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Safeway Open: Expert Picks

Brendan Steele leads the pack

Safeway Open - Round One Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images

Tournament Information

Safeway Open
Date: September 10th – 13th
Course: Silverado Country Club
Purse: $6.6MM ($1.2MM to winner)
2019 Winner: Cameron Champ (-17)

Course

Silverado Country Club — The course was originally built in 1955 on the 1,200 acre property that the Silverado Resort and Spa sat upon. In 1966 Robert Trent redesigned the course and Johnny Miller later redesigned it in 2011. It currently stands as a par 72 at 7,166 yards with a 74.3 course rating and a slope rating of 135. The fairways are spacious and there is open land around making it seem easy; however, elevation changes, a number of bunkers and well placed water as well as difficult rough make this a challenge. The most successful on this course make up ground with their irons on their approach shots. There are spaces to be aggressive and those that do are rewarded.

Safeway Open - Round Three Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images

My Starting 4

Bill Haas (1st selection this year) — Haas has three consecutive years of top 20 finishes at the Safeway Open. While Haas struggles a bit with his approach shots, he makes up for that with strong shots off the tee. He has a tendency to start off each year with a strong handful of starts before struggling down the final stretch. The time off has likely helped him with a fresh new start.

Chez Reavie (1st selection this year) — Reavie has finished in the top 35 each of the last three years here. He was 30th last year in strokes gained approaching the green.

Harold Varner (1st selection this year) — Two of the last three years, Varner has finished in the top 20. He was 29th last season in strokes gained approaching the green. He’s 18th in total strokes gained and much like Bill Haas, Varner has a tendency to start off strong each season.

Brendan Steele (1st selection this year) — Steele is the proverbial lock here. He won here in 2017 and 2018 but he faltered slightly with a 57th place last year. He’s 19th in strokes gained approaching the green. While Steele typically starts strong he struggled with the start of last season coming into form later in the season.

My Bench 2

Brice Garnett (1st selection this year) — Garnett has been inside the top 25 here each of the last two years. He was 27th in greens in regulation last season. Garnett is fairly even across his game, average driver, irons hitter and putter with nothing on par of excellent but no large gaps either.

Zac Blair (1st selection this year) — Blair finished in the top 30 each of the last two years here. He excels in the eagles which is where he can really thrive here. When he gets aggressive and hits it right, it pays big dividends at this course. Clearly this is a bit of a gamble.

Fun Fact: Back in the late 70’s the Silverado course hosted the Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic (defunct in 2002).