Preview: 2020 Safeway Open

The first of 50 kicks off this week in Wine Country!

Harry Higgs!

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 three inches.
Bunkers/Water Hazards50/2
Architects:Robert Trent Jones, Jr. (1967); Johnny Miller Group (2010).
Purse:$6.6 million ($1.188 winner) plus 500 FedExCup points.
Defending Champion (event):Cameron Champ (-17; 271: not entered this week)
Fact of the Week:For the sixth time in seven years Silverado begins the wrap-around season.
Fact of the Week II:First year that Safeway precedes a major championship. No wonder why the field is skint.

Notes:

  • Full field, 156 players
  • Top 65 and ties play the weekend.

2020-2021  Season Winners

*- First-time winner

**- First-time winner AND rookie winner

EventWinner
Safeway OpenTBD

Check out HORSES FOR COURSES for more details on those who play well here.

Event Winners:

YearPlayerNotes
2019Cameron Champ, -17Blasted it tee-to-green to make his 54-hole lead stand up for win No. 2 on TOUR.
2018Kevin Tway, -14Closed birdie-birdie in regulation to enter a playoff. Posted birdie-birdie-birdie to win said playoff over Ryan Moore (not entered) and 36 and 54-hole leader Brandt Snedeker.
2017Brendan Steele, -15Only player to defend his title as Tyler Duncan couldn’t go wire-to-wire.
2016Brendan Steele, -18Made up four shots on Sunday on Patton Kizzire before setting the tournament record.
2015Emiliano Grillo, -15First event with a TOUR card.
2014Sangmoon Bae, -15Late entry this week looks to regain his form from this era.

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 Time TOUR:Tway and Grillo.
Odd Fact:Only one winner has finished in the top 17 in Strokes-Gained: Putting.

Quick Thoughts

With temperatures in the 110 degree range and wildfires everywhere, it’s fitting that the 2020-2021 season kicks off just one layer from hell. The great news is that Napa Valley is heaven on Earth and the temperatures for tournament weekend crawl back into the upper 80s. Hopefully the only smoke and heat this weekend will be on Silverado’s North Course.

Par 72 and only 7,166 yards, it’s surprising this place doesn’t get taken apart annually. The tricky putting surfaces and tight driving conditions keep the aggregate manageable. The winning score averages 16-under as Johnny Miller’s redesign of Robert Trent Jones’ vision more than holds up.

All kinds have won here from the rookie in the first start to the grizzled, California veteran and everyone in between. This isn’t the week to hit it crooked as par doesn’t hold up on this Par-72. The more chances in the fairway means more chances to attack flags. If not, make your par and get out.

This is the thinnest field since the event moved to Napa Valley so be flexible in your lineups/stakes.

Chalk

Brendan Steele: 2x champ and never missed here. 6 straight on TOUR.

Phil Mickelson: Whisper in his ear this is a Champions TOUR event. Tell him it’s a calf flexing show. The last four years he’s 34-under with T3 and T8 to show. Always plays the week before the US Open and it usually has his full attention, regardless of turning 50.

Mark Hubbard: Rolled into the FedExCup Playoffs cashing in seven of eight. Cashed T29 and T51 in the two Playoff events. Hits enough fairways and greens to let his putter show on Poa. West coast player.

Si Woo Kim: Rolling right along and enters this week as co-favorite with Mickelson. Ran out of gas at TNT after T13 PGA Champ and the 54-hole lead at Wyndham (T3). Third visit to Silverado (49th, MC).

Harold Varner III: T32 or better in six of nine in the restart includes an opening 63 at Colonial and 62 at Wyndham. He’s close and he loves it in Napa as he’s cashed in all five of his visits including  T17 and T14 the last two trips.

Cameron Davis: Big, lanky ball-striker fits the profile this week. Top 20 driving distance and 41st GIR equals plenty of birdies and trashing Par-5 holes. He arrives 38-under in his last three stroke play events (T12-T15-T29) so form isn’t the concern. Looking for his first win on TOUR.

Sergio Garcia: He’s 3rd SG: OTT and 6th SG: TTG so I’m happy putting won’t be at the top of the requirements this week. His recent results don’t inspire but the last time he was on a tight layout, Harbour Town, he was T5.

Doc Redman: Top 15 in both fairways and greens will get you a look in light fields. Hell, it should get a look every week! Of his last eight, five are T29 or better. With ball-striking like that, it should be. MC here last year at 1-under so he’ll have a point of reference.

Chez Reavie: If you need steady, start here. He’s never missed but never hit a big one either. Cooled off in the big events down the stretch but keeps it in play off the tee consistently to have a say.

Kevin Streelman: If my choices are Bermuda or other, it’s not close with him. That’s half the battle for me. Closed 66-69 at Olympia Fields last time we saw him. T25 and T13 in two of his last three here.

Outsiders

Joel Dahmen: Be happy I’m not all over him this week if you are because I can’t crack this code. Yeah, I get he’s a West Coast dude. Yeah, I get he’s a great driver. I guess his 78-81 close at Memorial scarred me. But like DJ, he’s turned that crappy finish into T20-T10-MC (when I put him up again at TNT) and T20.

Tyler Duncan: Only missed weekend since the restart was the biggest event, the PGA Championship. In the other nine weekends he’s cashed but nothing better than T13 (Wyndham).  Read Horses for Courses for his near miss in the 2018 season when he was T5.

Maverick McNealy: Bay area born and raised, Stanford and Poa educated. Last time he was out this way he bagged solo seventh at Barracuda. Hasn’t MC in three tries here but also hasn’t cracked the top 50. Super, super putter.

Patrick Rodgers: Five straight paydays entering and his best (T18) was on a difficult Memorial. Smokes it off the tee and rolls it great and that combo should be live this week. T6 here in 2016.

Erik van Rooyen: Last two events he closed 65 in Memphis and 66 at TPC Harding Park. That’s enough evidence in this field.

Kristoffer Ventura: Like Rodgers, hits it a mile and is a super putter. And he’s flexible as he’s jumping between KFT and PGATOUR to play as much as he can. Former OSU Cowboy won’t be bothered by any names on the scoreboard.

Luke List: Fits the mold of tee-to-green success here as he’s in the top 51 for all 3 metrics (Off, Approach, Tee to Green). Now, make a putt. Preferably more than one. Top 40 Par-5 scoring.

Troy Merritt: I have scars here as well from earlier this summer. Great in Detroit (T8) and even better at Barracuda where he couldn’t close out his 54 hole lead (2nd). Played his last 54 holes in 11-under in Boston last time out.

Harry Higgs: T11 at TNT gets lost because he lost by 17 shots to DJ. Proved last winter that he could play on the West Coast (T9, Torrey; T25 Pebble). T23 here last year with all four rounds in the red.    

Emiliano Grillo: His spiritual home welcomes him on a T3-T9-T66-T44 run. The top 10s were fields very similar to this and on Bent/Poa. Top 25 fairways and greens but don’t look up the putting numbers.

Shane Lowry: What the hell, I’ll play! Nothing else to do since his family went back to Ireland. Nice tune up before Winged Foot next week and a parkland course shouldn’t bother his eye much.

Carlos Ortiz: Showed signs of life with T25 at BMW on a very difficult track. Hasn’t MC in four tries in Wine Country.

Will Gordon:  Smash it, find it, smash it again.

Longer Shots

Nick Watney: 10-under thru 36 here last year before cashing T10.

Jim Furyk: He won on the Champions TOUR recently and has no problem keeping his golf ball in play off the tee.

Brice Garnett: 3 straight here including T23 and T17 in the last two.

Martin Laird: Only other player besides Mickelson and Steele with two top 10 paydays. Knocked the rust off on KFT last week.

Rob Oppenheim: T29-T15 in his last two on TOUR. Doesn’t mind this part of the country or Poa.

Seamus Power: Only four events in the restart but T12, T9 and T27 gets my attention. So does 0-fer Silverado.

Kyle Stanley: If putting doesn’t matter…

Hudson Swafford: Never missed in four here.

Xinjun Zhang: T10 Memorial, T12 3M was followed by 3 MC with nothing over 72. T7 here last year.

Too many glasses of wine

Jordan Spieth: I’m not sure why this week would be the one to turn it around. Can they put Trinity Forest back on the schedule?

Brandt Snedeker: I know he has four wins in California but I’m not sure getting up and in for par is going to work this week. Swing changes have been slow to take in the results department. Pass.

Pat Perez: Trending perfectly before WD at Wyndham and WD at TNT in his last two. Never seen the weekend here in 3 trips.

JB Holmes: Tried to come back at Memorial, WD. Let’s try again. Not for me regardless of solo ninth in his last visit.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

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