Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: US PGA Championship: Safeway Open

US PGA Championship: Safeway Open


Regardless of how you feel about the Tour Championship’s handicapping system, I think we can say one thing for sure this year: the best player won the FedEx Cup. Dustin Johnson has dominated the tour for the last three weeks, pairing that unflappable character with a new-found ruthlessness.  

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

Safeway Open
The North Course, Silverado Resort and Spa, Napa Valley, California
10th-13th September

Dustin Johnson will surely enter next week’s US Open as the overwhelming favourite. With that in mind, the first event of the wraparound calendar is not going to be a stellar affair. This event was started in 2007 and was originally known as the Frys.com Open. Supermarket chain Safeway took over sponsorship of the event back in 2016. Many of the players will be seeing this as a glorified tune-up ahead of next week’s US Open at Winged Foot.

This event started life at Grey Hawk (Arizona) prior to a switch to Cordevalle (California). It moved to the Silverado Resort back in 2014, making this the 7th renewal here.  The Robert Trent Jnr design was opened in 1957. It’s a classic, tree-lined test, with fairly narrow fairways and small greens. The Poa-annua greens aren’t expected to run more than 11.5 on the Stimp. I found that rather disconcerting considering next week’s conditions will likely be super-fast- as per US Open tradition.  All six of the course winners have ranked inside the top 7 for scrambling (which is no surprise when you look at these greens). Distance hasn’t been notably crucial in recent years, though last year’s winner- Cameron Champ- drove it further than anybody.

Si Woo Kim is a man in decent form. He should have won at the Wyndham and had a top 15 finish as the US PGA Championship. As a former Players Champion he has shown a penchant for classic courses.  Phil Mickelson returns following success in his first Champions Tour event. Who knows which ‘Lefty’ will show up? Elsewhere the likes of Matt Kuchar and former two-time champion Brendan Steele look likely contenders. Sergio Garcia and Jordan Spieth will also be looking for form after desperately disappointing seasons. And spare a thought for Camilo Villegas, who makes his first appearance on the PGA Tour since the tragic death of his daughter.

Past Winners 
2019: Cameron Champ (-17)
2018: Kevin Tway (-14)
2017: Brendon Steele (-15)
2016: Brendon Steele (-18)
2015: Emiliano Grillo (-15)

Betting Favourites (To Win)
Si Woo Kim (20/1)
Matt Kuchar (20/1)
Phil Mickelson (20/1)
Shane Lowry (25/1)
Emiliano Grillo (28/1)


Value Bets

Harold Varner III
To Win (40/1), To Place (17/2)

Harold Varner III has flown below the radar and is currently one of the most deceptively in-form players on tour. He followed a top 30 showing at the US PGA Championship with a tie for 7th at the Wyndham Championship. Varner III will be looking to emulate Cameron Champ and bully Silverado into submission. He has shown creditable form at the North Course at Silverado. In 2018 he finished in a tie for 14th, which he followed with a tie for 7th last year. Varner III just needs to get the putter to behave and he could be a real contender this week. He has the capacity to be a real birdie machine. 

Scott Piercy
To Win (100/1), To Place (22/1)

Towards the more speculative end of the market I’m opting for a man with an affinity for West Coast golf: Scott Piercy. The 41-year-old went to college in California and has made the top 20 in two of his last three starts in the Golden State. Furthermore, Piercy finished 3rd here back in 2016 (he followed that up with a tie for 17th in 2017). Piercy’s last two starts have been encouraging. He had three good rounds at the Wyndham and ultimately finished in a tie for 29th at the Northern Trust.  He could be a nice dark-horse in the place markets this week.

The Man to Beat

Phil Mickelson
To Win (20/1), To Place (44/10)

Oddly enough, ‘Lefty’ may actually be the most logical choice of all the favourites this week.  It’s easy to forget that Mickelson finished in a tie for 2nd in a WGC event in June. He then won his first appearance on the Champions Tour two weeks back at the Ozarks National. That seems to balance out the poor performances at the US PGA Championship and Northern Trust. He has posted top 10 finishes in two of his four visits to Silverado (including a tie for 3rd in 2017). While the price isn’t ideal, it’s all fairly congested towards the top of the leader-board.  I’m taking a stab at a mercurial talent who still has some legs in him.

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