The DFS Preview and Picks for the Safeway Open
Course: Silverado Country Club – North Course (Napa, California)
Yardage: 7,166 – Par 72
Purse : $6.2 M
Field: 144 Players
Recent Safeway Open Champions
Even with all of the momentum of Tiger Woods winning his first tournament in five years, the Europeans went out and protected their home-field advantage by smashing the United States in the Ryder Cup by a score of 17.5 to 10.5, one of the most lopsided wins in recent memory. Woods didn’t win a match, captain America (Patrick Reed) was far from the fiery finger-wagging savior that he was in 2016, Phil Mickelson was awful and guys like Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas weren’t able to do enough to get it done. The Europeans simply kept the ball in play, sank more putts and played with more passion than the U.S, as their drought in European Ryder Cups continues.
With the conclusion of the Tour Championship and Ryder Cup, the 2017-18 PGA Tour season came to a close. However, there’s no need to go into DFS withdrawal, because the 2018-19 PGA tour season starts right up again this week with the Safeway Open. It may not boast the star power that the Ryder Cup did, but you can watch guys like Patrick Cantlay, Emiliano Grillo, Adam Hadwin, Luke List, Ryan Moore, Joaquin Niemann, Brandt Snedeker and Phil Mickelson—who will be the only player from the Ryder Cup in attendance this week—all battle it out. A slew of new PGA Tour rookies begin their first season as PGA Tour pros, and will attempt to dethrone Brendan Steele, who looks to win his third Safeway Open in a row.
Silverado Country Club is a short course by PGA Tour standards. At 7,166 yards and Par 72,
scores generally hover in the 15 to 18 under range. Tree-lined fairways put a premium on driving accuracy and missing a fairway will usually mean that players will have to punch their shot back out. Strokes Gained: off the tee holds a lot of value this week. Players who can keep the ball in play and gain shots on the field their will have a significant advantage. Silverado’s greens are very undulated, meaning that the players must find the proper spot on the green to be able to one-putt. Gaining in Strokes Gained: approach will allow players to have a bunch of birdie opportunities. If they aren’t able to hit the proper spot on the green, three-putting comes into play, so players who excel in three-putt avoidance will be able to save a lot of shots this week. Silverado has four very gettable Par 5s this week, and that’s where the real money is at. Find guys who make a lot of birdies and eagles on the Par 5s (Par 5 birdie or better percentage) as SIlverado gives numerous opportunities to rack up the birdies on the 16 par 5s they’ll play this week.
2018 Safeway Open DFS Picks
Patrick Cantlay ($11,600) In tournament fields as weak as this one, it’s usually smart to go with the chalk, especially when you consider how much better Cantlay is than the rest of the field. Cantlay was the only player other than Phil Mickelson to reach the Tour Championship. In this type of field, Cantlay should be eyeing a win with anything less being a disappointment. Cantlay ranked inside the Top 20 in strokes gained: approach and off-the tee last year. He also ranked 30th in Par 5 birdie or better percentage. He should be licking his chops this week.
Brendan Steele ($9,000) For only $9,000, you get the two-time reigning champion at this event. Steele didn’t have a spectacular 2017-18 season, but Silverado Country Club is where he’s gotten two of his three career PGA Tour wins. Steele is one of the best players off-the-tee, ranking 11th in strokes gained last year. This course puts a heavy premium on putting the ball in the right spot off-the-tee and not blocking yourself off with trees. Steele will look to use that ability to pick up a third win in as many years at this event.
Kevin Streelman ($7,500) Streelman had a solid showing here last year, finishing T13. Streelman looks great across the board statistically. He ranked inside the Top 30 in strokes gained: approach, off-the-tee and three-putt avoidance. Streelman is one of the most accurate players off-the-tee on Tour, and that should bode well for this course. He very rarely three-putts as well, so if he can have a solid iron week, Streelman should have a good chance at cracking the Top 10 or 20 this week.
Bronson Burgoon ($7,500) In July and August, Bronson Burgoon came on strong showing what he could do on the PGA Tour with a runner-up finish at the John Deere, a T6 at the Quicken Loans National, and a T11 in the FedEx Cup Playoff Event, The Northern Trust. Burgoon will demolish the Par 5s, he ranks fourth in the field in Par 5 birdie or better percentage, and ranks inside the Top 20 in the field in strokes gained: approach and off-the-tee. Burgoon provides a great amount of upside for a cheap price this week.
Chesson Hadley ($7,200) When Chesson Hadley is on his game he’s one of the best five or ten players in this field for sure. The problem is you don’t know which Chesson Hadley will show up. Still, for $7,200, there’s just too much upside to not take a chance. Hadley finished third in this event last year, and ranked inside the Top 10 in strokes gained: approach, slightly ahead of far more respected players such as Bryson DeChambeau, Francesco Molinari and Patrick Cantlay.
Johnson Wagner ($7,100) In these softer fields, Johnson Wagner is my go-to guy for a safe pick with decent upside. Since last April, Wagner has missed just one cut, and finished outside the Top 40 just twice. He’s virtually a guarantee to finish between 11th and 30th place. That’s pretty much all you’re asking for from your low 7K players. Wagner also provides some decent upside this week as he finished T3 here in 2016, just two shots off of Brendan Steele’s winning score.