Golf is a name recognition sport, and that’s a shame.
It seems like if your name isn’t Tiger, Phil, Sergio, Jordan or Rory, people don’t know who you are, or don’t pay attention. That is so wrong.
In the 10-plus years I’ve covered the PGA tournament in Reno, now known as the Barracuda Championship, I’ve seen some spectacular golf and some great young players.
This year is no different. I’ve enjoyed watching young lions like Patrick Rodgers, Bronson Burgoon, Jon Rahm, Tom Hoge, Whee Kim, Ben Martin, Cameron Tringale, Sam Saunders, Zac Blair, Rhein Gibson, Cameron Smith, Chesson Hadley, Kyle Stanley and Morgan Hoffmann to name a few. All, if I did my math correctly, all are under 30 and entering into their golfing prime.
Trust me when I say this, you probably haven’t heard of most of these guys, but they can play the game. Some of these guys are full-time PGA Tour players, while others split their time between Web.com and regular PGA Tour events. The younger players get more exposure at opposite full-field events like the Barracuda.
I bring this up because I’m often frustrated at the lack of attendance at the Barracuda. It’s a fun event with a fun format. I think people stay away because they don’t know the players, and that’s a shame, because they are missing some tremendous golf.
If you truly appreciate good golf, then you should be out at Montreux every year. You will see some good golf, and you will see the stars of tomorrow. The kids coming out of college nowadays are so far advanced. They’re confident, and back that up with good play.
There some good, well known experienced players here, too. Guys like Brendan Steele, Gary Woodland, Ricky Barnes, Martin Laird, Greg Chalmers, Jason Gore, Jhonattan Vegas, Colt Knost, Spencer Levin, Robert Garrigus and Aaron Baddeley.
Baddeley and Laird have won three times, while Woodland has won twice, including the 2013 Barracuda. Gore, Vegas, Garrigus and Steele have each won once. Barnes and Levin have recorded second-place finishes.
Barnes is a hometown favorite, having recently built a home in Truckee. He’s married to former Nevada volleyball star Suzanne Stonebarger. He tied for second at the 2009 U.S. Open.
Chalmers has finished second a couple of times, and is trying to break a 0-for-385-tournament drought, which started in 1998 when he played in two events. He has essentially been a full-time PGA player since 1999.
If you like golf and are still in town for the holiday weekend, come out for the final round. You won’t be disappointed. It’s a beautiful golf course.
I’ve talked to plenty of players the past three days, and they all like the course and they all love the format.
For those casual golf fans, the Barracuda is played in the Modified Stableford format. You get zero for a par, two for a birdie, five for an eagle, eight for a double-eagle, minus-1 for a bogey and minus-3 for a double-bogey or worse.
The format is designed to reward aggressive play. For instance, two birdies and two bogeys are better than four pars. In stroke play, you would be even par, and in this format you have 2 points.
“It’s a fun format,” Gore said. “Every week we play the same 72 holes of stroke play. Yeah, it’s fun to get a little change of pace and have a little different format.”
“I love the format,” Steele said. “I think it’s so much fun. Anytime you’re not doing just four rounds of stroke play, the basic stuff, it’s so much more fun, I think. So I really enjoy that part of it and I think just anytime you’re excited and you’re smiling and excited to get out onto the tee, then you’re probably going to play a little better.”
Steele said he would love to see another Stableford event on the calendar. Any change would have to be approved by the PGA Tour, and Steele said a request would likely have to come from a tournament sponsor.
The best thing about the Stableford is you’re truly never out of a tournament. It’s rare in stroke play if a golfer comes back from a 10-shot deficit to win a tournament, but Kyle Reifers came back from a double-digit deficit last year to force extra holes against J.J. Henry, who won on the second hole of sudden death.