First staged in 1999 and known as the Reno-Tahoe Open, the Barracuda Championship has always been an opposite field event. It's historically been played in the same week as the Word Golf Championship but this year, as was the case 12 years ago when Louis Oosthuizen won the Open at St Andrews, it's being played opposite the Open Championship, which I've previewed here.
Since 2012, the tournament has used the modified Stableford scoring system, which was also used at the now defunct International in Colorado - another event played at altitude.
Like last week's Barbasol Championship, the Barracuda Championship is now co-sanctioned with the DP World Tour and there are 50 spots available for those that ordinarily ply their trade in Europe.
Points are awarded depending on a player's score on each hole thus.
Albatross: 8 points
Eagle: 5 points
Birdie: 2 points
Par: 0 points
Bogey: -1 point
Double-bogey or worse: -3 points
The player with the highest score after 72 holes will be the winner.
Old Greenwood Course, Tahoe Mountain Club, Truckee, California
Par 71 -7,425 yards
Stroke Average in 2021 - 69.82
The Barracuda Championship switched venues in 2020 for the first time in its history, moving approximately 30 miles from the Jack Nicklaus designed Montreux Golf and Country Club to the Jack Nicklaus designed Old Greenwood Course at the Tahoe Mountain Club. We return to Greenwood for a third time in-a-row this time around.
Like Montreux, Greenwood is at altitude, so it doesn't play anywhere near as long as its yardage suggests but it's a tough place to assess.
Richy Werenski was the first victor not to reach 40 points in the nine years that the Stableford format had been used when the course debuted in 2020, but with the rough an inch and half shorter than it had been in 2020 (3 ½ - 2), last year's winner, Erik Van Rooyen, who won by five points, now holds the record for the highest winning score with 50 points.
Old Greenwood opened in 2004 and it's largely treelined with water in play on six holes. Like the majority of Nicklaus designs, there's plenty of room off the tee.
With wind in the forecast, the greens are likely to be set relatively slowly at around 11 on the Stimpmeter.
Live on Sky Sports all four days, starting at 23:00 (UK time) on Thursday
Ten Previous Tournament Winners in this Format
2021 - Erik Van Rooyen 50 points (Old Greenwood Course)
2020 - Richy Werenski 39 points (Old Greenwood Course)
2019 - Colin Morikawa 47 points
2018 - Andrew Putnam 47 points
2017 - Chris Stroud 44 points (playoff)
2016 - Greg Chalmers 43 points
2015 - J.J Henry 47 points (playoff)
2014 - Geoff Ogilvy 49 points
2013 - Gary Woodland 44 points
2012 - J.J Henry 43 points
What Will it Take to Win the Barracuda Championship?
Since the tournament switched to the modified Stableford scoring system, ten years ago, the usual tournament stats haven't been published but that hasn't proved to be too much of a problem as the tournament has basically been a low-scoring birdie-fest.
To succeed in this format, you need to eliminate big mistakes, keep the birdie count up, and if you can make a couple of eagles during the week, that's a big plus too.
The top five last year all made two eagles but only two of the top-ten didn't make a double-bogey or worse - the winner, Erik Van Rooyen and Brandon Hagy, who finished fifth.
Joel Dahman, who finished seventh, made 25 birdies throughout the week, two more than the winner or anyone else in the field, but he was the only player inside the top-17 not to record an eagle and that ultimately proved costly.
Werenski made only 18 birdies in 2020 and that was a low tally for a winner. Scott Stallings in tied fifth was the only player in the top-eight to make less (16) but Werenski won courtesy of two eagles and only seven bogeys.
The 2019 winner, Collin Morikawa, failed to make an eagle all week but nobody made fewer bogeys (three) and nobody made more birdies (25), and that's basically how it panned out in 2018 too.
Nobody made any more birdies than the first and second, Andrew Putnam and Chad Campbell, who both made 24, although both also made an eagle apiece. Putnam beat Chad by four points because he only made three bogeys (fewest in the field) whereas Campbell made seven.
Looking at the Bogey Avoidance stats, the Birdie Average, and the Total Eagles stats on the PGA Tour for clues is a good place to start.
Is There an Identikit Winner?
We've got the added conundrum of the inclusion of the DP World Tour players this week and we should expect one or two to challenge if last week is anything to go by.
Germany's Matti Schmid traded at odds-on after leading the Barbasol Championship through rounds two and three but after birdying the first, he shot the worst score of the entire filed in round four (77).
His compatriot, Hurley Long, was the only DP World Tour player to finish inside the top-seven. It'll be interesting to see how they fare here.
DP World Tour players aside, the Barracuda field is made up of many players that don't usually get a start in some of the stronger PGA Tour events. That classic blend of youth and experience, with a few players whose form has dropped off a cliff.
Some of them are new to the PGA Tour and only just finding their feet (like the 2020 winner, Richy Werenski and the 2019 winning favourite, Colin Morikawa), some are players that have lost their form quite badly recently and the rest are veterans that have trickled slowly down the rankings.
PGA Tour maidens used to have a strong record in the tournament before the format change and they're prospering again of late. The last six winners have all been PGA Tour maidens and three of the last four winners have been in their 20s (Van Rooyen was 31 last year) but experience often counts for plenty.
Werenski was 28 in 2020, Morikawa was only 22 when he lifted the trophy three years ago, and Andrew Putnam was 29 when he won in 2018.
But, at 35 (Stroud) and 42 (Chalmers) the 2017 and 2016 winners were certainly no spring chickens and Chad Campbell, the 2018 runner-up, was 44.
Morikawa is clearly a high-class performer who's since won two majors and a WGC event, and he telegraphed his victory with a playoff defeat at the 3M Open and a fourth place finish at the John Deere Classic but the other eight men to win the event (JJ Henry has won it twice) since the format changed from stroke play to Stableford have remarkably similar profiles.
As already mentioned, the last six were winning on the PGA Tour for the first time but although they'd tasted success on the PGA Tour, the first four winners under this format certainly weren't in-form recent winners.
When he won the first of his two titles, in 2012, JJ Henry had been without a win in six years and he did next to nothing for three years before going in again in 2015. The 2014 champ, Geoff Ogilvy, hadn't won anywhere for four years and the 2013 winner, Gary Woodland, had been under something of a cloud and hadn't won anywhere in two and half years.
Although Greg Chalmers was a first time PGA Tour winner in 2016, he'd won multiple times in his native Australia but he'd won just once (in 2014) in the five years preceding his success here, whilst it had been four years in-between Chris Stroud's playoff defeat at the Travelers Championship and his victory here.
Under this new format, players can put all their woes to one side and just go for it and see what happens and outsiders tend to do well. Morikawa was a well-supported 12/1 favourite in 2019 but he was the first well-fancied winner since the format changed.
It's been a while since we saw a huge outsider win though. Having missed six of his previous eight cuts, Van Rooyen was trading at around 60.059/1 before the off, Werenski was a 40.039/1 chance two years ago, Putnam was a well-backed 34.033/1 shot and Stroud was an 80.079/1 chance five years ago.
Morikawa was never outside the front two places and frontrunners had a great record at Montreux, although the two winners before Morikawa went against the grain somewhat.
Putnam sat tied for 30th after only scoring six points on Thursday trailed Ollie Schniederjans by 11 points, though he was up to third after round two after scoring 17 himself on Friday.
We've only got two renewals to look at here at Greenwood but for what it's worth, Werenski sat tied for 38th and eight points off the lead and Van Rooyen sat tied 14th and nine points back so a slightly slow start has been overcome here twice already.
From a trading perspective, liquidity won't be great given the tournament is up against the Open Championship but we witnessed plenty of drama in 2020 with the winner eagling the par four 16th and birdying the last to snatch victory at the death.
Van Rooyen caught an amazing break 12 months ago when his tee-ball on the 72nd hole hit a tree and found the fairway instead of going out of bounds.
Californian-born 26-year-old, Maverick McNealy, heads the market for the second year in-a-row. He finished seventh on debut in 2020 and he was 18th last year but with current form figures reading MV-MC-8-16, he's short enough for my liking.
Last year's Rocket Mortgage Classic winner, Cam Davis, is next up but he makes little appeal too.
His third at the RBC Heritage in April and seventh at the Charles Schwab Challenge in May are impressive results and he was eighth last time out at the John Deere Classic, but there's been plenty of poor efforts in 2022 and he's a bit too aggressive for my liking - currently ranking 122nd for Bogey Avoidance.
He finished tied for 32nd on his debut and only previous visit in 2020 when he made nine bogeys and two doubles.
Mark Hubbard finished only 43rd on debut last year but he arrives in great form this time around having finished 13th in the John Deere Classic and third in the Barbasol Championship, where he ranked inside the top ten for Strokes Gained off the tee, Tee-to-green, Approach and Putting.
Looking at the stats mentioned above, he ranks 57th for Birdie Average, 22nd for Total Eagles, and second for the all-important Bogey Avoidance. There aren't many weeks I'm prepared to back a 33-year-old PGA Tour maiden at less than 30.029/1 but I'm making a small exception here.
My only other pre-event pick is the four-time PGA Tour winner, Sean O'Hair, who turned 40 on Monday, a day after finishing eighth in the Barbasol, where he rankled second for Strokes Gained Putting.
The Barbasol was won by Trey Mullinax, who's just turned 30 and we very often witness an upturn in fortunes around a significant birthday and O'Hair has some sneaky looking course form too, having finished ninth last year on debut, despite sitting tied for 85th after round one.
Mark Hubbard @28.027/1
Sean O'Hair @100.099/1
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter
Watch Golf... Only Bettor, ahead of this week's 150th Open Championship below, presented by Sky Sports golf presenter Sarah Stirk with guests Dave Tindall from betting.betfair and Sporting Life's Ben Coley, with another Betfair tipster, Matt Cooper, joining them live from St Andrews.