Barracuda Championship underway at Old Greenwood
TRUCKEE, Calif. — A week after celebrities took over Edgewood Tahoe for the American Century Championship, it’s now the pros turn as a field of more than 150 players is set to vie for a $3.7 million purse at Tahoe Mountain Club’s Old Greenwood course.
The 24th annual Barracuda Championship got underway Thursday, marking the third time Old Greenwood has hosted the event.
The tournament is the only one in the PGA to use the Modified Stableford scoring format, which, rather than counting strokes, involves scoring points based on the number of strokes taken at each hole. Old Greenwood’s par 71, 7,480 yards course. Since last year, the par-4 10th hole has been increased by 55 yards and now measures a daunting 540 yards, making it the second longest on the PGA Tour. The par-4, 17th hole at Kapalua Resort’s Plantation Course in Hawaii measures 550 yards. Old Greenwood’s par-4 13th hole, measuring 522 yards, should challenge players this week as well. Primary rough will be trimmed to 2.5 inches, up a half-inch from last year.
According to PGA contributor Rob Bolton, players this week should be have scoring opportunities on the par-5 second hole, the par-5 sixth hole, and the par-5 12th hole.
Weather this week is forecast to be sunny and clear with highs in the 80s. Wind will likely be consistent factor with afternoon breezes in the 5 to 10 mph range and gusts as high as 20 mph.
While last year’s champion, South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen won’t be playing this week because the win earned him an exemption into the Open Championship, showing what a win at the Barracuda can mean for a players career.
“Barracuda was sort of the springboard I needed … it was just such a big turnaround for me,” said Rooyen during a press conference. “I wasn’t playing great golf leading up to the Barracuda and for things to come together there was truly just perfect timing.
“To win the Barracuda at that point of the season with my back against the wall, I mean, I took tremendous confidence from that.”
The Barracuda Championship leads the PGA Tour with six consecutive first-time winners. Going into this year’s tournament, most writers from the PGA Tour are favoring Maverick McNealy, 26. McNealy finished tied for 18th last year at the Barracuda Championship. He finished tied for eighth place at the John Deere Classic earlier this month, and then finished last week’s Genesis Scottish open tied for 16th place.
Also in the field is 2018 winner and last year’s runner-up Andrew Putnam, 33. Denmark’s Rasmus Hojgaard finished in a tie for 10th at last week’s Genesis Scottish Open and should be in the mix once Sunday’s final round begins.
“I was hoping to get into the Open … but I missed out by a shot, I think,” said Hojgaard. “So, Sunday night I had to book a flight. I flew from Edinburgh to Washington, and then Washington to Sacramento, and then drove from there. So, that was a very long trip.”
Other favorites include Marc Hubbard, 33, who finished third at last week’s Barbasol Championship; Cam Davis, 27, who finished tied for eighth at the John Deere Classic; Alex Noren, 39, who tied for 30th at the Genesis Scottish Open; Matti Schmid, 24, who tied for eighth at the Barbasol Championship; and Brandon Hagy, 31, who tied for 27th at the Barbasol Championship.
The field of players this year has been expanded to 156 golfers in order to include the top 50 available from the DP World Tour.
Geoff Oglivy, 45, is set to make his first PGA Tour start in eight years. The Australian is an eight-time winner on the tour and won the U.S. Open in 2006. He also won the Barracuda Championship in 2014.
Ogilvy received a sponsor exemption into the field at Tahoe Mountain Club. And after feeling worn down by the day-to-day grind of a professional golfer, Oglivy said he finds himself reinvigorated as he prepares to make his return at this week’s Barracuda Championship.
“I’d been on the go since I was a late teenager traveling around playing golf, and golf is a frustrating game,” remarked Ogilvy during an interview with the PGA’s Kevin Prise. “It can wear you out. And when it’s your job and you’ve got kids at home and you just want to be home, and you’re five, six weeks in a row and you miss another cut and you’re sitting in a hotel room, it just gets old. When your kids are calling you up saying, ‘I did this today; I did that today’ … there are better things in life than struggling and digging holes on the range.
“In that sense, I think anyone who stays out here for 10, 15, 20 or so years is going to have periods where they feel like that. I had a great run. I played really well. I scratched my itch. I’d love to sort of get back amongst it and get in contention a few more times and sort of … but I wouldn’t be disappointed if I didn’t. I’m glad I have the opportunity to be able to do this every now and then and play a little bit. If I play a little bit more, that’s great, but I’m loving being dad at home and I’m loving the architecture, and the foundation stuff we’re doing with the junior golfers is really good down there … “I’m dad first now,” concluded Ogilvy, “and someone who will play golf every now and then.”
The Barracuda Championship will run through Sunday at Old Greenwood. The event will be broadcast by the GOLF Channel from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. each day. More information and an updated leaderboard can be found at http://www.pgatour.com/tournaments/barracuda-championship.html.
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