The Barracuda Championship leaves Nevada for nearby California, with this week's instalment taking place over the Old Greenwood course. Words and stats by Andy Swales...
"All but one of the tournament's eight Stableford champions were inside the top-five at the half-way stage. And six of these eight winners were either leading outright, or tied for the lead, through 54 holes."
The PGA Tour welcomes a new venue to its schedule, with the Barracuda Championship being played at Tahoe Mountain Club, an exclusive ski resort in Truckee, California.
After 21 consecutive years at Montreux in Nevada, the tournament crosses the state border to be staged at another stunning Jack Nicklaus design.
Tahoe Mountain Club is barely 30 miles from Montreux, and is laid out within 600 acres of picturesque forest and meadowland.
Opened in 2004, the club's Old Greenwood course is surrounded by the many peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
And similar to its predecessor Montreux, which first hosted a PGA Tour event in 1999, Old Greenwood is located almost 6,000 feet above sea level - which means the ball will travel around 10-15% further than normal in this rarefied air.
Towering pine trees line most of the fairways at a venue where water comes into play on six holes.
The tournament was originally scheduled for early July, but was delayed by four weeks to accommodate the revised post-Covid calendar.
However, despite a change of venue, the tournament will still be contested using a modified Stableford format.
The points' system for this 72-hole tournament is as follows: Double Eagle: 8 pts; Eagle: 5; Birdie: 2; Par: 0; Bogey: -1; Double Bogey or worse: -3.
With more points awarded for a birdie, than a bogey, it is a format devised to encourage attacking golf.
In each of the previous eight instalments, using this modified Stableford system, all winning totals have ranged between 43 and 49 points - although that could easily change this year on a new untried layout.
Once again, the tournament is being staged in the same week as the more prestigious WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational in Tennessee.
Hard to call
Traditionally, this has been a notoriously difficult tournament to call for two reasons: The unusual points format, combined with a normally mediocre field made up of run-of-the-mill pros who have failed to qualify for the WGC event which also takes place this week.
One trend which has remained fairly constant, is that eventual champions tend to make a strong start.
And that's probably because it's slightly easier, mentally, to maintain your position on the leaderboard in a Stableford event, than when attempting to safeguard your score in the more ruthless and vulnerable strokeplay format - when one bad shot can ruin an entire card.
All but one of the tournament's eight Stableford champions were inside the top-five at the half-way stage.
Check out latest betting ahead of this week's Barracuda Championship
And six of these eight winners were either leading outright, or tied for the lead, through 54 holes. In other words, a good format for front-runners.
Three to watch
Among the contenders this week is Brendan Steele, the world No 102. Two of his three starts since the Tour resumed in June have yielded top-15 finishes - including a tie-for-13th at Muirfield Village.
And since the Barracuda became a Stableford event in 2012, he has finished inside the top-25 on five occasions - more times than anyone else.
Two others to consider are Korean Si Woo Kim and Swede Alexander Noren.
Both golfers have the ability to be playing in Tennessee this week, but have lost their way in recent months.
Kim has had a couple of T-20s during the past month, while Noren's tie-for-third in Minnesota at the weekend was his highest finish anywhere in the world since July 2018.
Just one word of caution: Branden Grace is currently among the leading reserves for the tournament in Tennessee, so there's an outside chance he could head to Memphis should a small number of golfers decide to withdraw from the WGC event.
Twitter: Andy Swales@GolfStatsAlive
Table below shows current form
Note: List Contains Leading Reserves
|Si Woo Kim||46||18||64||57||11||MC||MC||MC||MC|
|Brendon de Jonge||MC||64|
|Bo Van Pelt||65||Wd||68||MC||MC||MC||60|