D&F: Bank on Sahith Theegala riding a hot putter this weekend in wine country
5 Min Read
Written by Brady Kannon @lasvegasgolfer
The first event of the FedExCup Fall is at the halfway point in Napa, California. Thirty-six holes are complete at the Fortinet Championship at Silverado Country Club and Sahith Theegala and S.H. Kim are your leaders at 12-under par. Theegala got there by shooting a 64 on Friday, the low round of the day.
Scoring conditions have been excellent in the wine country as temperatures have been in the high 70s with the wind topping out at about 12 MPH. A total of 68 players made the cut, with the cut line falling at 3-under par on Friday evening. Two-time defending champion Max Homa got himself into the top 10 heading into the weekend by shooting a second-round 66. Theegala and Kim lead Sangmoon Bae by one shot and Eric Cole by two.
Sahith Theegala’s eagle from the bunker is the Shot of the Day
Justin Thomas hit 17 of 18 greens on Friday and led the field in Driving Distance en route to a round of 67. He is four shots off the pace at 8 under for the championship. Joining Thomas at 8 under are Homa and three others including one popular pre-tournament choice to win this week in Australia's Cam Davis. Rounding out the top 11 are another eight players at 7 under, including some TOUR veterans aging like fine wines in Matt Kuchar, Jason Dufner and Ryan Moore. An incredible 14 players are tied for 19th place at 6 under going into Saturday's third round.
Updated odds to win Fortinet Championship (via BetMGM Sportsbook)
+225: Sahith Theegala
+700: Eric Cole
+900: Lucas Herbert
+1000: S.H. Kim
+1200: Max Homa
+1400: Cam Davis, Justin Thomas
+2500: Beau Hossler
+3000: Sam Ryder
Theegala got off to a slow start on Thursday, playing his first 10 holes in 1 over. Since the 11th hole on Thursday he's been on a tear, going 13 under par to land on 12 under heading into moving day. Kim has been steadily hot for each of the first two days, shooting a 65 on Thursday and following it up with a 67 on Friday to tie for the lead.
Theegala has been getting it done with the putter and around the greens. But through two rounds, he ranks 44th in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and 49th for Strokes Gained: Approach. Kim is No. 3 in the field for SG: Approach and second for SG: Off the Tee - and not bad with the putter, either, at 18th in the field.
The weather forecast is calling for more of the same over the weekend in Napa, so I expect that the low scores will continue to pile up. Currently, we have 30 players, nearly half of the remaining field, sitting just six shots off the lead or less. If I am correct in predicting players to continue to go low over the weekend, the leaders will be hard to catch - but that is a good-sized log jam within striking distance. Certainly there is a lot of golf left and we could be in for quite the exciting finish to kick off the FedExCup Fall. So as bettors, who shall we back this weekend and who shall we go against?
Sahith Theegala (+240)
The game off the tee and on approach worries me. I never like to bank on a hot putter carrying a player all four days, but at the same time I believe Theegala is indeed the class player in the top portion of this leaderboard. His short game has always been a real weapon, so the fact that it is firing this week is not a surprise. Theegala is 80th on TOUR in Strokes Gained: Approach. He should improve in this area over the weekend from what we have seen in the first two rounds. If that's the case, I believe he has a great chance to capture his first-ever TOUR victory.
S.H. Kim (+450)
Kim is a player who ranks quite admirably in a number of categories on TOUR but the form has been off as of late. He’s missed the cut in five of his last seven starts. His last start, however, was at the Wyndham Championship six weeks ago. It appears he’s taken advantage of the time off and the game has come back around. He drives it long, is very good off the tee, and is excellent on and around the greens. Those are the tools needed for this golf course and it has fit him perfectly through two rounds. If the strengths of his game just continue to hold strong, he’ll be in the mix for sure. My one area of concern is his approach play. Kim ranks 167th in SG: Approach on TOUR but is currently third in this field. If his approach play slips over the weekend, so will his chances of earning TOUR victory number one.
Justin Thomas (+1200)
I found it a bit interesting that Thomas decided to play in this event. It felt like an admission that his game is not in good current form and he really needs a tune-up before the Ryder Cup. He certainly had things in order on Friday and this is why I believe he may fall off a bit over the weekend. Thomas hit more greens in regulation in Round 2 than he has in over nine months of action. My feeling is that will not be sustained.
Justin Thomas’ Round 2 highlights from the Fortinet Championship
It's difficult to turn around form that has been eluding him all season long over the course of just four days. He's had his moments recently – briefly at the Wyndham Championship and here at Silverado on Friday, but I doubt that this can carry on at such a high level for another two rounds here this weekend. In addition, because Thomas is one of the bigger name stars in this field, we are paying a premium to back him at +1200. In my mind, he ought to be well north of +1500, if not +2000 to win this tournament.
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