Bet Golf! Mike Kern picks the Safeway Open, where he's rooting for favorite Phil Mickelson, but picking others to win
Where and when to watch: Thursday-Friday, 4-7 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 6-9 p.m. (Golf Channel)
Following a 2-day offseason, the next PGA Tour season officially begins this week at the Safeway Open in Napa, Calif. It’s the bridge between the Tour Championship and the rescheduled U.S. Open, so as you might expect that field is not all that.
Which might explain why Phil Mickelson, fresh off a victory in his Senior Tour debut, is the favorite. Maybe the line is trying to tell us something. I mean, when was the last time Lefty was the fave? And when was the last time a fave was listed at 20-1? He’s actually the co-fave, with Si Woo Kim and Brendan Steele, who won this thing in 2017 and ’18. So there is that.
Next is Joel Dahmen, at 25-1. As is Sergio Garcia, who is playing well but struggling with his putter. Shane Lowry, the 2019 British Open champ, is 28-1 along with Jordan Spieth and Harold Varner III. Spieth continues to look for his first win since the 2017 British.
Emiliano Grillo, Chez Reavie and Kevin Streelman are 33-1. Cameron Davis, Mark Hubbard, Luke List, Doc Rodman, Brandt Snedeker and Eric van Rooyen are 40-1. Yes, it’s that kind of event.
I won’t go through all the names. But Jim Furyk is 66-1. Jason Dufner and J.B. Holmes are 80-1. Charl Schwartzel is 90-1. So much the “names.” Aside from that you’ll have to be mostly on your own.
The Mickelson thing intrigues me. Next week at Winged Foot he’ll be going back to the place where he infamously gagged on the last hole in 2006. Wouldn’t it be a great story if he was going there coming off two wins. Sometimes golf is all about those kind of stories. I’m not completely sold, but I don’t think it’s such a bad idea to put maybe like 10 bucks on him, just in case. And he’s also plus $250 to finish in the top 10, and plus $550 for a top five, so maybe a little on them as well as backup. Not saying that logic is going to work out, but it’s been known to happen in this sport.
Kim and Steele are the co-faves for a reason. Kim is probably the best player in the field, so backing him can’t be a bad thing. And Steele has a track record, obviously.
Hey, maybe this is the time when a Garcia or Spieth can get it done. I just wouldn’t go there, but I can’t blame anyone if they do. I just think it’s a stretch. I would rather go with some longer shots and take my chances. So I’ll throw a few at you, starting with Harold Varner at 28-1. And how about the law firm of Chez Reavie at 33-1 and Luke List at 40-1. Each has played well in this. But really, they’re all mostly stabs. I don’t even see a bona ride long-shot that I toss a few bucks on, but you might.
Mainly I would sit back and root for Phil, just because. But I’ve played Si Woo Kim enough to know that he usually gives you a good effort for your investment, so if you want to go with him instead, or maybe play both, I’m down. And next week we’ll get a little more serious at the second major of the season, when the big boys return in full force. As always, try to enjoy.
MIKE KERN’S PICKS
Stabs: Harold Varner at 28-1, Chez Reavie at 33-1, and Luke List at 40-1
Maybe something on: Si Woo Kim at 20-1
Root for: Phil Mickelson