- Full preview of the Safeway Open with The Golf Insider
- Four value picks, ranging from $29 to $151 in the market
The first of this week’s tournaments sees us “Go West” as we take a trip to California.
The PGA Tour, still early in the new 2019-20 season, makes the first of several stop-offs in the most populated of all the US states for the Safeway Open
The Safeway Open was first held in 2007 (and ran as the Frys.com Open until 20115) and although it isn’t one of the higher profile events on the schedule, it will deliver some very competitive golf as players look to start the new season in good form. The usual mix of well-known names, journeyman pros and the new intake of players from the Korn Ferry Tour make up the field.
We’re at the Silverado Country Club (North course) in wine country… Napa, California. The land was converted to golfing use in the 1950s under the direction of famous course designer Robert Trent Jones Jr. After a few subsequent modifications it’s now a 7,166 yard par 72 since undergoing several upgrades, and this is now the 6th year in a row that the PGA event has been held here. Despite it’s tree-lined fairways and relatively small greens, scoring is generally good with recent winning scores averaging around 14-under to 18-under-par.
262, Troy Matteson, Rickie Fowler & Jamie Lovemark (all 2009)
62, Scott Piercy (2016)
Kevin Tway (2018), Brendan Steele (2017), Brendan Steele (2016), Emiliano Grillo (2015), Sang-Moon Bae (2014).
A normal PGA Tour field of 156 line-up in California this week. Justin Thomas is the favourite.
A dry week is forecast with temperatures in the mid 70s. No rain is on the radar, cloud cover will be minimal and what wind there is will be of no impact at all to the players. All in all, a very pleasant week among the vineyards.
My value picks
Molinari was back to his old ways last week at the BMW PGA Championship hitting fairways for fun and flushing iron shots into greens, something he’d be struggling with at the back end of last season. He finished 14th last week, and ranked 14th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, which signalled a welcome return to form. This week he tees it up at Silverado, a course which has produced winners who all thrive when it comes to ball-striking and tee-to-green excellence. Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay head the betting, but this is both men’s first outing of the new season, so rust could play a factor. Molinari looks value this week having shaken off the cobwebs at Wentworth. There were enough positive signs to suggest he’ll go close this week, and he definitely looks the pick of the front end at current prices.
I’m going back in on Champ this week after watching him rip drive after drive 340 yards down the middle of the fairway at the Sanderson Farms last week. He ranked 1st in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee by a mile, but his wedge play left something to be desired. His putting wasn’t much better, but he’s definitely trending in the right direction and the fact that it was his driver that let him down for most of last year, the signs are really positive for the American powerhouse. Champ finished 25th here last year and plenty suggests he’ll improve on that this time around. At 100/1+ I can’t leave him off the staking plan.
These tee shots from Cameron Champ… 😳.pic.twitter.com/CDULNF1Tux
— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) September 18, 2019
Murray, like Champ, is a huge hitter and when that driver starts finding fairways he’s a huge danger. Murray played the Korn Ferry Tour at the end of last season and found his game again finishing no worse than 30th from his last five starts which included two Top 10’s. He came 36th at the Greenbrier before missing the cut last week in Jackson. He’s finished 9th and 41st at Silverado the last two years, and looks to be playing well enough to feature this week at a huge price despite last week’s MC. When Murray burst onto the scene a couple of years ago he ruffled a few feathers with his outspoken comments and perhaps this hindered his progression, but he looks to have found his game again and certainly has the ability to challenge on the PGA Tour.
Redman looks worth a small bet this week at a big price after another solid display last week at the Sanderson Farms, where he finished the week off with a 68 (his best round of the week). Redman already has some impressive results to his name after just a short time on tour having finished 18th at the Wells Fargo, 2nd at the Rocket Mortgage Classic and 20th at the Open Championship at Portrush. Last week he ranked 15th in Strokes Gained: Approach, an important metric at Silverado. He looks to have all the tools to succeed at this level and at around 150/1+ he looks a big value each-way investment this week.