DraftKings PGA Lineup Advice: Safeway Open
After the shortest offseason in all of professional sports, the 2017-2018 PGA Tour season gets underway this week with the Safeway Open from Johnny Miller’s pet project, Silverado Resort & Spa.
Phil Mickelson headlines the field at Silverado’s North Course this week, and Webb Simpson and Tony Finau are among the oddsmakers favorites. Sangmoon Bae returns to action after two years of mandatory military service in South Korea. Maverick McNealy, former No. 1 amateur in the world, makes his professional debut this week.
The 7,166-yard, par-72 North Course was famously once the estate of a Civil War general. Probably not a significant factor in your lineup construction this week, but cool nevertheless. Johnny Miller renovated both courses at Silverado after purchasing the property with a pair of partners in 2010.
A medium-difficulty course, Silverado’s North course is short by PGA Tour standards. Bentgrass and poa annua greens meet the same combination in the fairway with Kentucky Bluegrass rough that can get a bit sticky. Greens traditionally stimp around 11.5. Fairways are a bit tight (Johnny wants to host a U.S. Open, after all).
In evaluating players this week, preference should go to driving distance and approach play from 150 to 200 yards, along with putting. Strokes gained: off-the-tee is the most significant SG metric.
If you want to go chalk…
Finau is worth it. From a Sagarin ranking standpoint (which evaluates a player’s relative performance over the past year) Tony Finau was the No. 15 golfer on the PGA Tour last season. In a weak field, he has a markedly more distinguished pedigree than anyone else (save for Phil Mickelson). Fourth in strokes gained: off-the-tee, 11th in strokes gained: total in 16-17. 11th in birdie average. Finau tied for 26th at the Safeway last year and closed the season with a pair of top-10 finishes. He’s worth the $11,500 price tag.
Webb Simpson: $11,200
In the No. 2 salary slot this week, Webb Simpson is also a golfer with a healthy pedigree. While he isn’t good off the tee, Simpson makes up for it with strong approach play. Could that get him in trouble this week? Perhaps. Considering he’s missed the cut in his last two tries at this event, it’s tough to justify paying top dollar for a golfer who doesn’t look like he has a chance of a top-10 finish.
Zach Johnson: $10,500
ZJ wasn’t a standout in any statistical category in 2016-2017. He finished 50th in strokes gained: total. In this field, however, that places him in the top quartile of golfers. He tied for 20th at the BMW Championship in his most recent action. He traditionally doesn’t play this event. Pretty big “meh” this week; tough to get excited about rostering the Iowan. Do yourself a favor and start your research with Kevin Na at $9,400 and work your way down.
Robert Garrigus: $7,100
In the No. 29 price slot, Robert Garrigus is a value at $7,100. A long-hitting birdie machine, Garrigus was 29th in strokes gained: off-the-tee in 2016 and 14th in birdie average. He tied for 26th at the Safeway Open last year.
Birdies are the name of the game in GPP. Season leaders in birdie-or-better percentage (BoB%) listed.
9. Luke List ($7,900)
10. Tony Finau ($11,500)
11. Scott Piercy ($7,700)
15. Robert Garrigus ($7,100)
17. Phil Mickelson ($11,000)
Kevin Na: $9,400
You always have to favor the California dudes at California events. Na, who grew up in CA, finished inside the top 10 in his last two Safeway Open starts. While he doesn’t gain strokes off the tee, that course history is hard to pass over. 34th in birdie average, Na tied for 20th at the BMW Championship and finished 29th at the Tour Championship in his two most recent starts. Thus, recent form is OK. After a week off, look for him to continue to do good work at Silverado’s North Course. He’s a good building block because you can pay up for a higher-priced player and construct a more stars-and-scrubs lineup, or put together something more balanced with Na as your top dog.
Chez Reavie: $8,900
In the No. 11 price slot, Chez Reavie is a value play at $8,900. Ninth in the field in relative Sagarin ranking, Reavie returns to a course where he’s finished inside the top 25 in his two most recent turns. He ended the year with a tie for 12th at the BMW Championship but didn’t advance any further in the Playoffs. Thus, he should be well rested and practiced and was showing a nice bit of form to end the year, closing with a streak of 11 made cuts. While he doesn’t hit it anywhere off the tee, Reavie is perennially straight. Thus, he’ll avoid the major hazard this week (the rough). 38th in strokes gained: total last year, Chez is a solid all-around player and an excellent building block. Should be a lock for a top-25 finish this week.