The PGA Tour opens its 2020-2021 season in wine country at the Safeway Open
Next week the world’s best will be at Winged Foot for the U.S. Open.
We couldn’t be much further than that, both physically and in prestige, this week at the Safeway Open.
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That’s no offense to the tournament. Who wouldn’t want to spend a week in Napa playing a solid, if not spectacular, course in Silverado Resort? It usually gets a decent field as players look to scoop up some FedEx Cup points in relaxed climes.
But the 2020 field is downright lousy. You can count the top-50 players in the world in the field with one hand. There are some household names, but they’re mostly guys whose FedEx Cup Playoff run ended early and need some pre-U.S. Open reps.This week’s winner does not get a spot into the U.S. Open.
I have a hunch this is a week for a first-time winner.
Perhaps a young gun or someone who’s been knocking on the door for a while.
Silverado’s North Course has hosted this event since 2014. It’s a 7,166-yard, par-72 layout designed by Robert Trent Jones in 1966 and redesigned by Johnny Miller in 2011.
The course is easier than average on the PGA Tour. The greens are usually soft and big time trouble is hard to find. Some heavy treeline requires shot shaping and can inhibit the big hitters in spots. With that said, Bryson DeChambeau and his ilk are finding new lines off tees once thought unfathomable.
Big hitters will find an advantage, however, on the four reachable par-5s.
Like many California courses, the greens are poa annua. Guys who play, and particularly putt, well on the West Coast Swing in January-February are good comps for the Safeway Open.
Weather wise, it’s been extremely hot lately in Napa. We’re talking excessive heat earnings and a high of 107 on Monday. It’ll dip back down to 60s-80s, but perhaps the course will play a bit more fiery than normal.
This week is nothing to go too crazy about, but it does feel nice to get back to a full 156-player event after three limited field events.
There were about 30 names I tossed around for this week’s power rankings. I’ve got it whittled down to my best 10: