Menu

Safeway Open: Na can strike gold at Silverado

American golfer Kevin Na
American Kevin Na knows how to win these days
Join today
View market

After profits with 66/1 headline tip Bronson Burgoon (T6) last week, Dave Tindall has three picks for the action in California..

"Na was runner-up on debut in 2015 after losing a playoff, took tied seventh in 2016 and was T11 going into the final round on his last appearance two years ago before fading to T37."

Main Bet: Kevin Na each-way @ 50/1

Kevin Na definitely makes the list of underrated golfers and it's hard to see why he's 50/1 in this field.

True, there are some big names at the front end but it thins out fairly quickly after that and Na's name should surely be higher when scrolling down the odds.

Perhaps he's still not shaken off the dismissive "never wins" accusation which dogged him for most of his career.

However, Na is still only 36 and can very easily be put into the large category of players who finds a peak in their mid-30s.

Having had only a victory in Las Vegas back in 2011 to show on his CV, Na has tripled his tally of PGA Tour wins in the last 14 months.

He fired 19-under to capture last July's A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier and in May he landed the Charles Schwab Challenge. He won those two events by five and four strokes respectively so it was hardly a case of falling over the line.

After all the years of offering "a bit of each-way value", Na is now a legitimate win bet and I have to pull the trigger here at 50s.

One constant of Na's career is that he's been a horses for courses type so punters should always be on alert any time the Korean-American returns to a venue where he's enjoyed previous success.

Silverado can certainly be put into that bracket. Na was runner-up on debut in 2015 after losing a playoff, took tied seventh in 2016 and was T11 going into the final round on his last appearance two years ago before fading to T37.

Why does he like the challenge? "It's not a bomber's course," said Na in 2015. "You have to shape the ball, which I like doing. Short game is a big part of the game out here on this golf course."

After winning the Charles Schwab in May and taking tied sixth in June's Korea Open, we didn't see much of him after that. He was inconvenienced by a neck problem and then withdrew from the BMW to be there for the birth of his second child.

After that quiet summer in terms of golf, he returned at the Old White earlier this month and opened with a 64 before adding 70-68-68 to take tied 14th.

That will have shaken the rust off and hopefully it's all systems go here.

Na was fifth in Scrambling at the Greenbrier so his short game looked sharp and he looks a fine punt at 50s.

Next Best: Harold Varner III each-way @ 70/1

Brendan Steele won this event in back-to-back years so I'll again lean on a bit of course form for my second pick.

Harold Varner III has made four cuts out of four at Silverado since 2015, shooting 65 in his very first round there.

His finishes read 48-15-59-14 but that doesn't quite tell the whole story.

In the two modest years, he was fourth going into the final round on debut in 2015 before dropping 44 spots while Varner was 11th after 54 holes in 2017 before a closing 81.

However, don't think that he can't go low on Sunday at Silverado as he fired a final-round 65 in 2016.

"Just very fair. You get it in the fairway you can score," he said in 2015. Varner was playing in just his fourth PGA Tour event when doing so well here four years ago and he was brought into the press room each day.

He'll have plenty of positive memories of this place and returns with his game in a good place.

In the opening FedEx Cup playoff event, The Northern Trust, Varner shot 67-67-68-68 to finish third and he's started this season with a top 20 at Greenbrier two weeks ago.

Speaking to the press after his opening 65 there, Varner said: "Did such a good job at the end of the year. Learned a lot. Just using that in every tournament has helped out a lot."

Two of the last four champions at Silverado were winning for the first time which bodes well for him and the 70/1 has plenty of each-way appeal.

Jumping back to the front end of the market, Justin Thomas has a third and an eighth here so is obviously a danger.

Hideki Matusyama also owns a third place here and was dropping plenty of hints about winning again at the back end of last season. Those two are priced at 13/2 and 16/1 respectively.

There's also Californian native Patrick Cantlay (T17 on debut last year) to consider at 11/1 and back-to-form Adam Scott at 14s. The Aussie is making his course debut.

However, I'll go just a couple of spots further down the betting for my third selection.

Final Bet: Sungjae Im each-way @ 22/1

Sungjae Im looked all set to land his first PGA Tour victory at last week's Sanderson Farms Championship before Sebastian Munoz tied his clubhouse target with a 15-footer for birdie at the final hole.

The Colombian then won a playoff.

Im will be hugely disappointed not to have secured that breakthrough win but the Korean just keeps on rolling and this gives him another golden chance.

The 2018/19 Rookie of the Year had seven top 10s last season and has started this one with tied 19th at the Greenbrier and runner-up last week.

He has another big incentive at the moment - December's Presidents Cup.

"I finished No. 11 in the standings. I would be incredibly happy if Captain Ernie Els chose me. I hope Captain Els can take into account that I advanced to the Tour Championship as a rookie. Hopefully that will give me a better chance to make the team," he said at East Lake.

He may already have done enough but a win here would surely seal the deal and a trip to Melbourne.

As well as Im's relentless current form - he's finished T26 or better in 10 of his last 12 starts - there's also the little matter of course form.

He turned up at Silverado for the first time last year and finished fourth, ending each day inside the top five.

Im also comes across as a guy who doesn't overthink stuff which is good in terms of shaking off last week's disappointment.

Twelve months ago here, he noted: "Last year on the Web.com Tour, the setting was just like the PGA Tour so I don't feel any different between that and this one right here."

And at the recent Tour Championship when asked what was the most difficult transition he faced this year, Im batted back with: "I haven't faced any big changes. Luckily, I didn't suffer too much this year and had a really happy season, so I haven't really thought too much about it."

If hitting it straight and putting well is the deal this week, Im ranked in the top 10 for Driving Accuracy and Putting Average. He was also third in Scrambling.

The 22/1 seems a fair reflection of where he's at and anyone put off by these sort of odds wouldn't have backed Joaquin Niemann a couple of weeks ago.

Staked: £60
Returned: £42.60
P/L: -£17.40

2018/2019 P/L: -£338.25
2017/2018 P/L: +£362.84
2016/2017 P/L: +£1179.89

Dave Tindall,

Discover the latest articles

Read past articles