This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Course: Silverado Country Club (7,166 yards, par 72)
Well, hopefully everyone enjoyed the whopping two-day offseason. The Safeway Open will kick off the 2020-21 "Super Season" that includes 50 total PGA Tour events and six major championships. With the TOUR Championship last week and the U.S. Open next week, many of the top players have elected to skip the Safeway Open, which does open up the door for many players looking to get off to a fast start to the new season. This will be the seventh straight year that this event has been held at Silverado Country Club. Brendan Steele, who won in 2016 and 2017, is in the field, as are 2015 champion Emiliano Grillo and 2018 champion Kevin Tway. Last year's winner, Cameron Champ, will take this week off after playing each of the three FedExCup playoff events. Former Open Championship winners Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, and Shane Lowry will highlight the field, and Brandt Snedeker and Sergio Garcia are other notables. Temperatures are expected to dive down into the mid-80s during the tournament after some recent heat waves in California. The course should play pretty firm this week, with no expected moisture and winds averaging between 10-15 mph throughout the event.
Key Stats to Victory
Silverado Country Club features narrow fairways, but the rough is almost no penalty at all. Due to the dry conditions, we will see many balls bounding through the fairways this week. As long as they aren't missing it big into the trees that line most of the fairways, players should still be able to attack the greens. The poa annua surfaces will pick up speed in the afternoon, meaning players will have to properly shape their shots to get balls to stop near close the hole. Putting on these greens will give many golfers fits in the afternoon, as poa annua is notorious for getting bumpy throughout the day. Players that have a lot of experience playing in this part of the country have an advantage for sure. Recent winners here like Steele, Tway and CHamp show that if you can drive it long and keep it in play, you are lined up for success in Napa.
FanDuel Value Picks
Brendan Steele ($11,400)
Steele will likely never have a salary close to this the rest of the season, but in this field and with his course history, I think he warrants a selection. The California native quietly finished last season making each of his last seven cuts en route to a solid 47th place finish in the final FedExCup Standings. Last season Steele was 32nd in SG: Total, including 16th in SG: Approach and 15th in proximity.
Doc Redman ($10,800)
Redman is a prime breakout candidate this season due to his impressive ball striking numbers. Last season the Clemson product ranked top-15 in SG: Approach, proximity, FIR percentage, and GIR percentage. Redman's weaknesses with the putter should be slightly mitigated this week due to the unpredictability of poa annua greens.
Harold Varner III ($10,500)
While Varner ended up finishing 80th in the final FedExCup standings, that didn't reflect how good he was against his competition. Last season he ranked 18th in SG: Total, which included ranks of 17th in SG: Off-the-tee, 28th in SG: Approach, 32nd in SG: Around, and eighth in SG: Tee-to-green. If Varner continues those Tee-to-green numbers at Silverado this week, he will have an excellent chance of taking home his first PGA Tour title because of the difficulty of these greens for all players. The East Carolina product owns top-20 finishes in three of his last four starts here as well.
Cameron Davis ($10,300)
Davis had a pair of four missed cut streaks, but outside of that he actually played pretty well last season. The Australian ranked 44th in SG: Total and 23rd in birdie average. He was solid in virtually all areas, but I think his length this week will give him a big advantage. Davis finished the season going T12-T32-T15-T29 and finished T17 at Silverado in 2018.
Longer Shots with Value
Will Gordon ($9,900)
In only 11 starts last season, Gordon showed his potential with four top-25's including a T3 at the Travelers Championship. His bomb and gauge play will work around Silverado. Last season he ranked 14th in SG: Off-the-tee and fourth in GIR percentage. Gordon was also 25th in birdie average and fourth in fairway proximity.
Luke List ($9,500)
Sticking with the theme, List is another bomber that posted great ball striking numbers last season, ranking 25th in SG: Off-the-tee, 22nd in SG: Tee-to-green, and 33rd in GIR percentage. He struggled with consistency last season, but he ended the 2019-20 campaign by making four of his last five cuts. List finished T4 at Silverado back in 2018.
Chesson Hadley ($9,000)
Hadley quietly put together a strong ball-striking season, ranking 30th in SG: Approach, 22nd in driving accuracy, 20th in GIR percentage, and fourth in proximity. It ended up putting him inside the top-10 on Tour in birdie average despite struggling with the putter much of the season. Hadley is primed for a good week on this course, as he has a pair of top-25's in his last three starts at Silverado, including a third place effort back in 2017.
Martin Laird ($8,600)
Making his first start since a T6 in February at the Puerto Rico Open, this opportunity in Napa could be big for Laird. He owns three career top-20's at Silverado, including a third in 2014 and T8 in 2016. Laird struggled with the putter last season, but so will most players this week. The ball striking numbers were encouraging, however, ranking 55th in SG: Tee-to-green and 16th in GIR percentage.
Strategy Tips This Week
Based on a Standard $60K Salary Cap
As I've mentioned throughout the Value Picks section, ball striking is going to trump putting this week, because no matter how good of putter you are, these bumpy greens are going to have an effect. Distance and SG: Off-the-Tee are also going to be a major plus, as Silverado is annually one of toughest courses to hit the fairways and the rough shouldn't be too penal provided golfers avoid huge misses. With no real studs in the field, I think DFS players are better off taking no more than one golfer over $11,000 and distributing the rest amongst the other fives players. The number of solid options dries up real quickly when you get below $8,500. Other players not mentioned that I considered were Joel Dahmen, Henrik Norlander, and Mark Hubbard. Oh, and lastly, Phil Mickelson might have crushed the competition in his Champions Tour debut, but if you're taking him as the highest-priced player in the field at $11,800, you're insane.