RENO — John Mallinger won a car and set a single-day scoring record during the third round of the Barracuda Championship Saturday at Montreux Golf & Country Club.
Mallinger, who got into the tournament on a sponsor’s exemption, aced the 165-yard par-3 11th, which moved him from 13 to 18 points. The shot earned him a two-year lease on a new Lexus.
“Perfect club (9-iron) for me,” Mallinger said. “I think it was 150 yards playing a little downwind. You can’t see; it’s elevated. I hit it. They all clapped. I was like, ‘Is it close, is that in.’ Sounds like I got a Lexus.”
Mallinger, who threw his club in the air when he realized he had aced the hole, said the shot got him going.
“Yeah, I just started off a little bit slow,” he said. “Only had a couple of birdies on the front and then made the turn and made a 1. It kind of kick-started my day. I just got some confidence from there. I made some birdies coming in.
“In this format, you get five points obviously you’re right back in the tournament. So for me I knew I had some birdie holes coming. Get some momentum going and next thing you know you’re right back in the tournament.”
After the ace at 11, he dropped in a 4-foot birdie putt on No. 12 and then registered a two-putt birdie on No. 13. A 10-foot birdie put on 15 boosted him to 24, and he then dropped in a 14-footer for birdie on No. 17 and then got down in two from the greenside bunker at No. 18 for another birdie and the early lead at 28.
“I got a little more aggressive because I knew I was back in the tournament,” Mallinger said. “So made some really nice putts coming in. Birdied the last two which was nice.”
Taking a stroll around Montreux Golf & Country Club is no easy task. Just ask any of the 132 players or their caddies at this week’s tournament.
“It’s the toughest by far,” said Eric Bajas, who caddies for Bryce Molder. “Other caddies and myself were talking about that today. Kapalua is tough, but you get three or four shuttle rides during the course of the round.”
“You have five holes here that make it tough, but other than that it’s not bad,” Molder said. “From the second green to the fourth green, and from the 10th green through to the 14th hole. Kapalua isn’t that bad (because of the shuttles). If we didn’t have the amount of shuttles that we do at Kapalua, that would be the toughest.”
Geoff Ogilvy agreed.
“Kapalua (Maui) is probably the hardest, but we do get three or four shuttle rides,” said Ogilvy after his round on Friday. “I think this might be No. 2. We only get one shuttle here, and that’s between 9 and 10. If we had to make that walk …”
The biggest issue at Montreux could very well be the elevation. The course sits at 5,000 feet, and there are several holes where the elevation changes dramatically.
“None of us on the tour are used to altitude,” said Troy Matteson. “Most of us play at sea level.
“I do a lot of hiking, and the key is staying at a steady pace. If you walk too fast you’ll be out of breath by the time you get to your ball.”
One difference between Kapalua and Montreux, according to Matteson, is Nos. 17, 18 and 1 are in a straight line. Not the case at Montreux where the elevation changes by more than 100 feet on No. 17, and then you have to go across the street and up a short incline to get to No. 1 from the 18th.
Ricky Barnes, a part-time Truckee resident, was in the lead briefly when he ripped off a PGA-tying record seven straight birdies to get to 27 points.
Barnes registered birdies at Nos. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 thanks to putts ranging from 3 to 12 feet.
However, Barnes managed just a par at the par-5 13th, and then doubled the par-4 14th and bogeyed the par-4 15th to drop to 23.
The toughest hole on Saturday’s round was the par-4 4th that played to a 4.189. The next toughest was the par-4 5th which played to a 4.91.
The easiest hole on Saturday was the par-5 18th, which played to a 4.50. The second easiest was the par-5 13th which played to a 4.554.
Besides Mallinger, Ben Curtis aced the par-3 3rd … A total of 24 players scored in double digits … David Toms withdrew prior to the round because of a back injury … The worst score of the day was a minus-2 which was turned in by Brian Stuard, Thorbjorn Olesen and Kent Jones.