Napa, California – The 2016 Safeway Open had the potential to be one of the most watched events on the tour this season. Now it’s just the opening event of the 2016-2017 PGA Tour Schedule.
All the excitement of course was generated by the expected appearance of Tiger Woods, but that all died early this week when Woods confirmed he wasn’t going to be in the field.
So, for now, the excitement generated by a new season will have to do.
So with the 14-time major winner not in the picture, here’s what you should be looking for this week as the 2016 Safeway Open gets underway at the Silverado Country Club on Thursday.
PGA Tour rookie Emiliano Grillo of Argentia beat Kevin Na in a playoff to win the 2015 Frys.com Open.
Grillo earned $1,080,000 for his first PGA Tour victory.
The then 23-year old Grillo was fresh off a win at the Web.com Tour championship just a couple of weeks earlier. He shot a final round 69 to tie Na with a 72-hole total of 273, 15-under par.
Na closed with a 70.
Three players missed the playoff by a single shot to finish tied for third. Tyrone van Aswegan (final round 68), Justin Thomas (69) and Jason Bohn (70) finished with identical 274 totals for 72-holes.
54-hole leader Fabian Gomez fired a final round 76 to finish tied for 17th.
Here are the final results of the 2015 Frys.com Open:
|T3||Tyrone van Aswegen||69||68||69||68||274|
The Field for the 2016 Safeway Open
The field for the 2016 Safeway Open includes eight of the Top 50 players in the field.
England’s Paul Casey is the top ranked player in the field, currently sitting at #12 in the Official World Golf Ranking. The 39-year old notched three consecutive Top four finishes in the FedEx Cup playoffs but hasn’t won since 2009.
Other top ranked players in the field include Phil Mickelson (currently ranked #15), Matt Kuchar (#17) and defending champion Emiliano Grillo, currently ranked 24th in the world.
Past Champions in the 2016 Safeway Open Field
There’s a select group of former champions in the field this week, as only two other past winners join Grillo on Thursday’s draw sheet.
2011 champion Bryce Molder and 2012 winner Jonas Blixt of Sweden, join the young Argentine in the field.
Past champions who passed on the event include 2016 PGA champion Jimmy Walker.
Hottest Players in the 2016 Safeway Open Field
According to the Razzball Fantasy Golf Rankings (RFGR), here at the hottest players in the field for the 2016 Deutsche Bank Championship:
|12||USA||Billy Hurley III||69||118|
2016 Safeway Open – Our Picks
Here are the players we feel have the best chance of winning the 2016 Safeway Open:
1. Paul Casey – No one is more overdue. Eventually it will just be his week.
2. Justin Thomas – This might be the year he takes it to the next level.
3. Emiliano Grillo – Defending champion is a star in the making.
4. Kevin Na – Last year’s runner-up always plays well in the fall.
5. Phil Mickelson – Still one of the best, but hasn’t won for a while.
6. James Hahn – Wells Fargo winner is a player to watch when in form.
2016 Safeway Open – Sleepers
Here are players who might not get the pretournament attention but could be big contenders at the 2016 Safeway Open:
1. Jonas Blixt – 2012 champion looking to break out of long funk
2. Roberto Castro – Can go as low as anyone and had a great playoff run.
3. Fabian Gomez – 54-hole leader before Sunday meltdown last year
4. Jason Bohn – One of the hottest players on tour this time last year. Tying to forget difficult 2016.
5. Patrick Rodgers – Didn’t have the rookie year many expected, but talent is there.
6. Jhonattan Vegas – Canadian Open winner was 10th here last year.