On the heels of Monday’s season-ending Tour Championship, the season-opening Safeway Open begins this week at Silverado Country Club, and it’s going to be a nice tune-up for some of the better players teeing it up next week at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth and Sergo Garcia will all play the Safeway, and they are joined by a host of young players looking to break through as the 2020-21 PGA Tour season begins. The PGA Tour offseason lasted merely two days, so now it’s time to get right back out there on the course to kick off the new campaign.
Let’s take a closer look at this week’s contest, with odds and prop bets provided via William Hill Sportsbook.
What: Safeway Open
When: Sept. 10-13
Where: Silverado Country Club — Napa, Calif.
Three things to know
1. Steele Invitational: Brendan Steele owns this place. He’s a two-time champion and is the strokes-gained leader over the last 10 years. He’s also coming in on a nice little streak. He’s been top 50 in each of his last three events (all with tough fields) and should feel a little freed up without the Dustin Johnsons and Jon Rahms of the world rolling around the fairways of Silverado.
2. Mickelson at 30: Coming in off a win on the PGA Tour Champions, Phil Mickelson begins his 30th season on the PGA Tour as a professional. The highlights for this 50-year-old will be fewer and farther between, but they will surely still exist as he continues to play major championships and potentially compete at a place like Augusta National and the Masters. The story of Phil’s career is one of longevity and consistency, and nothing says that like starting your 30th season before jet setting to New York to revisit maybe the most painful loss of your career next week at the U.S. Open.
3. Sergio resurgence: You know who’s been kind of quiet the last few years? Sergio Garcia. The Spaniard actually finished 4th on the PGA Tour in strokes gained tee to green last season, but he could not convert any of those stats into anything competitive on the course, mostly because he was 187th in putting. I did not know it was possible to have as many top fives in strokes gained tee to green as you do on the PGA Tour!
Grading the field
All things considered, it’s a good field. What’s missing is the group of graduated Korn Ferry Tour players that would normally be starting. Remember, all of the PGA Tour players kept their cards because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so we’re sort of in the middle of this strange super season on both tours. In addition to Mickelson, Garcia and Spieth, Jim Furyk, Shane Lowry, Brandt Snedker and Charl Schwartzel will all be playing as well. Grade: A
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1. Chez Reavie (+100) over Emiliano Grillo: Both have been solid here in the past, but I’ll take the underdog because he’s been fairly solid (again, on a sliding scale) over the past six weeks.
2. Harold Varner top 10 (+300): Varner finished 8th (!!) on the PGA Tour last season in strokes gained from tee to green. Eighth! That’s one spot ahead of Dustin Johnson!