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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Johnson should make his presence felt among the leaders

Double Major winner set to rise to Napa challenge

Zach Johnson made a decent start at the Safeway Open
1 of 1

Live on Sky Sports Golf, 10.30pm Friday

Brendan Steele will have been delighted with the start he made to his defence of the Safeway Open on Thursday.

A three-putt bogey on the sixth was the only blip in a seven-under par round of 65, which was enough for a share of the first-round lead with Tom Hoge and Tyler Duncan and the round was all the more impressive as he hit every Silverado green in regulation.

The Californian missed four of his last seven cuts before this week but the memories of closing his fourth round with three birdies to claim a single-shot victory last year appear to have come flooding back.

However, his 8.40pm threeball with Zach Johnson and Chesson Hadley looks intriguing.

Two-time Major winner Johnson starts his second round three off the pace having elected to play in this tournament for the first time and a layout which allows players who hit fairways to flourish looks to be right up his street.

He should have arrived in Napa full of good vibrations after finishing with a fine 64 to take 20th at the BMW Championship and there looks a decent chance that he can put himself closer to the leaders at the halfway stage.

It is difficult to see Hadley making much of an impression.

The 30-year-old from North Carolina struggled to find fairways in his opening even-par round of 70.

Silverado has not been a particularly happy hunting ground for the 2014 Puerto Rico Open champion, who has been plying his trade mainly on the Web.com tour this season.

He missed the cut in 2016 and with other finishes of 57th and 72nd, it is difficult to anticipate him keeping up the pace with two players who could be in the frame to claim the title on Sunday.

Recommendation
Z Johnson to win threeball
2pts 13-8 Coral, Ladbrokes


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He should have arrived in Napa full of good vibrations after his 20th at the BMW Championship finished with a fine 64
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