Welcome to GOLFstats.com! You are currently viewing one of our Preview and Picks post that we publish each week. We also publish special Performance Charts for the tournaments, analyzing results over the past 8 years, a special DraftKings Picks Post, analyzing what picks are the best this week for the DraftKings games, and we do a weekly Key Fantasy Stats Post detailing what stats are most important for this weeks tournament and course, and which players excel in those stats. Very useful!
Our data is updated daily. To access all this info, and so much more, just CLICK HERE to SIGN UP for GOLFstats!

BlogSafeway Open Preview and Picks

Safeway Open

October 5th – 8th, 2017

Silverado C.C. (North)

Napa,, CA

Par: 72 / Yardage: 7,166

Purse: $6 million

with $1,080,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Brendan Steele

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 18 of the top 100 and 6 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings.  Here is a look at the players in the top 50:  #30 Phil Mickelson, #36 Webb Simpson, #39 Bill Haas, #43 Zach Johnson, #46 Ryan Moore and #44 Tony Finau.

Last year there were 8 top-50 players in the field.

The field only includes 1 of the Top 25 from the final FedEx point standings for 2017, Webb Simpson.

The field includes just one player, Webb Simpson, from last year’s PGA Tour money list.

The field includes all 4 past champions: Brendan Steele (2017), Emiliano Grillo (2016), Sangmoon Bae (2015) and Jonas Blixt (2012).

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the Safeway Open field is our performance chart listed by average finish. One last way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at Safeway Open in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the Safeway Open.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the Safeway Open

Player Web.com Tour Champ. Tour Champ. DAP Champ. BMW Champ. Albertsons Boise Open Dell Champ. Children’s Hospital Champ. Northern Trust WinCo Foods Portland Open Wyndham Champ. News Sentinel Open PGA Champ.
Chesson Hadley
(252.67 pts)
T46
(4)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP 10
(26.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Rob Oppenheim
(252.33 pts)
T5
(70)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP T17
(33)
DNP T11
(26)
DNP T65
(0)
DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP
Webb Simpson
(224.33 pts)
DNP T13
(55.5)
DNP T9
(67.5)
DNP T75
(0)
DNP T6
(60)
DNP 3
(30)
DNP T33
(11.33)
Brice Garnett
(185.67 pts)
T20
(30)
DNP T20
(30)
DNP T29
(21)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP Win
(88)
DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP
Bronson Burgoon
(180.67 pts)
4
(80)
DNP 5
(70)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T50
(0.67)
DNP T6
(40)
DNP DNP DNP
Tony Finau
(169 pts)
DNP T7
(82.5)
DNP T7
(82.5)
DNP T65
(0)
DNP T54
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T44
(4)
Keith Mitchell
(155 pts)
WD
(-5)
DNP T6
(60)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T6
(40)
DNP T6
(40)
DNP T3
(30)
DNP
Andrew Landry
(151.67 pts)
WD
(-5)
DNP T50
(1)
DNP T5
(70)
DNP T3
(60)
DNP T25
(16.67)
DNP T23
(9)
DNP
Denny McCarthy
(149.33 pts)
T12
(38)
DNP T17
(33)
DNP T9
(45)
DNP T31
(12.67)
DNP T19
(20.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Ted Potter, Jr.
(136.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T33
(17)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP T13
(24.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T15
(11.67)
DNP
Benjamin Silverman
(132.33 pts)
T20
(30)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T40
(10)
DNP T24
(17.33)
DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP T7
(18.33)
DNP
Sam Saunders
(130.33 pts)
T2
(100)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T40
(10)
DNP T11
(26)
DNP DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP DNP
Troy Merritt
(123.67 pts)
T32
(18)
DNP T6
(60)
DNP T9
(45)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T28
(7.33)
DNP DNP
Nicholas Lindheim
(121 pts)
WD
(-5)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP T46
(4)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Chez Reavie
(120 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T12
(57)
DNP T61
(0)
DNP T10
(40)
DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP T22
(18.67)
Ryan Armour
(118.33 pts)
DNP DNP T25
(25)
DNP T51
(0)
DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP
Tyler Duncan
(117.67 pts)
T12
(38)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T5
(70)
DNP T24
(17.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T23
(9)
DNP
Shawn Stefani
(110 pts)
T2
(100)
DNP T20
(30)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Lucas Glover
(105.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T12
(57)
DNP T30
(20)
DNP T40
(10)
DNP T28
(7.33)
DNP T33
(11.33)
Jonathan Randolph
(103 pts)
WD
(-5)
DNP T42
(8)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP T70
(0)
DNP DNP T83
(0)
DNP DNP
Kevin Na
(101 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T53
(0)
DNP T6
(60)
DNP T29
(21)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
Tom Hoge
(98.67 pts)
T12
(38)
DNP T25
(25)
DNP T17
(33)
DNP T41
(6)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Phil Mickelson
(98.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T20
(45)
DNP T6
(60)
DNP T54
(0)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
Steve Wheatcroft
(94 pts)
T16
(34)
DNP T11
(39)
DNP T29
(21)
DNP T55
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Abraham Ancer
(93.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T66
(0)
DNP 5
(46.67)
DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the Safeway Open

Player Web.com Tour Champ. Tour Champ. DAP Champ. BMW Champ. Albertsons Boise Open Dell Champ. Children’s Hospital Champ. Northern Trust WinCo Foods Portland Open Wyndham Champ. News Sentinel Open PGA Champ.
Brian Davis
(-30 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T57
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Eric Axley
(-30 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T54
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T65
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Andrew Loupe
(-24 pts)
WD
(-5)
DNP T50
(1)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Andrew Yun
(-23.33 pts)
T40
(10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Dicky Pride
(-23 pts)
53
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP WD
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T50
(0.33)
DNP DNP
Michael Kim
(-20 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T64
(0)
DNP DNP
Jon Curran
(-19 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T50
(1)
DNP T51
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Zhang Xin-jun
(-18.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T60
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP WD
(-1.67)
DNP
Kyle Thompson
(-16.67 pts)
WD
(-5)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T68
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T15
(11.67)
DNP
Ken Duke
(-16.67 pts)
55
(0)
DNP T62
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T80
(0)
DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

Hard to believe that just like that 2017 is over, and the 2018 season is starting up.  This year for many of those playing in the Web.Com Tour Championship will be short lived. With the Monday finish that means there was just three days for them to not only comprehend but enjoy earning their PGA Tour cards and teeing it up in 2018.  Lot’s of reason for this happening, manly since Safeway has a deal with the PGA Tour to be the first event in the new season.  This use to be ok, there was always of week off in between the Web.Com Tour and Safeway, but with the Korean event being added to the schedule that moved this up a week.  Making it even harder, for most players who don’t have the record to play in Asian, that means they have to rush from Florida to California and then have two weeks off until the next full field event in Mississippi.

Hopefully this will be addressed with the new schedule for 2019 but for now it’s what it is.  That is probably the big reason for the poor field this week, with the Presidents Cup coming just after the Tour Championship and the BMW Championship, even those in the top-100 of last year’s FedEx Cup won’t be playing.

Still the fact is that for many they can’t take this week off because they really need to get off to a good start.  As an example look at last year’s winner Brendan Steele, by winning the Safeway he got his year off on the right beat.  The victory got him into the top 60 of the world rankings which he was able to ride in getting him into the two early World Golf Championship events.  The win also got him into the Masters and the SBS tournament of Champions were he finished 6th and made $210,000 and a lot of FedEx Cup points.  With him getting into the top-60 it insured that he would be in the top-60 of the world rankings, which also got him into the Players Championship and all of the majors.  So thanks to his victory in his first event, he had his best season on tour.

In comparison, look at the year Safeway runner-up Patton Kizzire had.  Yes it help him finish in the top-100 of the FedEx Cup but the only really big event he played in was the Players Championship.  He didn’t get to play in any of the majors or World Golf Championship and without playing those events your chances of having a very good year are gone.  Kizzire was one back of Brendan Steele and if Kizzire could of won who knows if he could of had the season that Steele had.

So for many they will start there season with the Asian swing which starts next week, but if you don’t play in any fall events, the odds on having a super season is against you.  Yes Fall golf is not great, but there is now a lot of money and FedEx Cup points out there so many will play sometime in the next 8 weeks.

Still at the end of the day the events in the fall are getting more marquee names and increasing viewership.  Still many “purists” would love to see the tour shut down after the Tour Championship and not start again until January, but that is never going to happen.

A new class of graduates

Three days ago another 25 players joined the 25 players who got there PGA Tour cards from the regular Web.Com season earners at the start of September.  Of the 50 that earned cards, 47 of them will play at the Safeway.  But here is a sobering fact, of the 50 players that earned PGA Tour cards on the 2016 Web.Com Tour, only 14 finished in the top-100 of the FedEx Cup and only 22 finished in the top-125 and saved there cards for 2018.

There is a ray of good news, in looking at last year’s class of 50 six of them won with Xander Schauffele winning twice including the season ending Tour Championship.  As we look at this year’s class the question will be, who will win this year?  Have to say if I had to put some money on five guys I like Peter Uihlein, Sam Ryder, Sam Saunders, Conrad Shindler and Beau Hossler.

For this week watch Chesson Hadley, Sam Saunders and Conrad Shindler, they seem to be on their game right now.

About the Safeway Open:

This event started in Scottsdale, Arizona and after three years at Grayhawk transferred to CordeValle Golf Club, close to it’s sponsors headquarters in San Jose.  The hope was that CordeValle would be a temporary home as it’s been a dream to hold the event at the Institute Golf Course in Morgan Hill, CA.   But construction problems and such have forced the event not to be played on the ultra private course that very few have ever seen.  So CordeValle was to be a short term fix, and was until the event moved to Napa for the 2015 event.  The event was suppose to move to the Institute Golf Course (which is suppose to be a great course) someday, but after the success at Silverado and Frys dropping sponsorship the event signed up Safeway as the title sponsor and for the foreseeable future will stay at the Silverado resort.

Course information:

Many will not remember, but Silverado was a proud site of the PGA Tour between 1968 to 1980 and then held a senior event, the Transamerica between 1990 and 2002.  So Silverado had a deep relationship with professional golf.  The resort changed direction because it didn’t need to spend the money to host a professional event.  Napa Valley has become a great destination for couples over 40, between the great weather and the vineyards, Silverado didn’t need it.  The resort lost some of its touch and needed some sprucing up. One of the areas that have been improved was the golf courses.  There are two of them, the South and the North, a couple of years ago Johnny Miller put together an investment group that purchased the courses, and Miller reworked the North Course. What Miller did was revamped all of the greens, put in new bunkering and realigned the fairways and trimmed the trees that were too cumbersome.  Of course because of the downturn of the golf marketplace, Miller didn’t go crazy by changing a lot of the holes, adding lakes and streams.  Still Miller is happy at the work, and he is hopeful to be able to do the same to the South Course.

So what will the pros find this week?  The greens are one of the things that Miller points out that makes it a better course.  “These greens are as tough as Augusta at high speeds,” Miller said to Golf.com. “I would probably have five three putts a round.”  The course was also increased from 6,900 to 7,203.  Now on the surface this may be too short for the best pros in the world.  So I can see both the long distance players having a field day while the shorter hitters also enjoying shorter approaches to the greens.  One thing that was brought out in the 13 years it was played in the 70s,  the caliber of champions which included players like Billy Casper, Johnny Miller, Tom Watson and Ben Crenshaw among it’s champions.

Another important aspect of the Miller redo, in an effort to improve playability and aesthetics, turf renovation got rid of Kikuyu grass and return the course to its original mix of rye and Kentucky bluegrass condition.

The course has become a big hit with the players, sponsors and fans and provided some great theater.

Let’s take a look at key stats that are important for those playing at Silverado:

This is based on the most vital stats from Silverado Resort, North course based on data from last year’s Safeway Open and using data from all the players in the field with stats from 2017.
This is the fourth year that the Safeway Open is being played at Silverado which has a history of holding PGA Tour events going back to the 60s. So the resort has had a deep relationship with professional golf. A couple years ago Johnny Miller put together an investment group to buy the Napa resort and it’s two golf courses which were built in the 1960s. Both courses were designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. are were good, but they were never updated with the advent of new equipment. So when Miller came in he wanted to rework the two courses and bring them up to date. He started first on the North Course by revamping all of the greens, put in new bunkering and realigned the fairways and trimmed the trees that were too cumbersome. The most important item in the change was changing the greens by adding some undulation and making them very fast. Miller also added 300 yards so it will play at a par 72 and at 7,166 yards.
Last year the course played to a 70.83 scoring average, just over a shot under par. It was the 36th hardest course on the PGA Tour. One of the reason for the low scoring was perfect weather with perfect course conditions and no wind. For the pros the hardest aspect of the course is hitting fairways, 53.22% of the fairways were hit last year as it ranked the 6th hardest course to hit. Even with the tight fairways, the players hit 71.12% of the greens making it the 41st hardest course to hit in regulation. With that 1,631 birdies were made on the course as only 7 other courses saw more birdies made, so hitting fairways and greens will lead to making a lot of birdies. As for the greens they were the 30th hardest greens to score on which meant that lot’s of putts dropped during the week.

In looking at how last years winner Brendan Steele did it he couldn’t of been better in most stats. He was T-5th in Driving Accuracy and T-21st in Greens hit. This led to Steele making the most birdies of anyone in the field, 24 which is the most birdies made in the three years it has been played at Silverado. Another key for Steele was on and around the greens, he was T-7th in Scrambling, T-1st in Sand Save Percentage and 6th in strokes gained putting. So we could say that Steele was all-around the best player that week.
One thing that is important to realize is that this is the first event of 2018 and with it those 50 that earned cards off the Web.Com Tour will be important. Of those 50, 47 are in the field as Jonathan Byrd, Austin Cook and Chad Collins, who earned PGA Tour cards for 2018 are the only ones not in the field. So we have to remember that almost a third of the field are off last year’s Web.Com Tour which has different style of courses.

So in looking at our four categories, we see how much driving and getting the ball on the green makes a difference. So we pick Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green because at Silverado putting the ball in play off the tee is very important, probably one of the most important items on this Robert Trent Jones course. Next up we pick not only scrambling but Sand saves and in order to do that we will use strokes gained around the green, because if the greens are missed you have to still make par. After that putting is important, so we have picked Strokes Gained putting as our third most important element. Last is birdies as we pointed out lot’s of birdies are made on this course.

*Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green: Looks at the combination of length off the tee and accuracy, then getting the ball on the green so it determines who is best at all of these items.

*Strokes Gained Around-the-Green: Looks at the combination of gaining strokes by getting up and down after missing a green.

*Strokes Gained Putting: The number of putts a player takes from a specific distance is measured against a statistical baseline to determine the player’s strokes gained or lost on a hole.

*Birdies average: Players that make the most birdies averaged per rounds played

90 of the 144 Players from this year’s field with stats from 2017 (remember there are 47 players from last year’s Web.Com Tour):

Click any column title in the table header to sort columns.

Here is the link to the other 80 of the 90 players and their PGA Tour stats for 2017.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the Safeway Open:

Key stat for the winner:

In all three years of being played at Silverado, hitting fairways and putting became the keys to playing well.  Silverado had the 6th hardest fairways to hit last year so hitting it straight is important.  Also putting was important, on putting average it ranked 30th out of 50 courses meaning that lot’s of putts were made.  So look for that trait in a possible winner this week.

Here are some more key stats to look to for this week:

  • Since course is still new for a good share of the players, experience will play a very limited role.  Traditionally tournaments on the PGA Tour that hold events for the first, second and third year, are won by journeymen and players with very little experience winning.  The last three winnners Sangmoon Bae, Emiliano Grillo and Brendan Steele fit that bill so expect the unexpected for this week.
  • Johnny Miller says the greens are perfect and fast, so good putters should have a field day.
  • Scrambling is also very important because it’s not that demanding around the greens at Silverado.  Last year it ranked 39th hardest, so to win you have to get up and down on those greens you miss.
  • Lastly it’s a really weak field so I can see someone off the Web.Com Tour winning this week.  Five rookies claimed victory in 2017: Cody Gribble/Sanderson Farms Championship, Mackenzie Hughes/The RSM Classic, Wesley Bryan/RBC Heritage, Grayson Murray/Barbasol and Xander Schauffele (The Greenbrier Classic and TOUR Championship). Bryan was one of three players to win on the PGA Tour the season after earning Web.com Tour Player of the Year honors, joining Stewart Cink (1997) and Zach Johnson (2004).
  • Weather is going to be perfect for this week, no rain, no clouds and temperatures in the high 80s, low 90s each day with very little humidity.  With that and the lack of wind, look for really low scores and players that make lot’s of birdies and eagles.

 

Who to watch for at the Safeway Open

Best Bets:

Kevin Na

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
7 2 T3 T15 CUT T61

Always gets off to a good start, has three top-tens in three starts in this event.

Bill Haas

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T20 T20 T51

Hits lot’s of fairways, good around the greens he should do very well this week.

Tony Finau

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T26 T32 T12

Game is right for this course he also played well to end the FedExcup playoffs.

Best of the rest:

Chesson Hadley

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
CUT T57 T72

Played great on the Web.Com Tour, look for him to play well this week.

Scott Piercy

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T3 CUT T67 T44

Of all the players in the field had the best birdie average on the PGA Tour in 2017, was also T-3rd last year.

Ryan Moore

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T10 T8 CUT T6

Watch him this time of year, game is well suited for Silverado.

Emiliano Grillo

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T26 Win

Past champion looking to start his year the right way again

Zach Johnson

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
First time playing in this event

Never played on this course, it could be very good for his game.

Solid contenders

Luke List

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T26

Finished off a good year, his good off the tee game and making lot’s of birdies makes him a good underdog pick.

Martin Laird

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T8 T64 T3 T13 T34

Looking forward to this week as his summer started good with a T-3rd at the Quicken Loans but then went into a spin till he played well in three FedExCup playoff events.

Jamie Lovemark

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T20 T48 T62 T30 T2

This is a guy that I see lot’s of great thing from in 2018.

Peter Uihlein

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
First time playing in this event

May be playing for the first time in this event but I see some good things from him.

Phil Mickelson

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T8 CUT

Watch him, he played well at Silverado last year.

Long shots that could come through:

Sangmoon Bae

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
Win

Fresh from his 2 years of military service in South Korea, Bae rejoins the PGA Tour and plays on the course that he won on in 2015.

Sam Saunders

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
CUT T73

Hasn’t played that great in two Silverado starts but still think he will be great this fall.

Conrad Shindler

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
First time playing in this event

Showed a lot of talent on the Web.Com Tour, think this will be a good week for him.

Speak Your Mind

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.