Sungjae Im, of South Korea, watches his drive from the first tee during the final round of the Sanderson Farms Championship golf tournament in Jackson, Miss., Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019.
Sungjae Im, of South Korea, watches his drive from the first tee during the final round of the Sanderson Farms Championship golf tournament in Jackson, Miss., Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019.|Rogelio V. Solis | Associated Press

Golf: Kern heads to the Safeway Open in Napa, and picks a trifecta and a long shot — Can Sungjae Im close this one out?

Mike Kern

Mike Kern

Well, we were going for our third win in a row last week at the Sanderson Farms Championship. And while a couple of our picks were in contention at the midway point, none of them were serious challengers at the end. And so it goes. But hey, if we can find a way to go 3-for-4 that would still be pretty good too. So we head to the Safeway Open from Napa, CA.

The field is actually a really good one, at least for this point on the schedule. Justin Thomas, a 10-time winner on the PGA Tour (including a major), is the favorite at 6-1. Patrick Cantlay is next, at 11-1. He’s followed by Adam Scott, at 14-1, Hideki Matsuyama, at 16-1, and Bryson DeChambeau, at 20-1. So no real surprises there.

Sungjae Im, who lost last week in a playoff, is 22-1. Francesco Molinari is 27-1. Brandt Snedeker is 29-1, along with Byeong Hun An, who just missed making the playoff. Collin Morikawa, a guy who’s on a lot of people’s radars, is 31-1. Marc Leischman, who has his moments, is 37-1. Chez Reavie is 41-1. So is Ryan Moore. Corey Connors, one of the many good young players trying to make their mark, is 50-1, as is Emiliano Grillo, whose lone PGA victory was here four years ago.

Four others are also at 50-1: Phil Mickelson, who’s almost that old, Lucas Glover, Scott Piercy and Sebastian Munoz, who lifted the trophy a week ago. Brenden Steele, who won this thing in both 2017 and ’16, is 65-1.

So without further whatever, here goes. I’m going to stay away from the faves, just because that’s more my style. Especially at this time of year. I think there are better odds out there. They just have to figure out how to get it done. Hey, that’s always the rub, right?

I’ll start by taking Sungjae Im (22-1)

I know it’s probably asking a lot to have someone win the week after they almost won, but I’ll take a chance. Most folks this kid is going to win before too long, so let’s hope it’s now.

Next let’s try Byeong Hun An (29-1)

Again, he’s coming off a great effort. I’m hoping he can continue that. In many ways he’s a lot like Im. Which means there’s a lot of upside. And mostly a matter of when.

To fill out the trifecta let’s add Collin Morikawa (31-1)

Much like the first two, this is a bloke that folks are looking for good stuff from. Sooner or whenever.

For our longshot, we’re not taking Tony Romo, who will be competing on a sponsor’s exemption, although I guess you could take him to just make the cut. I wouldn’t, but almost anything’s possible. Instead …

I’ll take a chance on Corey Connors (50-1).

Just a hunch. I had him last week too and he didn’t play badly at all. If you’re more of an Emiliano Grillo fan, go for it. Maybe I’m nuts, but it just seems that 65-1 on someone like Brendan Steele who’s won here twice in the last three years could be worth at least a few bucks. Nothing major, but more of a just in case hedge. Or you could even try him simply to finish in the top 5 or 10, and still get a nice return if he plays well but doesn’t make it a sort of threepeat. Kind of like what I’m going for.

See you next week at the Shriners Hospital for Children Open, from Las Vegas. Hey, before you know it we’ll be getting ready for Augusta.

And be on the lookout later in the week for my college and pro football picks, where sometimes I can only wish I did as well as I have with this sport.


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