PGA Preview Safeway Open – Phil Mickelson Among Favorites
by Kent Whitaker Scores & Statson
The offseason for the PGA lasted about seven days for players not involved with the Ryder Cup. In fact, Phil Mickelson is the only player that took part in the Ryder Cup playing in the Safeway Open which kicks off the new PGA Season. But, Mickelson is not the favorite player as that honor goes to Patrick Cantlay.
Cantlay, posting a +1200 and from Long Beach, California, captured his first PGA career win earlier in 2018 when he won the Shriner’s Hospital for Children Open at TPC Summerlin. He outlasted Alex Cejka and Whee Kim in a playoff. The 26-year-old golfer is now ranked 22nd on the Official World Golf Rankings list.
Trailing Cantlay on the favorites list, according to oddsmakers, is Brandt Snedeker and Emiliano Grillo who both are at +2000 and Joaquin Niemann at +2200. Phil Mickelson and Ryan Moore round out the top-five favored players as they both sit at +2500.
Mickelson is making his annual appearance at the event which his management company runs. Last year the left-handed golfer finished T3 with Chesson Hadley as the two were only 3 few strokes away from the win going 12-under overall with Brendan Steele winning at 15-under. Tony Finau, a fellow 2018 Ryder Cup player with Mickelson, finished in second last year at 13-under but he is not in the event this season.
Here’s a look at the top-Fifteen favorited players for the Safeway Open with a few extras. Several players, starting with Luke List, are all at +5000.
Sang Moon Bae
What about Steele and a Three-Peat?
What’s interesting to point out is the fact that last year’s winner, Brendan Steele, trails behind the top-five favored players with a +3300. Steele not only won the event last season, but he won the year before as well. If he can pull off another victory he’ll score a three-peat which has never been done in the history of PGA Tournaments held at Silverado.
To put the possibility of a three-peat into perspective, you only need look at the list of players that have not only won three times in a row at the same event but did it four times in a row! You’ll notice the short list incorporates many decades with Tiger Woods doing it twice.
• Young Tom Morris, British Open: 1868-70 (no event 1871), 1872 • Walter Hagen, PGA Championship: 1924-1927 • Gene Sarazen, Miami Open: 1926 (no event 1927), 1928-1930 • Tiger Woods, Bay Hill Invitational: 2000-2003 • Tiger Woods, Buick Invitational: 2005-2008
Last Year Steele took a commanding day-four lead away from Finau as he went from being behind by two strokes to finishing two-strokes ahead for the win. Over the course of his two wins, the 35-year-old player has now carded in at 33-under at Silverado. That’s impressive!
A Few Fun Notes for Silverado
The Silverado benefits from being the first event of the new season while following so closely behind the Ryder Cup and the Tour Championship. It gives the fans an opportunity to see some players outside of the normal PGA field playing as many PGA Tour regulars take a few weeks off to heal and take some family time. This year is no different.
• John Daly will play on a Sponsor Exemption. • Mark Mulder, former MLB pitcher for the A’s, will play as well. • 49 players with fresh PGA Tour cards will also tee it up.
Silverado Resort & Spa / Country Club by the Numbers
Silverado Resort and Spa is home to a Robert Trent Jones course that hosts the annual Safeway Open on the PGA Tour. The facility is in Napa, California and originally opened in 1955 with the original course being designed by Ben Harmon. It was then redesigned by Jones in 1966. The famed golf course designer kept much of the feel of the original course as he and Harmon tried to incorporate the natural terrain into the layout of the course. The major difference is that Jones was able to split a large amount of property dedicated to one course into two separate 18-hole courses. Today, Silverado is home to both the “North Course” and the “South Course”.
Ove the years, the courses have undergone several improvement projects which have resulted in the current setting used to kick off the PGA season. Silverado features lightly rolling to flat terrain with a mixture of seasonal and regional grass incorporated into a natural bunker. The fairways and greens feature Bermuda. The visual of the course is striking as the landscape is dotted with large, century old, oak trees coming into play. There are not the tight tree-lined fairways you would see a course in the south-east.
This will be the first visit back to the course since wildfires caused damage shortly after the tournament wrapped up in 2017. The wildfires destroyed several fan venues on the course as well as many homes in the area while displacing thousands due to evacuation.
Location: Napa, California Designers: Ben Harmon, original 18-hole course Robert Trent Jones, two 18-hole course Johnny Miller, redesign 2011 Established: Club established in 1950’s Par: North Course, 72 Length: 7,166yards Course rating: 74.3 Slope rating: 135 Greens: Bermuda Fairways: Bermuda