DraftKings preview: Safeway Open
September 24, 2019
By Reid T. Fowler, DraftKings
- September 24, 2019
Daily Fantasy preview for the Safeway Open
The 2019-20 PGA TOUR season continues with this week’s Safeway Open located at Silverado Resort and Spa on the North Course in Napa , California. The field will host a few top-echelon players such as Hideki Matsuyama, Adam Scott and Patrick Cantlay, and also welcome other top athletes playing in the pro-am, such as three-time NBA champion Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and CBS NFL analyst Tony Romo. Romo also will be competing in the tournament on a sponsor’s exemption, along with notable TOUR pros making their season debuts, such as Phil Mickelson, Francesco Molinari and Collin Morikawa.
The North Course will play as a par 72, measure just south of 7,200 yards and feature poa annua greens. The course wasn’t difficult last season, ranking 29th (out of 49) in scoring relative to par and recording the 10th most birdies of any course in 2019.
Focusing on golfers who do well in par 5 scoring average again will be a core statistic when building lineups this week; 45% of all birdies made at the Safeway Open last season came from the par 5s. Another key statistic will be Strokes Gained: Approach the Green. In 2018, four of the top five highest Strokes Gained: Approach the Green golfers also finished inside the top five for the tournament. Last season was more evenly distributed amongst the other key Strokes Gained metrics, but only one player inside the top 10 lost strokes with their irons.
Even though the course gave up a healthy number of birdies, it also recorded the 13th most bogeys on any course last season, most likely coming from the course yielding only a 53% fairway in regulation rate, close to 10% less than the TOUR average. Undulating greens, short par 4s and strategically placed bunkers on hole Nos. 4 and 6 will allow the players to hit more driving irons and fairway woods off the tee, leaving longer approach shots into the greens.
This course isn’t too long, either, which is why the highest approach shot distribution here is from 200-plus yards as players are electing accuracy over distance. Driving accuracy and accuracy with the approach are going to be paramount this week along with birdies or better gained on the par 5s. Another statistic to focus on will be par 4 scoring on holes measuring 400 to 450 yards. Over the past two years, just three golfers who finished inside the top 10 lost strokes on par 4s measuring between 400 to 450 yards.
Chez Reavie ($9,200)
Reavie comes into this week ranking second in fairways hit and inside the top 20 in Strokes Gained: Approach the Green over his past three tournaments. Even though his par-5 scoring isn’t as strong as other top players like Justin Thomas, he makes it up through his ability to get it close, ranking fourth in overall proximity to the hole over his past three tournaments and second at the end of the 2019 season. Reavie has gained strokes off the tee and through approach in four of his past five tournaments and gets to putt on poa this week, his preferred putting surface, where he ranks second in the field over the past 12 rounds.
Bronson Burgoon ($8,000)
Burgoon has two solid finishes (T19, T6) in the swing season and travels to Napa Valley ranking 26th in Strokes Gained: Approach the Green and 23rd in fairways hit over his past three tournaments. Burgoon finished with a 7-under in his final round at the Sanderson Farms Championship and should be in line for another successful week at the Safeway Open, where he finished inside the top 20 back in 2018.
Jhonattan Vegas ($7,300)
He doesn’t have the best record at the Safeway Open but is coming in with solid form, ranking eighth in par-5 scoring average, 15th in Strokes Gained: Approach the Green and first in birdies or better gained over his past three tournaments. His short game has not been good, losing strokes around the green in his past six tournaments and losing strokes putting in three of his past five contests. If he can have an average putting week, he should be able to rely on his ball-striking and lean on his off-the-tee game, where he’s gained strokes in 13 straight tournaments coming into this tournament.
Robby Shelton ($7,100)
Shelton has been solid with his irons, gaining 2.5 strokes at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier and hitting 83.3% of his fairways at the Sanderson Farms Championship. He was able to grab two wins on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2019 and ranks seventh in birdies or better gained over the past 12 rounds. He should be able to keep the momentum going this week, especially since he's ranked inside the top five in fairways gained over his past two tournaments.
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Writer’s bio: “I’m a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is reidtfowler) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.”