For Phil Mickelson, the calves and banter will get some play at Safeway Open

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For Phil Mickelson, the calves and banter will get some play at Safeway Open

Golf

For Phil Mickelson, the calves and banter will get some play at Safeway Open

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Come for the calves, stay for the golf.

OK, that pithy pitch more than likely wouldn’t pass muster on Madison Avenue, but it’s not completely out of touch for this week’s Safeway Open in California wine country.

It directly plays to tournament headliner Phil Mickelson and his ongoing braggadocio on social media about his bodacious calves, the envy, it seems, not only of any 49-year-old, which Mickelson’s birth certificate reveals to be his age, but anyone period.

And that includes Tom Brady and Steph Curry, who recently exchanged light-hearted tweets with Mickelson about beefing up each other’s legs below the knee.

Well, Mickelson, in addition to bringing his resume of 44 PGA Tour titles, five majors and induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame to the Safeway Open as he makes his season debut, will pack into his luggage training tips for Curry, who makes “bombs” from beyond the 3-point line and holds his own hitting the long ball on the golf course as he carries a 0.6 index.

The duo will be intent to hit many bombs and will certainly talk all things calves during Wednesday’s pro-am of the third stop on the PGA Tour’s 2019-20 season, as they’re grouped the day before the professionals alone take to the course.

The pro-am also will see former Cowboys quarterback and current CBS analyst Tony Romo grouped with world No. 5 Justin Thomas, and Fred Couples grouped with Michelin star chef Thomas Keller.

The pro-am alone is a calling card for the Safeway Open, which, by the way, boasts its best field in the history of the tournament. The North Course at the five-star Silverado Resort & Spa is a strong lure. As is the resort. And don’t forget about this time of the year in the Golden State, which is perfect for any marketing campaign for the chamber of commerce.

And we’re talking wine country in Napa, which will spur many off-campus trips.

If the golf and other enticements aren’t enough, concerts featuring country music star Jake Owen on Thursday, rock band Bad Company on Friday and Grammy Award winner Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty on Saturday night will follow each day’s play at the resort.

The tournament was awarded the PGA Tour’s “Most Fan First Event” last year. It’s making a strong case for a repeat.

Just look at the field, led by Mickelson, who won last year’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am but fell flat at the end of the season. He’s still chasing a spot on the Presidents Cup team – he’s played on every U.S. team in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup since 1994 – and the Safeway Open is a good fit. In three previous starts, he’s finished T-3, 8, T-17.

It’s right up Thomas’ alley, too. He loves the course, resort and everything about the tournament. He tied for eighth in his last appearance at Silverado in 2016 and tied for third the year before. He would have played in 2017 and 2018, but his schedule was cramped with travels to the Presidents Cup in 2017 and Ryder Cup in 2018. He makes his season debut after getting through a melanoma scare earlier this month.

A close-up of Phil Mickelson ‘s much discussed calves at the BMW Championship at Medinah Country Club on August 13, 2019 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

The field also boasts Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Cantlay, Marc Leishman, major champions Adam Scott, Francesco Molinari, Jim Furyk, John Daly and Couples, as well as defending champion Kevin Tway and Brandt Snedeker, who lost in a playoff to Tway last year.

Two-time winner Brendan Steele (2016-17) is back, too. Collin Morikawa, 22, who played in the Safeway in 2016 as a sophomore at Cal- Berkeley and won last season’s Barracuda Championship in just his sixth start on the PGA Tour as a pro, returns. Add 17-year-old Akshay Bhatia to the list of attractions. He missed the cut in the Sanderson Farms Championship and is steadfast to atone for that sub-par play.

And then there is Romo. In addition to playing in the pro-am, he’ll tee it up at least two more rounds as the tournament extended him a sponsor exemption. This will be his fourth start in a PGA Tour event and he’ll be looking to make his first cut. He shot rounds of 77-82-79-80-76-74 as he missed the cut in the Puntacana stop in the Dominican Republic in 2018 and 2019 and at his home course in Texas at Trinity Forest in the 2019 AT&T Byron Nelson Classic.

If the stars align, CBS will be forced to make some announcing changes. Romo is scheduled to call the Minnesota Vikings-Chicago Bears game on Sunday. Golfweek’s Forecaddie heard CBS has a backup plan is in place.
That’s just another story line to follow at the Safeway Open.

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