SAFEWAY OPEN: Cink roars back to win

Stewart Cink takes a swing on the second tee in the final round at the Silverado North Course. Cink was the winner of Sunday’s Safeway Open PGA Golf Tournament in Napa. (AP News photo)

By Jeremy Harness

A lot has happened since Stewart Cink’s last win on the PGA Tour, which came at the Open Championship in 2009, when he upended the legendary Tom Watson.

His wife, Lisa, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, and then Stewart himself was diagnosed with skin cancer. Both, however, have since been given clean bills of health, but it took a lot of courage to get to this point.

Fast forward to this weekend, as Cink shot rounds of 65 on Saturday as well as Sunday, and he came away with the win at the Safeway Open, with his birdie at the par-5 18th being the decisive blow.

He got off to a nice start and never really turned off the momentum. He recorded back-to-back birdies at the fourth and fifth holes and the followed that up with birdies at the eighth as well as the ninth.

He added a chip-in for birdie at the par-3 11th before going birdie back-to-back at the 15th and 16th holes.

However, he did suffer a hiccup at the par-4 17th, as he could not get up and down and dropped a shot. He got that shot right back at the final hole, as he hit two good shots and wound up just past the back fringe.

He pulled out a putter and got it to about four feet and then drained the birdie putt to give himself a two-shot lead with two groups left on the course.

“Well, it has been emotional,” Cink said. “You can’t go wire to wire in the FedExCup year without winning the first one, I would like to point that out right now. In a way that was kind of a goal this week. No, it’s been an awesome time. My son Reagan caddying for me, Lisa was here. This is a really special place, I love being in Napa and I just had a really phenomenal time this week. And on top of that my golf ball was pretty agreeable most of the way, so it was a really great experience top to bottom all week.”

At that point, there were only two guys with a chance to tie Cink, Brian Stuard and Harry Higgs. Higgs was two back and needed an eagle, and his chance evaporated when his third shot landed way right of the hole.

“I would have loved to have hit a tee ball in the fairway on 18. I felt like I needed 3, especially seeing Stewart in the fairway when we got back to that tee,” Higgs said. “I can’t believe the putt on 17 didn’t go in. I was back and forth between does it straighten at the hole, does it keep breaking. I hit it exactly how I wanted to.

“All in all, super positive week obviously. Had a chance to win, great start to a new season. I felt like this was a really, really good chance, and it was nice to be in it at the end versus the last time I finished second.”

As for Stuard, who was four back when Cink sank his final putt, he needed even more. His chance fell through when his birdie attempt at the 17th burned the edge.

SAFEWAY OPEN: Three-way tie for lead

Alameda native and Cal grad James Hahn is in a three way tie for the lead at the Safeway Open in Napa on Saturday (photo from and

By Jeremy Harness

There are three players who are tied at the top of the leaderboard at the Safeway Open, and there are a total of 11 guys who are within two strokes of each other.

That is the current situation after three rounds at Silverado, and at this point, anything can happen.

One of those players is Alameda native and Cal grad James Hahn, who shot a five-under bogey-free round of 67 to vault himself into a three-way tie atop the leaderboard.

He recorded back-to-back birdies at the second and third holes, but he picked things up on the back nine with a birdie at the par-3 11th, sticking his tee shot to about three feet in the process. He again got back-to-back birdies at the 16th and 17th holes.

“I just had a goal in mind today, just to kind of have a clean scorecard,” Hahn said. “It would have been nice to birdie a couple of the par 5s, but anytime you birdie three out of the four par 3s I think you’re doing something good.

“It’s good to have a lot of family and friends up here. Unfortunately, there’s no fans, but it would be nice to win the first one.”

Brian Stuard also had a bogey-free scorecard on Saturday, with three birdies in a row at holes three through five, and he scattered three birdies on the back nine for a three-under round of 66.

“This is a course that fits my game,” Stuard said. “You’ve got to drive it straight, you’ve got to kind of shape the tee ball once in a while. It’s important to be on the right side of the fairway to some pins, I think. Reminds me a little bit of Hilton Head in that way and I think that’s another one of my favorites. It should fit my game, yes.”

Forty-six-year-old Cameron Percy did not have as clean a scorecard as Hahn’s, but it was good enough for a share of the lead heading into the final round on Sunday. He had a bogey-free front nine that saw him scatter three birdies, but he ran into trouble on the back side with bogeys on each the 11th and 14th holes.

However, he rebounded by picking up shots on both the 16th and the 17th for a third-round of 68, and with that, comes with a chance to pick up his first win on the PGA Tour.

“It would mean the world to me,” Percy said. “Yeah, it would be fantastic. It would mean I get to go to Augusta (for the Masters in November), which is a goal. I’ve never been to Augusta, which is the biggest goal you have when you come over here. I just thought I’d get there, I haven’t got there yet, so it’s a big deal.”

SAFEWAY OPEN: Burns takes over lead with second-round 65

(photo from Sam Burns who has a two shot lead at the Safeway Open on Friday in Napa 

By Jeremy Harness

Sam Burns shot a seven-under round of 65 and grabbed a two-shot lead at the Safeway Open Friday afternoon during the second round of play.

Burns, who finished last season 111th in the FedEx Cup race, was only one shot behind the lead after the first round, but he did not start out very well. After making par at his starting hole, the 10th, he suffered a damaging double bogey at the 11th.

That seemed to give him a jump start, as he birdied three holes in a row and then went on to birdie two of the next four holes. He kept that momentum going with four more birdies on his second nine.

“Yeah, I think it pissed me off a little bit, woke me up, I guess,” Burns said. “It was early, cold. It was kind of like it picked me up, like hey, let’s go. Just kind of stuck with it and the golf course opened up for me the rest of the day.”

He is two shots ahead of Harry Higgs, who made a huge charge on Friday. He had the shot of the day at his very last hole, when he holed out from 230 yards out at the par-5 ninth for a double eagle, otherwise known as an albatross.

Before that, he had a special, bogey-free round going, with six birdies on his first nine, including four birdies in a row at holes 15 through 18. His back none was rather quiet, other than a birdie at the par-4 third, before firing the big shot at No. 9.

He carded a 10-under round of 62, which was the low round of the day and launched him right into the thick of things at Silverado.

“What a wonderful way to end the day,” Higgs said. “(But) I was looking forward to a nap all day long, but now I might be too jacked up now to actually fall asleep.”

Russell Knox, who was the leader after the first round, shot a second-round 69 and is now three behind the lead, along with Cameron Percy and D.J Trahan.

“I hit the ball well today. I played fairly conservative into some holes,” Knox said. “I was kind of in between yardages, but I felt like I played well. I could have shot a lower score than I did. I didn’t really hole the putts today, but to finish birdie-birdie 3 under was very satisfying.”

NOTES: Five-time PGA Tour winner John Daly, who currently plays on the PGA Champions Tour, was diagnosed with bladder cancer.

The 54-year-old said he has undergone a procedure to remove the cancer as well as eight days of chemotherapy, and he was reportedly positive about the treatment despite an estimated 85 percent chance that it will eventually come back.

He is in the field at the Sanford International in Sioux Falls, S.D, and he is currently tied for 11th after a two-under round of 68 in the first round.

SAFEWAY OPEN: First round gets underway despite smoky skies

Russell Knox shown at the Silverado North Course at the Safeway Open during the first round at 13th course at the PGA Tournament on Thursday Sep 10th in Napa (AP News photo)

By Jeremy Harness

On Wednesday, golfers practiced under skies that looked more like a movie than real life. We’ll put it this way: During the hours that would normally feature bright sunshine during this time of year, lights had to be flipped on to the practice green.

Because of the numerous fires that have all but surrounded Northern California, the streets have been covered with ash and there has only been a faint view of the sun over the last few days.

Somehow, the first round of the Safeway Open, the first event of the 2020-21 PGA Tour season, got underway at Silverado Golf Resort, although play was delayed by about an hour.

Due to the darker skies, play was called off at 4pm PST, with a few groups left on the course, with those players scheduled to play the remaining hole or two early Friday morning.

However, most were able to finish in time, including Russell Knox, who leads the field after shooting a nine-under bogey-free round of 63. He went five-under on the front nine, including an eagle at the par-5 fifth, and then went on to scatter four more birdies on the back side.

Three guys are only one behind Knox, including relative unknowns Sam Burns, Bo Hoag and Cameron Percy. Burns made three birdies on the front nine and then got hot on the back side. He made three birdies in a row on holes 10 through 12 and then went eagle at the par-5 16th.

His only blemish was on the very next hole, when he made bogey before rebounding with a birdie at the par-5 18th.

Former Safeway Open winner Brendan Steele is among the players at seven-under, along with Pat Perez.

DeChambeau, Watney come crashing down while another NorCal soars to the top

photo from Cameron Champ hits on the sixth fairway in the third round of the Safeway Open at the Silverado Resort on Saturday. Champ’s emotions are in play as his grandfather Mack battles stomach cancer in the Sacramento area.

By Jeremy Harness

Saturday was not a very good day for Bryson DeChambeau or Nick Watney, and as a result, they fell from the top of the leaderboard while some new folks took over the top spots as the final day of the Safeway Open approaches.

DeChambeau’s four-over round of 76 dropped him toward the middle of the pack, while Watney’s round of 72 was a little more modest, and he is now tied for the fifth spot in the field and four shots shy of the lead.

Meanwhile, another native of Northern California grabbed the lead on Saturday with stellar play. Sacramento native Cameron Champ, who considered to be the longest hitter on the PGA Tour, used that distance to get good looks at birdies and ended up shooting a five-under bogey-free round of 67.

Besides averaging 335 yards off the tee this week that ranks him at the top of the field, including a 372-yard bomb on Saturday, Champ also leads the field this week with a 91.67 scrambling percentage. He is also tied for the fewest bogeys this week.

“I’m extremely pleased,” Champ said. “Not to make a bogey on the scorecard, mission is accomplished. I’m hitting it well, I’m giving myself so many chances. I’m just executing everything. I’m hitting my shots, I’m not making the little mistakes I was, then I’m getting it up and down when I need to.

“Today was like a faultless day.”

Champ currently leads the tournament by three shots, while Sebastian Munoz also shot a 67 on Saturday to get into the second spot. Munoz has had some recent winning experience, as he won the Sanderson Farms Championship earlier in the 2019-20 season.

He then followed that up with a tie for seventh place at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier.

“I’m hitting the ball pretty solid, I’m making the putts, so I’m feeling great,” Munoz said.

Joining Munoz in the No. 2 slot are Canadians Adam Hadwin and Nick Taylor. Hadwin first a five-under 67 while Taylor shot 70 to give themselves a chance to win on Sunday.

Safeway Open: Scott, Landry blaze their way to the top

Photo credit:

By Jeremy Harness

NAPA–The Safeway Open has annually been the opening event of the PGA Tour season, but that is not the case this year. Regardless of that, the fans showed up in full force for Thursday’s opening round at Silverado Golf Resort.

Of course, when you have well-known commodities such as Stephen Curry and Tony Romo, the fans are bound to show up.

Two guys who definitely showed up and showed out for the first round were Andrew Landry and Adam Scott, who each shot seven-under rounds of 65 and are tied for the lead after Thursday’s action.

Scott went four-under on the front nine, including an eagle at the par-5 fifth that saw him make a 54-foot putt for his three. He took his only bogey at the par-four 13th, but he more than offset that with three more birdies on the back nine.

“(The eagle was a) fun way to kind of keep the momentum going and get the most out of the round,” Scott said. “If I had any complaints about last season, I didn’t get the most out of my good rounds or my good weeks.

“Today, I felt like I kind of got the most out of myself.”

Landry had no such hiccups, firing a bogey-free 65. He made a pair of birdies on the front side, but he lit the course up on the back nine, making five birdies, including back-to-back birdies to close out his round.

“I can make a lot of putts right now,” Landry said. “That’s kind of what I did all day, I made a lot of putts. Ball-striking wasn’t as good as I wanted, but the putting was there, and it made up for it.”

Right behind those two is Francesco Molinari, who is best known for his heroic play for Europe in the 2018 Ryder Cup, who is one stroke behind with a six-under 66. He made four birdies on the front nine, and made three more on the back to offset a dropped shot at the par-four 14th.

Also one behind is Matthew NeSmith, who spent last season on the Korn Ferry Tour (formerly known as the Tour). His round of 66 was a bogey-free one, making four birdies on the front and two more on the back.

Romo, who spent many years as the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys and now makes his living as an NFL color analyst for CBS, showed that he’s got plenty of game on the golf course. He fired a two-under round of 70 on Thursday and stands a good chance of making the cut and playing into the weekend.

Headline Sports podcast with Tony Renteria: Gruden expects more aggressive offense this Sunday; A’s hold on for dear life, get walkoff HR from Chapman; plus more

Photo credit: @NBCSRaiders

On Headline Sports podcast with Tony Renteria:

#1 Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden says he hopes the offense could provide more vertical shots and that the receivers can be more aggressive.

#2 Gruden did say that the offense needed to be more aggressive and that was before the release of Antonio Brown during the first three weeks of the season.

#3 In the first three games of the season, Raider quarterback Derek Carr has thrown 23 passes for 10 yards past the line of scrimmage and has completed 13 pass for 257 yards.

#4 Turning to baseball, at one time, the Oakland A’s had a two-game lead before Wednesday night. The A’s had just a 1/2 game lead and the Tampa Bay Rays keep winning, beating the New York Yankees on Wednesday and the A’s dropped two straight games and almost lost a third in Anaheim on Wednesday night, but thanks to a Matt Chapman home run, they came back with two runs in the ninth to win it 3-2 and hold a 1/2 game lead in the AL wild card.

#5 The PGA Tour Safeway Open starts today at Silverado Resort in Napa. Some of the big names at the event include the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry, Phil Mickelson and Hideki Maysuyama, a five-time winner.

Tony Renteria does Headline Sports each Thursday at