This week marks the beginning of the 2020/2021 season on the PGA Tour. Last week saw Dustin Johnson claim the FedEx Cup in convincing fashion. He had been the best golfer on tour over the past month and was very deserving to win the season’s biggest prize. With the modified schedule for this summer, the US Open will be played in the middle of September which means a lot of the premier golfers in the sport did not make the trip to California and instead have headed up to New York a week early. That leads to a weaker field with a few names not as recognizable to the public but there will, of course, still be value from an outrights perspective.
- Field: 156 golfers / top 65 and ties make the cut
- Course: Silverado Country Club / Napa Valley, CA
- Greens: Poa
- Length: 7,166
- Par: 72
- Defending Champion: Cameron Champ
As mentioned prior, many of the big names in the golf world are taking this week off in order to get some extra rest in before teeing it up at Winged Foot for the US Open. That doesn’t mean there won’t be any top tier names competing in wine country. Some of the more popular golfers playing this weekend are Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth, and Sergio Garcia, among others.
One of the most recognizable figures on tour, Phil Mickelson, comes into the event fresh off a win in his debut on the Champions Tour. He will enter as the co-favorite to win this week along with Si Woo Kim.
The time of year that used to be known as the “swing season” tends to see breakthrough victories that can kick start the season for some of the lesser known players on tour. At the 2019/2020 Safeway Open, Cameron Champ came away with the win and took that momentum all the way to East Lake as one of the final 30 golfers of the year.
Silverado Country Club is a par-72 that plays just over 7,100 yards in length which makes it one of the shorter courses that the golfers have seen in quite some time. It is located in the beautiful Napa Valley and the greens are rolled with the traditional west coast Poa that many of the other California courses also have. The scoring to par is relatively average with Cameron Champ taking home last year’s title with a final score of -17. The mountains that turn Napa into a valley typically block out any aggressive wind from hitting the course which leads to generally calm conditions.
One of the biggest defenses that this course has is the difficulty in hitting fairways. An average PGA Tour event sees roughly 62% of fairways hit by the golfers. Last year at the Safeway Open, only 53% of drives were able to find the short grass. The rough is average in length but some greenside bunkers will make it challenging to attack the flags from the thick grass. First glance this may seem to favor more accurate, short hitters but in fact the past winners of this event have fallen more into the “bombers” category. If the fairways will be missed either way it will certainly be an advantage to be as close to the greens as possible.
Three of the five most challenging holes are par-3s that range from 200 – 250 yards. The par-4s are no cake walk either with the tough combo of holes 3 and 4 being the 4th and 6th most difficult to par. The easiest holes will be the par-5s that need to be scored on in order to find success throughout the week. The ending stretch of 16 – 18 offers three opportunities for bidires or eagles and tends to have its hand in determining the winner of the event.
Keys to success will come from long drives, solid second shots, and getting a good read on the angulated and fast poa greens. The long hitters who can get hot with the putter will find themselves in contention come Sunday afternoon.
- Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
- Strokes Gained: Approach
- Driving Distance
- Strokes Gained: Putting (Poa specific)
- Scoring Par-4s 400 – 450 yards
Phil Mickelson +2000
Phil enters the event as one of the co-favorites to win. Fresh off his debut performance on the Champions Tour, he is back competing with golfers more in his skill set and getting in his final prep prior to the US Open. He is a solid West Coast performer at courses like Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines but has not shown much in the way of good form coming into this week. He only has one top-20 finish in his past nine PGA Tour starts. Him being one of the co-favorites at 20/1 is an easy stay away for me.
Sergio Garcia +2500
After a few good showings back in June it looked as if Sergio was going to be in contention most of the summer. That quickly fell apart with a missed cut at the PGA Championship and a 66th at the Wyndham leading to him missing the playoffs. His over all Off-the-Tee game has been solid all summer but inconsistent irons mixed with awful putting has led to him drifting down leaderboards. He hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since his breakthrough Masters back in 2017 and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. The 25/1 number is far lower than it should be and I will be crossing him off the list as an outright betting option.
Jordan Spieth +2800
Everyone’s favorite polarizing figure on tour, the former world #1 still can’t seem to find his swing that led him through his glory days just a few years ago. A truly astonishing fall from greatness, Spieth has not had a solid showing by his standards since February and has not had a PGA Tour win since The Open back in the summer of 2017. In his past five starts, he has lost 1.7 strokes: off-the-tee and 1.6 strokes: putting. Yes, Jordan Spieth is losing strokes putting. Something that was considered impossible a few years back is where we stand today. Driving it poorly and can’t get a putt to drop? I’m not touching a 28/1 number until he flashes some sign of the greatness that he once had.
That’s a trio of popular golfers that I have zero interest in from a betting perspective. Add in the fact that Matt Kuchar hasn’t posted a top 15 finish since February, the typically reliable Brandt Snedeker has been surprisingly unreliable, and Jim Furyk is well past his prime. Not a lot of options from a popular golfer standpoint to bet so that leads elsewhere this week to find some value.
Brendan Steele +2500
The recipe for success at Silverado CC is to get some distance off-the-tee, be solid with the irons, and get hot on the greens. Brendan Steele can check all of those boxes when his game is on. Compared to the rest of the field over the past 50 rounds played, he is 4th on approach, 27th in driving distance, and in the top half for Poa putting. Combine that with being 8th in the field in par-4 scoring on holes 400 – 450 yards and it begins to look like a good fit for this week.
He has not missed a cut since early June, a stretch that has included a 6th, a 13th at the challenging Memorial, and a respectable 22nd at the year’s first major. He made it all the way to the BMW Championship and fell just short of qualifying for East Lake. He’s been in good form as of late and the stats line up. Oh and let’s not forget that he won at this course in back-to-back years in 2016 and 2017. Steele at 25/1 is a great place to start the card this week.
Cameron Davis +4000
Davis was playing some very solid golf before the tour shut down back in March. He was coming off an 8th place finish at the difficult Honda and before that hadn’t missed a cut in his previous five starts. Once golf returned he had a tough time refinding that form. He missed four straight cuts but then was able to turn things around before the playoffs. His last three events had seen finishes of 12th, 15th, and 29th. Just look at the improvements he has been making in the major stat categories:
|Average Strokes Gained Summary|
|Tournaments||SG: Total||SG: T2G||SG: OTT||SG: APP||SG: P|
Improvements in tee-to-green, approach, off-the-tee, and putting. All signs point to success on the horizon for Davis. He is also 9th in this field in driving distance which we already mentioned to be an important factor for the week. I love the 40/1 number that we are getting for a golfer gaining momentum at the right time.
Wesley Bryan +10000
It is tough to come by some longshot value this week but in this range we are looking for any sign that could lead us to someone who may pop. Bryan may offer that exact scenario. He doesn’t play too often but since the restart, he has been playing some pretty solid golf. His last missed cut was in early February and he has found the top-31 in three straight events. When looking at this stats over that stretch, he just hasn’t been able to piece it all together. He’ll be dialed in with his irons but lose strokes putting. Then he will light it up on the greens but be wayward with the driver. In his last event he gained 6.4 strokes tee-to-green so hopefully that is a sign of things to come. He’s 5th in this field in strokes gained: approach over the past 50 rounds as well. I will be taking a shot at the 100/1 number and also am liking +900 for a top-10 or +375 for a top-20.
Other numbers that stood out as value:
- Doc Redmon +3300
- Talor Gooch +5000
- Patrick Rodgers +6600
That’s it for this week. The Safeway Open tends to be an entertaining event and we are hoping to have just that as it plays like this year’s lead-in for the US Open. While most people will be watching the kick-off weekend of the NFL, I will be dialed in hoping to have some golfers in contention coming down the back nine on Sunday in Napa Valley. Maybe even while enjoying a bottle of wine. Seems fitting.