Safeway Open 2020
As the PGA Tour returns for a new season at the Safeway Open, we're going to look at 2 names setting up to be extremely popular across DFS contests on DraftKings and Fanduel. More importantly, I'm going to tell you why you should avoid them in your lineups and pivot to 2 other players with as much upside at significantly less projected ownership. Ownership leverage and equal or greater upside from the players we're pivoting away from is the name of the game every week for the Pivot Point article.
Here at Tour Junkies headquarters, we have 3 trusted sources we evaluate every week for ownership projections. There are many that try to accurately project ownership, but few do it well. We've found over the last 5 years that these 3 are the most accurate. However, they are having some problems this week! I've never seen so much discrepancy for so many players projections as I'm seeing for the Safeway Open this week. There are really only 4 names that they all agree on in terms of ownership. I've selected 2 of them below to consider avoiding, and they're both projected at a whopping 25%! Here we go!
Brendan Steele (25%) / Erik Van Rooyen (10%)
Brendan Steele is a 2x winner here and does check the boxes of distance and putting on poa. 25% projected ownership is a lot for a player of Steele's volatility, even in a field as weak as this. Not just over his career, but even his course history here at Silverado is volatile. The last 2 years here after his 2 wins, he finished 53rd and 60th. At his price of $10K on DraftKings and ownership, Steele doesn't help you at all if he finishes outside the top 10 in DraftKings scoring. He's had one T10 finish since the restart and only 3 top 10 finishes since the 2018 Safeway! He's a historically poor chipper and currently ranks 72nd in SG:ATG. Given the speed and firmness of these greens, we've heard they'll be tough to hold this week. And, despite his distance, he only ranks 43rd in this shit show of a field in par 5 scoring over the last 24 rounds.
The beefcake South African, Erik Van Rooyen, presents quite the ownership leverage at a consensus projection of around 10%. He drives it longer than Steele, and he ranks 8th in this field in par 5 scoring over the last 24 rounds. He checks the box in SG: Approach, and his best putting surface on record for the PGA Tour events is poa. EVR is certainly volatile as documented by his PGA Tour finishes over the last 2 years, but his upside is very present. When you look at the 18 events he's recorded on the PGA Tour since 2018, 5 are WGC's, 5 are majors and 5 more were played since COVID. He's always played fields that are among the strongest all year. He arrives here in Napa at one of the weakest. I bet he takes advantage of the weak and potentially gets his first PGA Tour victory here in wine country.
Mark Hubbard (25%) / Will Gordon (12%)
Mark Hubbard is for sure a likeable guy that has found both form and confidence this past season. But a 25% Hubbard is the wrong Hubbard to deploy this week. He just doesn't give you the upside in DFS tournaments. His floor is high, yes. In 23 events played last season, he only finished in the POSITIVE 9 times for Birdies Gained (according to Fantasy National). In 5 attempts at Silverado, he only has 1 top 25 finish. At that ownership, Hubbard does just about nothing for you without a top 15 finish or so in DraftKings scoring. He ranks 137th in Driving Distance and 85th in SG: Around the Green in this field over the last 24 rounds.
Enter young bomber, Will Gordon from Vanderbilt. Like 2019 Cam Champ, Gordon has top 5 ball speed on the PGA Tour and hits it a mile. He's 9th in this field for par 5 scoring and finished the 2020 PGA Tour season 4th in GIR. In his short career, poa greens are the only surface he's gained strokes with the flatstick. I'm convinced if these two players played this course 100 times, Gordon would beat Hubbard 70 to 80 times. His upside is truly a breakout victory like many other players we've seen get their first W here at the Safeway Open.