Daily Fantasy Golf Course Primer: Safeway Open
The PGA Tour wastes no time getting back to action after the TOUR Championship crowned Dustin Johnson as the FedEx Cup Champion. The 2020-21 season gets started this week at the Safeway Open, and while the winner won't quite match the $15 million payday that Johnson earned on Monday, it will still be an important event.
Typically, the fall is reserved for fringe Tour players and a few big names to pop in to fulfill participation or sponsorship requirements. This year the season's opening event features an up and down field, even if it has a slightly different feel with the rescheduled U.S. Open following it in the calendar.
This season will be historic, with 50 events, including 6 major championships, and we'll kick things off in wine country at the Silverado Resort and Spa North course in Napa, California.
Silverado has been the host venue since 2015, a tight track that doesn't necessarily incentivize golfers to take the conservative route off the tee. The Safeway routinely yields average driving distances over 300 yards and accuracy percentages in the mid-low 50s. Distance is important everywhere here, but when everyone is letting it rip and golfers aren't punished for finding the rough, the other parts of the game have to fall into place to contend.
A quirk of the Napa weather is that it is very cool in the mornings and gets hot fast as the day goes on, and sure enough, we see beautiful sunny skies ahead with highs touching 90 degrees and lows in the 50s all week. Golfers in the hotter afternoon waves should gain an advantage off the tee as the ball will fly better in the heat.
Let's dig into the course and see what stats we can use to build our daily fantasy lineups this week.
Course and Tournament Info
Course: Silverado Resort and Spa North
Distance: 7,166 yards
Fairways/Rough: Bermudagrass, poa annua, ryegrass in the fairways, bluegrass and ryegrass in the rough
Greens: Poa annua with some bent
The field generally finds a way to produce around 15-under par as the winning score each year since Silverado took over hosting duties. We'd expect more from the yardage listed here, and given overall class and equipment upgrades, we won't be surprised to see that number start to tick up going forward. But for now, that is a good barometer, and the Safeway stands out among fall courses for its stubbornness in yielding a 20-under victor.
Comparable courses with leaderboard overlap include TPC Scottsdale (Waste Management Phoenix Open) and Bay Hill (Arnold Palmer Invitational). Neither are poa courses, which raises the eyebrows, but all three have primarily bermuda rough, and the real through-line is a fast, firm set up.
These stats will be key to success in the Safeway Open at Silverado Resort and Spa North.
|Key Stats for the Safeway Open at Silverado Resort and Spa North|
|Strokes Gained: Tee to Green|
|Strokes Gained: Approach|
|Birdies or Better Gained|
|Strokes Gained: Par 5s|
Our two most recent winners, Cameron Champ and Kevin Tway, would lead us to believe driving distance is the key metric here. But in truth, the rest of the leaderboards would indicate anything but. This is a track that can be had in a variety of ways, and we should be looking at golfers who either gain consistently in all areas of the game or are so overwhelming in one aspect that it rises their overall tee to green ranking.
We'll still look to approach play as the signature skill, and even Champ played well with his irons last year. The driver is a signature strength, and he led the field in strokes gained: off the tee, but he had the second best approach figure of his career at 2.8 strokes gained. That number was good enough to rank 13th for the week.
It's a pretty evergreen mix of stats here -- we are looking for scoring and making the most of the four par 5s. At Silverado, the birdies come easy, but there are few eagles. Golfers who beat the field on the par 5s will have either found a few of those double circles or had a birdie parade all week.
Course History Studs
Brendan Steele has been playing well of late, and he'll be happy to return to the site of his back-to-back titles three and four years ago.
Phil Mickelson dominated in his Champions Tour debut and arrives in Napa as one of the favorites, with three straight top-20s at Silverado before a missed cut last year.
Brandt Snedeker has played the Safeway three times since it moved to Silverado, with finishes of T17, T2, and T17.
Mike Rodden is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Mike Rodden also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mike_rodden. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.