The Barbasol Championship was introduced to the PGA Tour schedule seven years ago to fill the slot left by the Sanderson Farms Championship when that event event moved to its now familiar autumnal slot.
Ordinarily played in the same week as the Open Championship, the Barbasol Championship has shuffled forward one week this year to play opposite the now co-sanctioned Scottish Open and the Barracuda Championship will play alongside the 150th edition of the Open next week.
Like next week's Barracuda Championship, and the Scottish Open on the DP World Tour, the Barbasol is now co-sanctioned between the two Tours, and there are 50 spots available for players from the DP World Tour, although nowhere near 50 have made it across the Pond.
The tournament was staged on the Lakes Course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama for the first three years, but it switched to the Champions Course at the Keene Trace club in Kentucky in 2018.
The Barbasol Championship was one of the few events cancelled because of the pandemic on the PGA Tour in 2020.
The Champions Course, Keene Trace Golf Club, Nicholasville, Kentucky
Par 72, 7,328 yards
Stroke Index in 2021 - 69.9
Designed by Arthur Hills 34 years ago, the Champions Course is one of two courses at the Keene Trace Club.
The bentgrass fairways are generous and the bluegrass/bentgrass rough is not too penal. The bentgrass greens are large with some undulation and they're expected to run at around 12 on the Stimpmeter.
The two nines were reversed for the inaugural staging, but they reverted to how the members play the course in 2019.
The pros have demolished the Champions Course in each of the first three editions here with plenty of low scores being posted.
Last year's playoff protagonists, Seamus Power and J.T Poston, only reached 21-under-par but Poston dropped three strokes late on in round four and James Hahn shot a 12-under-par 60 in round three.
It really is an easy set-up and we're going to get yet another birdie-fest.
Live on Sky Sports all four days, starting at 21:00 on Thursday
First Six Winners with Pre-event Exchange Prices
2015 - Scott Piercy -19 26.025/1
2016 - Aaron Baddeley -18 40.039/1 (playoff)
2017 - Grayson Murray -21 55.054/1
2018 - Troy Merritt -23 50.049/1
2019 - Jim Herman -26 1000.0
2020 - Event Cancelled
2021 - Seamus Power -21 (playoff) 25.024/1
What Will it Take to Win the Barbasol Championship?
Here are the top-five and ties from the first three editions staged here with all the usual stats.
Troy Merritt -23 - DD: 15, DA: 15, GIR: 5, Scr: 3, PA: 4
Billy Horschel -22 - DD: 17, DA: 8, GIR: 7, Scr: 2, PA: 29
Tom Lovelady -22 - DD: 1, DA: 34, GIR: 18, Scr: 5, PA: 42
Richy Werenski -22 - DD: 40, DA: 15, GIR: 1, Scr: 16, PA: 27
JT Poston -21 - DD: 20, DA: 45, GIR: 9, Scr: 12, PA: 7
Jim Herman -26 - DD: 30, DA: 8, GIR: 1, Scr: 1, PA: 39
Kelly Kraft -25 - DD: 58, DA: 5, GIR: 13, Scr: 10, PA: 1
Sepp Straka -23 - DD: 16, DA: 1, GIR: 5, Scr: 44, PA: 5
Austin Cook -22 - DD: 21, DA: 8, GIR: 51, Scr: 18, PA: 7
Matt Jones -22 - DD: 25, DA: 42, GIR: 7, Scr: 14, PA: 14
Seamus Power -21 - DD: 27, DA: 30, GIR: 8, Scr: 5, PA: 10
JT Poston -21 - DD: 48, DA: 22, GIR: 1, Scr: 12, PA: 25
Anirban Lahiri -20 - DD: 32, DA: 30, GIR: 33, Scr: 38, PA: 4
Sam Ryder -20 - DD: 35, DA: 43, GIR: 4, Scr: 4, PA: 57
Ryan Armour -19 - DD: 66, DA: 2, GIR: 1, Scr: 12, PA: 29
James Hahn -19 - DD: 26, DA: 7, GIR: 38, Scr: 49, PA: 16
Luke List -19 - DD: 3, DA: 17, GIR: 11, Scr: 12, PA: 62
Henrik Norlander -19 - DD: 60, DA: 5, GIR: 25, Scr: 24, PA: 12
Mito Pereira -19 - DD: 19, DA: 7, GIR: 11, Scr: 12, PA: 9
Patrick Rodgers -19 - DD: 7, DA: 30, GIR: 25, Scr: 24, PA: 12
DD - Driving Distance
DA - Driving Accuracy
GIR - Greens In Regulation
Scr - Scrambling
PA - Putting Average
Finding fairways is slightly more important than bombing it miles off the tee but finding the greens and scrambling well when they're missed is what this tournament's all about. The players need to set up as many birdie chances as possible because you just need to go low and keep going low.
In three editions here, last year's victor, Power, has had the worst Greens In Regulation and Scrambling stats of the three winners to date but he still ranked eighth for GIR and fifth for Scrambling.
Is There an Angle In?
The 2019 winner, Jim Harman, is a difficult player to get to grips with. He won this out of the blue following a run of eight straight missed cuts and his form was not much better prior to his victory at the Wyndham Championship in 2020.
Grayson Murray's victory was out of the blue also in 2017 but Power had finished eighth in each of his last two starts, in the Rocker Mortgage Classic and the John Deere Classic, and Troy Merritt had shown signs of form with a 17th place finish in the Quicken Loans National before a 43rd in the John Deere Classic, where he improved his position daily.
Merritt had been on the fringes of contention at the Quicken Loans before a poor final round and he was slow off the mark in the John Deere Classic, firing 72. He sat 112th as a missed cut beckoned after round one but rounds of 67, 69 and 67 saw him climb to 43rd. Nothing spectacular, but it was fair form and that mirrored the form of the first two event winners...
Scott Piercy had been 29th at the Greenbrier Classic and 14th at the John Deere Classic in the two weeks prior to winning the inaugural Barbasol Championship and Aaron Baddeley had finished 12th at the Quicken Loans National and 17th at the Barracuda Championship, so, like Merritt and Power, they too had signalled something.
With that in mind, last week's event, the John Deere Classic, is a low-scoring birdie-fest on bentgrass greens so a decent warm up there should be ideal for this week, and Poston has cemented the link now that he's contended strongly at both tracks. He should have won this last year and he won the JDC last week.
I'd view a reasonable finish in the JDC Classic as a big plus and I just wonder whether the Wyndham Championship could be a pointer too.
Ryan Armour, who finished tied for fifth last year, has an eighth and a fourth at Sedgefield, Herman won the 2020 Wyndham, with the 2018 runner-up here, Billy Horschel, in second, and the 2019 Wyndham winner, Poston, really should have won here 12 months ago.
In the absence of too much to go on after just three renewals at this track, a good week in Illinois last week and/or a decent record at Sedgefield Country Club (home of the Wyndham Championship), could be noteworthy.
Is There an Identikit Winner?
These opposite field events are very tricky to weigh up as they represent a great chance for struggling older pros to get back on track, as well as being a golden opportunity for up-and-coming players looking to earn the stability of a two-year exemption.
Grayson Murray was only 23 when he won this in 2017 but Merritt was winning for a second time on the PGA Tour at the age of 32, Power, although winning for the first time, was 34, Piercy and Baddeley were both 36 when they took the title and Herman was 41 so although it's early days, it's the older pros that have prospered in the main at this event so far.
Winner's Position and Exchange Price Pre-Round Four at Keene Trace
2018 - Troy Merritt - tied for the lead 3.3512/5
2019 - Jim Herman - led by a stroke 2.526/4
2020 - Seamus Power - tied for fifth, trailing by three 12.011/1
As is always the case when the scoring is low, making up ground is going to be tough.
The first four home in 2018 were always inside the top-eight places throughout the week, the top-two in 2019 were never worse than fourth after any round, Merritt won wire-to-wire, and Herman was never headed after halfway.
Power was a 12.011/1 chance with a round to go 12 months ago but he was never outside the top-five in-between rounds and second and third round leader, Poston, really should have won.
Poston was matched at a low of 1.021/50 as he played the back-nine on Sunday but a double-bogey at the par five 15th and a bogey at the 16th saw him come back to the field. Power went on to beat Poston at the sixth extra hole.
Concentrating on the leaders from very early on looks the way to go.
Chris Gotterup heads the market after last week's fourth in the John Deere Classic, but he was 120.0119/1 before the off last week and he didn't particularly impress in-contention.
I highlighted his chances before the off in the Find Me a 100 Winner column last Wednesday and I backed him in running after a great start at the same price he's going off at this week but he lost his way in round three.
We don't yet know how good he is, and I was happy to chance him at big prices, but he looks too short before the off here.
A host of players are priced at around the 30.029/1 mark and a case of sorts can be made for most of them given the strength of the field.
Another I mentioned in last week's Find Me a 100 Winner column, Chesson Hadley, would be my idea of the best of those but again, he looks short enough at 32.031/1 given I threw a few pounds in his direction at 160.0159/1 last week before he finished nicely for 10th, a week after finishing fifth at the Travelers Championship.
Michael Thompson would have been trading at quite a bit shorter than 80.079/1 had he shot a better round on Sunday at the John Deere Classic, when he fell from 21st to 59th with a 75 in round four.
We haven't seen a lot from the 2020 3M Open winner since he finished fifth in the Sony Open and 11th in the Farmers Insurance Open at the start of the year, but he's been showing sign of life of late, having finished 25th in the Byron Nelson Championship and 40th in the Charles Schwab before last week and I thought 80.079/1 was fair.
And I've taken the same price about James Hahn who was playing quite nicely a few weeks back when he finished ninth in both the Wells Fargo Championship and the Byron Nelson. He's a cooled off a bit since but memories of last year's 60 in round three, when he finished fifth, could inspire a return to form.
Michael Thompson @ 80.079/1
James Hahn @ 80.079/1
I'll be back tomorrow with the Find Me a 100 Winner column.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter