The swing season starts this week, a seven event run that lasts into late November. This week we are in California for the Safeway Open. The event is taking place at the Silverado Golf Club for the fourth straight year, and that’s important to remember when doing course history research this week. Silverado has been described as more of a classic style venue with smaller, trickier poa greens. While that would seem to favour “accuracy” over pure power, Brendan Steele won here last season and we also saw Phil Mickelson and Justin Thomas finish inside the top ten in 2016 so aggressiveness can definitely pay off.
Weak Field: Most of the big names are obviously taking a pass on this event, and that’s a theme you’ll see throughout the swing season. New web.com graduates are packing this field and it’s something to keep an eye as many of these players come in with good form coming in off the web.com playoff stretch. These players may be new, but many are talented and have the benefit of being in good competitive form making them good fantasy targets.
Course Setup: Silverado is a short par 72 and with four par 5’s it definitely offers some scoring chances throughout. Last season saw the lowest total ever at this venue (18 under won) and with good conditions we can expect another birdie-fest. Emphasizing strong tee to green games and players with stronger short games should be key here. The winner may come down to who putts best but for DFS looking at birdie or better and par 5 scoring stats can help.
Tony Finau ($11,500): It’s hard to fathom paying this much for Tony Finau but the field this week essentially demands that he is the most expensive player. Finau has played elite golf for the last few months, making 13 cuts in a row and finished 2017 off ranked 10th in SG: Tee to Green. In three appearances at Silverado he’s made the cut every time with a best finish of T12 from back in 2017. His back-to-back T7’s in the playoffs suggest he’s ready to take down a field of this nature and for DraftKings the fact he’s 10th in Birdie or Better % makes him a fine target to pay up for this week.
Peter Uihlein ($8,800): Uihlein made the decision to come over and play the US tour this season and he claimed his card very quickly by winning the first Web.com playoff event a month ago. The field this week isn’t a whole lot different from that one so seeing him priced at under 9k for DraftKings makes him a pretty solid deal. While we won’t call Silverado a bombers venue, there are opportunities to use driver and the four par 5’s definitely fit into Uihlein’s strengths. He’s another good DK scorer that should be on your radar this week.
Bud Cauley ($8,400): Cauley is coming off arguably his best season as a pro in 2017 as he recorded five top ten’s and just missed out on a win early in the year at the Career Builder. The Alabama alum has only played Silverado once over the past three seasons and finished T50 but as a player who is generally a strong par 5 scorer, and likes these easier setups, seeing him put up a big week here would not shock. At under $8500 you’re getting a proven tour performer who is coming off a very strong season and should be eager to take on this weaker field.
Just Missed: Jamie Lovemark, Keegan Bradley
Martin Flores ($7,600): Flores finished 2017 in very strong form, making eight straight cuts and landing four top 20’s to finish the regular season and hang on to his tour card. The 35 year-old has gone between tours for a couple of seasons but his late season run last year saw him play perhaps the best golf of his career. He ended last season ranked first in Greens in Regulation and putted well in portions of last season too. While Flores has recorded two MC’s at this event in two appearances, his level of play has risen significantly since the end of last season and he should be eager to get this new season off to a fast start here so as to avoid any late season rally again. I like making him a target this week.
Grayson Murray ($7,100): Murray is quite simply being disrespected by the DraftKings pricing gods this week. The twitter superstar had a great end to 2017, landing his PGA win at the Barbasol and also put up three solid finishes in the playoffs, including a T25 in Boston where he was near the lead after day three. Murray’s pedigree is probably as good as anyone’s in this field and given that he was 18th in Birdie or Better percentage last season he really does make for a great DraftKings play this week. Don’t overthink it.
Sung Kang ($6,900): Kang’s a player that sometimes can be hard to pin down, but given that he’s had some of his best success on tour in California, on Poa greens, makes this a tournament where I am fine targeting him for a big week. The South Korean recorded three top six finishes last year and really could have won a couple of times if not for a little bad luck/great play by other players. He’s only played this event once, missing the cut, but at 15th in par 5 birdie or better scoring, and at under 7k in this weaker field, he makes for a nice upside play on DK this week.
Just Missed: Luke List
High-upside GPP Picks
Ollie Schniederjans ($8,300): Schniederjans might be easy to overlook this week, given that he finished off 2017 with a couple of poor weeks. That being said we also saw a glimpse of brilliance from Ollie late in the year at the Wyndham when he battled Henrik Stenson down the stretch. The long rest and a new season should be a welcome thing for the second year pro as he’ll surely be eager to join some of his peers as a winner early on this season. A T9 and a T8 early last season at Riveria and Torrey Pines means he seems to like this part of the country and he makes for a great gpp pick this week.
Aaron Wise ($7,100): Wise is a South African born player who had a storied college career and has seamlessly made his way onto the PGA Tour this season. He actually landed himself a top ten on the swing season last year and now with a win on the web.com tour to his credit, he should be eager to start fast against his new level of competition. This is a player who has won at every level of golf he’s played and shouldn’t be avoided in fantasy just for lack of experience. He’s a great early season gpp target.
Matt Every ($6,700): Every’s a player who we don’t target much in fantasy. The two-time tour winner has proven he can win however and while he’s anything but reliable, his late 2017 form suggests he might be making his way back to a level of consistency which would make him a worthy target in this field full of unknowns. Every finished 2017 with four straight made cuts and an impressive T13 at the Wyndham where he started with a 61. Silverado has been kind to players with sharp short games who can get hot with their putters and Every definitely fits that mold. He carries risk, but given his recent play, lots of upside too.
Just Missed: Maverick McNealy, Chesson Hedley
Players to Consider (in no order)
– Tony Finau, Peter Uihlein, Bud Cauely, Jamie Lovemark, Keegan Bradley, Martin Flores
– Grayson Murray, Luke List, Sung Kang, Ollie Schniederjans, Chesson Hadley, Matt Every, Aaron Wise, Maverick McNealy
Bud Cauley 40-1
Peter Uihlein 50-1 (now 40-1)
Ollie Schniederjans 70-1 (now 60-1) EW
Sung Kang 110-1 EW
Martin Flores 140-1 EW