The Safeway Open preview with Skeeter McGillicuddy
After a whole week off its back on – the 2016/17 USPGA Tour kicks off this week with the Safeway Open.
Normally these early events – which for a time formed the Fall Series – are less than stellar affairs (unless you win them of course) but this year we were going to be treated to the return of Tiger. So Tiger’s cried off and the excitement factor is diminished but we still have Milky Phil (why I can’t even begin to wonder) and an in form Paul Casey.
It says a lot about the depth of this event that Casey, even an in form Casey, heads the betting.
The Silverado Resort and Spa North Course, California, running at a tad over 7,200 yards Par 72 hosts the tournament for the third year running. The rough is said to be not easy but not Eastlake either but with the threat of rain each day that could change.
Last year a player we rate and have backed, the super talented Argentinean, Emiliano Grillo won here on his rookie event (not to be confused with his first start mind). Grillo made the Tour Championship final where he finished 10th to go with his 2nd at The Barclays, so enough said about his credentials.
The field is full of potential future stars coming off the Web.com tour stinging to make a mark, but I’m inclined to stick with players in form with some experience and to take a chance with one at a price.
1pt Emilliano Grillo @ $21
1pt Justin Thomas @ $22.38
1 pt e/w Jamie Lovemark @ $126
Emilliano Grillo is quite simply a top 10/5 player in the making. One week after winning the Web.com finals he won here. He then proceeded to make the Tour Finals and was 2nd at the Barclays and 10th at East Lake. His profile is similar to our next pick, Justin Thomas, in that he mixes great tee to green play with some less than excellent putting – at times. Last year had to be a learning curve for him and he ended it well and now returns to a place that has to hold fond memories for him. One of the class players in the field if he putts he comes close.
1 pt win at $21 with
Justin Thomas had by most accounts a great 2015/16 season just failing one felt to make the US Ryder Cup team. He won in Malaysia a fortnight after a really solid tied 3rd here and posted a tied 6th at East Lake. We have alluded to his putting before in that it can be weak and he’s not afraid to switch styles. He posted a, good for him, +0.676 strokes gained putting at East Lake and if he produces that with is long game he’s contending. On form and proven round here.
1 pt win @ $22.38 with
Jamie Lovemark made it to the Tour finals falling at the final hurdle and missing out on East Lake. He has some technical flaws that when they rear their head count him out and he seems to have a fear of Par 3’s. That’s the downside. He is however a PGA Tour event runner up in 2016 and had 5 top 10’s. A modest 46th here last year we will view as experience and the big lump should start his 2016/17 campaign off with a spring in his step having competed admirably last season. A speculative wager at 125/1.
1 pt e/w at $126 with