The alternate field at the Barbasol gave us the better look at a winner last week with Matti Schmid tied for the lead with six holes to go. It ultimately didn’t work out, but we’ll take another shot again this week at the Barracuda Championship.
This is also the lone Modified Stableford event on the PGA TOUR schedule, which provides an edge to the more aggressive birdie makers.
Old Greenwood is a Jack Nicklaus design and measures 7,390 yards for a par 71, but given the altitude, that effectively plays in the high 6,000s. I wouldn’t expect the players to find too much trouble here.
All the par 5s will be reachable for most of the field. There are also two par 4s that are drivable for the longer hitters.
Given how valuable an eagle is in this format, Strokes Gained: Off the Tee with a lean toward accuracy and Birdie-or-Better Percentage will be my starting points. Length will be key to create easy birdie opportunities, but the fairways are tree-lined on many holes, so players can’t stray too far off the path. Water is also in play on six holes, so misplaced irons will be punished.
I’ll also give a slight edge to more comfortable players on Poa Annua greens that we typically see out west.
Overall, it’s fairly easy. Erik Van Rooyen won a year ago with 50 points, which came out to 21-under par on his stroke-play scorecard.
We could see some shake up here during the week. Maverick McNealy opens as the pretty clear favorite at around +1100. He’s played well here both years, finishing inside the top 20 in each. He’s also finished inside the top 20 in each of his past two events, so the form is heading the right way for him as well.
Right below him is where the field could see some changes. Alex Noren and Cameron Davis are in at around +1600, but Noren is the next alternate in the Open while Davis is third on the list. If we see some early withdrawals in Scotland, these two could be on a plane to the UK
In the + 2000s, we have Nick Hardy, Doug Ghim, Rasmus Hojgaard, Taylor Pendrith and Mark Hubbard. Hojgaard, Pendrith and Hubbard are fresh off solid weeks in Scotland and Kentucky respectively.
Hojgaard would probably draw the most interest from me of this bunch. He’s fresh off a top 10 at the Scottish Open in a strong field and had a really good approach week. He’s also played well twice in these lower-end PGA TOUR stops, finishing sixth at Corales and 18th at Valero. In fact, he’ll be my first play here at +2800 on BetRivers.
In this range, I’ll open with Matthias Schwab at +4500 on Bet365. Schwab was third here two years ago and had a solid ball striking week at the John Deere in his last start where he placed 16th. He’s cooled off a bit from a decent run in March when he had back-to-back top 10s, but he’s been fairly consistent this year, making the cut in 10 of 13 starts on the PGA TOUR in 2022.
I’ll close this range with Callum Tarren at +9000 on Bet365. Tarren is coming off a missed cut in Scotland but drove the ball really well. He was also sixth at the John Deere a couple weeks ago and fifth in Puerto Rico, showing he can contend in these fields when the big names are away.
In this spot, we’ll go to Brandon Hagy at 100/1 on BetRivers. Hagy is a Cal alum, so heading back to the West Coast should suit him. He had a good week tee to green at the Barbasol as well, and his finish of 27th is a little misleading after he played his final three holes in five over. The course has also suited him in the past. He’s finished fifth and 12th here in two starts.
Right behind him, we’ll go to Espen Kofstad at 110/1 on Bet365. Kofstad has gone ninth and 13th the past two weeks and is heading back West where he played his college golf at Denver, so the altitude adjustment could play in his favor. The irons have been a weak point for him, but he’s been improving there lately and finished slightly above field average there at the Barbasol while also gaining strokes in the other three categories as well.
We’re also going with Marcus Helligkilde at 125/1 on BetRivers. Helligkilde is in his rookie year on the DP World Tour after picking up three victories on the Challenge Tour (their version of Korn Ferry) last year.
The 25-year-old Dane missed a couple months earlier in the season, but his game is coming back around. We saw him finish eighth last week at the Barbasol on the back of a strong ball striking performance. The irons have been the issue in Europe for him, so seeing him pick up six strokes on approach last week is enough of a move in the right direction to play him at this price.
Lastly, I’ll close here with a complete shot in the dark on Joshua Creel at 500/1 on BetRivers. The rookie has struggled all season on the PGA TOUR. He’s only made three cuts in 18 starts, so it’s obvious why he’s in this range. I’m taking a flier here because they were heading back West and going to altitude, which could be a better fit for him. The Wyoming native’s win on the Korn Ferry Tour came in Utah at an altitude adjusted birdie fest, so this could be the best course fit for him on the tour.
The stats aren’t good, but they’re improving. He’s been at or above the field average in ball striking for four straight events now and has shown signs of gaining ground both off the tee and with the irons. He’s probably going to have some decent odds to finish in the top 20 or 40 this week, so if there’s a spot where he could actually pop up on a leaderboard and get a result, this is the place.
The Barracuda Card
- Rasmus Hojgaard +2800 (1.18 units)
- Matthias Schwab +4500 (.73 units)
- Callum Tarren +9000 (.37 units)
- Brandon Hagy +10000 (.33 units)
- Espen Kofstad +11000 (.3 units)
- Marcus Helligkilde +12500 (.26 units)
- Joshua Creel +50000 (.07 units)
Total stake: 3.24 units