Safeway Open: Piercy can start season with a win
The new 2018/19 PGA Tour season gets underway in California this week and Dave Tindall has three each-way picks for the opener at Silverado...
"His last two starts in California show T6 in the CareerBuilder Challenge and T20 at Pebble Beach so the man from Las Vegas, who went to college at San Diego State, certainly enjoys playing out west."
Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 7 places
Main Bet: Back Scott Piercy each-way @ 66/1
Three of the last five editions of this event have been won by a player who reached the BMW Championship - the third leg of the FedExCup play-offs - but didn't quite make it to the season-closing Tour Championship.
In other words, a good player but not an elite one.
Playing that system again this week brings us to Scott Piercy, whose season ended with a rather unfortunate 76 at the BMW following a DQ at the Dell Technologies.
If that all seems a bit of a mess, note that the American shot 64-65 in his middle two rounds of the BMW at Aronimink so some good form isn't too far away in the rear-review mirror.
Overall, his finishes have been poor since he teamed up with Billy Horschel to win April's Zurich Classic of New Orleans but a return to the West Coast could put that right.
Piercy was third in this event in 2016 after opening with a course-record 62 and putted the poa annua greens superbly when taking T17 last year.
His last two starts in California show T6 in the CareerBuilder Challenge and T20 at Pebble Beach so the man from Las Vegas, who went to college at San Diego State, certainly enjoys playing out west.
Piercy, who turns 40 next month, was 11th in Strokes Gained: Approach The Green last season so looks a good fit for this classic, tree-lined test at Silverado Country Club.
Brendan Steele ranked 1st for SG: Approach when winning last year while 2015 champ Emiliano Grillo was 2nd in the same category.
Grillo also finished 61st in SG: Putting which adds some extra encouragement as the flat-stick is certainly Piercy's problem club.
Being able to win here without putting the lights out is good to know but, make a note of this.... Piercy has gained over nine strokes with the putter on his two appearances at Silverado (5.869 in 2017 and 3.278 in 2016).
If he can synch that up with his usual strong iron play, the 66/1 could prove a very nice bet.
Next Best: Back Jamie Lovemark each-way @ 50/1
I'll go even more local for my second pick and put up Jamie Lovemark at 50/1.
Born here in the Golden State and educated at the University of Southern California, the 30-year-old is still looking for that elusive first PGA Tour win despite reaching a play-off in this very event in 2009 on just his ninth start (and only fourth as a pro) when it was staged in Arizona.
He's played it the last three years at Silverado, finishing 48-20-43. That looks a little modest but he fired a 65 to be T13 after 54 holes in 2015 and was fourth after day one last year.
A far more consistent player these days, he's made 17 of his last 19 cuts and had 10 top 30 finishes in that stretch.
In his last three starts he shot a 64 and a 66 on the way to T24 at the Wyndham and opened with a pair of 66s to hold the 18- and 36-hole leads at The Northern Trust.
If assessing his year ahead it would certainly be more than reasonable to say that a first win looks on the cards soon.
There must be a decent chance it comes in his native California.
"Body feels great. Been in good shape for a handful of years and feel really good," he said a couple of months ago when asked about the back trouble that hampered his career.
And in terms of the grass this week, when asked about the bumpy poa annua greens last year, he responded: "Oh, love it. I grew up on it, I grew up on greens way worse than this at times. So yeah, nothing like a little afternoon poa to get you going."
A good mental attitude is half the battle with poa and Lovemark has gained over 2.5 strokes with the putter in his last two years at this course and returned a positive figure in 10 of his last 13 starts in California.
He's 50/1 and this could be his time.
Outsider Pick: Back Ted Potter each-way @ 150/1
Ted Potter is another whose 2017/2018 campaign ended at the penultimate hurdle.
It was a massive shock when he won at relatively nearby Pebble Beach last February and many expected him to vanish off the face of the earth again after that.
But that wasn't the case.
Since missing the cut at Augusta National, the lefty played all four rounds in 11 of his 14 starts up to the BMW where, despite failing to advance to East Lake, he opened 68-64-67 to sit T15 after 54 holes before falling to T35.
This should be a course that suits him as blazing away with driver isn't the way to go and the left-hander gave evidence of that when finishing tied 28th on debut 12 months ago.
Potter shot a (what a pleasing rhyme) third-round 64 in 2017 to be T17 with 18 to play so he should have come confidence around this track.
For someone who won on the PGA Tour in California less than only eight months ago, 150/1 looks a decent price.
Jumping back to the front end of the market, Patrick Cantlay looks a great fit for the course but 11/1 looks way too short for a debutant.
Brandt Snedeker looks a better option at 18s given that he's a multiple winner in California.
The former Ryder Cup star regained the winning habit when landing the Wyndham Championship after a first-round 59 just three starts ago while he was T17 here on his last visit in 2015.
The Brendan Steele three-peat (which sounds like a folk band)? That's 33/1.
The magic may come back when he steps out onto Silverado again but his last 10 PGA Tour starts show six missed cuts, three finishes of T60 or worse and a best of T47 in The Open of all places.
Phil Mickelson? No thanks.
Safeway Open 2018 Field & Each-Way Tips