The start of a new golf season often brings hope and optimism for young players and guys that don’t win a whole lot because a lot of early-season events are lightly attended by the game’s best players. That is true of this week’s Safeway Open, which is the kickoff event to the 2020-21 PGA Tour season.
The wraparound part of the season will be dramatically different than usual. The U.S. Open is next week. The Masters is coming up in mid-November. The Asian swing is now domestic, including the CJ Cup at iconic Shadow Creek in Las Vegas. The WGC-HSBC Champions has been indefinitely postponed. It is a very unique time in the world of golf.
We’ll change things up this week and take a look at the tournament odds from BetMGM Sportsbook as we look to put together a card for the Safeway Open at Silverado Resort in Napa. This is a short par 72, so it isn’t a course as tailored for the bombers as usual, but the rough is not penal here, so they can grip it and rip it and see what happens.
Brendan Steele, Phil Mickelson, and Si Woo Kim are all co-favorites at +2200 this week. You know this is a light field because golf tournament favorites are usually in the 9/1 to 12/1 range. This week, the favorites are 22/1. That speaks to the open nature of this tournament. Steele is a two-time winner in 2016 and 2017. Phil plays well in California and just won a Champions Tour event. Si Woo Kim was red hot down the stretch while making the playoff push for the FedEx Cup, so he gets preferential treatment on the odds board.
There are a variety of different metrics that can come into play this week. We generally focus the most on ball striking, and strokes gained off-the-tee and on approach. Those metrics are always important, but we have some hilly poa annua greens this week, so putters could be at the top of the list.
A couple of guys that are not good putters, but are interesting nonetheless, are Harold Varner III at +2500 and Doc Redman at +3300. Varner was a top-10 player in SG: Tee-to-Green last season, putting his name alongside guys like Xander Schauffele, Dustin Johnson, and Scottie Scheffler. Those are some impressive names. Varner has also played very well here with top 20 finishes in three of the last four years. Varner isn’t a great putter, but maybe he can get by this week.
Redman is also not a great putter, but one of the better young ball strikers on the Tour. With the tough poa annua putting surfaces this week, the fact that Redman was tied for seventh in proximity to the hole gives me hope that he can thrive on these greens by sticking it closer than the others. Redman also hits a lot of fairways and was top 40 in SG: T2G. Guys like this tend to pick up their first career wins in these weakened types of fields, as he’s a great ball striker.
If nothing else, +600 on Varner and +700 for top-five finishes in a field like this make for solid wagers. They are +300 and +375, respectively, for top-10 finishes. That is the beauty of golf betting these days. There are lots of ways to win and not get shut out if you wind up with a second or third-place finisher.
Redman is also -118 for his matchup against Shane Lowry in three-ball betting, with -106 on Lowry and +1600 on a tie. I like Redman -118 at that price.
While those are two shorter prices to look at, this is the kind of event where swinging for the fences makes a lot of sense. A couple of guys on my radar this week in the 80/1 range are Chesson Hadley and Kristoffer Ventura. Ventura is a risky pick in that he has mostly been a one-trick pony in terms of being a great putter and failing in a lot of other places, but Ventura did come back strong after the COVID shutdown with two top-25 finishes and another top 40. Again, we’re talking about a much weaker field here and that helps a guy like Ventura.
Hadley is my preferred pick of the two and my favorite in this 80/1 range. He’s played well here with a 23rd last year and a third three years ago. Hadley is another guy that graded well in proximity to the hole, which matters a lot on these poa surfaces. He tied for fourth with Emiliano Grillo last season in that stat and Grillo is a past winner here who used that to his advantage. Hadley hits a lot of fairways, ranking 22nd in that department. Since this is a course that doesn’t require three bills off the tee on every drive, some of the shorter, more accurate hitters have a better chance.
Find a few long shots and give them a look this week for the Safeway Open. Also, sign up over at BetMGM and get up to a $500 risk-free bet upon your initial deposit.
Also, for more on the tournament, check out Brian Blessing’s thoughts from our ATS YouTube page!