Held at the beautiful, warm weather of Napa, CA, the 2016 Safeway Open promises to give fans another fascinating golf action. It will again feature all-time greats, young guns, and underrated golfers.
With Tiger Woods withdrawing from the competition, the spotlight will now be shared by Paul Casey and U.S. teammates Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar.
Whose chances are you liking? Read on below to our thoughts on the upcoming event.
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2016 Safeway Open Preview
Where: Silverado Country Club — Napa, CA
When: October 13-16, 2016
TV Broadcast: Golf Channel
As expected, the event’s three marquee names are the favorites. Phil Mickelson, currently rated 15th in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR), is fresh off a big performance in the Ryder cup that saw him finish in the top three. The future hall-of-famer has no shortage of accolades, as he already has 51 professional wins (42 PGA Tours and nine European Tours) under his belt.
Mickelson’s old pal, Matt Kuchar, is also an automatic in this list. He’s just behind Mickelson in the rankings at 17th, but he too is decorated with achievements (seven PGA Tours, one PGA Tour of Australasia, one WEB.com tour). In August 2016, Kuchar became one the first medal awardees in golf’s return to the Olympic stage.
Paul Casey, currently one of golf’s best, is rated 12th in OWGR, the highest among all Safeway Open participants. The 39-year-old has a lot of momentum entering Thursday’s opener, as he has bagged top 4 finishes in each of the past three FedEx Cup events. Casey has 16 career pro wins, 13 of which have come in the European Tour.
High-Value Sleeper – Scott Piercy (+2,800)
Scott Piercy is a pretty tasty sleeper pick for the tournament. He’s always been a dark horse; the proud San Diego graduate turned pro in 2001 and only became a Nationwide Tour member seven years later. Piercy then played in plenty of minor tournaments before hitting it big in August of 2008, where he recorded the first two pro wins in his career, winning the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open and the Northeast Pennsylvania Classic.
Those achievements were followed-up by capturing three PGA Tour wins in the next several years and a couple of more tournament victories in various events. But perhaps the biggest achievement of his career to date was his second-place finish in the 2016 U.S. Open.
Long Shot – Charles Howell III (+8,000)
Charles Howell III showed good potential at Oklahoma State. In his time there, he became a big part of the school’s 2000 championship team and was able to have a record-setting 23-under-par performance. The rise then continued in the pros, as he won the 2001 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year award.
After 15-plus years as a pro, though, he is yet to solidify his name as one of golf’s elite, as he has only two PGA Tour wins under his belt.
The 37-year-old will again attempt to etch his place in the sport beginning Thursday. We’ll see if he can build some momentum from his competitive 2014 and 2015 seasons, where had a combined nine top 10 finishes.
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