Safeway Open Betting Preview: Sleepers, Values, And Our Pick To Win

Posted By Esten McLaren on September 24, 2019 - Last Updated on February 19, 2020

The PGA Tour shifts to Napa, Calif. for the fourth annual Safeway Open at Silverado Resort and Spa North Course. This week’s event, the third of the 2019-20 Tour season, features the strongest field of the season to date and the strongest in the tournament’s history. Justin Thomas, No. 6 in the Official World Golf Ranking, leads the way as the top golfer in attendance. Here, we look at the best betting picks for the 2020 Safeway Open.

Along with Thomas, Phil MickelsonAdam ScottFrancesco Molinari and Collin Morikawa will make their 2019-20 season debuts. This is Mickelson’s fourth time at the event. He’s looking to secure a Presidents Cup captain’s pick from none other than long-time rival Tiger Woods. Mickelson hasn’t been left off of a U.S. national team since 1994. Former Safeway Open champions Kevin Tway (2019) and Brendan Steele (2018 and 2017) are also scheduled to tee off Thursday morning.

Reigning Sanderson Farms Championship winner Sebastian Munoz is in attendance and looking to go back-to-back after getting his first PGA Tour win. Joaquin Niemann, the winner of A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, is skipping his first event of the season.

The course: Silverado Resort and Spa North

The North Course at Silverado Resort and Spa measures 7,166 yards and plays as a par 72. The course was redesigned by Johny Miller in 2011. Since 2017, the winning scores have ranged from Tway’s 14-under last year to Steele’s record 18-under in 2017. Sang-moon Bae and Emiliano Grillo won the Open at Silverado Resort and Spa in 2015 and 2016, respectively, both at minus-15.

The four par 5s, ranging from 538 to 575 yards, each had a scoring average below par last season. Ten eagles were made on the 557-yard ninth hole. The 182-yard 11th was the only of the four par 3s to score below par. It’s the shortest of the four with the others ranging from 189 to 240 yards. Six of the par 4s scored below par.

The toughest hole on the course last year was the 240-yard, par-3 second. It played to an average score of 3.176 with 40 birdies, 102 bogeys, seven doubles and one ‘other’. The only serious threat of water comes on the par-3 11th. It played to a scoring average of 2.993 last season as the ninth-most difficult hole on the course.

Key stats to consider for the Safeway Open

Using historical data from Data Golf and Fantasy National, the stats best associated with success at Silverado Resort and Spa are Strokes Gained: Par 5Proximity from 175-200 YardsGreens in Regulation GainedOpportunities Gained and Strokes Gained: Approach. My model for the week looks at the most recent 36 rounds for each golfer in the field played on Poa Annua greens. We also need to look at current form and tournament history.

Safeway Open betting picks: Sleepers and value bets

Phil Mickelson +5000 (DraftKings Sportsbook)

Mickelson has been a staple and a frequent star of this fall-swing event. Lefty will turn 50 years old next June, but he still ranks seventh in the field in Opportunities Gained over everyone’s last 36 rounds. He also ranks 14th in Greens in Regulation Gained and he’s 15th overall in the stat model. He has placed T17, T3 and T8 in his three previous trips to Silverado Resort. Mickelson fired an opening-round 65 last year to sit third on the leaderboard Thursday evening but fell apart with a weekend of 74-72. Bettors would be mistaken to discredit the motivation of earning a Presidents Cup spot on Woods’ team.

Harold Varner III +7000 (FanDuel Sportsbook)

Varner remains without a PGA Tour win in his career but it seems as though he’s been all over leaderboards over the past two years. His 2019-20 season began with a T19 at The Greenbrier. As is frequently the case with Varner, he was undone by one poor round, firing a Saturday 72. He has played the Safeway and Opens each of the last four years in Napa, placing T14 last year, and T59, T15 and T48 before that. His best rank among the key stats is an 11th in GIR Gained, but he has been inching closer to the elusive first win and is worth a shot at far too long of odds in what is a top-heavy but relatively weak field.

Charley Hoffman +12000 (FanDuel Sportsbook)

Hoffman ranks ninth in the stat model, right behind world No. 9 Molinari. The four-time PGA Tour winner has fallen to 106th in the OWGR after closing the 2018 Tour season at 55th. He ranks ninth in Opportunities Gained, 13th in GIR Gained and 21st in the key proximity stat. He hasn’t played this course (at least in a professional event) since finishing T50 in 2017. Hoffman placed T23 last week in his first event since being eliminated from the FedExCup Playoffs at the Northern Trust.

Safeway Open betting picks: Our winner

Chez Reavie +4100 (FanDuel Sportsbook)

Reavie claimed his first PGA Tour victory since 2008 at last year’s Travelers Championship. He climbed to No. 28 in the world with a season which saw him make 22 of 28 cuts and pick up five other top-10 finishes. He has played here each of the last five years and has a top finish of T13 in 2018 but nothing lower than last season’s T33 since 2016. Reavie ranks 16th in the overall model and is second from the key proximity distance and seventh in SG: Approach. His win at the Travelers came on TPC River Highlands which features greens that are a mix of Poa Annua and Bentgrass. His 2008 Canadian Open win came on the same surface.

2019-20 PGA Tour Winners

  • Joaquin Niemann – A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier (+2200)
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Esten McLaren

Esten grew up on a golf course and made the switch from real-life trunk slammer to the daily fantasy realm as soon as the game was launched. He's been betting golf regularly for the better part of the last 10 years, most memorably winning big on Rory McIlroy's 2014 Open title, but a trip to Carnoustie for the 2018 Open and a walk around St. Andrews share the honor for best golf highlight. He has written about all major sports at FNTSY Sports Network, theScore, and SportsBookWire.

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