The time is nigh for FedEx Cup Playoff points, and while the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis this week will command most of the attention and top-ranked golfers a week after the British Open wrapped up, another alternate PGA Tour event is ripe with storylines.
The field at the Barracuda Championship in western Nevada — devoid of any top-50 ranked players, who are instead invited to Memphis — has plenty to play for.
There’s Jim Herman, coming off a one-stroke win at the Barbasol Championship last week but who still sits outside the top-125 of the FedEx Cup standings. And Collin Morikawa, the rookie who finished runner-up to Matthew Wolff at the 3M Open, is in search of his maiden victory — and the two-year exemption that comes with a trophy. As is Doc Redman, the 21-year-old who’s in a similar boat as Morikawa after placing second in the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
The Barracuda Championship, with its wonky scoring system and views of the Sierra Nevada, could prove to be as much of an oasis as a mountain vista for the 132-player field, be it a harbinger of a career-defining victory or small push up the FedEx Cup standings.
Andrew Putnam, the reigning champion, made his way into the 64-player field for the St. Jude Invitational, so he won’t be defending his title in Reno. But last year’s runner-up, Chad Campbell, will return to the event looking for his first PGA Tour win since 2007.
In addition to the $3.5 million purse up for grabs at the par-72, 7,472-yard Montreux Golf and Country Club, the winner will earn 300 Fedex Cup points, navigating a Modified Stableford scoring system.
In its eighth year of use at the Barracuda Championship — the only PGA Tour tournament that uses the Stableford system — the unique scoring method delivers points based on a golfer’s performance at each hole. At this event, at least, golfers are aiming for the highest possible score, and the scoring system rewards risk-taking on the course.
For an albatross, golfers are awarded eight positive points. An eagle counts for five and a birdie for two. Par, meanwhile, neither adds nor subtracts points. A bogey takes away a point and a double-bogey or worse counts for -3. The scoring method means two players could shoot even par, yet have different scoring totals, adding excitement — or perhaps a twinge of confusion for newcomers — to the tournament.
Add that to the crunch-time aspect that comes with the approach of the FedEx Cup Playoffs for fringe-golfers such as Herman, Harris English and Daniel Berger. And Morikawa and Redman, competing on special temporary exemptions, will be looking to make their PGA Tour stays more permanent.