The Barbasol Championship in Nicholasville, Kentucky is set to attract attention this week as a diverse field of golfers converges on the Bluegrass State. While many players are heading to the U.K. for other tournaments, this event offers an opportunity for some to claim their first PGA TOUR victory, while veterans aim to revive their past successes. Additionally, several members of the DP World Tour will bring an international flair to this co-sanctioned competition.
The Keene Trace Golf Club, known for its large greens and abundant bunkers, promises low scores and a thrilling 18th hole that could have significant implications for FedExCup and DP World Tour points, as well as the outcomes of wagers.
According to oddsmakers at BetMGM Sportsbook, former Presidents Cup participant Taylor Pendrith (+1400) is the favorite to win outright, closely followed by an intriguing trio at +2000: Vincent Norrman from Europe, recent Monday qualifier Peter Kuest, and former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover.
Although Scottie Scheffler, a top-20 fixture in previous tournaments, won't be participating in the Barbasol Championship, there is still plenty of value to be found among the players in the field. From experienced veterans who understand what it takes to win to up-and-coming young stars, this year's tournament offers a wide range of action for those looking to expand their betting options beyond the Genesis Scottish Open.
Let's take a closer look at some players worth considering in Kentucky, starting with a golfer seeking to extend his impressive hot streak to three consecutive starts.
Outrights: Peter Kuest (+2000 to win)
The past two weeks have been life-changing for 25-year-old Peter Kuest, who Monday qualified for the Rocket Mortgage Classic and finished T4, earning him a spot in the John Deere Classic. Kuest continued his crafty play and secured another top-20 finish, granting him Special Temporary Membership on the PGA TOUR.
Jumping from No. 789 to No. 327 in the Official World Golf Rankings, Kuest arrives at the Barbasol Championship in fantastic form. No longer a Cinderella story, he approaches Kentucky with a winning mindset, making him one of the pre-tournament betting favorites and capable of capping off this three-week stretch with a victory.
Harry Higgs (+6600)
Last year's winner, Trey Mullinax, had missed three of four cuts before the Barbasol Championship. Could Higgs follow a similar path and claim an unexpected victory after a few challenging weeks? Higgs currently sits 125th in the FedExCup standings and needs to kick-start his performance if he hopes to secure a spot in the Playoffs. Although he has struggled off the tee and with his approach shots, Higgs ranks 30th in Strokes Gained: Putting on the TOUR this season. With just one low-scoring round on Thursday, he could regain his momentum and contend throughout the weekend.
Higgs played college golf at SMU alongside Kelly Kraft, who set the 18-hole course record at Keene Trace in 2019 and will also be competing in this event. Perhaps Higgs can seek advice from his old friend and gain valuable insights into what it takes to shoot a 61 at this venue.
Top-10 Finish: Lucas Glover (+180)
Fourteen years after winning the U.S. Open, Glover continues to grind for more accolades. He has shown a positive trend with two consecutive finishes of T6 or better. Like Higgs, Glover is battling to break into the top 70 for a chance at the Playoffs in a few weeks, providing him with ample motivation.
After switching putters and improving his iron play, which elevated him to a top-50 ranking on the TOUR in Strokes Gained: Approach, Glover has become a regular presence on leaderboards. This week should be no different.
Top-20 Finish: Grayson Murray (+160)
Murray, the 2017 Barbasol Championship winner when the tournament was held in Alabama, arrives in Kentucky following a T6 finish at the John Deere Classic. He currently sits 12th in Korn Ferry Tour points. After an impressive opening-round 64 last week, his game is in a better place than it has been in years.
First Round Leader: Akshay Bhatia (+4000)
With abundant talent, Bhatia has patiently pursued his first PGA TOUR win and aims to meet lofty expectations. His recent form includes five made cuts in his last seven starts, with a notable fourth-place finish at the Mexico Open and a runner-up position at the Puerto Rico Open in March, where he faced a similar field. Given his immense skill, it wouldn't be surprising to see Bhatia make an impact on Thursday, creating a situation where the rest of the field is playing catch-up.
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