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Playing the Tips

Expert Picks: Safeway Open

by Josh Culp
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Welcome to Playing the Tips! 

Each week this will be the one-stop resource to soak in all the picks from our fantasy staffers at Rotoworld.com. 

While Yahoo! and Golf Channel tune-up their fantasy games for the 2017 calendar year, we will have a condensed version of this feature. Here is how it will be laid out: 

Page 1 will go over One-and-Done as well as Daily Fantasy Golf picks. 
Page 2 will take a look across the pond with Fantasy Race to Dubai selections. 

Before you get into the picks, Dave Tindall also has you covered on the European Tour with a British Masters Preview

Ryan O'Sullivan preps you for this week's course and lays out some rankings in his Safeway Open Preview

Now for the picks... 


Each week I think aloud to provide you with my One-and-Done selection as well as a few alternatives. Fade or Follow? You decide!

With a new season under way we have the entire pool of golfers open to pick! 

Here is my thought process on week 1 of the 2016-17 campaign: 

First I want to look at course history but we only have two years to go on. The 2015 champ Sangmoon Bae is still not back from military service so he's off the table. Last year's winner Emiliano Grillo is definitely one to consider, though. On top of that, you have Kevin Na who finished runner-up last year, or Jason Bohn/Justin Thomas who both finished in a share of third. Bohn is a bit of a stretch but Thomas is perfectly fine. We also can't forget about Martin Laird who finished T3 here in 2015 and raved about the course along the way. 

Stepping outside the course history bubble we can also search for the class of the field. To do this I will look at the top 5 in terms of strokes gained per round last season. These numbers are adjusted for strength of field so they may differ a bit from the raw PGA TOUR numbers. Those five golfers are: Phil Mickelson, Paul Casey, Jon Rahm, Matt Kuchar, and Kevin Na

As you may have noticed, Kevin Na appeared in the course history section as well as the class of the field section. He might be the logical play here. Instead, I am going to strike while the Phil Mickelson iron is still hot. Lefty had a great bounce-back season and finished with an adjusted strokes gained per round of 1.96, which is 0.21 strokes higher than anyone else in the field. He's also won 11 tournaments in the state of California over his career. We know he likes it here on the West Coast. Phil Mickelson is my pick. 

Daily Fantasy Sports [DFS]

I will be giving out selections for one team each week. 

This week I will enter the following lineup into the $3 Birdie contest. As the name suggests, it's just three dollars to enter. 

This contest has a large number of entries, with guaranteed prize payouts, which means we can't play it safe if we want to see our name at the top! 

DraftKings Picks:

Aaron Wise ($6,400): While golfers like DeChambeau and Rahm saw huge prices while they were just getting started on the PGA TOUR, we get a steal here with Wise. The Oregon Duck already won on the Mackenzie Tour in addition to a third-place finish. On the PGA TOUR he flashed his upside with a T16 at this year's John Deere Classic. For this salary, another top 20 would easily pay off the price tag.  
Phil Mickelson ($11,300): I just talked him up in the One-and-Done section, so I have to grab him here as well. 

Kevin Na ($9,900): While Mickelson is our anchor, Na will play the safety position. He's near the top of the field in pure talent and also played his way into a playoff here last year, so we know he likes the layout. He can't stay at one career win forever, can he?

Martin Laird ($8,000): Had the 36-hole lead here in his 2015 debut and was in great position last year before fading over the weekend. A great shot at a top 10 here without breaking the bank.

Hudson Swafford ($7,800): Has improved each year in terms of cut-made ratio. Last year he missed just eight, including ZERO in his last 13 starts. On top of that, he's finished T8 and T17 in two trips to Silverado Resort.

Brian Campbell ($6,500): The California native finished the 2014-15 college season ranked 13th in the Golfweek/Sagarin ratings so we know the pedigree is there. Last season on the Web.com Tour he rattled off five top 10s in his first seven starts before locking up his card and cooling off. Now that he needs to prove himself again, I think we see him climb back toward to top of leaderboards. If not, we only waste $6.5K here. 

Other Picks to Consider
Keegan Bradley ($7,700): He doesn't get a lot of love in the DFS community these days. That's what happens when your form falls off a cliff, year-over-year. He's a great bounce-back candidate for the 2016-17 season and that starts now. 

Cheng Tsung Pan ($7,400): Not the longest off the tee but length isn't required to take care of business at Silverado. He racked up seven top 10s last year on the Web.com Tour so the upside is certainly there. All we need for this price is likely a top 30 which is very manageable. 



2016 Fantasy Race to Dubai


Dave Tindall is our main man in Europe. In addition to his weekly previews of European Tour events on Mondays, he’ll share his selections and analysis for the Fantasy Race to Dubai at EuropeanTour.com.


Format: Pick 6 golfers. Players accumulate points based on Race to Dubai (R2D) points earned. Captain’s points are trebled and vice-captain’s doubled. Unlimited team changes can be made each week.


Team Tindall (Team name: YESSIR!)

Last week: A decent one in Scotland with captain Kaymer doing well. Gave winner Hatton a good write-up but he didn’t make it into my six unfortunately.

Position: 7,515

This week:

Chris Wood (captain): One of the few bright spots for Europe in the Ryder Cup and can build on that here. 1-9-4 on last three starts on home English soil, the ‘1’ his superb win at Wentworth, the ‘9’ in this event at Woburn last year.

Shane Lowry (vice-captain): Revels in the atmosphere of large and buzzing UK crowds and was runner-up at Woburn in this tournament 12 months ago. U.S. Open collapse hurt but looks over it now after two decent results.

Bernd Wiesberger: A no-brainer pick at the moment after a third straight top 10 on the European Tour with T7 in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Hits lots of greens so a good fit for The Grove.

Tommy Fleetwood: Solid rather than spectacular in Scotland but looks ready to launch a big title challenge soon after a string of good results. It could come here given his liking for parkland layouts.

Soren Kjeldsen: Second in this tournament at Woburn last year and, as back then, he’ll arrive in England after a top 10 in the contrasting conditions of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Six top 10s this season; two in his last three starts.

Thongchai Jaidee: Heads to England after a couple of under-the-radar top 10s in Asia and this should be a perfect test for him. In fact, we already have evidence given the Thai’s T9 at The Grove when it staged the 2006 WGC-American Express Championship. 



Matt Cooper joins Dave Tindall as a part of our European team. He contributes to player news, and he’ll share his selections and analysis for the Fantasy Race to Dubai at EuropeanTour.com.

Team Cooper (Team name: NormanStanleyFletcher)


Two weeks ago: A dreadful effort from my captain Branden Grace whilst everyone else had goodish weeks without any one of them having a genuinely good one, which all contributed to a week of treading water. The Grove this week, scene of a Tiger-bashing back in 2006.


Position: 1,864th


Thongchai Jaidee (captain): The Thai golfer was 9th at The Grove ten years ago and remains a tough cookie, collecting titles on European soil, including this year. I also like that he has form on other Kyle Phillips designs: victory at PGA National Sweden in the Nordea Masters and, although it's a little limited evidence, joint top pro finisher in this year's Abu Dhabi Invitational at Yas Links.


Soren Kjeldsen (vc): Mr Reliable of the European Tour. 10-for-11 in the event, including second last year. 9-for-11 in regular European Tour events this year, including eight results of T21 or better.


Alex Noren: Didn't quite work out last week after starting with a superb 64 at Carnoustie, a round a fellow competitor on that course told me was an “insanely good score”, but two wins this year and another last season at the Nordea Masters on the Phillips designed PGA National Sweden.


Shane Lowry: Last week didn't quite work out but it was a top 20 and a sign of him easing his way back into things after the Ryder Cup miss. Magnificent record in England (11 starts, 7 top 12 finishes).


Bernd Wiesberger: Made 41 cuts in his last 50 starts in regular European Tour events, with 28% of them top ten finishes. Form superb, course should be a nice fit.


Joost Luiten: Not a fan of links golf (his success at Kennemer is somewhat misleading), his other 12 starts on the European Tour in 2016 have reaped 11 weekends of golf, nothing worse than T38 and nine finishes of T16 or better.

Josh Culp
Josh Culp joined Rotoworld in 2014. The DFS enthusiast from Iowa State can be found on Twitter @futureoffantasy.