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Barracuda Championship Betting Tips: Six picks for Lake Tahoe

Barracuda Championship: We have six selections including a 100/1 shot this week
Barracuda Championship: We have six selections including a 100/1 shot this week

While the eyes of the golfing world will be on St Andrews and The Open Championship this week, the PGA Tour and DP World Tour will be staging the 3rd of their co-sanctioned events over these last two weeks, following the Scottish Open and Barbasol Championship, with this week’s Barracuda Championship. A PGA Tour event that will welcome the top 50 available DPWT players into the field with not just a PGA Tour title on the line but the prospect of earning a card on the biggest tour in the world.

Last week’s events were a great success, as we had a star-studded leaderboard in Scotland, eventually won by America’s Xander Schauffele. Whilst over in Kentucky, Trey Mullinax picked up his first PGA Tour title, though there were plenty of challengers from the DPWT throughout the week, as the likes of Hurly Long in 2nd, Ricardo Gouveia in 8th and Matti Schmid, also in 8th, who entered the final round with a 2-shot lead before two almighty collapses all within those final 18 holes did for his chances. Ultimately finishing with 6 DPWT players amongst the top 20 and it will be interesting to see if they can put up a similarly strong challenge this week.

This week’s event is much more unique than last week’s offering, as since 2012, it has been played in a Modified Stableford format. Where scores under and over par are done away with, replaced by a points system which is detailed below:

Albatross = 8 points

Eagle = 5 points

Birdie = 2 points

Par = 0 points

Bogey = -1 point

Double Bogey or worse = -3 points

The event, previously known as the Reno-Tahoe Open, has been going since 1999, though took place at Montreux Golf and Country Club in Nevada every year until 2020. With the last two versions at Tahoe Mountain Club’s Old Greenwood Course in Truckee California. Both courses having been designed by Jack Nicklaus.

Since it’s move to California we have seen two contrasting editions. Richy Werenski won on a firm, windy course in 2020 with a score of 39 points, which would have equated to a -15 winning score in stroke-play, the toughest renewal in the event’s history since this chance of format. Though last year we saw the highest winning score in the event’s history, as South Africa’s Erik Van Rooyen won with a score of 50 points, equal to -21 in more benign, scorable conditions. 

Barracuda Championship Tips

The Course

Tahoe Mt. Club’s Old Greenwood Course is a par 71, measuring 7480 yards. Though due to being played at altitude will play around 500 yards shorter. This was virtually the same at the previous venue, Montreux Golf and Country Club, also playing to a same length and being another Nicklaus design, it has provided by far the best form guide to this new course. 

This attractive, undulating, tree-lined course is typical of a Nicklaus design. Fairways are generous, with strategically placed bunkers offering the biggest protection, whilst there is great pressure on the 2nd shot into the large, slopy, tiered greens with many deep and angled. Further bunker protection comes around these greens, with water in-play on around a third of the holes.

On paper, there are some tricky looking holes but again all of this is tempered when taking altitude into account. These holes are countered by all par 5s being reachable and a number of par 4s that will be drivable throughout the week. The format requires a setup with many risk/reward opportunities to tempt players into playing aggressively, something that this course very much offers.

Unfortunately, we have nothing in the way of stats from any of the previous renewals here, so it’s difficult to gauge, from actual stats what is required. Though in looking at the players that have gone well here in the last two renewals we can search for clues.

Due to the contrasting conditions in these two years, looking purely at the winners offers few links. Van Rooyen is a strong ball-striking type who excels off-the-tee, whilst Werenski is more about the putter, though it is worth noting that at the time of each of their wins, both ranked in the top 100 for driving distance.

Looking further at last year’s top 5, we have Andrew Putnam in 2nd, who, much like Werenski is at his best on the greens, ranking 40th on tour in putting at the time of that performance.

The rest of that top 5 were more in line with Van Rooyen, as stronger ball-striking types. Scott Piercy in 3rd was a renowned ball-striker number of years ago, though hasn’t played to that standard the last couple of years, however he’s another who ranked top 100 in driving distance at the time of the event. This also the same of 4th and 5th place finishers, Adam Schenk and Brandon Hagy, who ranked 65th and 9th respectively in driving distance, whilst both are comfortable enough on the greens. 

At the time of last year’s event, each of the top 5 except Hagy were also solid enough in approach, in and around the top 100, when you take into consideration the relative strength of field this event usually attracts and how many of the game’s best players are some of the top approach players, ranking inside the top 100 in approach would’ve made them some of the stronger iron players in the field.

Length off-the-tee not as pertinent in 2020, as along with Werenski, Stallings is the only other who was inside the top 100 in driving distance. The rest, Troy Merritt, Fabian Gomez and Matthias Schwab more about accuracy. 

We once again see some stronger iron players in there. Werenski ranked 78th in approach at the time of winning, whilst Stallings was 55th and Schwab built up a reputation as one of the strongest iron players on the DP World Tour. 

A stronger all-round short-game featured more heavily too, no surprise due to the more difficult scoring conditions, with Werenski, Merritt, Gomez and Schwab, along with Robert Streb all players who excel either on and/or around-the-greens.

I think this Nicklaus design will benefit stronger iron players the more we stage the event here. In addition to this, we have plenty of evidence of a solid putter being needed and there’s more than a fair share of longer hitters going well on these generous fairways. Whilst a strong short-game may be important if the conditions demand it, something that may transpire this week.

In addition to this, a general ability to make birdies will be important in this format that warrants aggressive golf, so birdie average, combined with birdie to bogey ratio, also look like stats of importance.

Key stats: SG: Approach, SG: Putting, Birdie Average

Secondary stats: Scrambling, Driving Distance, Birdie to Bogey Ratio

Correlating Courses

Correlating form was hard to gauge this week. As mentioned earlier, form in this event at the old venue, Montreux Golf and Country Club looks the best way in. The Nicklaus design link, along with course length and being played at altitude make it  similar to this newer venue. We also find that in a strong amount of correlating form.

In the top 10s here at the Old Greenwood Course the last two years, we find three past champions at Montreux: Andrew Putnam, Gary Woodland and Scott Piercy. In addition to this are a further four players who all have strong form at the old venue, most notably Richy Werenski and Troy Merritt who both finished runner up there.

Aside from that there was some reasonable form-ties at the Sony Open at Waialae, the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run and the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Then to a lesser extent at the Texas Open at TPC San Antonio and the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club.

All of these events had 5+ players who featured in the top 10 bother there and in the Barracuda in 2020 & 2021.

The Weather

As I alluded to, the conditions could prove tricky this week. The sun is set to blaze throughout the four days with temperatures high, along with a constant 10-15mph breeze, as well as gusts up to 25mph. This means we could see the blustery firm conditions that made scoring trickier in 2020.

The Field

Following on from a really weak field at the Barbasol, this week’s Barracuda Championship field is much stronger and possesses more depth. We have a stronger collection of PGA Tour players than last week, with the likes of world #66 Alex Noren, #72 Maverick McNealy and #76 Cam Davis all entering the fray.

They’re joined by many of the same DPWT players as last week though again that group is enhanced by the arrival of Rasmus Hojgaard, as well as American duo Johannes Veerman and Sean Crocker.

Selections

With a strong record in this event and coming in off the back of some good recent form, Maverick McNealy is propelled to favouritism at 12/1, followed by Sweden’s Alex Noren at 16s. McNealy is a talented individual and it is surely only a matter of time before he breaks through on the PGA Tour but I’m not willing to bet him at 12/1, nor Noren at 16s.

The next two in the betting, Cam Davis at 18/1 and Mark Hubbard at 22/1 appealed the most of the front lot but again, are just a little on the short side to tempt me to get on board. Davis is well suited to the format and course and has been bubbling of late. Though he’s been a little erratic on occasion over those recent starts and whilst Hubbard is in excellent form and doing most things well, he’s still hard to get excited about at 22/1.

Rasmus Hojgaard made appeal at 28/1, coming in off the back of a 10th place finish in Scotland and possessing that habit of winning that many here don’t, though there’s a couple of DPWT players I like at heftier prices a little further down the betting and instead I start with a PGA Tour player who not only has form here, finishing 2nd last year but is a past winner of the event when it was staged at Montreux in 2018, Andrew Putnam.

Golf Odds
Andrew Putnam each-way (1/5 6 places)
33/1
Odds correct as of 2022-07-12 13:45 Odds subject to change.

Putnam’s year started out in great shape, as he followed a 27th place finish in the Sony Open on his first event of the year with a couple of really strong efforts in California: a 14th place finish in The American Express and then a best of the year 6th at Pebble Beach on his following start. With every part of his game firing, he looked a player who might be able to add to that solo PGA Tour victory at the 2018 Barracuda.

That didn’t quite happen, as following a 48th place finish at the Genesis Invitational his form completely tailed off, with a solitary 41st place finish in the Texas Open amongst a sea of missed cuts. Though this has turned around in recent weeks, thanks predominantly to him rediscovering form on the greens and to a lesser extent with the irons.  

This has allowed Putnam to start seeing the weekend again, as he’s made 4 of his last 5 cuts, with a best of 15th in the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial, whilst a strong showing in the US Open three starts ago, where he finished 31st is also worthy of mention, a week where his short-game was in terrific form.

That high class short-game sees Putnam rank 13th on tour this season in scrambling and 72nd in putting. Combine this with the better recent ball-striking, where he’s gained strokes in 5 of his last 8 off-the-tee and 3 of his last 6 in approach, we find a player coming to form at the right time this week.

As has been mentioned, Putnam has strong form in this event at both courses, which is obviously encouraging. In addition to this he’s finished 2nd in the Sony Open, 6th at Pebble Beach and 8th in the Texas Open.

Putnam’s best form this year came in California, I’m hoping a return there this week will bring about a similar performance to that which we saw here last year.

Greyson Sigg each-way (1/5 6 places)
50/1
Odds correct as of 2022-07-12 13:50 Odds subject to change.

Following a strong start to this year, Greyson Sigg hit a bit of a down period a couple of months ago, missing 5 cuts on the bounce. He’s turned that round in recent starts, finishing 16th at the John Deere and 27th at the Barbasol last week. With a strong effort to his name in his solo attempt at this event, finishing 15th last year, he looks set for another good week in Truckee, California.

Sigg earned his way onto the PGA Tour this season thanks to an excellent year on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2021, where he picked up two titles. He carried this form over to the main tour in solid fashion this season, making 13 of his first 17 cuts, though with only three top 25s will want to have turned more of those solid performances into strong ones.

Then came the 5 MCs and the following performances, including that 16th at the John Deere Classic, his best finish of the season so far. 

His solid early season form was helped by a generally strong tee-to-green game, one in which he particularly excelled in approach. It was notable that during the run of MCs, his iron game deserted him and it’s been no surprise to see the two most recent, stronger performances coinciding with better approach performances, particularly at the JDC, where he ranked 5th.

He too possesses a good short-game, ranking 54th in scrambling and is solid enough off-the-tee, with the putter looking the biggest concern. However more positive signs can be found here too, as last week at the Barbasol he produced his best putting performance for over three months, something I’m hoping he can continue into this week. 

His 15th place finish here last year is a positive and we can find more encouragement in that 16th at the John Deere. He even possesses solid enough form at the Sony Open, Pebble Beach and in Texas, where he’s made the cut every time. 

Sigg showed a great winning attitude on the KFT last year with those two victories. He’s a player I think is capable of repeating that on the PGA Tour in time and coming here off the back of two of his best performances of the season in the last two weeks and with the irons starting to fire again, he looks in a good place to contend this week.

Johannes Veerman each-way (1/5 7 places)
66/1
Odds correct as of 2022-07-12 13:50 Odds subject to change.

Now for a couple of DPWT players, starting with California’s own Johannes Veerman.

After turning pro in the latter part of 2015 following a strong amateur career that saw him reach as high as #38 in the world and then spending a couple of years around the Asian Tours, picking up his first title in 2016 on the Asian Development Tour, Veerman has plied his trade almost exclusively on the DPWT since the middle part of 2019.

After a solid first 18 months, where Veerman picked up 5 top 10 finishes, he really sprung into life in 2021, winning his 1st DPWT title in the Czech Masters. This part of a strong second half to 2021 for Veerman, as he recorded a further four top 10s, including a 3rd place finish in the Irish Open and earned a spot in the season ending DP World Tour Championship.

Following a decent start to this year, Veerman hit a bit of a lull from March-May but has found form again in recent weeks. A 10th place finish in the European Open four starts ago has been followed by two further top 25s in the Scandinavian Mixed and Irish Open, though he missed the cut last week in Scotland. 

The undoubted asset of Veerman’s game is his putter, where he’s consistently excelled since stepping up to the DPWT and ranks 8th this season. Also a good scrambler, ranking 50th and possessing more length than accuracy off-the-tee, this all helping him on his way to ranking 49th on the DPWT in birdie average.

The irons can be a worry, though he has plenty of recent strong form in this regard, gaining strokes in each of his four starts in approach before the Irish and Scottish Opens. The irons appear to have gone off the boil in those two starts but the losses have only been small and it won’t take much to turn that around. All in all he looks a good fit for this course.

We have no course or strong correlating form to go off, though that 3rd at the Irish Open last year came at the Nicklaus designed Mount Juliet and he once again showed his liking for that course this year finishing 24th. I’m hoping that Nicklaus form will translate here and that win in the Czech could also be a decent guide, as a lengthy, generous driving course.

We saw last week how well a good bunch of DPWT players could go in a weakish PGA Tour field. Veerman is part of a stronger group arriving this week and I’m expecting him to relish making a belated U.S PGA Tour debut in his home state.

Open Championship odds
Julien Brun each-way (1/5 7 places)
66/1
Odds correct as of 2022-07-12 13:50 Odds subject to change.

France’s Julien Brun looks the ideal type for this week’s test as a player possessing a strong approach and all-round short game. Coming here off the back of a solid 27th in last week’s Barbasol Championship, he can improve on that performance this week in California.

Brun has been a player on many people’s lips since turning pro following an excellent amateur career in 2015, reaching as high as #3 in the world. This reputation no doubt enhanced by him winning on the Challenge Tour as an amateur in 2012. 

Since turning pro, he has carried on that winning habit, picking up a further 5 pro titles, 2 on the EuroPro Tour, 1 on the Alps Tour and last year added two more Challenge Tour titles, which helped him earn his first crack at the DP World Tour this season.

Brun’s form this year has been strong, missing just 5 cuts in 16 and picking up four top 15 finishes, the best an 8th place finish in the British Masters. His best chance of a victory actually came when finishing 34th in the European Open. Entering with every chance there in the final round he succumbed to an 80 which saw him in freefall down the leaderboard. All a learning experience at this heightened level.

As mentioned, Brun looks a good fit for this week. He’s one of the strongest combined iron players and putters on the DPWT, ranking 18th in approach and 28th in putting. In addition to this he’s a strong scrambler, ranking 33rd.  The driver is the biggest area of concern though as someone who is neither particularly accurate or long, he should benefit from the generous fairways here and the fact the ball will fly much further at the altitude. 

Brun’s strong putter was on show again last week at the Barbasol, where he ranked 10th in the field, also gaining small strokes around-the-greens and in approach. If he can keep up that form on the greens and find a little more with his irons, showing the quality he has shown throughout the season on the DPWT, he can improve this week.

Austin Cook each-way (1/5 6 places)
80/1
Odds correct as of 2022-07-12 13:55 Odds subject to change.

I’ve decided to give Austin Cook another shot this week. Despite never getting in the mix at the Barbasol, he still played well, continuing his recent form with a 27th place finish. With his short-game and irons once again looking in good nick there he looks a good fit for this week.

That finish last week means he’s now made four cuts on the bounce and follows on from strong performances at the JDC where he finished 16th and the Canadian Open where he finished 13th.

During this run his short-game has fired throughout, seeing him rank 35th in scrambling and 64th in putting for the season and whilst not always gaining strokes in approach over the four days, there have been plenty of high quality rounds of approach play, showing he’s not far from putting it all together at the same time. 

He’s played here twice, making the cut both times, finishing 53rd in 2020 and was a very good 15th last year. In addition to this he possesses top 20s in the Sony Open and in the JDC. 

There was just plenty to like about Cook again. After another solid performance he comes into an albeit stronger field at 25 points bigger in the betting and looks to have a game as well suited to this course, if not more, as well as some strong form in the event.

Sean Crocker each-way (1/5 7 places)
100/1
Odds correct as of 2022-07-12 13:55 Odds subject to change.

I’m going to finish with another U.S player who plies his trade on the DPWT, whilst also possessing links to California, having grown up and attended College there, Sean Crocker. This big-hitting, high class ball-striker can bully this course this week, taking it to these par 5s and short par 4s, and if the putter behaves he’d have every chance.

Crocker turned pro in 2017 following a quality amateur career, where he reached as high as #6 in the rankings. His ability to transition that into pro golf was immediately evident as he finished off 2017 with a couple of strong performances on the DPWT, finishing 16th in the Hong Kong Open and 7th in the Australian PGA.

He then spent much of 2018 splitting starts between both the DPWT and Challenge Tour, again showing his ability with a 5th place finish in the Perth Super 6, before earning full playing privileges on the DPWT for 2019 thanks to a strong run of results on the Challenge Tour in 2018, finishing top 5 in 4 of the final 5 events of the year.

We’ve continued to see his potential since, as he’s wracked up a trio of 2nd place finishes in each of the previous 3 seasons, in the Trophee Hassan II in 2019, the Alfred Dunhill Championship in 2020 and the Czech Masters last year.

Unfortunately, 2022 has been a struggle for Crocker, as he started the year without a made cut in his first 9 events, though has turned a corner in recent weeks. 

On his last six starts, Crocker has only missed one cut, that coming at the tough US Open. His best performance amongst those six events coming when 7th at the Soudal Open in Belgium.

Crocker has shown himself to be one of the best ball-strikers on the DPWT over the previous three years. He ranked 6th in approach and 6th off-the-tee last season and in 2020 ranked 11th in approach and 18th off-the-tee. 

Though the driver was showing signs of life earlier in the year, the irons were not and it’s been good to see some quality approach play return over recent weeks, which has engineered his much better form.

For the quality he possesses with his long-game he lacks in the short-game and he’s undoubtedly a player who can frustrate. Though in the first round of the Scottish Open he produced his best round with the putter for three years, gaining 3.2 strokes, his 2nd best recorded putting round ever. He followed that with a couple of poor rounds but signed off with another positive performance. 

I’m hoping he can carry that over into this week and if able to produce the level of ball-striking he’s capable of, this talent would look a danger this week on this setup. 

 

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