This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Safeway Open - Napa, CA
Silverado Resort & Spa North Course (7,166 yards, par 72)
$1,116,000 and 500 FedEx Cup points to the winner
NAPA, CA – Just two short weeks after the Tour Championship closed last season, a new season is upon us as the Safeway Open kicks off the 2018-19 wraparound schedule. Many newly-minted Web.com graduates will make their debuts on the PGA Tour, while mainstays Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker seek to get their seasons off to a great start. Brendan Steele will take his best shot at becoming the first three-peat champion on Tour since 2011 as the back-to-back champion tees it up in Wine Country this week. The Silverado Resort North course was threatened by last fall's wildfires but came away mostly unharmed and will host for a fifth consecutive year. The course has proven vulnerable to scoring, yielding at least 15-under-par to the winner the last four years. Look for plenty members of the Web.com graduating class to make themselves known in this opportunistic field.
Recent Past Champions
2017 – Brendan Steele
2016 – Brendan Steele
2015 – Emiliano Grillo
2014 – Sang-Moon Bae
2013 – Jimmy Walker
2012 – Jonas Blixt
2011 – Bryce Molder
2010 – Rocco Mediate
2009 – Troy Matteson
2008 – Cameron Beckman
Key Stats to Victory
• Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green
• Greens in regulation percentage
• Scrambling percentage
The course plays like a classic with narrow fairways, large bunkers, and smallish greens. But it's a tale of two nines, with the front nine more tree-lined while the back nine is open but littered with difficult fairway bunkers in the landing areas. There's a clear premium on tee-to-green ballstriking throughout the course, so lean on Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green stats for those who played on Tour last year. For those making their debuts, look for quality driving accuracy and greens in regulation from last season or great recent finishes in the Web.com Tour Finals. Putting has shown to be a bit of a differentiator at Silverado North, but that's difficult to gauge on an even playing field for those without PGA Tour experience. All said, it's a sizable opportunity for youngsters and veterans to keep their games in form and start the season right.
FanDuel Value Picks
Brandt Snedeker, $12000 – Snedeker finished T17 in his last appearance at Silverado back in 2016, but the world-class putter stands out as a superior talent this week. Heading the top of the salary list will make it hard for him to live up to expectations, but he's a safe option and his salary reflects that.
Patrick Cantlay, $11900 – Cantlay returns to this event, after a six-year hiatus, as one of the favorites coming off a very strong 2017-18 season. The youngster was ninth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green last season and should have a clear advantage this week in ball striking. Expect good things from the man who won his maiden PGA Tour event in the fall series last year at the Shriners Open.
Ryan Moore, $11200 – There's no doubt Moore underwhelmed a bit last season as he failed to post a single top-3 finish for the first time since 2013, but the veteran was 12th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and enters an opportunistic field salivating for a strong start. He finished T17 or better his last three times at this event.
Joaquin Niemann, $11100 – After securing his PGA Tour card through FedExCup points as a non-member last season, the budding youngster will bring his well-rounded game to Silverado for the first time. His upside is quite high given his success on the PGA Tour last season in limited starts, so start the youngster with confidence this week.
Longer Shots Worth a Risk
Abraham Ancer, $9300 – Ancer is on the value list this week because of his run of success over the last three months, which included three Top-7 finishes and a spot in the BMW Championship in the FedExCup playoffs. Now starting his third full season on Tour, Ancer should feel comfortable in a field where he can easily compete for victory.
Denny McCarthy, $8400 – Number one on the Web.com Tour Finals list after a win at the Web.com Tour Championship, McCarthy is as hot as they come right now and would love nothing more than to parlay his form into a PGA Tour victory early in the calendar. Expect at least a made cut with the upside for much more.
Hunter Mahan, $7800 – Now just a shadow of the man he once was on Tour, Mahan earned his way back with a T2 at the DAP Championship on the Web.com Tour. He will seek to post his first Top-5 on the PGA Tour since September 2015. At this price, I dare say he's a decent value given his experience.
Sang-Moon Bae, $7100 – Formerly ranked around No. 100 in the world in 2015, Bae took a 21-month military commitment and has since returned to the PGA Tour through a major medical/family crisis exemption. This week he returns to the site of his 2015 win, and this alone should inspire a made cut. At this price, anything more than that would be icing on the cake.
Strategy Tips for this week (based on 60k standard salary cap)
In a debut event where freshly-carded youngsters mesh with middle-tier PGA Tour mainstays, there's plenty of opportunity to skew young and take advantage. Many Web.com Tour graduates are hungry to prove themselves early on the PGA Tour in a weaker field, so take a close look at their finishes and stats from last season. With returning PGA Tour players, while Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green is a great differentiator, don't neglect Strokes Gained: Putting, which has historically accounted for a higher-than-average advantage at Silverado Resort. In the end, it's a great opportunity for anyone in the field to snag a victory and start their season on a high note.