While the majority of the attention in the golfing world will be on the WGC event, the lesser lights of the PGA Tour get the chance to shine, earn a few quid and the benefits of winning when they compete in the Barracuda Championship.
This tournament used to fly heavily under the radar but since it moved to go alongside the WGC and with TV coverage after the Bridgestone event it is actually becoming more and more popular despite the Stableford scoring which is used this week.
2017 – Chris Stroud
2016 – Greg Chalmers
2015 – JJ Henry
2014 – Geoff Ogilvy
2013 – Gary Woodland
2012 – JJ Henry
2011 – Scott Piercy
2010 – Matt Bettencourt
2009 – John Rollins
2008 – Parker McLachlin
We are on stableford scoring this week so rather than usual stroke play the event is scored on a points system. Players get eight points for an albatross, five for an eagle and two for a birdie. Par gets nothing but a point goes for each bogey and it is three away for double bogey or worse. The highest number of points wins.
We are back at the Montreux Golf and Country Club this week where the formula is pretty simple. You have to make birdies. Generally scores in the mid-high 40s are needed to win this tournament so we’re looking for birdie makers and those who can keep the high numbers off the scorecard.
As for the course itself, it is a par 72 with the usual quota of par 5s. It has an official yardage of 7,472 yards but the course is well above sea level so the ball flies much further than normal so it will play some distance short of that in reality. Fairways, greens and holing putts will be the way forward here especially with the course likely to be playing soft with some heavy rain in the area recently.
This is not the best field of the year but the opportunity given to these players always ensures a competitive week. Shane Lowry is probably the leading figure in it given that he is a former winner of the WGC event which runs alongside this one.
There are some other regular PGA Tour event stars here such as Ryan Palmer, Martin Laird and Kevin Streelman with the rest of the field made up of up and coming players and those veterans who are hanging around on Tour and who will be looking to take advantage of their chance here.
Shane Lowry and Joel Dahmen share the favouritism this week at 20/1. You would think both are entitled to be in the mix, especially the latter although he won’t have carried the favourite tag in a tournament too often. Lowry at his best could lead these a merry dance but there haven’t been many signs that he is there just yet.
Richy Werenski has popped up on leaderboards from time to time this season so he might feel this is a tournament he can win and at 22/1 he is the third favourite for the tournament. Yes this is a weak field but it doesn’t feel right backing someone at this kind of price given that he is not used to winning or contending to win.
If Ryan Palmer is bang on his game then he could be a good shout at 28/1 and the same can be said for Andrew Putnam and Kevin Streelman too but the reason they are all playing here is that they are not consistent enough and that would rank as a concern. All have the game to win this but whether they can find the form to make the required birdies remains to be seen. It is 33/1 bar.
It is almost impossible to ignore Martin Laird this week given his form at the course. He has played here four times with finishes of T4, T2, T6 and T7. There is clearly something about this event and venue that gets his juices flowing. It is fair to say his form recently has been a little patchy but he has top 10s at Phoenix and Riviera this season and if he can produce the golf here that he did there he should be right in the mix.
Robert Garrigus got off to a flying start last week but couldn’t sustain it in the weight of the big guns who came at him but he will have no such problems here in terms of being hunted down by the star names. Garrigus was tied for sixth here last year which was a decent effort and we know he makes lots of birdies. He has the length to set up plenty of chances once again this week. His four round form can be erratic but if he can put three good days together and limit any bad days he should be right there with his scoring power.
The key to making plenty of birdies is a take decent putters and there are three at big prices who deserve to be backed here. I took Hunter Mahan the last time the big guns were away and he led going into the final round but in a shootout he could only place. He’s worth a chance again. He’ll lose nothing to the field on the greens and his tee to green form looks to be coming good again. At 66/1 he looks a big price.
Aaron Baddeley and Michael Thompson jumped out of the market to me at three figure prices too. Baddeley is renowned for one of the best putting strokes on the tour while Thompson sits T21 in strokes gained putting this season with a huge amount of those above him in that statistic at Firestone rather than here. Should both keep their putters hot their tee to green game should be good enough to have them in contention.
Back M.Laird to win Barracuda Championship (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 34.00 with Unibet (1/4 1-5)
Back him here:
Back R.Garrigus to win Barracuda Championship (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 41.00 with William Hill (1/5 1-6)
Back H.Mahan to win Barracuda Championship (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 67.00 with Bet365 (1/4 1-5)
Back A.Baddeley to win Barracuda Championship (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake 101.00 with Boylesports (1/5 1-6)
Back him here:
Back M.Thompson to win Barracuda Championship (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 151.00 with Coral (1/5 1-7)