The first week of October is a big one for the PGA Tour.
The Tour’s 2017-18 season begins, as Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa is host to the Safeway Open, a $6 million event that will be played on the par-72, 7,203-yard North Course. The tournament begins Thursday and ends Sunday.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan will be in town for the season-opening event, which will feature Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson, Tony Finau, Ryan Moore and defending champion Brendan Steele.
Beau Hossler, the 2016 Haskins Award Winner, and Sacramento native Cameron Champ have accepted sponsor invitations from Safeway to play in next week’s Safeway Open, tournament officials announced on Tuesday.
The Haskins Award is presented to the most outstanding male collegiate golfer of the year.
The field also includes Maverick McNealy, a former Stanford star and the 2017 winner of the Ben Hogan Award, who will make his professional debut in the event.
McNealy accepted a sponsor’s invitation to play.
Aaron Wise, the 2016 NCAA champion from the University of Oregon, is in the field.
Champ, an amateur, tied for 32nd at the U.S. Open Championship in June at Erin Hills in Wisconsin. Champ is 11th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and is a senior at Texas A&M.
Hossler has two runner-up finishes on the Web.com Tour this year and has secured his PGA Tour card for the 2017-18 season.
Sang-Moon Bae, who won the Frys.com Open in 2014 at Silverado, will return to the PGA Tour next week and play at the Safeway Open after serving a mandatory 21-month military obligation in his native country of South Korea, tournament officials said. At the 2015 Presidents Cup, Bae’s last appearance in a professional golf event, he had a record of 2-1-1 for the International squad.
“We have a great field,” executive tournament director Jeff Sanders said. “We’ve got a real strong field of young guns that are coming in.”
There will be 144 players in the field for the Safeway Open. The winner receives $1,080,000.
The week began with the Johnny Miller Pro-Am and practice rounds on Monday and Tuesday. The official Safeway Open Pro-Am was Wednesday. The tournament’s first round is Thursday, with players starting from the first and 10th tees beginning at 7:20 a.m.
Golf Channel will televise all four rounds.
“We’re so fortunate to be playing at Silverado and to have the beautiful Napa weather for our tournament because our model, being food, wine, music and golf, it really relies on having good sunny weather, because of our concerts in the evenings and all of our outdoor seating for everybody to enjoy watching golf,” said Sanders.
There were heavy rains at last year’s tournament.
“Last year, the golf gods were a little hard on us,” said Sanders. “But it looks like they’re going to pay us back and bring us great weather this year. I’m just thrilled about that.”
The accuweather.com forecast calls for sunny and warm conditions, with high temperatures ranging from 74-87.
Champ represented the United States at the 2017 Walker Cup, played at Los Angeles Country Club, earlier this year. The U.S. defeated Great Britain and Ireland Team 19-7.
Last year as a junior, Champ was named as a Third Team PING All-American by the Golf Coaches Association of America. Champ received PING All-Central and First Team All-SEC honors.
Monahan took over as PGA Tour Commissioner on Jan. 1 of this year, following the retirement of Tim Finchem. Manahan previously served as the Tour’s Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer. Manahan will be at the Safeway Open for three days next week.
Challenging golf course
The North Course at Silverado, re-designed by Johnny Miller in 2011, presents a difficult test with its greens, which have slope. The green complexes are guarded by well-positioned bunkers.
“It’s a challenging golf course for these guys, and it’s because the greens are so challenging,” said Sanders. “The greens are very hard to read. When they get firm and fast, the ball’s bouncing a little bit and then they’re hard to read on top of that. I think that’s one of the reasons that they don’t shoot real low at Silverado.
“I watched a lot of guys last year putt out there and I felt like a lot of them got fooled. They didn’t understand the breaks.”
Aaron Beverly of Fairfield tied for 12th place after shooting a 1-under-par 71 in Monday’s Safeway Open qualifier at the Bayonet Course in Seaside, Calif.
Beverly works in the golf department at Silverado.
The four qualifiers into the Safeway Open are Kurt Kitayama of Chico (65), Dino Giacomazzi of Salinas (67), Kevin Dougherty of Murrietta, California (67), and Steve Allan of Scottsdale, Arizona (68).
The Safeway Open has about 1,500 volunteers, many of whom are members at Silverado.
“We think we have the best volunteer team on the PGA Tour at Silverado, in Napa,” said Sanders. “These people are really hard-working. They’re super nice. They know the game really well, which helps.
“They give their time and energy. We’d never be able to do the event without them and give the amount of money to charity that we do without the volunteers. They’re just a fantastic group of people.”