Brendan James – Golf Australia Editor

And there you go. With just a single week break after the Tour Championship, the new season kicks off in the Napa Valley.

LUCAS HERBERT makes his debut as a full PGA Tour member and if he doesn’t win he’ll be among the top few vying for the trophy.

Either way, it will be the ideal start for his career in America.

Sportsbet odds: $91

JIMMY EMANUEL – Golf Australia Deputy Editor

There is no question his focus is on next week’s Ryder Cup, but JON RAHM doesn’t strike as a phone it in kind of guy, and will please his management group and tournament organiser SportFive with a good showing here.

Rahm rightly took home the PGA of America Player of the Year award after his efforts across 2021, but remains with just win to his name this year. Something the Spaniard will amend this week in California.

Sportsbet odds: $5

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Rod Morri – Golf Australia magazine contributor and The Thing About Golf podcast host

The start of a new season means multiple storylines in play as the graduated from the secondary Tour take their place on the big stage.

Tempting though it is to assume a fairy tale beginning for one of their careers history says it will be an established player taking the title in California and DYLAN FRITTELLI fits the bill nicely.

A less than stellar finish to his 2020 season will have been forgotten after a three week break and the South African will be ready to improve on his T7 result here last year.

Sportsbet odds: $101

Mark Hayes – Man About Golf

Little-known fact that Fortinet is ancient Latin for "gluttony", so after a huge off-season, it actually makes it slightly easier to tip KEVIN NA who should just stay on his present roll.

Freshly carrying a Twitter blue tick just to ensure that nobody else can replicate his quirks, Na has three top-threes and three more top-25s in his past six starts.

If you take out Rahm and Cantlay, he's probably the hottest ticket on the US Tour. Man these are crazy times.

Sportsbet odds: $23


Brendan James – Golf Australia Editor

Belgian THOMAS DETRY had a premature exit from the BMW PGA when he signed an incorrect scorecard. He can push into top-50 world ranking with a win here and, on this course, he’ll be among the top-10 heading into the final day.

Sportsbet odds: $21

JIMMY EMANUEL – Golf Australia Deputy Editor

Picking a winner here feels a bit like playing darts in a blindfold for mine, but I have to pick a winner and THOMAS PIETERS gets the nod.

The World No.112 has shown signs this year of returning to the form that made him a Ryder Cupper early in his career only to miss a few cuts soon after, but a T9 last week at Wentworth is a good sign. Plus, the Belgian is a past champion of this event and the new venue should suit his game.

Sportsbet odds: $13

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Rod Morri – Golf Australia magazine contributor and The Thing About Golf podcast host

An excellent final round 68 at the PGA at Wentworth capped off a solid run of events for two-time Dutch Open winner JOOST LUITEN and he will be dangerous again in his homeland this week.

Since missing the cut at The Open in July, Luiten has played steady if unspectacular golf, the sort of golf that is often a precursor to something special.

T12 and T18 in the weeks preceding a T35 at Wentworth speak to a game that is reliable in all departments and not requiring much to change to go from good to great.

Sportsbet odds: $26

Mark Hayes – Man About Golf

Logic would point you to a Dutchman in his home Open, or someone who was prominent at Wentworth. But I think logic is over-rated in golf tips (see my back catalogue for proof).

So I'm going to say, for the first of many times ahead, Queenslander ELVIS SMYLIE.

He may not salute here, but he will do so many times in coming years and I'm getting in on the ground floor. Was gutted not to win the NSW Open when running hot at the end of last summer as a new pro and is advanced beyond his years in terms of composure.

Sportsbet odds: $201


Brendan James – Golf Australia Editor

HANNAH GREEN looked likely to make it back-to-back victories in Oregon last year, until she stumbled in the final round to finish three shots out of a play-off.

Good recent form points to another successful week in Portland despite the change of venue for this week.

JIMMY EMANUEL – Golf Australia Deputy Editor

They have had a week to refresh but it is hard to imagine the Solheim Cup players who are teeing it up here aren’t running a little on empty, so it is a fresh ARIYA JUTANUGARN for me here.

The Thai star has been on an absolute heater since late May during which she has missed the top-20 once from nine starts, won with her sister in the teams Dow Great Lakes Invitational and was 10th at the AIG Women’s Open last appearance.

Ariya is a far better player than her 20th on the world rankings suggests, and I expect her to finish 2021 with a couple of wins and more good play.

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Rod Morri – Golf Australia magazine contributor and The Thing About Golf podcast host

There are bigger names who will attract more attention but after a solid Solheim Cup performance (and two third place finishes at this venue in the last three years) America's Brittany Altomare could surprise a few this week.

A victory over European stalwart Carlota Ciganda in the singles at Inverness will have been a confidence boost and look for that to show in her first stroke play event since the epic encounter in Ohio.

Mark Hayes – Man About Golf

This is a good test to see what the Solheim Cup took out of the participants who are backing up here. It looked mentally taxing in Ohio, so I'm going to plump for a player who should be on the "International" team when the women's game branches out into one more team comp (please!!).

It's tempting to go for Hannah Green as a past winner here, but BROOKE HENDERSON has done it twice in Oregon and has a habit of not staying silent too long.


So far our so-called experts have combined to tip 24 winners in 2021, with 120 of their picks recording top-10 finishes that week and a best return of $61 for Max Homa to win the Genesis Invitational (tipped by Rod Morri).