Here we go again! The FedEx Cup points have reset and The Safeway Open gets the ball rolling again on the PGA Tour and the season opener is often unwisely overlooked as a gauge to early-season form.
"Once more unto the breach, dear friends" is the cry as we go to war with the traders yet again! Join us then as we preview the competition and suggest a few picks that could see us updating our rusty clubs in style.
THE SAFEWAY OPEN | SS Golf 5th October.
Favourite: Tony Finau/Webb Simpson 14/1
TOURNAMENT & COURSE OVERVIEW
The Safeway Open is staged at the Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa, California. Formerly the Frys.com open, the season opener has attracted a huge field, with 144 players registered to start.
The tournament has been around since 2007 and this is the fifth time it has had the honour of kicking-off the season.
The North Course was originally designed by Robert Trent-Jones but it has undertaken extensive remodelling in recent years, primarily by the venue's co-owner, Johnny Miller. Described as a 'classic course', the par-72, 7,203-yarder is naturally hilly, with quirks aplenty to fool even the most seasoned player! Poa annua 'subtle, yet deceptive' greens could prove a factor here.
The course is thought to feature three of the easier last holes, but the 13th, 14th and 15th are especially tricky. The 'Signature Hole' is the 18th, however. A 157-yard par 3, which has a raised teeing area which not only has a great view of the hole but also of the surrounding area and mountains - certainly one for the scrapbook.
PRIZE POOL: $6,200,000 - with $1,080,000 for the winner!
WEATHER: Not a cloud to be seen, with temperatures in the early-30s and humidity at around 10-15% Perfect for golf!
EMILIANO TO GRILL THE FIELD
In just his eighth PGA TOUR start Emiliano Grillo chased down and beat Kevin Na in a playoff to claim The Safeway Open title in 2015, and we've a feeling the 25-year-old Argentinian could be in the mood to repeat his heroics. True he finished the season poorly, seemingly uninterested when losing 6&4 to Rickie Fowler in Sunday’s Presidents Cup finale, but in all honesty tha match was irrelevent by then. Grillo, who seems to start the tour well, likes Silverado, the course being a fair test. If he can get off to a flyer he could well feature in the shake-up a the end. 33/1*
Next up is 2014 winner, South Korean Bae Sang-moon. The 31-year-old has just returned from two-years compulsory military service, so there's no real form to go on, but he enjoys the course, plays the poa annua greens well and could certainly return with a bang! An each-way punt given the uncertainty, but a 150/1 he could really fly in under the radar.*
Finally, Luke makes our List! The 32-year-old from Seattle is yet to make his maiden PGA Tour breakthrough, but he seems to be on the threshold of doing us that. One of the longest drivers on the tour, with an average of +300 yards, he'll adapt to Silverado, which isn't necessarily a bomber's course, but does reward those able to head the strokes-gained charts. There are four par-fives for him to attack, and he'll relish getting scores on the board, pressurising those around him to match his scores. Third in the Shell Houston Open and second in the Sanderson Farms, can he go one better here? Perhaps! At 45/1 Luke List certainly worth an each-way dabble in our eyes!*
More, you say? More demanding than the ex you lot!
It's too early for us to get too romantic, but Mackenzie Hughes could make our hearts flutter at the weekend. The 26-year-old Canadian impressed during his rookie season, making it to the penultimate event of the play-offs, where he narrowly missed out on being one of the last 30-players left standing. He took down the RSM Classic in just his fifth outing on the Tour and belied his age and experience with how he dealt with the field. He finished T13 here last year, having shot four rounds in the 60s, and also finished T10 in the AT&T Pebble Beach. He can handle the small reens of California, finishing eighth for Strokes gained - putting. If he starts well then expect him to feature at the finish. 80/1*
Alfred Dunhill Preview and Tips: HERE!
- 2016 - Brendan Steele - 25/1
- 2015 - Emiliano Grillo - 33//1
- 2014 - Sang-moon Bae - 150/1
- 2013 - Jimmy Walker - N/A
- 2012 - Jonas Blixt - 150/1
- 2011 - Bryce Molder - N/A
Whoever you're backing, don't forget StanJames are offering our famous ACCA Insurance on the Alfred Dunhill and/or Safeway Open
*All prices subject to fluctuation. Make sure to check StanJames.com for up to date prices.
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