The PGA Tour begins with the Safeway Open in Napa, California, September 10-13 in what looks to be an intriguing opening tournament. The event is the last warm-up before the U.S. Open next week and many golfers will have an eye on honing their game here before chasing a major championship victory. Phil Mickelson, who recently played in and won his first PGA Tour Champions event, will certainly have an eye on next week as he looks to start what may be his last season on the PGA Tour on a high note. Jordan Spieth is also competing and an early favorite and his squares off against a hungry pack looking to start the season off with a bang.
Silverado Resort and Spa
The Safeway Open has played at the Silverado Resort and Spa’s North Course since 2015. The track was designed by the legendary course architect Robert Trent Jones, Jr. in 1966 and is set in the heart of California’s wine country. The course was updated by Johnny Miller in 2011, notably adding length to ensure it remained challenging to today’s professionals. This is a classic example of a natural American parkland course, with individual and groves of oak trees coming into play often. The deceptive raised greens on many holes will also provide plenty of challenge. It is a shotmakers’ course, and expect the short game to define the winner this weekend.
The Safeway Open was founded in 2007 as the Fry’s Electronics Open, though was quickly renamed the Fry’s.com Open. The event bounced around venues in the first few years, starting at Scottsdale, AZ’s Grayhawk Golf Club before moving to San Martin, CA’s CordeValle Golf Club in 2010. The tournament moved to its current home at the Silverado Resort and Spa in 2015. Initially, the event was part of the PGA Tour’s limited fall series, however, after the PGA Tour made the decision to begin the tour in October it was selected as the Tour opener, an honor it has reclaimed this year. The tournament has only one multiple winner, Brendan Steele, a back-to-back winner in 2016-17 who also holds the lowest score of -18. Cameron Champ is the defending champion.
The Ongoing Pandemic and Wildfires
The continued coronavirus pandemic is still changing professional golf, with the PGA Tour adding a 50 event season that will feature 6 major championships to make up for the many cancelled events from last year. Fans are also still banned from tournaments, though restrictions will be eased as soon as fans can safely return. In the meantime, spectators will be left to watch the action from afar. Current wildfires have brought smoke into the air and will be another challenge to golfers trying to claim the first win of the season in an otherwordly orange haze.
Television coverage of the Safeway Open is provided by the Golf Channel. Thursday and Friday coverage is provided 4-7pm ET, with Saturday and Sunday coverage from 6-9pm ET. The event is also streaming live through PGA Tour Live with coverage of featured groups each day. Radio commentary is available on PGA Tour Radio through SiriusXM satellite radio and streaming online at PGATour.com/liveaudio.