10. Luke List
List has not been especially impressive at Silverado the last two years, posting a T37 last year and a T26 the year prior, but he seems to have improved considerably since, and would appear to be a excellent fit for this course, as the bomber finished this past season 2nd on Tour in strokes gained: off-the-tee and 6th in strokes gained: tee-to-green.
The 33-year-old is still looking for his first Tour victory, but had a number of close calls last year, most notably when he finished runner-up at the Honda Classic, losing a two-man playoff battle with Justin Thomas.
9. Beau Hossler
Ignore Hossler’s 74th place finish in this event last year, which was weighed down by a final round 80. It was the first event of the 23-year-old’s first full-time season on the PGA Tour, and he improved tremendously from there.
In 28 events, the former University of Texas star made 24 cuts, and twice finished runner-up. Hossler needs to become more consistent with his irons, but he hits the ball far, and is one of the Tour’s premier putters.
Victory No. 1 on the PGA Tour feels close. Could it be this week?
8. Abraham Ancer
By far Mexico’s highest ranked golfer, Ancer found himself in contention surprisingly often in the later parts of the 2018 season, posting top-7 finishes at the Quicken Loans National, the RBC Canadian Open, and the Dell Technologies Championship, the second leg of the FedExCup Playoffs.
In that strong playoff performance at TPC Boston, Ancer was the 54-hole leader, and was tremendous off the tees, finishing second in the field in strokes gained: off-the-tee, and third in driving accuracy. After taking the past month off, Ancer should be ready to be even better this season.
7. Brendan Steele
Steele, a native Californian, is coming into the Safeway in abysmal form. In his last six starts, he has four missed cuts, a T60 (in a no-cut, 71-man field), and a solo-64th (in a no-cut, 70-man field).
However, he was very cold coming into last year’s Safeway Open, and he won. The year prior, he was cold coming into the Safeway Open, and he won then too. The lesson here? Brendan Steele really, really likes Silverado. Could he pull off the three-peat?
Recent history is not on his side; in the past 12 months, four players (Justin Thomas, Hideki Matsuyama, Daniel Berger, and Jhonattan Vegas) had shots at the first three-peat since Steve Stricker in 2011, but none of them even came close.
Steele led the field in strokes gained: off-the-tee in his successful victory defense last year, and if he is going to get into contention here again, that is probably where his best work will come, since his short game is an absolute mess.
6. Phil Mickelson
We know Phil is a California guy and loves to play those events, but we are very surprised that he is actually playing this week. He was abysmal for the losing American side at last week’s Ryder Cup, and before that, he was a disaster at the final two FedExCup Playoff events, even finishing dead last at the Tour Championship. He looked exhausted as it was, and now he is going to play a tournament days after flying back from France?
Considering all that, it is difficult to have a great deal of confidence in the 48-year-old at Silverado.
All that being said, there are a few things to like about Phil’s chances as well. He is coming off his best season in years, and he has been excellent in this event the past two years, finishing T8 in 2018 and T3 last year.
His recent poor play was against elite competition, so he should not have anywhere near as much pressure this week. Also, it is possible he isn’t THAT tired; he was so bad in Paris that Jim Furyk only played him in two matches, and neither made it past the tee shot on the 16th hole.
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