Safeway Open Betting Preview
Our golf picks continue to sizzle as the season begins again. Last week we gave out a winner with Scottie Scheffler easily outdueling Brendan Todd in a tournament matchup. We also gave you the outright winner (Dustin Johnson) as one of our “Horse for the Course” plays. This week the vibe drastically shifts from the top 30 golfers in the world to the rest of the pack trying to tune up their game before next week’s US Open. The wide-open field does offer some unique betting opportunities as the deck is clear for some lower-tiered golfers to outperform their number.
Event: Safeway Open
Course: Silverado Resort and Spa – North Course
Course Stats: Par 72 – 7,166 yards
Designer: Ben Harmon
Handicapping The Course
West coast, best coast. Silverado’s North Course isn’t overly challenging, but it does present some nuances which favor golfers that are used to playing under the California sun. The fairways are tough to hit, and the four-inch rough will make it more challenging to bomb and gouge the course. Putting is also not a key metric to examine as only one winner in the last six has finished inside the top 17 in Strokes Gained: Putting.
Horse for the Course
Brendan Steele is a two-time champion at Silverado and is coming off a wildly successful season where he finished inside the top 70 of the FedEx Cup Standings and posted a T33 finish at the BMW Championship in round two of the playoffs. Steele is currently being booked as the second favorite on the board at the FanDuel Sportsbook, priced just slightly behind the betting favorite Si Woo Kim.
Steele’s current form is up to par, ranking 39th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green last season. The California native also feels right at home playing this event. Steele is one of six prior winners to place in the top three in Bogey Avoidance and the third winner to lead the field in Par-5 Scoring. Steele also fits the putting narrative finishing outside the top 25 in Strokes Gained: Putting in his most recent victory at Silverado.
Russell Knox is a name that popped off the odds board for me at 100-1. The Scottish sensation is one of the best ball-strikers in the field, ranking 23rd last season in Greens in Regulation. Knox does not have the west coast familiarity you want to see when capping this group, but at such a long price, I’m willing to take a flyer on someone with undervalued ball-striking numbers to peek their head up and content this weekend.
Harold Varner is poised to breakout. The North Carolina native is still searching for his first victory on tour, but he has certainly proven he is capable. Varner’s ball-striking numbers were sensational last season, ranking eighth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and 15th in Greens in Regulation. Varner finished 7th at the Wyndham Championship a few weeks ago after an opening-round 62. He broke 70 in all four rounds but could not keep his name near the top of the leaderboard with a much stronger field.
I like Varner’s chances to win much better this week as the competition is not as stiff, but the bet I really like is for Varner to remain near the first page of the leaderboard all weekend long. If you want to take a shot on Varner at 30-1 to win outright, I can’t fault you, but the best bet of the weekend for me is for Varner to finish inside the top 20 at plus-money.
Best Bet: Harold Varner III Top 20 +155