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BARRACUDA CHAMPIONSHIP

By Wes Reynolds  () 

While 45 of the OWGR Top 50 players in the world are “Walking in Memphis” this week for the WGC Fed Ex St. Jude Invitational, the Barracuda Championship is taking place midway between Reno and Lake Tahoe. This is the second to last event before the FedEx Cup playoffs commence so this week is a prime opportunity for players to gain points and get into that Top 125 for The Northern Trust on Aug. 8. The tournament favorite at 10/1 is 22-year-old Collin Morikawa who has already earned his PGA Tour card for the 2019-2020 season with back-to-back top 4 finishes at the 3M Open and John Deere Classic. Martin Kaymer (18/1) had qualified for every major championship since 2007 but saw that streak come to an end last week at The Open Championship. Now he turns to clinching his spot in the Top 125 as he currently sits 149th in the standings. Martin Laird (20/1) has two top 10 finishes in his last three trips here and is off a season- best 6th last week at the Barbasol Championship. Laird is currently 123rd and just inside the standings. Joining Laird at 20/1 is Daniel Berger, who would ironically be a horse for the course in Memphis this week considering he won at TPC Southwind in back-to -back years (2016 & 2017) but he’s currently the first man out of the FedEx Cup sitting 126th in points. Emiliano Grillo, the field’s highest-ranked player at 62 OWGR, is slotted at 25/1 along with Ryan Palmer, currently 23rd in points with his win (with partner Jon Rahm) at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, and Russell Henley, who is off a season-best finish two weeks ago at the John Deere Classic.

The Course

The Montreux Golf & Country Club, about 18 miles south of Reno, was designed in 1997 by Jack Nicklaus and has hosted this event since 1999. The course is a fairly wide open and easy scoreable Nicklaus track that will play as a par 72 of 7,500 yards. The course plays at an average elevation of 5,600 feet above sea level so the ball will fly about 6.5% further than it would at sea level. The undulating bentgrass fairways are very wide so aggressiveness is rewarded off the tee. The greens, also bentgrass, are very large but relatively fast (around 12 on the stimpmeter). There are ample opportunities for birdies or even better on this track.

The Event

Beginning in 2012, the Barracuda Championship went to a Modified Stableford scoring system that was previously used at The International, which was played from 1986-2006 at Castle Pines Golf Club just south of Denver. The Modified Stableford scoring system works as follows:

8 Points

Albatross (-3)

5 Points

Eagle (-2)

2 Points

Birdie (-1)

-0 Points Par (Even)

-1

Point

Bogey ( 1)

-3

Points

Double Bogey or Worse ( 2 or more)

Under this system, players are rewarded for birdies more than they are a punished for bogeys. Aggressiveness is rewarded and since this is not a stroke play event, a player is not out of the event if he has a bad hole.

While an invite to the 2020 Masters is not available for players to earn in an alternate event, 300 FedEx Cup points, an entry into the PGA Championship, and a two-year PGA Tour exemption are on the line this week, so there’s still a ton of incentive for these players.

Recent History/Winners

2018: Andrew Putnam 47 (28/1)

2017: Chris Stroud 44 (80/1)

2016: Greg Chalmers 43 (300/1)

2015: JJ Henry 47 (80/1)

2014: Geoff Ogilvy 49 (66/1)

2013: Gary Woodland 44 (40/1)

2012: JJ Henry 43 (40/1)

Selections

Denny McCarthy 30/1

He was only 36th here last year but comes in with better form this time around. McCarthy is currently 1st on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting

(0.973 strokes/round) and ranks 22nd (5th in this week’s field) in Birdie or Better Percentage. He also ranks 15th overall (4th in this week’s field) in Birdie Average with 4.2 per round. While he missed the cut at the John Deere Classic two weeks ago, he has three quality finishes in the last four weeks with a 21st in Detroit, 23rd in Minneapolis and last week’s 11th at the Barbasol Championship in Kentucky. Speaking of last week, McCarthy was 2nd in the field with 27 total birdies.

Bill Haas 30/1

A six-time PGA Tour winner who also won the 2011 FedEx Cup, Haas is 137th in the standings and working to make this year’s playoffs. However, he looks to be a player that is trending upwards of late. Haas finished 10th at the John Deere and 11th last week at the Barbasol and was 3rd through 54 holes in both events. He’s made 39 birdies and 2 eagles versus 9 bogeys combined in the last two weeks. Should he be able to duplicate those numbers here, he will be right on the first page of the leaderboard. Haas also has a fair amount of success in desert golf events having won the Desert Classic (formerly Bob Hope) twice in Palm Springs.

JJ Spaun 40/1

Not exactly a recent form type of play but Spaun has made 17 of 23 cuts this season, most of which were against stronger fields, so he may relish the opportunity to play against a group more at his level. He finished 3rd here last year and was the

54-hole leader. Spaun has a good history on these type of courses and is always a contender at the other PGA Tour event, the Shriners Hospitals Open, in the state of Nevada. He ranks 32nd in Greens in Regulation (69.01%) which ranks 11th in this week’s field. Playing to that number should give him a lot of birdie chances this week.

Sebastián Muñoz 60/1

The man from Colombia comes into this week off his best finish of the season with a 9th last week at the Barbasol. He currently sits at 129th in the

FedEx Cup points so a good week is certainly needed. Muñoz ranks in the top 10 of this field in Birdie or Better Percentage (23.07%) and in Birdie Average (4.04).

Hank Lebioda 100/1

Lebioda currently sits at 141st in the FedEx Cup points in his rookie season on the PGA Tour and would like to avoid going back to the Korn Ferry Tour Finals to regain his tour card. He ranks 7th in this week’s field in Birdie or Better Percentage (23.47%) and is tied for 7th in Birdie Average

(4.13). In addition, he’s 30th (10th in this field) in Greens in Regulation (69.15%).

Dominic Bozzelli 100/1

This man’s putter can get really hot and has been just that for most of the season as he ranks 2nd on tour in SG: Putting (0.897/round). His best finish of the season was a 5th at the Desert Classic in Palm Springs and he’s taken a liking to desert golf, which he will see this week. Last week’s finish of 9th at the Barbasol was his best finish since that 5th in Palm Springs. This is a big week for Bozzelli as he is sitting 139th in the points so this is his best opportunity to keep his card. He is a man that thrives at birdie- fest type of events and ranks 4th in the field (19th overall) in Birdie or Better Percentage (23.76%) and 2nd (15th overall) in Birdie Average (4.22)

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