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BlogSafeway Open Preview and Picks

Safeway Open

October 4th – 7th, 2018

Silverado C.C. (North)

Napa, CA

Par: 72 / Yardage: 7,166

Purse: $6.2 million

with $1,116,000 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 22 of the top 100 and 2 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings.  Here is a look at the players in the top 1000:  #22 Patrick Cantlay, #24 Phil Mickelson, #51 Brandt Snedeker, #54 Luke List, #57 Russell Knox, #58 Adam Hadwin, #61 Emiliano Grillo, #62 Chez Reavie, #65 Peter Uihlein, #66 Russell Henley, #68 Jason Dufner, # Duane, #9 Dylan Frittelli, #71 Ryan Moore, #75 Chesson Hadley, #76 Andrew Landry, #77 Beau Hossler, #84 Brendan Steele, #88 J.B. Holmes, #90 Jhonattan Vegas, #97 Sungjae Im, #98 Ted Potter, Jr. and #99 Cameron Davies.

Last year there were 6 top-50 players in the field.

The field includes just two players, #20 Patrick Cantlay & #21 Phil Mickelson, from the final FedEx point standings for 2018,

The field includes all 4 past champions: Brendan Steele (2017 & ’18), 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 the 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 Tour Champ. Web.com Tour Champ. BMW Champ. Boise Open Dell Tech. DAP Champ. Northern Trust Nationwide Children’s Wyndham Portland Open PGA Champ. WGC Bridgestone Barracuda
Denny McCarthy
(255 pts)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP T13
(37)
DNP T9
(30)
DNP T5
(46.67)
T36
(4.67)
DNP DNP DNP 36
(4.67)
Sangmoon Bae
(183.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(132)
DNP T6
(40)
DNP T35
(10)
T45
(1.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Adam Schenk
(183.33 pts)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP T9
(30)
DNP T35
(10)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Cameron Davis
(171.33 pts)
DNP T3
(90)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T16
(22.67)
DNP 3
(60)
DNP T24
(8.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Anders Albertson
(165 pts)
DNP T31
(19)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP T9
(30)
DNP T21
(19.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Patrick Cantlay
(164.83 pts)
T21
(43.5)
DNP T55
(0)
DNP T24
(26)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP DNP DNP T27
(15.33)
T6
(30)
DNP
Kramer Hickok
(148.67 pts)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP Win
(88)
DNP T14
(24)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Peter Malnati
(145 pts)
DNP T54
(0)
DNP T17
(33)
DNP T6
(40)
DNP 2
(66.67)
T24
(8.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Curtis Luck
(136 pts)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP T24
(26)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP T6
(20)
DNP DNP DNP
Shawn Stefani
(134.67 pts)
DNP T31
(19)
DNP T13
(37)
DNP T25
(16.67)
DNP 4
(53.33)
T24
(8.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Roberto Diaz
(133.67 pts)
DNP T17
(33)
DNP 5
(70)
DNP T25
(16.67)
DNP T24
(17.33)
T53
(0)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Lucas Glover
(115.33 pts)
DNP 2
(100)
DNP T53
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T17
(22)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Hunter Mahan
(111.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T33
(17)
DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP T17
(22)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP T23
(9)
Roger Sloan
(111 pts)
DNP T29
(21)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP T59
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Phil Mickelson
(109.33 pts)
30
(30)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP T12
(38)
DNP T15
(35)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T24
(13)
DNP
Max Homa
(107.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP 7
(55)
DNP T6
(40)
DNP T21
(19.33)
DNP T40
(3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Matt Jones
(101.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP T10
(26.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP T15
(11.67)
Seth Reeves
(101.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T66
(0)
DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Michael Thompson
(100.33 pts)
DNP T21
(29)
DNP 6
(60)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T11
(13)
DNP DNP DNP T15
(11.67)
Stephan Jaeger
(96.67 pts)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T70
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T62
(0)
Jim Knous
(96 pts)
DNP T57
(0)
DNP T24
(26)
DNP T25
(16.67)
DNP T10
(26.67)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Dylan Frittelli
(96 pts)
DNP T39
(11)
DNP T9
(45)
DNP T42
(5.33)
DNP T17
(22)
DNP DNP T31
(12.67)
DNP DNP
Adam Hadwin
(92.33 pts)
DNP DNP T19
(31)
DNP T21
(29)
DNP T11
(39)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP
Sepp Straka
(84.67 pts)
DNP T3
(90)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T51
(0)
DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Robert Streb
(84 pts)
DNP T54
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T36
(9.33)
DNP Win
(88)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP T58
(0)
Benjamin Silverman
(83 pts)
DNP T3
(90)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T58
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP T11
(13)
Sungjae Im
(79 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T43
(7)
DNP T16
(22.67)
DNP T51
(0)
DNP Win
(44)
T42
(5.33)
DNP DNP
Chase Wright
(76.67 pts)
DNP T3
(90)
DNP 76
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Wes Roach
(70.33 pts)
DNP T17
(33)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP 24
(17.33)
DNP T10
(26.67)
DNP T40
(3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Emiliano Grillo
(69.67 pts)
DNP DNP T61
(0)
DNP T7
(55)
DNP T48
(2)
DNP DNP DNP T31
(12.67)
T66
(0)
DNP
Fabian Gomez
(68.67 pts)
DNP T17
(33)
DNP T9
(45)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T44
(4)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Brandt Snedeker
(68.33 pts)
DNP DNP 67
(0)
DNP T31
(19)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP T42
(5.33)
DNP DNP
Cameron Tringale
(66.67 pts)
DNP T3
(90)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T56
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Chad Campbell
(63.33 pts)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T59
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP 2
(33.33)
Alex Prugh
(58 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T24
(26)
DNP T9
(30)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T24
(8.67)
DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

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

Player Tour Champ. Web.com Tour Champ. BMW Champ. Boise Open Dell Tech. DAP Champ. Northern Trust Nationwide Children’s Wyndham Portland Open PGA Champ. WGC Bridgestone Barracuda
Dominic Bozzelli
(-36.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Brendan Steele
(-30 pts)
DNP DNP 64
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T60
(0)
DNP
Troy Merritt
(-26.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP
Jason Dufner
(-26.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T66
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP
Michael Kim
(-26.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP
Kelly Kraft
(-26.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP
Maverick McNealy
(-26.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T51
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Jim Herman
(-23.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP 71
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Jose de Jesus Rodriguez
(-22.67 pts)
DNP T46
(4)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Adam Long
(-22 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

The Ryder Cup debacle

I can say that my 10 days in Paris has been fantastic, until Friday afternoon when the American team got swept in the Foursomes play.  After that, it was entirely downhill as our great team crumbled.  What made my trip to Paris so lovely in the first part was the house that I rented in the small town of Fontenay-aux-Roses which was about 10 minutes away from were I got the media bus from one of the hotels.  Because the house was so large, I was not only able to bring my wife Debi, but my 24-year-old daughter and they had a pleasant stay and a great time.  France and Paris are terrific this time of year, and I honestly am a bit disappointed returning home on Tuesday.  One of the great things is being able to have the Ryder Cup come to great places like this week in Paris.  Have to say the course was, and the European Team set up the course with brutal rough which played an essential aspect in the European win.  I also think that because the European Tour plays the French Open every year at the Le Golf National they had a significant advantage over our players.  Still, there are no real excuses, we had a great team and should have done better.

It’s easy to see where the blame falls, Captain Bjorn’s picks of Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, and Paul Casey contributed 9.5 of the teams 17.5 points.  Our team of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau could only pull in 2 points by Finau, as Woods, Mickelson, and DeChambeau were shut-out.  It’s hard to know what the real story is in the Captain picking pairings, but I have a gut feeling that Jim Furyk will go down as the worst captain since Nick Faldo screwed things up for the Europeans in 2008.

Furyk did weird things, and his team in the Friday Foursomes fell flat which started the slide.  I still don’t understand putting both Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson in the foursomes, they are so wild that they proved what a disaster the teams were.  I also don’t understand breaking up the winning team of Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, and now the ugly truth that Spieth may have had a personal problem with Reed is making the circles.  As for Phil Mickelson, I am afraid he may have seen his last Ryder Cup matches, and it’s a shame that he goes out with the bitter memory of hitting his tee shot into the water on 17.  I also was a bit shocked that Tiger Woods didn’t play any better, but after his great win at the Tour Championship and the fact that he played in 8 events (since the British Open) in the last 11 weeks may have been tiring for him.  Still, it’s embarrassing when Tiger, DeChambeau, and Mickelson get no points in 9 matches and Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson could only get a point each (total of 5 points) in their 19 matches.  This frankly is an embarrassment.

As for the European Tour, all 12 players contributed at least a point each, with Francesco Molinari had a perfect 5-0-0 record and Tommy Fleetwood going 4-1-0.  Another thing that seems to be a vital element for the European team is that they seem to check their egos when they arrive and are a total team unit.

Now we can go on forever on how our American Ryder Cup teams can’t seem to get the job done, but what I was amazed at was being with my 24-year-old daughter Sam.  She was born at the end of October of 1993, a month after the last time that an American team has won on foreign soil.  That is a fantastic stat, the next time the American team will have a chance to win on foreign soil will be in 2022 in Rome when she is 28 years old!

So it will be interesting to see what happens in the months to come as the PGA of America try to figure out what to do with this terrible problem of our boys not winning on foreign soil.  I can say one thing for sure when the 2022 rolls around there won’t be any holdovers of past loses except maybe Tiger.  There won’t be any Bubba Watson or Jim Furyk which have seen a lot of American loses.  Now I don’t think we will see Phil Mickelson as a player, but there is a good chance he could be the Captain then, guess we will have to wait and see.

Having to play this week

Still, the fact is that for many they can’t take this week off because they need to get off to a good start.  As an example look at last year’s winner Brendan Steele.  He won it the previous two years in a row and both times the win carried him through the season, by winning the Safeway he got his year off on the right beat both times.  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 Sentry Tournament of Champions were he finished T-6th in 2017 and 29th in 2018.

Along with the money he made lots 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 win in his first event, he had his best season on tour.

In comparison, look at the year Safeway runner-up Patton Kizzire had in 2017.  Yes, it helps him finish in the top-100 of the FedEx Cup, but the only huge 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 an excellent year are gone.  Kizzire was one back of Brendan Steele and if Kizzire could have won who knows if he could have had the season that Steele had.

So for many, they will start their season with the Asian swing which begins 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, the events in the fall are getting more marquee names and increasing viewership. Even 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

Ten 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, 49 of them will play at the Safeway.  But here is a sobering fact, of the 50 players that earned PGA Tour cards on the 2017 Web.Com Tour, only 14 finished in the top-100 of the FedEx Cup, and only 22 finished in the top-125 and saved their cards for 2019.

There is a ray of good news, in looking at last year’s class of 50 five of them won (Brice Garnett, Ted Potter, Jr, Ryan Armour, Austin Cook, and Aaron Wise).  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 Sangmoon Bae, Cameron Champ, Hunter Mahan, Curtis Luck, and Dylan Frittelli.

For this week watch Bae, Champ and Denny McCarthy. 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 its sponsor’s 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 2015.  The event was supposed 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 an excellent destination for couples over 40, between the great weather and the vineyards, Silverado didn’t need it.  The resort lost some of its touches 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 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 were 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 its winners.

Another important aspect of the Miller redo, to improve playability and aesthetics, turf renovation got rid of Kikuyu grass and returned 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 vital 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 2018.
This is the fifth 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 of 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. and 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 71.76 scoring average, just a quarter of a shot under par. It was the 23rd hardest course on the PGA Tour, so you can say the course is very respectable. One of the reasons for the scoring was perfect weather with perfect course conditions, but winds brought the scores up almost a shot harder last year than in 2017 when the course played to a 70.83 average. For the pros the hardest aspect of the course is hitting fairways, 50.25% of the fairways were hit last year as it ranked the 3rd hardest course to hit in 2018. Even with the tight fairways, the players hit 66.82% of the greens making it the 29th hardest course to hit in regulation. With that 1,556 birdies were made on the course as only 14 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 16th 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 for the 2nd year in a row he couldn’t have been better in most stats for both years. In 2017 he was T-5th in Driving Accuracy and T3rd last year. In greens hit he was T-21st in 2017 and 4th last year. In 2017 Steele made the most birdies of anyone in the field, 24 which is the most birdies made in the three previous years it had been played at Silverado. Last year he made 19 birdies which ranked T-5th. Another key for Steele was on and around the greens, he was T-7th in Scrambling in both 2017 and last year. He T-1st in Sand Save Percentage in 2017 and T-12th last year, he was 6th in strokes gained-putting in 2017 and 29th last year. So we could say that Steele was all-around the best player both weeks.

One thing that is important to realize is that this is the first event of 2019 and with it those 50 that earned cards off the Web.Com Tour will be important. Of those 50, 49 are in the field as Nicholas Lindheim, who earned a PGA Tour cards for 2019 is the only player not in the field. So we have to remember that almost a third of the field is off last year’s (Which finished 2 weekends ago) Web.Com Tour which has a 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

Of the 144 players in the field, 93 have stats on the PGA Tour for 2018.  Remember, 49 of the players were off the Web.Com Tour.:

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

Here is the link to the other 83 players

DraftKings tips

*Here are the guys that cost the most on DraftKings this week:

  • Patrick Cantlay – $11,600
  • Brandt Snedeker – $11,300
  • Phil Mickelson – $10,900
  • Ryan Moore – $10,700
  • Joaquin Niemann – $10,300
  • Emiliano Grillo – $10,000
  • Denny McCarthy – $9,700
  • Adam Hadwin – $9,400
  • Abraham Ancer – $9,300
  • Beau Hossler – $9,100
  • Brendan Steele – $9,000

So it’s back to hard work.  After 4 weeks in which every top player was in the field, we now have an event in which only two top-50 players are in the field.  The key to this week is trying to find one of the 49 Web.Com Tour graduates that will start his season off strong.  In these top players, only Denny McCarthy got his PGA Tour card in the Web.Com playoffs, and he is a person to think about.  At $9,700 McCarty is playing well, and we have to believe it will continue this week.  As for the top guy, Patrick Cantlay is usually a go, but at $11,600 you have to think twice about taking him.  Could he win, yes as he has three top-ten finishes since Memorial, but still the price is a bit steep.  The same with Brandt Snedeker at $11,300.  He did win at the Wyndham but fell flat in the FedExCup playoffs not getting into the top-30 in any of his starts.  What can we say about Phil Mickelson, at $10,900 he won’t get many takers after his poor Ryder Cup performance, but you may want to consider him since he likes Silverado and has finished T-3rd last year and T-8th in 2017.  Ryan Moore at $10,700 is the same problem as with Snedeker, he played well at the Wyndham but hasn’t played that great during the summer.  He has been ok at Silverado, so I would say he is a toss-up.  Joaquin Niemann is high at $10,300 and hasn’t played well since Greenbrier, but with the time off I think he will come out strong and play well, so he is a good buy.  Emiliano Grillo at $10,300 is a toss-up, yes he was T-7th at the Dell Technologies and has won at the Safeway, but we don’t know which Grillo will show up.  Next is the most recent winning Denny McCarthy at $9,700.  He won the season-ending Web.Com Tour Championship and played well in the last weeks of the Web.Com Tour so that I will take a chance on him.  I have always liked Adam Hadwin, but at $9,400 he hasn’t played great to give us the feeling he will do well this week to pass on him.  Another pass is for Abraham Ancer at $9,300. Yes, he was 5th in Canada and T-7th at the Dell, but he hasn’t played well at Safeway so pass on him.  The same with Beau Hossler at $9,100, he was 2nd at Travelers and T-6th at Quicken Loans but has struggled since.  Now you have to pick Brendan Steele at $9,000; he seems to like the course and find a way to do well on it.

*Players in that $7,500 to $8,900 price range, which ones are worth the money?:

Have to like Luke List at $8,800, he seems to do well early, and I expect him to have a great start to his year.  SangMoon Bae at $8,400 is one of the better picks, and he should be in most of your line-ups.  He has won at Silverado, also played well in the Web.Com playoffs and should be ready to go.  Also, like Russell Knox at $8,000.  If he can get into the same kind of run he was in during the summer, he will be okay.  Jamie Lovemark at $7,700 is also another of those players that should do well early and this week.  Dylan Frittelli at $7,600 is also a reasonable price, look for him to play well.  Hunter Mahan at $7,500 is another of those good buys, he is looking for a comeback season, and it will start this week.

*Some of the “bargains” this week at the Safeway Championship

I like Martin Laird at $7,300 he didn’t have a great summer, but he seems to play well in the fall.  Nick Watney at $7,200 is a good buy, his game and performances have gotten better on each start, think 2019 will be big for him.  Curtis Luck at $7,200 is also a good buy; he finished his year on the Web.Com Tour with three top-tens in his last five starts.  Cameron Champ at $7,100 is also good; he had a great spring and early summer including a win in July on the Web.Com Tour.  Lucas Glover at $7,100 is also a good buy, he played well in the Web.Com Tour playoffs and will perform well this week.  Another veteran to do well this week will be Bill Haas who is priced at $7,100.  Yes, he has struggled since being in an automobile accident in February, but he will fight back and play well. Adam Schenk at $7,000  could be the best buy, he has finished in the top-ten in his last 3 Web.Com Tour events including at T-2nd at the Boise Open. Stephan Jaegars at $6,700 is worth the price, has a pair of top-tens in his last three starts on the Web.Com Tour.

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

Key stat for the winner:

  • In all four 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 essential.  Also putting was important, on putting average it ranked 23rd 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 the course is still new for a good share of the players, the experience will play a minimal role.  Traditionally tournaments on the PGA Tour that hold events for the first, second and third year, are won by journeymen and players with minimum experience winning.  The last four winners 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 23rd 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 early in 2018: Ryan Armour/Sanderson Farms Championship, Patrick Cantlay/Shriners, Patton Kizzine/OHL Classic at Mayakoba and Austin Cook/The RSM Classic.
  • Weather is going to be terrible early, with rain on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday but get better for the weekend.  With that and the lack of wind, look for really low scores and players that make lots of birdies and eagles.

Who to watch for at the Safeway Open

Best Bets:

Sangmoon Bae

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
CUT Win

He is ready to win again after returning from military services and getting his game back in shape over the last year.

Joaquin Niemann

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
First time playing in this event

This guy is destined to win before Christmas, he is that good.

Patrick Cantlay

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T47 T67

Guy is also good and should play well this week

Best of the rest:

Brandt Snedeker

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T17 T57

He is healthy again and when he gets that way he can go on a good run which will include winning.

Brendan Steele

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
Win Win T17 T21 CUT CUT T7

Guy is going for the hat-trick and I think he can do it, seems to own this course.

Luke List

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T37 T26

He seems to play his best golf in the spring and this week will be good for him.

Denny McCarthy

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
First time playing in this event

Played well to end the Web.Com Tour, should carry over to this week.

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
First time playing in this event

Solid contenders

Phil Mickelson

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T3 T8 CUT

Looked terrible in Paris during the Ryder Cup, but he seems to always play well at Silverado.

Russell Knox

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
CUT T68 T26 T9

Another of those guys to watch, he had a good summer and could regain that pace.

Martin Laird

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T17 T8 T64 T3 T13 T34

Plays well in the Spring, look for him to get things together this week.

Ryan Moore

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T17 T10 T8 CUT T6

Another of those that seems to play his best golf this time of year.

Long shots that could come through:

Emiliano Grillo

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T28 T26 Win

Looking to regain the form that he had when he won at Silverado.

Peter Uihlein

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
CUT

Course should be suited for his game, I expect him to play well.

Andrew Landry

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T7

Played well last year.

Comments

  1. Micahel M says:

    Sal it’s McCarthy. Not McCarty

  2. Will fix when I get a chance.
    I am on the way to Paris airport for a flight back to America so may not get fixed until tonight

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