The PGA TOUR's overseas journey continues this week, but the focus shifts westward to the mountains as Tahoe Mountain Club hosts the Barracuda Championship – the one time of the year where players aim to rack up high scores.
The Barracuda Championship employs a unique Modified Stableford scoring system. Players on the Old Greenwood Course will be rewarded for eagles and birdies, while being penalized for bogeys or worse. The points are awarded (or lost) as follows:
- Eagles: 5 points
- Birdie: 2 points
- Par: 0 points
- Bogey: -1 point
- Double bogey or worse: -3 points
Under this scoring format, an even-par round with five birdies and five bogeys would net 5 points, whereas a round with 18 pars would yield a score of 0. Unlike other weeks where the goal is to shoot the lowest score, this week, the higher the score, the hotter the player.
Players in the field will be rewarded for their aggression, making room for high-risk shots and a unique style of competition. Additionally, there are plenty of opportunities for exciting plays from a gambling perspective.
The current betting favorite at BetMGM Sportsbook is Stephan Jaeger, who has garnered a substantial 27.5 percent of the pre-tournament handle, with his odds decreasing from +2000 to +1400. Jaeger is still in search of his first PGA TOUR win, and a strong finish this week could significantly boost his chances in the Playoffs.
Close behind Jaeger in the betting odds are veterans Taylor Pendrith and Keith Mitchell, each priced at +2000. Last week's winner, Vincent Norrman, who triumphed at the Barbasol Championship, is priced at +2800 to potentially secure back-to-back victories. However, the following are my top picks for this week's tournament at Tahoe.
Justin Suh (+3500): After turning pro in 2019, Suh made an impact on the Korn Ferry Tour and earned fully exempt status on the PGA TOUR. With notable finishes, including a T5 at the Honda Classic and a T6 at THE PLAYERS Championship, the 26-year-old Californian has demonstrated strong putting skills, which could lead to numerous birdies and a steady performance.
Akshay Bhatia (+3500): Despite a slow start last week, Bhatia managed a T9 finish after a final-round 65 in Kentucky. He secured a solo second place at the Puerto Rico Open, proving his potential in these types of events. Given that birdies hold significant value this week, Bhatia, who leads this field in birdie average, is a strong contender to showcase his creativity and claim victory.
Grayson Murray (+450): Having secured a top-20 finish last week, Murray is currently in excellent form. With two consecutive top-10 finishes, he is a solid bet to continue his strong performance at Tahoe.
Sam Bennett (+350): Previously the low amateur at this year's Masters, Bennett has now turned pro and shown flashes of brilliance on leaderboards. Although he hasn't yet strung together four consistent rounds of top-quality golf, the pressure is lower this week, giving him the opportunity to unleash his potential and possibly contend for victory.
- Harry Hall (+250): With five top-20 finishes this season, Hall has demonstrated his proficiency around the greens, ranking well in SG: Around the Green and an impressive ninth in SG: Putting. Second only to Bhatia in birdie average among the players in the tournament, Hall's strong performance on the greens could pave the way for a successful week.
This week promises both excellent value for bettors and breathtaking views of exciting golf from Tahoe. Enjoy the tournament!