The Barbasol Championship is a brand new event designed to fill the gap left by the Sanderson Farms Championship last year when it moved from this week's position opposite the Open Championship to its new autumnal slot.
The Lake Course, Grand National, Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Auburn/Opelika, Alabama
Par 71, 7,149 yards
Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr in 1992, the Lake Course at the Grand National Golf Facility, which is one of 11 facilities on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, is aptly named given 12 holes are adjacent to Lake Saugahatchee. All four par 3s play near or along water and the signature hole is the par 3 16th which is played to a peninsula green.
The Lake course was the venue for the 1997 Nike Tour Championship (now the Web.com Tour) when it was played as a par 72. The event was won wire-to-wire by Steve Flesch with a ten-under-par total. Flesch ended the week four clear of Chris Smith in second.
It was also used for the 2000 NCAA Championship won by Charles Howell III.
Live coverage on Sky Sports, starting on Thursday.
Is There an Angle In?
With the Open Championship getting all the attention (previewed here), I've struggled to research this event in detail and when I have found time to look, I haven't been able to find out much.
I did email the venue a few weeks back and was informed that Jason Dufner, Blayne Barber and Will Claxton all play here at times. Dufner is playing in the Open Championship and Claxton isn't in the field so that just leaves Barber.
This is the first PGA Tour event in Alabama since the 1990 USPGA Championship so some of the locals will be mad keen to get going and they may be worth siding with. This article here looks at some of the Alabama natives playing this week.
If the 1997 Tour Championship is anything to go by, it might not be too easy to make up ground here. Flesch made all the running and won comfortably by four strokes and 10 of the top 13 were all within three of the lead after round one.
It's really hard to view players that usually go off at triple-figures as anything like value when they're all of sudden trading at 10 times less but Johnson Wagner has been playing some good stuff in the last two weeks and could go well again.
Local man, Will Wilcox is someone I've been keen on but I see he's been running clinics at the venue and I just wonder if there'll be a bit too much attention on him. He'll be expecting a decent week and that could go against him.
I've thrown a few pounds on Barber, given that he knows the venue and I've also risked a few pounds on Charlie Beljan, who only last month was finishing 18th at the US Open but that's it for now.
If I'm not too tired, after a long opening day at St Andrews, I'll watch the live coverage on Thursday and see what I make of the course but I have to be honest, I may not be getting too involved with this event this year given I know so little about the venue.
Blayne Barber @ 66/1 (Sportsbook)
Charlie Beljan @ 90.089/1
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