RENO, Nev. (AP) — The 16th edition of Reno's PGA Tour event has a new sponsor, a new name, no defending champ and a modified Stableford scoring format that encourages aggressive play up and down the edge of the Sierra Nevada.
Defending champion Gary Woodland is playing in the World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio that features the world's top 75 players. Still, the Barracuda Championship has one of its best fields.
Retief Goosen, Davis Love III, Padraig Harrington, Geoff Ogilvy, Mike Weir, Stuart Appleby and David Toms are among those teeing off Thursday on the Jack Nicklaus-designed course at the Montreux Golf & Country Club that winds through mountain streams and towering pines half way between Reno and Lake Tahoe.
"I love Stableford and playing at altitude and I love playing Nicklaus courses. Suits my game," said Love, the 20-time PGA Tour winner who won the former International twice outside Denver under the modified Stableford format.
The scoring system rewards aggressive play by awarding 8 points for double eagle, 5 for eagle, 2 for birdie, zero for par, minus-1 for bogey and minus-3 for anything worse.
"Generally this week you're going to take someone that's a good ball-striker, hits it a long way," Love said. "Seems like they have an advantage."
Harrington, the winner of three major championships, said on most courses he tends to play conservative off the tee and more aggressively into the greens.
"Here I think you've got to be aggressive off the tee because the golf course is quite long," he said. "If you start laying back because you're afraid of a bit of danger off the tee ... all of a sudden you're hitting from 220 yards on a downslope into a green that runs away from you."
The Irishman said the 5,500-foot elevation that makes the ball travel anywhere from 5 percent to 10 percent farther than at sea level adds to the "risk-reward" factor.
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