Macaulay Renner

Renner's Rundown

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Safeway Open Preview

Tuesday, October 3, 2017


Opening Acts
 
Reavie is one of the few, wily old veterans on TOUR these days with the new blood filtering out the old veterans. Reavie has experience on his side this week with two top-25 finishes on the North course in three starts at Silverado. He has three top 25s in his last 5 events, as well, matching the course history with solid form. Trending in the right direction, Reavie is now averaging 3.6 strokes gained over the past five events where has been masterful with the putter. 

He is looking to better last year's finish at Silverado Resort where he finished in the top ten.  Moore boasts a recent form of three top 25 finishes in his last five starts with a WD thrown in the mix. Should be well rested after failing to qualifier for the TOUR Championship or Presidents Cup. In his past 5 events, Moore has struggled on the greens but has still managed to average 3.6 strokes gained total in those starts. 
Hagy is one of the players that I think will get his first PGA TOUR win this year and make it to the FedExCup finale at the end of this season. Hagy is ranked third on the PGA TOUR in driving distance and should be around on the weekend. Hagy has gained 1.7 strokes in his past five events and should be able to use his length off the tee to his advantage.

Glover has never been known for his driving distance but certainly has the accuracy off the tee in his favor. One of the straighter but shorter hitters on tour, Glover comes in this week with three MC to his name plus a T17 at this course.  Glover has made the cut in his past 7 events and has 4 top 30 finishes in that time.  I think he will be worth the punt this week and could be a sneaky play depending on his price. Averaging 3.2 strokes gained over five events, Glover's strength lies off the tee and on approach so I think this course is a nice fit for him.

Armour secured his TOUR card on Monday. In 20 starts last season he led the way in driving accuracy on the PGA TOUR which should really help him this week at the North Course at Silverado. Armour saved his best for last with a T4 at the 2017 Wyndham so he should have a bit of confidence in his corner. I think Armour should be able to use his accuracy to help him navigate the course and maybe some noise come Sunday. Armour has averaged 2.7 strokes gained on the field in his last five PGA TOUR events in addition to a runner-up and T25 during the Web.com Tour Finals.

Scott Brown is a good golfer that seems to have trouble putting four days of solid golf together.  That hasn't been the case at Silverado, posting a pair of top-15 finishes in three tries. Having not played the past few weeks, Brown should be well rested this week. He's gained strokes putting in his last seven starts, so it will be interesting to see if that putting form carries over to these poa annua surfaces.

Bud Cauley is relatively young gun looking to make some major strides through all the confidence and experience he gained this year on the PGA TOUR. Boasting recent form that only saw a single MC in his past five events. If he can get his putter going he should be fine as he has averaged 3.3 strokes gained tee-to-green over his last 10 PGA TOUR starts. 




Headliners
Finau is one of just two players (Webb Simpson) who are attending the Safeway Open that also competed in the TOUR Championship where he finished T7. Finau hits the ball long but can struggle with the putter at times. He is in good form and been playing a lot of golf. He is coming off back-to-back top 10s to end the season. Finau has made all three cuts at Silverado including a top-15 finish. Establishing himself as a big name on TOUR, so he'll have to get used to playing the role of favorite, instead of underdog.

With 12 career wins under his belt, Zach Johnson is making his first appearance at the Safeway Open this week. He has been playing much better golf recently, making the cut in three of his past four events grabbing a top 20 along the way. In a weaker field, Johnson should be able to find his way around the North Course and make it to the weekend. Johnson has averaged 2.9 strokes over his last five events and has gained most of those strokes with his wand (averaging 3.7 strokes gained putting in his last 5 starts). If he can find the greens, he should be able to finish on the first page of the leaderboard this weekend. 

Bradley has only played this course once before finishing T22 but has made his last five cuts and has been one of the better ball strikers in recent months.  Accuracy and length should go along way this week. The wildcard will be his putter, as usual, losing strokes to the field in the putting department in seven of his last eight starts.

Along with Tony Finau, Simpson is the only player to have had competed in the TOUR Championship in the past weeks while many players have been off and resting. Simpson has missed the cut twice at this course so it will be interesting to see if he can continue his form at a course he hasn't found success. The problem has been his putter as he's lost 9.4 strokes putting in two appearances at Silverado. Simpson has been playing well and his past five outings have seen him average 4.2 strokes gained on the field while excelling on the greens. I like Simpson to buck his course history and finish in the top ten this week.

Mickelson strolls into Northern California after a positive weekend at the Presidents Cup in Jersey City, NJ this past week that saw him anchor the U.S. Team to a much-needed victory as a team.  Lefty has a T8 finish in his only outing at this course and has gained only 1.1 strokes averaged over his past five events. He ended the Playoffs on a high note, though, posting back-to-back top 20s on his way out. 

Kevin Na seems to really like the North Course at Silverado Resort and Spa as he has posted two top-10 finishes in two tries. Na is playing better recently, as well, with two top 10s in his last four starts to end the season. A great mix of course history and current form.
The defending champ is looking to back up last year with another impressive finish to help kick off the 2017-18 season with some early FedExCup points.  Steele has two top-25 finishes to go along with his win at Silverado so there is definitely something about this course that suits his eye

Lovemark comes into the week on the heels of a superb run to end the 2016-17 season. He earned a paycheck in all but two events dating back to the Honda Classic in February.  Lovemark has six top-25 finishes in that time and will be looking to pick up another this week while playing in his home state. Lovemark lost strokes putting in each of his last three starts, so if he struggles this week it will likely be on the greens.



My Top 15 for the Safeway Open
1. Kevin Na
2. Webb Simpson
3. Lucas Glover
4. Zach Johnson
5. Brendan Steele
6. Jamie Lovemark
7. Keegan Bradley
8. Scott Brown
9. Brandon Hagy
10. Michael Kim
11. Bill Haas
12. Chez Reavie
13. Bud Cauley
14. Phil Mickelson
15. Tony Finau


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Macaulay Scott Renner has been playing ice hockey and golf for over 40 years while growing up on the beaches of the NJ shore. An avid Grateful Dead fan, he has been playing fantasy sports since 1999 and currently resides in Philadelphia. Macaulay can found on Twitter @msr427.



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