PGA Tour: The Safeway Open

Golfer lines up shot

We take a look at this week's Safeway Open which will be played at the Silverado Resort and Spa from 6 October - 9 October.

It’s kind of crazy to believe that this represents the beginning of the 2017/2018 PGA Tour season. After what seemed like the shortest hiatus imaginable, the PGA Tour returns this week with the Safeway Open- formerly the Open. These events clearly afford players the opportunity to start afresh and realign their goals for the season. As such, the art of prediction becomes somewhat more speculative, with the mysterious transition of season to season often correlating in drastic turns in form.

The Safeway Open | 6 October - 9 October | The North Course, Silverado Resort and Spa

The Robert Trent Jones Jr designed North Course is one that has undergone a huge amount of resonation since its inception in 1957. Sang-moon Bae- the 2014 champion- described the course as a ‘classic’ one, with narrow fairways and small greens that test your game to the fullest. The small, Poa annua greens are heavily undulated and will provide a stern test of the player’s short games this week. With only four players in attendance who competed in the season ending Tour Championship- Finau, Mickelson, Simpson and Hadwin- there is something of a class gulf in this week’s event.

You can’t really begrudge the players some time to rest this week, particularly for those on the triumphant President’s Cup side. But this gives us the opportunity to take a look at some of the Web.Com alumni’s and see which established professionals can get an early run on their opponents. Phil Mickelson is the local favorite and will hope to build on an immense showing at the President’s Cup. Tony Finau leads the markets while major champions such as Zach Johnson and Webb Simpson provide a field with enough depth to retain one’s attention.

Past Winners
2016: Brendon Steele (-18)
2015: Emiliano Grillo (-15)*playoff
2014: Sang-moon Bae (-16)
2013: Jimmy Walker (-17)
2012: Jonas Blixt (-16)

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To Win Outright
Tony Finau 12/1, Phil Mickelson, 16/1, Webb Simpson 16/1, Zach Johnson 25/1, Bill Haas 25/1

Value Bets 

Jamie Lovemark- To Win 40/1, To Place 8/1
The California native was a two-time All American college champion, but took some time to fully establish himself on the tour, with mixed campaigns seeing him oscillate between the tour proper and the Web.Com Tour. But since his last promotion in 2015/2016, he has established himself with 9 top 10 finishes. His progress this year saw a 4th place at Waialaie, a 10th at Muirfield and a 3rd at Old White TPC. He also finished 27th at Erin Hills as well as 22nd at Birkdale, displaying his ability to mix it up in the most challenging fields imaginable. He finished 20th here last year and could be in for a fast start this year.

Luke List- To Win 66/1, To Place 13/1
I think that List could utilize the greatly diminished field to make a charge at winning his first PGA Tour title. The 32-year old bomber has long disappointed giving his natural power and ball-striking capabilities. But 2017 has been something of a breakthrough year for List. He finished 2nd at Sanderson Farms and 3rd at the Shell Houston Open, which gave him the impetus to see out three of the four FedEx Cup playoff events. While Silverado may not favor bombers per se, it is certainly kind to those proficient off the tee. List ultimately finished 11th last season in strokes gained off the tee.

Peter Uihlein- To Win 50/1, To Place 10/1
Peter Uihlein’s recent exploits on the Web.Com Tour have certainly raised some eyebrows and could bode quite well for him this week. He won at Ohio State Golf Club in the first round of the Web.Com playoffs and his aggressive approach should be well suited to this tree-lined course. Like Brooks Koepka, Uihlein’s choice to cut his teeth on the European Tour may have been an inspired choice. He has had an excellent year there, finishing 7th at the South African Open, 5th at the Dubai Desert Classic and 2nd at the Open de France.

The Man to Beat- Tony Finau- To Win 12/1, To Place 24/10
On the face of it, Finau doesn’t really represent the greatest of value considering the fact that he still only possesses that one win under his belt: the 2016 Puerto Rican Open. But you can’t really argue that the big-hitting Finau is in great form. He finished with highly respectable, consecutive 7th placed finishes at the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship. He already won in California on the Web.Com Tour- back in 2014- highlighting his excellence with the putter on Poa annua greens. He has respectable course figures of 12-32-26 and should be buoyed by a wonderful end to his 2016/2017 campaign.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets

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