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Preview: PGA Tour’s Barracuda Championship in Reno

Preview – PGA Tour – Barracuda Championship – Montreux Country Club – Reno, Nevada –

The PGA Tour’s opposite-field event this week in the Reno-Tahoe area features a new sponsor and name – the Barracuda Championship.

Barracuda Networks signed a four-year deal to sponsor the tournament.

With the FedEx Cup Playoffs just weeks away, players are trying to get inside the Top 125 to qualify, making Reno an important tour stop. The field includes an international flair with the likes of Andres Romero, George Coetzee, Padraig Harrington, Retief Goosen and Greg Chalmers.

For the second straight year, the Modified Stableford scoring system decides the champion here. The format rewards aggressive play applying points to the strokes recorded per hole – an eagle is worth +5 points with birdies recording +2 points. Pars are zero and then bogeys are -1 points and double-bogeys or worse are slapped with -3 points. Add them up and the most points wins.

Montreux Country Club in Reno, Nevada hosts the 16th playing of this event. The par-72 Jack Nicklaus-designed course reaches nearly 7,500 yards and can be overpowered.

Look for Birdie Average standouts on the PGA Tour to contend.

The event provides FedEx Cup point opportunities, but also the chance for a first-time champion to breakthrough or an aging veteran’s last shot to hoist a trophy just one more time.

2012 Outcome:

  • Gary Woodland (44 points) used consistent rounds to tally enough points to win by nine over two players including Jonathan Byrd and Romero. Byrd rallied with 29 weekend points including 18 on Sunday for a solo second finish. Brendan Steele used 17 points on Saturday in round three to move up the leader board before ending up fourth. David Pride and David Mathis logged Top 5s.

The Golf Channel has television coverage all week.

FANTASY: Take Nick Watney, who seems to be returning to form. He spent some time last week in Canada on the first page of the leader board. He was just three back heading into the weekend. Romero’s history here makes him a must-start. Kyle Stanley comes in under the radar a bit. He opened with 65 in Canada to lead after 18 holes. Rory Sabbatini should step up in this spot.

BETTORS: Romero, at 16-to-1 odds, is the co-betting favorite at Skybet.com. He has Top 3 finishes in each of his last two starts at this tournament. Steele and Watney are also 16-1, but consider Michael Putnam at 20-1. Putnam enters with some momentum after a Top 10 at the RBC Canadian Open. For longer shots, take Byrd at 66-1.

Other Golf News:

  • The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational tees off Thursday with Adam Scott approaching three months at the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking. Scott can lose the No. 1 ranking in two scenarios this week. Rory McIlroy needs to win to have a chance to overtake Scott.
  • U.S.-born players have won the last 15 tournaments played in Reno, Nevada.
  • The Champions Tour hosts the 3M Championship this weekend at the TPC Twin Cities. Bernhard Langer is the betting favorite at 3-1 odds in a tournament that also features Hall of Famer Vijay Singh in the field.
  • After a second Top 3 in as many starts last week, Jim Furyk returns to action at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron. Furyk has had near misses at this tournament losing a tight one to Tiger Woods a few years ago and making double-bogey in 2012 at the final hole to lose to Keegan Bradley. Furyk ranks fourth among active players in runner-up finishes on the PGA Tour with 28. He is just behind Woods and Phil Mickelson, who have 29 each, and Davis Love III (who leads with 30).