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2019 Safeway Open Picks and Best Bets

2019 Safeway Open Picks and Best Bets

Recent Winners

  • 2018: Kevin Tway (-14)
  • 2017: Brendan Steele (-15)
  • 2016: Brendan Steele (-18)
  • 2015: Emiliano Grillo (-15)
  • 2014: Sangmoon Bae (-15)

The prevailing theme of all these winners is that they’re pretty good drivers of the golf ball. Steele, Grillo and Sangmoon Bae all ranked inside the Top 60 in Strokes Gained – Off the Tee in the years they won, and while Tway did not rank well in that category he’s known as a long hitter off the tee.

However, performance off the tee wasn’t the sole factor on why they won, and in some cases it didn’t play much of a factor at all. Kevin Tway won with a combination of solid play in almost all facets of his game. While Brendan Steele was great tee-to-green as his reputation preceeds him, he needed a putting performance well above his baseline to secure the win. Same goes with Emiliano Grillo and Sangmoon Bae in the years they won, as neither finished inside the Top 10 in Strokes Gained – Putting for the week. In almost all cases, good ball striking (particularly iron play) was the key to their success.

Despite all being notoriously poor putters, however, putting accounts for ~39% of all strokes gained at Silverado North, which is higher than the tour average of 36%. That’s a surprise given bad these guys can be at times. While I’ll generally ignore if a player is a notoriously poor putter, they’ll at least need to have some form coming in for me to consider placing a futures bet on them or backing them on one side of a matchup prop.

Here’s who I like this week (with odds courtesy of mybookie.ag):

Adam Scott (15/1) and Hideki Matsuyama (16/1): Much like I did when I lumped Corey Conners and Emiliano Grillo together in the DFS column this week, I can write the same paragraph and slap either Adam Scott or Hideki Matsuyama on it at the end. Each are enjoying fantastic ball striking runs and are each very due for a win. Per Data Golf, Adam Scott’s Expected Wins for 2019 was 2.17, and Matsuyama’s was 1.13. What always seems to derail them, however, is that flatstick.

Lately, though, both of them have performed quite well on the greens and enter the Safeway Open in good form in that area. During the FedEx Cup Playoffs, Adam Scott gained ~0.5 strokes per round on the field on the greens, and Hideki Matsuyama gained 0.44 strokes per round on the greens in that same stretch. When both are able to elevate their game on the greens to match their great ball striking, wins are just around the corner for either player.

Byeong Hun An (28/1): Like Matsuyama and Scott, Byeong Hun An has no problems with his performance tee-to-green, but has cataclysmic putting performances from time to time that derail good finishes at tournaments. And like Scott and Matsuyama, Byeong Hun An comes into the event in good shape with his putting. An has recorded positive strokes gained putting in his last two tournaments, including gaining over a stroke per round on the field at last week’s Sanderson Farms Championship. While I don’t expect that to happen twice in a row, any time his putting seems to be rounding into form is a good bet that he’ll have a strong finish.

An knows he let a golden opportunity slip away last week when he gained over two strokes per round tee-to-green and over a stroke per round on the greens over the field last week. He should be highly motivated and focused heading to Napa.

Cameron Tringale (80/1): I’m not the only one on the internet touting Tringale’s improved play…

 

I’ve been high on Tringale the last two weeks, but he hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations. But he had a good ball striking week at the Sanderson when he gained over 2.4 strokes on the field tee-to-green, but the putter didn’t show up. I expect that to regress to the mean a bit as all season long he was a solid putter. I will probably need to reassess if he fails to deliver once again this week, but at this price I’m willing to back him again as a darkhorse winner.

Matchups and Props

Adam Scott -130 over Bryson DeChambeau: Anytime a prop seems too good to be true, it is. But what am I missing here? Adam Scott is a guy I love for this event, and Bryson is completely in the weeds right now. Bryson tends to run hot and cold so his form could change in an instant, but there really isn’t anything with his recent stats to suggest a change in the winds is coming.

Jim Furyk -130 over Martin Laird: Laird has a high finish of T47 over his last four tournaments with two missed cuts, and he’s lost strokes to the field with his putter in three out of the last four events. Laird also has lost strokes to the field overall in six of his last 10 rounds played, including eight of his last 10 rounds losing strokes with his approach shots. That’s not a good recipe for Silverado North, and I expect a more consistent Furyk to best him one on one.

Bud Cauley +1.5 Strokes over Sebastian Munoz: Munoz is playing excellent golf right now and I was very happy to see him breakthrough with a win last week. Anytime a player scores a life changing victory on the PGA Tour is always a great thing. But that was an emotional win that came in a playoff and I expect a bit of a letdown this week. Cauley is a guy I like for this golf course, and I like him getting 1.5 strokes on Munoz head to head.

Collin Morikawa Top 20 – +160: Morikawa went to school at nearby Cal-Berkley and should feel right at home this week. He’s part of the crop of elite rookies on the PGA Tour that are ready to win now, as he did in the opposite field event in Reno when he won the Barracuda Championship. After that win, however, his form tailed off as he struggled with his ball striking. Nevertheless, I love his ceiling and think the time off helped him recharge the batteries. The expectations are high, but he’s ready to get back to being a weekly contender on the leaderboard.

Golf analyst for SportsGamblingPodcast.com, providing insight on news and betting tips for the PGA Tour, as well as commentary and banter on the World of Sports. Follow him on Twitter @SteveSchirmer

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