July 30 – Aug 2
Tahoe Mountain Club, Old Greenwood Course
Par 72, 7518 yards
The Barracuda Championship is a long-standing fixture on the PGA Tour but this year finds a new course to play host having started life as the Reno Tahoe Open back in 1999. This is the only week on the PGA Tour that they play to a modified Stableford system with the scoring system as below;
Double Bogey or worse -3
The Old Greenwood Course was designed by Jack Nicklaus, nestling in the Sierra Nevada mountains on forest and meadowland that is located 6000 feet above sea level meaning golf shots will travel 10-15% further. We can expect the course in pristine condition with Bermuda greens specialists favoured this week.
How do we establish the type of players to support at this week’s course?
We know the format encourages attacking golf while not penalizing poor play as harshly as normal. Therefore we can use the PGA Tour stats for birdie, eagle average combined with all putting stats that will help narrow the field while another aspect still possibly relevant could be previous course form that was achieved at altitude.
Richy Werenski has always been a reliable putter and low scorer on easy courses, he also has a runner up finish in this event, back in 2017. We know how well Werenski has been performing in recent weeks and last week’s effort at the 3M OPEN came as no surprise. He was out banker top 20 pick and that bet never looked in danger after he took the first round lead. A player full of confidence and obviously close to the top of his game should make birdies galore this week in the Tahoe Mountains.
My idea of a player who fits the mould of what we are looking for this week is Denny McCarthy who has been in poor form during 2020 until the previous two weeks. The Memorial Tournament hinted a return to form was close for McCarthy and that was evidenced last week at the 3M Open when he contended prominently. He has been leading Shots Gained – Putting category for much of the season and now his long game is back in sync we can expect him to contend in the coming weeks starting here in the Tahoe Mountains.
One player who will be disappointed to see the course change this year I suspect is Chris Stroud who was on the brink of retiring from his PGA Tour career back in 2017 when he won his first and only PGA Tour title at this event. He has developed a remarkable affinity for the event and is the first player to consider every year and this year is no different despite the course change. He has played respectably well since the Covid-19 hiatus with decent finishes in three tournaments so now back at an event that suits his style and mindset he is especially worthy of strong consideration in this week’s place markets.
Another player who has developed a noticeable liking for this event over the years with some of his best career performances is Sam Saunders. The grandson of Arnold Palmer has only shone on the PGA Tour infrequently over the years but it is usually this tournament where he has racked up three successive top 10 finishes between 2016 and 2018. After the Covid-19 break, he performed creditably at the Korn Ferry Challenge at TPC Sawgrass and after a few weeks off he may play well again when fresh this week.
Norwegian, Kristoffer Ventura has been in the shadow of his better-known compatriot Viktor Hovland for the opening months of 2020 especially after Hovland won the Puerto Rico Open. Norwegian golf has never been stronger and Ventura has been playing solidly on both tours since the resumption. His putting statistics in 2020 are outstanding and he won twice on last year’s Korn Ferry Tour, like Saunders he played well on resumption at TPC Sawgrass but he has kept that form in the following weeks. This looks a perfect event for Ventura to win his first PGA Tour title at the age of twenty-five.
Robby Shelton caught the eye last week with a fast finishing 3rd at the 3M Open and that bucked some poor post Covid form for the Alabama man. At twenty-four years old he is already used to winning tournaments as 2019 proved when he won the Nashville Golf Open and Knoxville Open within three weeks of a each other during a purple patch that saw him go 2nd, 4th, 1st, MC, 1st illustrating he is a confidence player. At an attractive price he is a strong look as a potential winner this week.
PGA Golf Picks
- Denny McCarthy – Win @ +6600
- Denny McCarthy – Top 10 @ on request
- Robby Shelton – Win @ +8000
- Robby Shelton – Top 10 @ on request
PGA Golf Banker
I like usually to find journeyman professionals for this bet, players who can be relied upon to produce a disciplined performance without expectation of winning. With this tournament being points based it has undoubtedly suited several of these types over many years. Vaughan Taylor was a back to back champion in 2004/2005 and capable of solid efforts still while Jonathan Byrd has five top 20 finishes and played well at the Rocket Mortgage Classic recently. Richard Garrigus produced his first decent effort in many months last week in Minnesota and has four top 20s here. Nick Watney who unfortunately tested positive for Covid-19 on the PGA Tour resumption was back playing well last week and has three top 10s in this tournament.
The banker though will be Josh Teater who nearly won his first PGA Tour title at the start of 2020 at the Puerto Rico Open. Only a heartbreakingly freakish long putt that was travelling at speed from Viktor Hovland cruelly denied him at least the opportunity of a play off. Teater has always been at home in this format over the years and plays some of his best golf at altitude with his only ever win being at the Utah Championship. This journeyman professional has jumped a level in the last fifteen months and scores birdies and eagles at high frequency so just the sort for our banker bet.
PGA Golf Banker
- Josh Teater – Top 20 @ on request
- Kristoffer Ventura to beat Talor Gooch @ +122
- Denny McCarthy to beat Peter Uihlein @ -132
- Robby Shelton to beat Matthew Nesmith @ +105