PGA Tour Picks: Safeway Open Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
Team USA's rout of the International squad over the weekend in New Jersey in the Presidents Cup team event put a bow on the 2016-17 PGA Tour season. It was a season that likely will be most remembered for another Tiger Woods back surgery and Justin Thomas' breakout campaign. He won his first major title at the PGA Championship, took home the $10 million FedEx Cup prize (despite not winning the Tour Championship) and is going to be named PGA Tour Player of the Year.
A few years ago, the Tour did away with the Fall Series and went to a wraparound schedule like the European Tour had done for years. Frankly, it hasn't drawn up much more interest as the big-name players are still largely skipping these tournaments. The 2017-18 schedule was officially released a couple of weeks ago with no huge changes. There are 49 events worth a total prize money of $363 million - that's two more events than 2016-17. They are the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in Korea in two weeks and the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship- a former Web.com Tour event -- in the Dominican Republic opposite the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in late March. There are now nine tournaments in eight countries outside the United States. Three tournaments in the new schedule will be changing courses from 2016-17: the Byron Nelson, Northern Trust and BMW Championship, the latter two in the FedExCup playoffs.
The fall schedule runs from this Thursday through Nov. 19 before a break until the Tournament of Champions starts on Jan. 4, 2018. Anyone who didn't win last season can get into the ToC with a victory over the next six weeks or so. Then there's an event every single week until after the third tournament of the 2018 FedExCup playoffs. The schedule is really going to change for 2018-19 with the Tour Championship and PGA Championship both moving and the playoff format expected to change.
This week's Safeway Open is held at Silverado Resort and Spa's North Course in California's wine country. It's a par 72 measuring 7,166 yards. Hall of Famer Johnny Miller is one of the course's owners. Three guys from the Presidents Cup competition are set to play: Phil Mickelson and International members Adam Hadwin and Emiliano Grillo. There are several Web.com guys who "graduated" to the main Tour making their debuts.
The defending champion is Brendan Steele. He was down four shots in his final round last year but closed with three straight birdies for a 7-under 65 to win by one shot over Patton Kizzire. It was sweet justice for Steele (he finished at 18 under) as the year before he had the 54-hole lead but imploded on the back-nine Sunday with a 40. It was Steele's second career PGA Tour win, with the other at the 2011 Valero Texas Open as a rookie. He hasn't added a third yet.
Golf Odds: Safeway Open Favorites
Not a great field, as you would expect, and Tony Finau is a tournament betting favorite for probably the first time as he's priced at +1200. He had a breakout 2016-17 season with eight Top 10s and finished T26 last year.
I'm rather surprised Mickelson is playing, and he's +1600 along with Webb Simpson. It's only Lefty's second trip to this tournament and he eighth was eighth last year. Mickelson has won every California Tour event once but this one. Simpson enters having finished in the Top 10 in three of his past five starts overall but is yet to make a cut here.
Bill Haas and Zach Johnson (each +2500) round out the favorites with Steele +2800 to repeat. No player has won this event twice yet, but it's only been around since 2007. Haas was T20 here a year ago. Johnson makes his tournament debut.
Golf Odds: Safeway Open Picks
Being honest, not a ton of great props currently for this week; it's barely a PGA Tour event and there's plenty else going on in the sports world, including the NHL season set to start. I'll just cut to the chase, then, and say Kevin Na is my winner; he's priced at +2800. Na lost in a playoff here to Grillo two years ago and then was seventh last year at 15 under, three behind Steele (whom I'd recommend for a Top 10).
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