Safeway Open: 2019 Preview

For those of you who read this, thank you.

Just to let you know, I’ll be moving my preview behind a paywall coming in 2020.

After four years of free stuff, I’ve earned my choice to make this decision.

Luckily our friends at the PGATOUR don’t have a paywall so you can gather all of the free fruits and nuts there.

Safeway Open

Silverado Resort & Spa

North Course

Napa, California

Yards (per official scorecard): 7,166
Par: 72 (36-36)
Greens: Bentgrass, Poa annua; 6,200 square feet on average.
Stimpmeter: 11.5′
Rough: Kentucky Bluegrass, rye at 2.5 inches.
Bunkers/Water Hazards 50/2
Architects: Robert Trent Jones, Jr. (1967); Johnny Miller Group (2010).
Purse: $6.6 million ($1.88 winner) plus 500 FedExCup points.
Defending Champion (event): Kevin Tway (-14; 274  playoff)
Fact of the Week: Year six at Silverado’s North course reminds us that any CordeValle data is useless this week.
Fact of the Week II: First year in six that it is NOT the opening event of the new season.


  • No more MDF.
  • Top 65 and ties play the weekend.


2019-2020 Season Winners

*- First-time winner

**- First-time winner AND rookie winner

Event Winner
A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier *- Joaquin Niemann
Sanderson Farms Championship *- Sebastian Munoz


The Confidence Factor is the weekly column I write for PGATOUR.COM. I’ve included the link here for you. Please read as I’m not going to write it all out here.

Event Winners:

Year Player Notes
2018 Kevin Tway, -14 Trailed by three in the final group with Brandt Snedeker before birdie/birdie finish got him into a playoff, which he won.
2017 Brendan Steele, -15 Only seven rounds in the 60s on Sunday and Steele posted 69 to defend.
2016 Brendan Steele, -18 Four back before a bogey-free 65 on Sunday saw him win by a shot.
2015 Emiliano Grillo, -15 Rookie knocked out Kevin Na in a playoff.
2014 Sangmoon Bae, -15 Led by four, shot 73 on Sunday and still won by two.


Facts and Figures:

Tournament Record: 270 (-18); Steele.
Course Record: 61; Ricky Barnes (Round 2), 2018, and Chesson Hadley (Round 2), 2017.
Recent Defending Champion(s): Steele (2016, 2017)
Multiple Winners (event or course): Steele (2016, 2017)
First TOUR Win (last): Tway, Grillo.
First-time Event: Bae (inaugural) and Grillo.
Low Round 2018: Barnes.
Odd Fact: Only one winner has finished in the top 17 in Strokes-Gained: Putting.


Quick Thoughts

Silverado was redesigned by the Johnny Miller group in 2010 so that should provide us plenty of clues on what goes around here: ball-striking. Miller was never a big fan of the putter but he would paint fairways and greens while grinding out pars.

While Silverado is a Par-72 resort course, it has given up 61 the last two years, it still packs enough punch tee-to-green to make sure 25-under isn’t the winning score.

The winners here, for the most part, have painted it tee-to-green and have saved plenty of pars when missing GIR. All five previous winners have ranked 17th or better in ball-striking for the week.

Four Par-5 holes will help keep the card balanced but over-par rounds need not apply. We can usually count the number of plus-72 rounds in the top 15 on one hand annually.



Justin Thomas: Last time he was here he played the final 54 holes in 17-under. That total would have won four of the five events here. Pummeled Medinah the last time he rolled up on Bent/Poa.

Sungjae Im: I’m (see what I did there?) surprised he rarely takes any time off but as well as he’s playing, I’m not sure that’s a good idea. Went close last week after storming home from off the pace. This week we get to see if he’s a course horse (T4, penultimate group last year) in addition to being just a horse.

Patrick Cantlay: West Coast kid playing on the West Coast. Premium ball-striker and short-game player makes for perfect combo this week.

Adam Scott: Closed last season with solo fifth, T9 and T5 but hasn’t teed it up since. First appearance here shouldn’t be an issue and neither will his game tee-to-green.

Ben An: He hasn’t gone back-to-back in the top 10 since spring of 2017 but that’s not stopping me from diving in with both feet after solo third last week. Past history at Memorial and VTO doesn’t hurt at all.

Phil Mickelson: For those of you who are new, I have one rule with Phil: Find his happy hunting grounds and leave the rest alone. He’s skinny, he’s playing with Steph and he loves good wine. This week qualifies.

Scott Piercy: One MC since Honda last winter plus T3 and T17 in two of his last three at Silverado.

Brandt Snedeker: Last year’s 54-hole leader also led the field in birdies with 23 before falling in the playoff. Has four wins in California with two at Pebble Beach and two at Torrey Pines.

Kevin Na: Pleasantly surprised with T14 at Greenbrier at his first appearance since baby No. 2. He’s 34-under in three trips and lost to Grillo in the 2016 playoff.

Hideki Matsuyama: I probably should move him up even though he hasn’t won in calendar 2018 or 2019. I’ve shown above how putting doesn’t matter this week so lean on guys who hit the most GIR and will have the most chances. He qualifies.

Ryan Moore: 42-under his last three trips with a pair of top 10s and a T17. Some guys just play certain tracks well and it doesn’t hurt he’s from the west coast either.

Collin Morikawa: Just destroyed the Bent/Poa summer portion before finally running out of gas in the FedExCup Playoffs. If that angle isn’t good enough, I’ll point out he went to Cal-Berkley for four years and played plenty of golf in this part of the world. The ole BIG GAME angle will be in play this week for gamers as the scour for Cal and Stanford guys! Pick the right one! Start here.

Bryson DeChambeau: Class is permanent, form is temporary. Busted rust with MC at Greenbrier and should be chilled out in his home state.

Harris English: Other than last week’s winner he’s the only other with back-to-back top 10s to begin the season. He’ll test the form vs. course form theory this week!

Francesco Molinari: Played last week at Wentworth (T14) and will stop in for his first time. That’s a long way to go to MC and drink wine all weekend. Oh shit. Maybe he’s on to something!


Lucas Glover: Plays here every year and that’s a clue, folks! Of his last four three are inside the top 30 here.

Cameron Tringale: More club head speed + marriage = Happy angles. T36 followed by T16 last week plus a return to his native California = nice punt.

Emiliano Grillo: Won as a rookie and followed it up with T26, T28 and T41 in his last three. Should be another solid week or he becomes the third South American on the trot to win this season. Vamos!

Troy Merritt: Can’t hide him down here far enough. Hopefully both people reading haven’t gotten this far yet! He’s played the last three weeks in Europe and made all three cuts. T4 and T15 in two of the last three years here.

Kevin Streelman: Closed with a smokin’ 64 at SFC for his first top 10 since Memorial.

Dylan Frittelli: Led the field in SG: Tee-to-Green last week so that should travel. First top 10 (T6) since his win at JDC in July.

Chez Reavie: Hasn’t missed in five and nothing worse than T33 in his last four at the North course.

Martin Laird: This is his part of the world. His record, shown in Horses for Courses above, reflects he enjoys his golf in Nor-Cal.

Nate Lashley: Solo third at Greenbrier and is a beast tee-to-green. Won in Detroit last July.

Carlos Ortiz: Looking to follow up his T3 last week at an event where he’s never MC or hit the top 25 in three starts.

Vaughn Taylor: Rust buster last week after taking over a month off should have him ready to jump back on an excellent 2019.

Stelvin Enclosure

Just because it has a twist-off cap doesn’t mean it’s cheap!

Lanto Griffin: Get hot, stay hot. T7 at KFT championship followed by 13th and T11 to start the new TOUR year.

Brendan Steele: Course horse of epic proportion.

Harold Varner III: Closed with 79 in 2016 after beginning the final round two back. Closed with 65 the following year. Was five back the following year and closed with 81. Last year was four out of second after 54 before a 72. If ANYONE has unfinished business here…

Tyler Duncan: Led after 18, 36 and 54 for T5 in 2018.

Fabian Gomez: Of his last seven across both tours, four have cashed T18 or better.

Adam Long: T14 followed by T23 to start the new campaign.

George McNeill: Last three: T13 Barracuda, MC Greenbrier and T6 SFC last week. Get an each way, if you can.

Patrick Rodgers: Stanford alum has made both cuts to start the season but hasn’t made any waves. If you like stories, this could be one.

Tom Hoge: Followed up solo second at Greenbrier with the FRL lead (64) at SFC. Too bad there were three more rounds (T39).

Talor Gooch: He was 50th in scoring last year, 15 in proximity and 12th in GIR. I’ll wait patiently.

Robby Shelton: Backed up T7 with T28 last week and that’s enough form to make me look twice.

Cameron Percy: Of his last five events across both, he’s cashed T11 in three.

Harry Higgs: Made seven of nine across both and all are T22 or better but he’s 1/2 on TOUR this season.

Rob Oppenheim: His three best recent finishes have come in Portland, Boise and the East Bay. I’ve seen dumber angles pan out in the long-shot category.


Sebastian Munoz: I don’t think first-time winners fire the next week or even next event, unless they are something special. That doesn’t mean he CAN’T play well.

Marc Leishman: WD with a back deal at Greenbrier and returns this week.

Chesson Hadley: His course record is one of two rounds from 12 in the 60’s here.

Adam Hadwin: Started the last two seasons here with MC. Hasn’t played since BMW.

Patton Kizzire: MC in 10 of his last 12 on TOUR knocks him off my list.

Sam Ryder: His T4 last year doesn’t outweigh ONE top 25 so far in 2019. PERFECT last man for DFS as nobody SHOULD be on him.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me





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