Padraig Harrington coming to Reno-Tahoe Open

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RENO - Ireland's Padraig Harrington, a two-time British Open champion and a former PGA Champion, will be in the field at this year's Reno-Tahoe Open at Montreux Golf & Country Club.

The 72-hole tournament starts on Aug. 2. Las Vegas native Scott Piercy, who shot a third-round 61 last season en route to his first PGA win, will be back to defend his title.

Harrington, who likes to play in tournaments the week before majors (the PGA is the week after the RTO), wasn't eligible for the Bridgestone event because he wasn't ranked in the top 50.

RTO executive director Jana Smoley said she hadn't talked to Harrington directly, but had spoken with members of his "camp."

"That's a big name; that's international," Smoley said. "He's a great player. I'm glad to get a player of his caliber to come to Reno."

Harrington has won five PGA titles, including the 2008 PGA and British opens, and he also won the British Open in 2007. He's ranked 62nd in FedEx Cup points and has won more than $1.1 million this season.

A year ago, Smoley and tournament host Scott McCarron were able to lure Stuart Appleby to Reno for the first time. Smoley spends a lot of time on the road at various tournaments talking to players about playing in the RTO.

• The tournament is switching to the Modified Stableford system which awards eight points for a double-eagle, five points for an eagle, two points for a birdie, zero for a par, minus-1 for a bogey and minus-3 for a double-bogey.

Smoley said the change came about following conversations she had with a few tour players three or four years ago.

"I'm always asking players what we can do to get better; how we can better serve them," Smoley said. "One thing the players kept saying was that we needed to change the format in Reno. The first year(we) took over we were under water because I took over so late and the next year we decided to flip the nines (playing the course as it was designed by Jack Nickalus).

"I went to the PGA Tour's Chief of Operations and told him we wanted to go to the Modified Stableford. He just looked at me and told me it makes sense."

The RTO will be the only event using the Modified Stableford. The International, which was played in Castle Pines, Colo., for many years, used the format. The International could never find a title sponsor , and the tournament went away.

Piercy said he's never played in the new format.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "I've always been able to make a lot of birdies."

Piercy said the three finishing holes - Nos. 16, 17 and 18 - will lend themselves to some excitement.5


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