebastian Munoz. Defending champion Stewart Cink will not play due to his son’s wedding.
The Fortinet Championship began in 2007 and moved to its current location in Napa for the 2014 tournament. While the field quality is down due to its tough date on the schedule immediately preceding the Ryder Cup, this is an important event to many players that pays out full FedEx Cup points and provides all the perks for the winner, such as a Masters invitation and a two-year PGA Tour exemption. This provides players an opportunity to earn those perks against a weaker field and allows new PGA Tour members from the Korn Ferry Tour to get their feet wet on the big tour. Cybersecurity company Fortinet, based in nearby Sunnyvale, Calif., takes over from retail grocer Safeway (2016-20) as the title sponsor in the first of a six-year deal.