2018 Safeway Open DraftKings daily fantasy golf picks
Fantasy Golf & Golf Betting Forebucks PGA Tour

2018 Safeway Open DraftKings daily fantasy golf picks

Each week, including this week’s 2018 Safeway Open, Golf News Net offers daily fantasy (DFS) golf advice, picks, lineups and tips for DraftKings PGA Tour games, scrutinizing the pricing model and looking for players who will perform best in both guaranteed prize pool (GPP) events and cash games.

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For as little as $8/year, GNN Plus members get access to our in-depth weekly DraftKings picks, searchable database of PGA Tour results from 2011-present and top-15 PGA Tour trends.

Want more?!

For $75 per year or $225 for lifetime access, GNN+Forebucks members get even MORE, including our course fit modeling, Quality Stokes Gained data, course demand insights, grass-specific performance and further tools, as well individual access to fantasy expert Ryan Ballengee for your unique questions.



  • Searchable PGA Tour results database — A full database of PGA Tour results dating back to 2011, including strokes gained breakouts, money, designers and grass info.
  • PGA Tour top-15 finish trends — A look at the players who have finished in the top 15 in any of the last five PGA Tour events.
  • Player-course fit modeling — This one is experimental, but I think it has lots of potential. This tool looks at the breakdown of each player’s Strokes Gained Putting, Approach, Off the Tee and Tee to Green when they finish in the top 25 and compare to the averages in those categories for top 25 finishers at each week’s event. I believe similarities in the breakouts can help clue us in to potential course fits (or horses for courses).
  • Player performance comparison — Each player has different strengthes and, therefore, a different path to success, be that finishing in the top 15 or making the cut. So, we compare Strokes Gained Putting, Approach and Off the Tee when each player finishes in those positions to help understand player strengths and weaknesses.
  • Strokes gained putting by grass type — Some guys just putt better on Bermudagrass or Bentgrass, the two dominant strains on the PGA Tour. Always helps to see specialists on either surface.
  • NEW! Strokes gained by course length
  • NEW! Strokes gained by course par
  • Course demands: Each week, you’ll be able to see the strokes gained breakout — putting, approach, off the tee, tee to green — for each host course compared to the PGA Tour as it relates to winners, top-15 finishers and top-30 finishers.
  • Top average Quality Strokes Gained for the year: Our Quality Strokes Gained combines strokes gained and strength-of-field figures into a single statistic, so this data shows the players who perform the best against the best competition.
  • Top 50 QSG performances of the year: We wanted to help you understand Quality Strokes Gained more broadly, so we have the rolling list of the top 50 QSG performances of the year.

To access this research hidden below and MANY more fantasy golf tools, sign up for GNN Plus

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2018 Safeway Open preview

And we’re back!

Hope you enjoyed the off-season.

The PGA Tour returns this week at the Safeway Open, played out in Napa, Calif. as a partial lead-in to what’s developed as an Asian Swing on the fall portion of the docket. The field this week is not deep. There are just two top-50 players in the field (Mickelson, Cantlay), but there are a ton of hungry players who just got/saved their cards in the Web.com Tour Finals.

This is a difficult tournament to handicap, from having a two-time defending champion in Brendan Steele to the fact that many of the players in this field have either just played four weeks in a row on the Web or had several weeks off from the PGA Tour playoffs.

2018 Safeway Open DraftKings picks

Each week, we’ll offer players in 3-5 buckets of pricing so as to offer some mix-and-matching with your lineups based on our recommendations.

Finish Trends

Recent PGA Tour Trends

We start by looking at the recent past, back at players who have finished inside the top 15 in the last five individual PGA Tour events.

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Event Finish History

Here are the players who finished in the top 15 in this event in the last 4 years at this venue:

  • Martin Laird – 2
  • Phil Mickelson – 2
  • Brendan Steele – 2
  • Tyrone Van Aswegen – 2

Course Fits

It seems to me the best way to use Strokes Gained data is to give a sense of a course fit. My working theory is a player is a course fit — or a potential course fit, at least — if their Strokes Gained breakout when they finish in the top 25 is similar to the average for top-25 finishers at this week’s event. (This week, I’d say top 15 finish.)

Of course, current form then informs thinking around these possible course fits. However, in concept, many of these names make some sense and help narrow down a potential list of golfers.

Silverado North is an interesting course. Its fairways are among the toughest to hit on the PGA Tour, but that seemingly takes away the meaning of gaining strokes off the tee, which is counterintuitive. In the end, putting and approach play are worth about the same.

Here’s a breakdown of what we’re looking for this week:

Tee-to-Green: 64%
Approach: 36%
Driving: 16%
Putting: 36%

Some players who fit this mold include:

  • Russell Knox
  • Wesley Bryan
  • Adam Hadwin
  • J.J. Spaun
  • Peter Uihelin
  • Bronson Burgoon
  • Martin Laird
  • JT Poston
  • Phil Mickelson

2018 Safeway Open DraftKings recommendations

$10,000 and up

We have six players in this group, and I think you can feel good with Patrick Cantlay, who is incredibly consistent, or Joaquin Niemann. Emiliano Grillo is a past champion and deserves a look, but he’s expensive at $10,000.


We have 15 players in this group, and I always love building your team in this range. Adam Hadwin is a great fit, and he finished the playoffs strong. Brendan Steele isn’t in form, but he’s not in good form. Beau Hossler makes cuts, but he can’t finish. Denny McCarthy was great in the Web.com Tour playoffs, but he’s expensive at $9,700.

Chris Kirk is a good fit, and Sang-moon Bae won here in the past. Russells Henley and Knox are names to like as well.


DraftKings basically breaks the rest of the field in half at the $7,000 mark. Chez Reavie, Hunter Mahan and Bronson Burgoon fit the course in different ways. Dylan Frittelli is high-ranked but doesn’t feel that way. Martin Laird is a horse for course, and Curtis Luck is worth a look. Sam Burns won’t be $7,100 for long.

Below or at $7,000

We’re looking for bargains in this range, and I think you’ll find none better than Sungjae Im, who dominated the Web.com Tour last year. He’s $7,000. Not for long. I also like Sean O’Hair and J.J. Spaun.

My primary DraftKings lineup

  1. Patrick Cantlay – $11,600
  2. Chris Kirk – $8,600
  3. Dylan Frittelli – $7,600
  4. Hunter Mahan – $7,500
  5. Sam Burns – $7,100
  6. Sungjae Im – $7,000

About the author


Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for over a decade, working for NBC Sports, Golf Channel, Yahoo Sports and SB Nation. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He used to be a good golfer.

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]thegolfnewsnet.com

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