After the very short golf “offseason”, The Tour heads to Napa, California, for 2019 The Safeway Open. The host course is Silverado Country Club (Par 72, 7,166 yards) and this will be the fifth consecutive season it has been held in Napa. Brendan Steele is the two time defending champ, shooting -17 in 2016 and -15 and a year ago. As a par 72, these players will get four easy par fives to attack at Silverado. Steele ranked T1 in par five scoring in both of his wins and three of the last five winners have ranked T1 in scoring on the par fives, showing you how important these holes are this week. This track is on the shorter side and using driver isn’t a must on every hole.
This is a second shot course and to succeed, you need to be feeling it with your irons. (last five winners have hit 76.2% of the greens) The past three years the winner has also ranked T8 or better in driving accuracy, putting a huge emphasis on tee to green games. Plus, as you can see from Steele’s finishes, you need to shoot low numbers if you want to contend at Silverado. Steele last season and Brooks Koepka, The 2014 winner, both led their respective fields with 24 birdies each. With The Ryder Cup last weekend and basically no lay off, most of the best players on The Tour won’t be playing, resulting in a very weak field. Unfortunately, this is what Fall golf is and we can’t expect much better fields for the next few months. Also, just because it’s been a little while, this is a standard cut event. There are 142 golfers in the field and the top 70 and ties will be competing on the weekend. @Hunta512.
Abraham Ancer: (9,300)
Ancer flashed some serious upside at the end of last season, with three top tens in his final eight starts. (6/8) He struggled at The BMW Championship (T51), but averaged 5.4 total strokes gained in his previous four events. He has been a great ball striker (3rd in SGT2G, 5th in BS, and 11th in fairways gained) and par five scorer in his last 24 rounds. (17th in SG on P5s) He missed the cut in his first crack at Silverado three years ago, but rebounded with a T37 this past year.
If he can get in a groove with his putter, Ancer has top ten potential on this track. Do I like paying the highest price we have ever seen for Ancer? No. But, that is the type of field we are getting this week and this should only help keep his ownership lower in GPPs. (9-12% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs) UPDATE: Ancer has withdrew from The Safeway Open with a hand injury. Obviously, make sure he is out of your lineups. Luke List at $8,800 is a solid pivot. He is 2/2 at Silverado, made five of his last seven, ranks 5th in SGT2G, and 14th in SG on P5s over his last 36 rounds.
Harold Varner III: (8,300)
HV3 ended the 2018 season making six straight cuts and nine for his last 12. In that cut streak, he posted three top 20s and two top tens. In his last five starts, he has gained 5.8 strokes per event, which has helped him to being the number ranked player in total strokes gained, when comparing all of these golfers last 24 rounds. During these rounds, Varner has been great tee to green (4th in SGT2G and 7th in SG APP), on par fives (13th in SG on P5s), and as a birdie maker. (4th in BOB%)
He is 3/3 at Silverado, with his highest finish being a T15 in 2016. Fresh off his best season as a pro (18/27, three top tens, five top 25s), Varner is primed for a top 20 in his fourth Safeway Open.
Sam Ryder: (7,300)
After an up and down campaign in his first full time season (15/26), Ryder closed out the year making seven of his last eight cuts. He didn’t have enough FedEx Cup points to make it to The Dell Technologies Championship, but he played solid in his first playoff appearance, with a T46 at The Wyndham and a T28 at The Northern Trust. Over his last 24 rounds, he ranks T8 or better in SGT2G, SG APP, GIR, BS, BOB%, and SG on P5s.
He missed the cut in last year’s Safeway Open, but this was only his second career start in a PGA event. In a year’s time, he has vastly improved as a player and in this current form (3rd in SG on P5s in last 12 rounds), Ryder should be playing on the weekend in Napa.
Ryan Moore: (10,700) Moore’s well balanced game has been a nice match for Sliverado in the past. In his first showing at the course in 2015, he finished T10, and then last season, he posted a T17. He has only missed three cuts in his last 15 starts and has finished inside the top 30 in nine of those tournaments. For the 2018 season, he ranked 12th in SGT2G, 15th in SG APP, and 4th in DA%. Moore is a lock to make the cut and I am expecting at least a top 20 from the vet. (22/1 to win, which are T3 for the best odds of the week, via Bovada)
Joaquin Niemann: (10,300) In his first season on Tour, the 19 year old prodigy made 9/12 cuts, with six top 25s, and four top tens. When looking at all these players last 24 rounds of golf, no player ranks better statistically than Niemann. In this time, he ranks 2nd in SGT2G, 16th in SG APP, 2nd in BS, 3rd in GIR, 5th in SG total, 1st in BOB%, 21st in SG on P5s, and 3rd in DraftKings points. He has made six cuts in a row and is averaging 4.5 strokes gained total in each of those starts. This will be Niemann’s debut at Silverado, but he is in store for a huge season and should produce a top 20 this weekend.
Chris Kirk: (8,600) Kirk is currently riding the single longest active cut streak of any golfer in this field, at 14. He is 21 for his last 24, including nine top 25s. In his last 20 starts, he is averaging a solid 2.7 strokes gained total and last season, he ranked 17th in SG APP and 3rd in total birdies. At The BMW Championship, which was his final start of the season (T41), he couldn’t get it going on the greens (-3.3 SGP), but was accurate off the tee and on approach, sporting a GIR% and a DA% over 80%. When one part of his game is down, Kirk is one of those players that always seems to figure out a way to make it work with his other skills. He missed the weekend in his first attempt at Silverado in 2015, but made the next two, with a T8 and then a T30. The price is correct, but Kirk is one of the safer bets to make the cut.
Chez Reavie: (7,600) Reavie has never missed a cut at Silverado in four tries and has finished in the top 25 each of the last three seasons. He was in a bad rut last summer, missing five consecutive cuts, but regained his form at The PGA Championship, with a T12, which was his best career finish at a major. Reavie then went on to close the year out making 2/3 cuts, with a T20 at The Northern Trust and a T38 at The BMW Championship. For the 2018 season, he ranked 20th in SG APP and 3rd in DA%. His 50/1 odds (via Bovada) are the second best for a player priced $8,000 this week.
Richy Werenski: (6,900) Werenski has made the cut here the last two seasons, with a T35 in 2016 and then a T37 last year. He ended The 2018 season with a MC at The Northern Trust, but made seven of his previous ten before that playoff event. His game can be unpredictable at times, but after each of his last five MCs, the 26 year old has bounced back and made the cut the following week. Not only does he have this trend on his side and a decent track record at this course, but he has been playing extremely well on par fives the last few months. (5th in SG on P5s in last 24 rounds) Furthermore, he has improved his accuracy off the tee (24th in fairways gained) and is sticking greens at a high rate during this time. (8th in GIR) In this weak of a field, Werenski is simply mispriced at $6,900. (Was priced over $7,000 in five of his last six events)
*Please note most of these rankings are from FantasyNational.com.