Although most of the attention of the golfing world will be on the Bridgestone Invitational there is a very intriguing alternate event taking place in Reno. The Barracuda Championship is the only Modified Stableford event on the PGA Tour and it allows some of the lesser known Tour players a chance to win a bona fide event which carries with it 300 FedEx Cup points, a winner’s cheque of over $500,000 and a two year tour card.
Once again the beautiful Montreux Golf and Country Club is hosting the event. Set amongst the Sierra Nevada mountains, the Jack Nicklaus-designed course plays shorter than its 7,472 yards because of the effects of altitude. Water is a feature on a number of the holes but the fairways are wide if undulating and there isn’t too much to worry about on the greens. The scoring system this week awards eight points for an albatross, five points for an eagle and two for a birdie. Those who go the wrong side of par will be punished by a one point deduction for a bogey and three points for a double bogey or worse.
The scoring system means that attacking golf will be rewarded so the bigger hitters certainly have an advantage. Just a couple of eagles on the par fives over the four rounds will have a big effect on the score as Geoff Ogilvy won last year’s renewal with a final score of 49 points. The other important aspect is scrambling. An ability to get up and down out of trouble will avoid any momentum sapping penalties as the players look to put a score together.
Many bookies have made Ogilvy the favourite to defend his title (he’s 18/1 with Coral) but there are a few other players who offer more value than the Australian. The first is Will Wilcox. The 29-year-old came second in the last alternative event, the Barbasol Championship which was played at the same time as the Open Championship. Last week he tied for 21st in the stronger field at the Quicken Loans National and the drop back down to a weaker field will help no end so back him at 28/1 with Coral.
The second player to be on side with this week is Austin Cook. Cook plays most of his golf on the Web.com Tour but made an appearance at the Shell Houston Open where he put together a solid week that included a round with Phil Mickelson. Cook ticks both the distance and short game boxes which are required for success at Montreux. He’s been ranked a 22/1 shot by Coral which seems good enough value.
Finally let’s go for a long shot. Steve Alker, the 44-year-old New Zealander is as big as 250/1 with BetVictor but his chances look much better than those odds suggest. He’s competed and won on many tours around the world so knows what it takes to win. A big hitter who hits the vast majority of greens in regulation, Alker is a very good each way shot.