2020 Safeway Open model and fantasy golf rankings
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2020 Safeway Open model and fantasy golf rankings



For years, I’ve made fantasy golf picks, power rankings and given betting tips about PGA Tour events.

I’ve looked at two main factors, current form and course history, and tried to bring those together to offer selections and my best guess as to who will contend in a given week.

However, I developed a weekly rubric which offers a clear-cut ranking system based on data points weighted in a formula. So far, it’s been a tremendous success. Here’s a look at the PGA Tour winners in the restart and where they landed in the model:

  • Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial: Daniel Berger – No. 21
  • RBC Heritage: Webb Simpson – No. 7
  • Travelers Championship: Dustin Johnson – No. 10
  • Rocket Mortgage Classic: Bryson DeChambeau – No. 2
  • Workday Charity Open: Collin Morikawa – No. 11
  • the Memorial Tournament: Jon Rahm – No. 6
  • WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational: Justin Thomas – No. 6
  • PGA Championship: Collin Morikawa – No. 13
  • The Northern Trust: Dustin Johnson – No. 20
  • Safeway Open: Jon Rahm – No. 2

Let me walk you through the rubric’s tenets and show off this week’s results.
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How the rubric works

The reason I’m calling this a rubric is because I think a model implies a guess about how the tournament will play out. I don’t think any model can do that. There are plenty of factors data can’t quantify, including luck of the draw, playing partners, hole locations, weather and sheer random stuff.

That’s why the rubric is rooted in things we can quantify more broadly without getting too into the weeds. I don’t believe specific statistics matter for each course. Each player is different, and they achieve their best results slightly differently, as our Course Fit tool indicates. A player can perform well on most PGA Tour courses doing things their way, and their past performance on a course is best indicative of their fit, not where they rank in certain categories.

That said, the biggest chunk of my rubric relies on strokes gained, as well our derivative, Quality Strokes Gained, which weights a player’s strokes gained against the depth of field they face. The rubric looks at this data over the longer term and medium term to derive a player’s quality across the tour and across different fields.

Next, the rubric accounts for two factors I look at every week: current form in the last five PGA Tour events played and their average strokes gained on the host course in the last three years.

All told, the model is designed to point out quality players and boost those middling players who have good current form or good course history.

2020 Safeway Open rankings

You’ll see with the rubric that I’ve listed the top 50, as well their current betting odds and DraftKings price.

This week we kick off a new season in California wine country with the Safeway Open. Silverado Resort hosts the event again, and our model likes some of the usual suspects. The model does not like Phil Mickelson, even though I do.

Click header to sort; the better their position, the more the rubric likes them

POS PLAYER PTS DK PRICE DK RANK ODDS ODDS RANK
1 Kim, Si Woo 0.93 10800 1 2000 1
2 Snedeker, Brandt 0.83 9300 11 4000 13
3 Varner III, Harold 0.779 9100 14 3500 12
4 Hubbard, Mark 0.757 8100 23 5000 16
5 Cauley, Bud 0.706 8600 19 5000 16
6 van Rooyen, Erik 0.609 9400 10 3000 5
7 Lowry, Shane 0.565 10200 3 2500 3
8 Dahmen, Joel 0.534 9500 9 3000 5
9 Norlander, Henrik 0.523 8500 20 6000 21
10 Redman, Doc 0.506 9200 13 3000 5
11 NeSmith, Matthew 0.481 6400 89 12500 55
12 Davis, Cameron 0.47 8900 16 4000 13
13 Reavie, Chez 0.453 9600 8 3000 5
14 Furyk, Jim 0.428 7700 27 6000 21
15 Gordon, Will 0.421 8200 22 6000 21
16 Ryder, Sam 0.411 6700 66 12500 55
17 Ventura, Kristoffer 0.403 7000 46 8000 32
18 Schenk, Adam 0.4 6900 52 8000 32
19 Streelman, Kevin 0.391 9000 15 4000 13
20 Gooch, Talor 0.339 7300 34 6000 21
21 Garcia, Sergio 0.333 9900 5 3000 5
22 Burns, Sam 0.332 8700 18 5000 16
23 Glover, Lucas 0.324 8000 24 6000 21
24 McCarthy, Denny 0.316 7900 25 6000 21
25 Wagner, Johnson 0.279 6300 97 25000 95
26 Hoge, Tom 0.268 6900 52 8000 32
27 Nimmer, Bryson 0.22 6800 59 12500 55
28 Tringale, Cameron 0.213 7500 30 6000 21
29 Rodgers, Patrick 0.21 7600 28 6000 21
30 Steele, Brendan 0.205 10000 4 2500 3
31 Hoffman, Charley 0.189 7500 30 6000 21
32 Perez, Pat 0.18 7000 46 12500 55
33 Piercy, Scott 0.174 7200 37 8000 32
34 Grillo, Emiliano 0.159 9700 7 3000 5
35 Spieth, Jordan 0.159 9800 6 3000 5
36 Straka, Sepp 0.154 7100 41 8000 32
37 Baker, Chris 0.152 6400 89 20000 79
38 Percy, Cameron 0.139 6600 73 20000 79
39 Stuard, Brian 0.135 7100 41 15000 67
40 Higgs, Harry 0.127 7200 37 10000 45
41 Power, Seamus 0.119 6700 66 15000 67
42 McNealy, Maverick 0.117 7300 34 6000 21
43 Huh, John 0.108 6300 97 25000 95
44 Duncan, Tyler 0.103 8400 21 6000 21
45 Stallings, Scott 0.101 6900 52 10000 45
46 Martin, Ben 0.097 6700 66 12500 55
47 Merritt, Troy 0.087 7100 41 8000 32
48 Mickelson, Phil 0.072 10600 2 2000 2
49 Malnati, Peter 0.059 6700 66 20000 79
50 Schwartzel, Charl 0.047 7800 26 8000 32
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About the author

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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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