Just four days after the 2019/20 season ended, the new PGA Tour season begins in California this week. Here is all you need to know about the Safeway Open.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: American Cameron Champ, who won’t defend this week, claimed his second PGA Tour victory at the Safeway Open in 2019. Champ’s grandfather – a major golf influence in his life and would pass away one month later – was battling cancer in a nearby hospital but was on the phone when Champ finished on 18 after reaching 17-under-par to secure a one shot win over Canada’s Adam Hadwin.
COURSE: Home to 36 holes, Silverado Resort and Spa in California welcomed Robert Trent Jones Jr. in 1966 to redesign the existing North Course that will host the PGA Tour this week, when the South Course was added. Taking part ownership in 2010, major champion Johnny Miller made numerous changes to the North Course that will measure 7,166 yards and hosts this event for the fifth straight year.
PRIZEMONEY: US$6.6 million.
PLAYERS TO WATCH …
Two-time winner Brendan Steele returns this week after missing the Tour Championship. Steele did manage a T33 at the BMW Championship in Chicago and a top-25 at the PGA Championship, suggesting his game is not far from his best that inevitably shows up at this event.
Steele, a native Californian, claimed the Safeway Open in 2017 and 2018 when he made the most of high quality ball striking to set up plenty of birdie chances.
RIGHT: Cameron Champ claimed an emotional victory at Silverado in 2019. PHOTO: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images.
Aussie Cameron Davis missed the final two Playoffs events despite a strong finish to his season, finishing T32 or better in his last four straight events and returns after a fortnight off.
Davis missed the cut here in 2019, but recorded a T17 here in 2018. Ranking 10th for eagles made and 23rd for birdie average last season, the former Australian Open champion’s long driving and ball striking will suit Silverado perfectly. The key for Davis will be keeping bogies and worse off his card for the week.
Before a missed cut last year, Phil Mickelson had recorded three straight top-20s at the Safeway Open in his home state. And despite T2 at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational marking the lone high point of his PGA Tour run since the circuit’s resumption, Mickelson does arrive in good form. The five-time major winner claiming his first PGA Tour Champions win in his first start, where he also equalled the Tour’s 54-hole scoring record.
Mickelson returns to the main Tour this week and will be hoping to continue in the same vein before returning to the site of his most heartbreaking loss for the US Open at Winged Foot next week.
72-HOLE RECORD: The scoring record at the Safeway Open is shared by six players across three years. Brendan Steele’s 18-under, 262 in 2016 equalling the mark set by Troy Matterson, Rickie Fowler, Jamie Lovemark (2009), Cameron Beckman and Kevin Sutherland (2008).
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: No previous Australian winners.
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Aaron Baddeley, Cameron Davis, Rhein Gibson, Cameron Percy and John Senden.
Round 1: Friday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 6am – 9am)
Round 2: Saturday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 6am – 9am)
Round 3: Sunday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 8am – 11am)
Round 4: Monday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 8am – 11am)
*AEST, check local guides