With the World’s elite beginning The Open preparations with a stop in Scotland, there is a chance for the unsung PGA TOUR golfers to make a name for themselves state-side.
The Barbasol Championship will take place this week alongside the Genesis Scottish Open at the Champions Course at the Keene Trace Club in Nicholasville, Kentucky.
Like the Genesis Scottish Open, this week serves as a final chance for any hopeful to secure a spot in next week’s The Open.
Again, like the Genesis Scottish Open, the Barbasol Championship is co-sanctioned by the PGA TOUR and DP World Tour, as the field will consist of golfers from both tours.
This event joined the PGA TOUR schedule eight years ago to fill the void left by the Sanderson Farms Championship when it came to its now familiar autumn slot.
This event was once played on the same week as The Open but was moved forward a week a year ago to play opposite the Genesis Scottish Open.
This will be the fifth consecutive year (the event was canceled in 2020) that this event will be played at Champions Course at the Keene Trace Club in Kentucky.
With the event being co-sanctioned by the PGA TOUR and DP World Tour, it offers a rare chance for a number of European golfers to secure a PGA TOUR card if they are to win.
There are 50 spots in this week’s field reserved for DP World Tour golfers but there will not be that many making the trip over the pond to play this event.
Among the DP World Tour golfers playing this week are Andy Sullivan, Alex Knappe, Jeremy Frieburghaus, James Morrison, Jazz Janewattananond, John Catlin and Johannes Veerman.
With this event playing opposite the Genesis Scottish Open, it does not boast a strong field.
The field is headlined by Cameron Champ, who much like Cameron Young a week ago, is looking to gain some form and seek a morale-boosting performance as he continues to fall down the OWGR.
Trey Mullinax won this event a year ago, as he sunk a dramatic 15-foot birdie putt on the final green to claim the title at -25, topping Kevin Streelman in the process.
Mullinax will not be in this year’s field but Streelman will be.
Mullinx’s one-stroke victory marked the sixth consecutive close finish determined by one shot or in a playoff at this event.
The Champions Course at Keene Trace Golf Club was designed by Arthur Hills 35 years ago and plays as a par-72 at 7,328 yards.
The bentgrass fairways here are very generous off the tee and the rough is non-penal which would suggest that long-bombers would have the leg up but it is the opposite of that. Finding the fairways is more important than bombing it a mile off the tee if we take a look into past results here.
The greens are bentgrass as well and are on the larger size. They do feature some undulations and are expected to run at around 12 on the Stimpmeter.
Golfers will not need to be spectacular at putting here this week but as is the case with most of these birdie-fest type of events, any hopeful winner must have a good putting week.
Finding the greens-in-regulation is the ultimate key here as the course is set up for low scoring. Simply put, any hopeful winner cannot leave birdie opportunities on the course.
When greens are to be missed, scrambling will be key, as previously mentioned, dropping even one stroke this week can play crucial.
Winning scores of the four previous winners of this event at The Champions Course at Keene Trace Golf Club have been -25 by Mullinax last year, -21 by Seamus Power in 2021, -26 by Jim Herman in 2019 and -23 by Troy Merritt in 2018.
This course and event correlates well to last week’s John Deere Classic, which too was a low-scoring birdie-fest on bentgrass greens. J.T. Poston won the John Deere Classic a year ago and placed second in this event in 2021 to confirm the correlation.
There will almost certainly be rain this week. The forecast currently calls for a 90-percent chance of precipitation on Thursday with thunderstorms hitting the area. Additionally, there is a 60-percent chance of precipitation for Friday and Saturday with a 30-percent chance on Sunday. Temperatures will range from 80-dress on Thursday and gradually increasing to 87-degrees come Sunday. Winds will peak at 12 miles-per-hour on Thursday with the thunderstorms and will range from seven-to-ten miles-per-hour for Friday through Sunday.
Birdie or Better Percentage
Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (SG: TTG)
Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)
Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (SG: OTT) / Driving Accuracy
Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)
Strokes Gained: Around the Green (SG: ATG)
Strokes Gained: Putting on Bentgrass (SG: PUTT Bentgrass)
There are only three golfers in this price range this week in Taylor Pendrith ($10,200,) Peter Kuest ($10,000) and my selection, Lucas Glover ($10,300.) Glover is the most expensive option this week in DraftKings. He comes in second in my model to just one other golfer that I will talk about in a later price range. Glover is currently eighth on Tour in driving accuracy, 32nd in GIR%, 40th in SG: APP, 49th in SG: TTG, 60th in SG: OTT, 72nd in scrambling, 75th in bogey avoidance and 89th in birdie or better percentage. His downfalls include a 132nd placement in SG: ATG, but he is an above average scrambler so I’m not all that concerned there. He also is currently 142nd in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. However, last week at the John Deere Classic, again on bentgrass greens, he gained 3.582 on the field in terms of SG: PUTT. He also gained 5.414 strokes on the greens at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, and you guessed it, also on Bentgrass. He’s a better putter than that SG: PUTT Bentgrass number suggests. In those past two tournaments we talked about with his putting, he placed T4th at the Rocket Mortgage Classic and T6th at the John Deere Classic. He’s on my betting card at +2200 to win as well.
I’m going back to the well with Akshay Bhatia ($9,500.) Bhatia comes into this week making five of his last seven cuts on Tour. He played last week at the John Deere Classic with a bit of success, placing T35th. He also placed second at the Puerto Rico Open earlier this year in another alternate event. Bhatia also placed fourth at the Mexico Open earlier this year. He is currently 22nd on Tour in birdie or better percentage, 23rd in GIR%, 24th in SG: APP, 38th in SG: OTT, 40th in SG: TTG, 53rd in driving accuracy and 89th in bogey avoidance. Now for his downfalls. He’s 150th in scrambling and 165th in SG: ATG. Not ideal but he did tread the waters at last week’s John Deere Classic, playing darn near even in terms of SG: ATG to the field. He is also 182nd in SG: PUTT Bentgrass and did lose strokes last week to the field on the greens as well. With putting not of the utmost importance this week, he still will have to catch a hot flat stick if he hopes to win this week. I’ll be playing him on the betting card at +2800.
I’m not in love with this price range as is the case for most of these smaller field events. My selection here however is Ryo Hisatsune ($8,600.) Hisatsune plays his golf on the DP World Tour, last playing on the PGA TOUR in the Zozo Championship back in October. On the DP World Tour he is currently 17th in SG: OTT, 22nd in GIR%, 24th in both driving accuracy and SG: PUTT, 45th in birdie or better percentage, 49th in SG: TTG, 63rd in scrambling, 79th in SG: ATG and 101st in SG: APP. Hisatsune too is in a bit of form, coming off a T8th at last week’s Made in Himmerland. He also placed T15th at the Betfred British Masters and T27th at the Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed recently. Playing on the DP World Tour, his ownership should be down as casual players will opt for the more known PGA TOUR names.
Satoshi Kodaira ($7,100) actually comes in tops of my model this week. He has made four consecutive cuts coming in this week between the Mexico Open and last week’s John Deere Classic. It’s promising that he made the cut a week ago at TPC Deere Run as we already talked about the correlation between the two events. He is currently second on TOUR in driving accuracy, 24th in scrambling, 34th in SG: APP, 39th in birdie or better percentage, 41st in GIR%, 65th in SG: TTG, 77th in bogey avoidance, 103rd in SG: ATG, 125th in SG: OTT and 127th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. Although he is 103rd in SG: ATG, he gained 4.014 strokes on the field last week in that category and 1.218 a week prior at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. His struggles come on the greens, as he lost over six strokes to the field last week but did gain 2.003 a week prior at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. If he can repeat what he did in Detroit, he’ll be in contention this week. He’s on my card at +11000.
It’s hard to find a play in this price range in this field but I believe Tano Goya ($6,900) has what it takes. He’s currently 40th in scrambling, 51st in SG: ATG, 65th in GIR%, 67th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 68th in bogey avoidance, 69th in birdie or better percentage, 72nd in SG: OTT, 89th in driving accuracy and 123rd in SG: T2G. His downfall is when it comes to approach play, where he currently ranks 174th on TOUR. Although his number in SG: APP is not ideal, he did gain 3.634 strokes on the field a week ago at the John Deere Classic. He made the cut there, placing T26th.
Lucas Glover (+2200) - 2u
Akshay Bhatia (+2800) - 1u
Andrew Novak (+4500) - 1u
Satoshi Kodaira (+11000) - 1u