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Barbasol Championship Betting Tips: 250/1 outsider part of our six picks for Kentucky

Barbasol Championship: Keene Trace Gold Club is our host course this weekend
Barbasol Championship: Keene Trace Gold Club is our host course this weekend

Fresh from another winner with JT Poston at the John Deere Classic priced at 50/1, Jamie Worsley is back with his tips for this week's Barbasol Championship on the co-sanctioned DP World Tour/PGA Tour event.

The second part of this week’s PGA Tour/DP World Tour co-sanctioned double header sees us head to Nicholasville, Kentucky for the Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club.

This event has been going since 2015, previously played opposite The Open Championship but moves to this new slot this year, a week before that final major of the year.

Not just a PGA Tour title and everything that comes with that up for grabs for the competing players but a highly coveted Open Championship spot is also on the line for the highest finishing player not already exempt.

For the first three renewals of this event, it was played at the Grand National Course in Alabama, moving to it’s current home in 2018. It has provided very low winning scores each time, with Troy Merritt winning with a score of -23 in 2018, Jim Herman winning with -26 in 2019 and last year Seamus Power won in a playoff against last week’s John Deere Classic winner, JT Poston after both got to -21 after 72 holes.

Barbasol Championship Tips

The Course

Keene Trace Golf Club is an exposed 7328 yard par 72, with scoring opportunities at every turn. The par 4s are largely short by modern standards, with just four playing above 450 yards, whilst the par 5s are all gettable. There are no gimmes on the par 3s and they would represent some of the more challenging holes on the course.

Other than water being in-play on five holes, predominantly at the end of both 9s, there is little defence to this course. Not just low scores to provide us with proof as to how easy the course plays bus statistically, fairways and greens are some of the easiest to hit on the PGA Tour. With little penalty for missing the fairways too, as it ranks amongst the easiest courses to hit greens from off the fairways.

As with most birdie-heavy contests, you’re going to want to be dialled in with your irons or get hot on the greens, preferably both. This has transpired in each renewal so far.

Last year, Seamus Power put together the type of strong all-round performance that is bound to see you go close, gaining strokes in every area, whilst JT Poston, who he beat in a playoff, excelled on the greens, ranking 2nd.

Back in 2019, both of the top 2 combined catching fire on the greens with strong approach play. Winner Jim Herman ranked 4th in putting and 13th in approach, whilst runner-up, Kelly Kraft ranked 1st in putting and 19th in approach. 

Then in 2018, strong approach play was the order of the day, as winner, Troy Merritt ranked 1st in approach and Richy Werenski ranked 2nd. The others who finished tied 2nd with Werenski, Billy Horschel and Tom Lovelady putting together solid tee-to-green performances. 

Though it’s a course that doesn’t hinder in terms of length off the tee, as most holes are attackable for everybody in the field, I do feel with the generosity off-the-tee, it can be overpowered by a big hitter providing he has some of those other areas firing. In addition to this, look out for players who excel in scoring with approaches from 125-150 yards and 175-200 yards, as they’re the most common lengths that players have into these greens. 

Simply put you just need to find a way to make birdies. Whether you bomb it down every hole and reduce some to a pitch and a putt or you pummel the fairways and setup birdie opportunities with quality precision iron-play, it doesn’t matter as long as you’re racking up birdies.

Correlating Courses

There are a handful of other low-scoring events that should correlate nicely to this week’s challenge.

The Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club is tighter off-the-tee but one of the easiest courses on tour to hit greens and regularly produces winning scores of -20 or lower.

We don’t have to look hard for form-lines as Jim Herman has won at both courses and JT Poston, 2nd here last year, has also won the Wyndham. With 2018 runner-up, Billy Horschel also possessing a strong record at Sedgefield.

Though the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run is a little more penal off-the-tee, it still rates as one of the easiest courses on tour in which to hit fairways and greens, pretty much always producing low winning scores.

JT Poston ties the form together again after his win at Deere Run on Sunday evening, whilst Seamus Power and Jim Herman have both recorded top 10 finishes at the JDC. 

The Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club ranked the closest to the Barbasol Championship statistically of any course I looked at. Generous and non-penal off the tee with greens easy to hit, even ranking of a similarly easy level of difficulty as Keene Trace in which to get up and down. Two of the three renewals of the event have been won in -23 and -25.

Troy Merritt and Seamus Power both have form there. Merritt was 2nd last year and has also finished 8th, with Power also possessing an 8th place finish. Whilst Ryan Armour has top 5s at both courses.

Two more low scoring events to consider are the AT&T Byron Nelson, which has taken place at TPC Craig Ranch in the last two years and the Shriners Open at TPC Summerlin.

In the two renewals of the Byron Nelson at Craig Ranch we’ve seen winning scores of -25 and -26, whilst the last four editions of the Shriners Open have been won in -20 or better.

Troy Merritt and Seamus Power have both recorded top 10s at the Byron Nelson in the last two years, with James Hahn possessing top 10s both there and here at the Barbasol. 

Hahn appears again with a top 5 at the Shriners, along with JT Poston who also possesses a top 5 and Sam Ryder has recorded 3rd place finishes at both venues.

The Weather

It’s set to be a warm and stormy week in Kentucky, with thunderstorms and heavy rain currently forecast from Wednesday through to Saturday. There are bound to be delays if that doesn’t clear up, though with little wind, when the players do see action on the course they’re bound to find a receptive, benign course there for the taking.

The Field

The field was always set to be weak with so many of the top players teeing it up in Scotland, with those already eligible for The Open not playing at this week’s Scottish Open preferring some alternative prep for the final major of the year.

This weak field has been weakened further, with many withdrawals, not just from PGA Tour players but the original 50 DPWT players eligible for this week’s event. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how those guys who do head over perform and whether they can take advantage of the field to not only punch their spot in next week’s Open but also earn that PGA Tour card.

Kevin Streelman is the highest ranked player in the field at #129 in the world. Whilst some of the most notable players from the DPWT currently in the field come in the shape of the next highest ranked player in the field, the talented,big-hitting young Dane, Marcus Helligkilde, the player currently ranked highest on the Race to Dubai, Germany’s Hurly Long and he’s joined by compatriot, Matti Schmid, who should feel more at home than most of those traveling over this week, having attended college in Louisville, Kentucky.

Selections

The talented Chris Gotterup is a new name to many but has taken the ability he showed as an amateur, reaching 21 in the WAGR (World Amateur Golf Rankings), to the professional ranks since turning pro just a month and a half ago. Over the last three weeks he’s followed a terrific 43rd at the US Open with a 35th at the Travelers Championship and an excellent 4th at the John Deere last week.

That being said he is still right at the start of his professional career and even in this weak field, being thrown in as a joint 22/1 favourite on just his 5th start as a pro makes little appeal. For me he’s best watched this week, despite the high ceiling he clearly possesses and I won’t feel like I’ve missed out should he go and win at such a short price.

He shares joint favouritism with Kevin Streelman, with the likes of Mark Hubbard and Adam Svensson in behind. Again, none appealing at the prices, with proven winner Patton Kizzire the one of the sub-40/1 brigade that interested me the most. Though he is passed up too and I start down at around the 40/1 mark with a player boasting 5 PGA Tour wins to his name and who has looked in encouraging form since returning from an injury at the start of June, Ryan Moore.

Golf Odds
Ryan Moore each-way extra (1/5 8 places)
45/1
Odds correct as of 2022-07-05 11:20 Odds subject to change.

Once a top 30 player, he has suffered a loss of form over the last couple of years and been blighted by back problems. This resulted in him not being seen on the PGA Tour for four months following a 49th place finish at the Phoenix Open in February.

He made his return at the Memorial Tournament at the start of June and finished 70th, the fact he made the cut in such a strong field and on a tough course following a lengthy absence was hugely encouraging. 

He’s played twice since then, finishing 35th in the Canadian Open, firing three consecutive rounds in the 60s and was 24th last week at the John Deere Classic, again shooting three rounds in the 60s, including an excellent 64 in round two.

High class approach play has always been key with Moore and that has been on show in each of his last two starts, with other areas of his game also starting to fire, as he gained strokes around-the-greens in Canada and was the 5th best putter in the field last week at the John Deere. He’s also a player more about accuracy than power off the tee and it’s been good to see this on show in recent starts too.

Moore hasn’t played here before but his correlating form is as compelling as anyone’s this week as a past champion of the Shriners Open, Wyndham Championship and John Deere Classic. Using his combination of quality precision iron-play and a strong putter to fire winning scores of -24, -16 and -22 in each of those wins respectively.

It’s been six years since Moore won but even during a period of such instability with his game, he was still able to finish 2nd at the John Deere Classic last year, showing he’s still very capable. With his game looking in ever encouraging shape since his return he can take advantage of this weak field and use his winning experience to pick up a 6th PGA Tour win.

Austin Cook each-way extra (1/5 8 places)
55/1
Odds correct as of 2022-07-05 11:25 Odds subject to change.

Following a really poor start to the season, Austin Cook has burst into life over recent weeks and with some strong form here, as well as at correlating courses, this strong putting type looks primed to win this week in Kentucky.

That poor start to the season saw Cook miss 8 of his first 12 cuts this year, producing a finish no better than 42nd. Though a four week break following the Byron Nelson seems to have worked wonders as he’s returned in much better form, recording finishes of 13th at the Canadian Open, 63rd at the Travelers Championship and 16th at the John Deere Classic last week.

There have been signs of life at various points throughout the season, particularly in the three MC’s he had before the Canadian Open, gaining strokes in approach in all three, but was giving away too much ground off-the-tee and on the greens. 

This has turned around in those recent starts, particularly the top 20s, as Cook has gained strokes on the greens in both, including being the 2nd best putter in the field in Canada and much like Moore, he’s a player more about accuracy than power, something we’ve also seen him rediscover in those recent starts.

Cook has played here twice, finishing 4th on debut in 2019 and was 47th last year. In addition to the strong form he possesses here he has some good form at the Shriners Open, finishing 2nd in 2020 and that 16th at the John Deere last week part of some solid form at that event too.

We find further evidence of his ability in this type of low-scoring event with his solo PGA Tour victory to date coming at the RSM Classic in 2017, an event he won with a score of -21 by an impressive 4 shots. That win came on just his 4th start as a fully-fledged PGA Tour member, following plenty of promising signs in the previous years and looked to signal a player who would be a force on tour. It’s not quite worked out like that, but he has threatened during the following years and he can finally double up on that win this week.

Vaughn Taylor each-way extra (1/5 8 places)
66/1
Odds correct as of 2022-07-05 11:25 Odds subject to change.

Vaughn Taylor is enjoying a consistent year on the PGA Tour, possessing just 2 missed cuts in 11 starts, with his two best performances coming in similar alternate events, when 7th in Puerto Rico and 25th in the Corales Puntacana. He can use his strong iron play, that sees him rank 38th on the PGA Tour this season to add to his three PGA Tour titles this week.

Taylor comes into this event off the back of a 30th place finish in the John Deere Classic last week. A week where he opened with a 65 to sit 3rd after round one and which included a further two rounds in the 60s. Solid approach play was on show there, much like it had been in his previous three starts but more encouraging was that the putter finally fired up, as he produced his best numbers of the year, ranking 16th in the field and it was the first time he’s gained strokes with the club this year.

That’s something he’ll need to carry over to this week if he’s to improve on his solo effort here to date, when he finished 42nd last year. A good record in the John Deere, where he’s twice finished 6th gives confidence in his ability to do so and I’m further encouraged by the fact he ranks 41st on the PGA Tour this season in birdies gained on approaches from 125-150 yards.

Taylor was at the peak of his powers in the early noughties, where he was a regular inside the world’s top 100, picked up two of his three PGA Tour titles and was even a Ryder Cup player in 2006. He added to those titles with a 3rd win in 2016 at Pebble Beach and as recently as 2019, finished 2nd in the Mayakoba Classic. He can use his experience this week to fire himself to another victory. 

Open Championship odds
Matti Schmid each-way extra (1/5 8 places)
90/1
Odds correct as of 2022-07-05 11:30 Odds subject to change.

It is difficult to know exactly what to expect of the DPWT players. I think there are some with a higher ceiling than many of these lower ranked PGA Tour players, the likes of Hurly Long, Julien Brun, Marcus Helligkilde and Niklas Moller initially spring to mind, but whether that can translate to success here this week is another matter, with my inclination more to watch how they get on in this newly co-sanctioned event.

Though I wanted to have one of them on side and with perhaps the highest ceiling in the entire field, nobody appealed more than Germany’s Matti Schmid. The two-time European Amateur Champion  was a top 10 ranked amateur and went to college right here in Kentucky. I’m taking him to overpower this course this week and not only earn himself a first professional victory but a PGA Tour card and spot at St Andrews in the process.

Schmid first came into everyone’s consciousness when finishing 14th in the BMW International Open last year at home in Germany. He then reminded everyone who he was when taking top amateur honours at The Open Championship, finishing 59th overall.

Since turning pro, he’s shown himself to be a top quality, powerful ball-striker. This helped him to a really strong finish to last year, as he finished runner-up in the Dutch Open, 9th in the Alfred Dunhill Links and signed off his year with an 11th place finish in the Mallorca Open. Notable how all three of those performances came on open, generous driving courses where he can use his power off-the-tee.

Though 2022 has been solid enough, he hasn’t quite hit those heights, with just the one top 20 to his name, coming courtesy of a 3rd place finish in the Steyn City Championship. That again notable as a course where he could unleash driver. 

This more subdued form has been caused by inconsistencies in approach and generally not firing on the greens. Though he’s made some improvements in this regard in recent starts, gaining strokes on the greens in his 34th place finish in the Porsche European Open and 30th place finish in the Irish Open last week, whilst he’s also gained strokes in approach in two of his last three starts. 

The driver continues to fire though, as he ranks 8th off-the-tee and in driving distance. This the biggest aid in him making plenty of birdies, ranking 34th on tour in birdie average.

Although the field is weak, winning your first pro title on your first PGA Tour start as a professional golfer is still a tough ask. However, in Schmid we have one of the most talented players in the field with the type of modern, power-packed game that can overpower this easy layout. Hopefully able to take comfort from being back in the state where he attended college, he can put on a strong showing this week.

Satoshi Kodaira each-way extra
150/1
Odds correct as of 2022-07-05 11:35 Odds subject to change.

I’m going to take a chance on Japan’s Satoshi Kodaira. Results hadn’t been great before his 30th place finish in the John Deere Classic last week but there have been plenty of signs of progress.

He’d actually started the year in solid fashion picking up a couple of top 15s in his first seven starts of the year. Form tailed off in the last couple of months though, this largely due to the putter going cold, as he’d continued to drive it well and shown bits of form in approach.

This has changed in last two starts though, where Kodaira has gained strokes on the greens in both. In addition to this is some better approach play than meets the eye.

He hit his irons excellently over the first couple of rounds of the US Open, before missing the cut due to the rest of his game not matching up. He then hit his irons poorly two starts ago at the Travelers, before a dreadful first round last week at the John Deere, where he gave up four strokes in approach. However he rectified that over the next three rounds, gaining strokes in each and I’m hoping he can carry that momentum over into this week. 

In addition to this Kodaira ranks an impressive 6th on the PGA Tour this season in scoring in approach from 175-200 yards, also sitting just outside the top 50 in birdie average as a whole on the tour this season, aiding his chances further. 

He’s played here twice, finishing 53rd on debut in 2019 and was 20th last year, shooting six rounds in the 60s out of eight, though has failed to fire both times on the greens. Something he’ll be hoping to put right this week with the newfound form with the putter.

Jim Knous each-way extra (1/5 8 places)
250/1
Odds correct as of 2022-07-05 11:35 Odds subject to change.

A 250/1 shot who has made just four cuts this year yet sets right near the top of my stats model this week. More of sign of how weak the field is but nevertheless there was a lot to like about Jim Knous.

After turning pro in 2012 and spending much of his early years playing the mini-tours, Knous has established himself much more over recent years. First earning a Korn Ferry Tour card in 2017 via Q-School, he then earned his way onto the PGA Tour in 2019 via the KFT money list, though suffered injury problems which meant that he was once again faced with the unenviable task of essentially securing his job in 2021.

Knous got starts with the help of a medical exemption, taking advantage of this with an 11th place finish at the Fortinet Championship at the end of last year and then on the final start of that medical exemption, maintained his playing rights with a 57th place finish in the Bermuda Championship on his final start of 2021.

Knous’ best finish of the year came two starts ago in the Canadian Open, where that ever trusty putter, that sees him ranked as the 7th best putter on the PGA Tour this season, was once again on show as he finished 25th.

That finish part of some much more encouraging recent form, where Knous only missed the cut by one at the Wells Fargo, opening with a quality 67, with his game around-the-greens, normally a solid part of his game, the ultimate cause of the MC.

He then missed the cut by two last week, the short-game again in good condition but the ball-striking off, with his waywardness off-the-tee punished. That won’t be quite as big a problem this week, as TPC Deere Run is much more punishing when missing fairways than here at Keene Trace. 

We have little in the way of course or correlating form but in addition to the strong putter and Knous benefiting from a more forgiving course off-the-tee, he ranks 12th in birdies from 175-200 yard approaches and 25th in birdie average.

This gives confidence that he has the game suited to scoring well around here and coming to the point of the season when playing rights are very much in the minds of many of the lower ranked players on the money list, Knous included, he can once again find a strong performance when he most needs it. 

Golf betting tips
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