As quickly as one PGA Tour season finishes, another one begins. The 2017 Safeway Open gets the new season underway this week.
It’s been just eight days since Xander Schauffele won the season finale TOUR Championship and Justin Thomas was crowned FedExCup champion and we’re off again.
The Safeway Open is the season’s curtain-raiser again as it has been for the past four seasons now, albeit under different names, and brings along all the excitement of a new season with it.
On the back of a busy period of FedExCup Play-Offs and more recently the Presidents Cup, it’s unsurprising that the field isn’t littered with star names. In fact, Phil Mickelson, Emiliano Grillo and Adam Hadwin are the only three Presidents Cup participants to enter (notably Mickelson defeated Hadwin 2&1 in the Sunday singles). Further, only Webb Simpson, Bill Haas, Zach Johnson, Ryan Moore and Tony Finau join the Presidents Cup boys from inside the world’s top 50.Embed from Getty Images
Last year’s victor, Brendan Steele does commit alongside other past winners Grillo (2015), Sang-Moon Bae (2014) and Jonas Blixt (2012). The list of champions is short as the event was only established in 2007.
One man who enters in fine form is Sam Saunders who opened his account at the web.com Tour Championship with a 59 and currently sits second waiting to play the delayed final round. He is joined by a plethora of web.com Tour graduates looking to make an early impact on the main stage.
For the fourth consecutive year, Silverado Country Club plays host to the season opener. Its winning scores range from 15-under-par to a joint tournament record of 18-under-par showing that there is scoring opportunities aplenty. With that said, the par 72 measures at just over 7200 yards so it is no pushover and – having hosted old PGA Tour event the Kaiser International for 13 years – it is a seasoned Tour course capable of testing the best. Precision will outdo power around this track.
With the biggest names sitting out, this week offers a huge opportunity for players to make early inroads in their FedExCup campaign for this season (500 points to winner). From 2013 to 2015, the winner of this event has gone on to qualify for the TOUR Championship at the end of the season – something that might motivate the likes of Mickelson.