Tour News

Pressure the name of the game in Reno

(Photo: Bruce Young)
The field at the WGC event in Ohio is playing for more money but the stakes are arguably higher for many in the PGA Tour’s opposite field at the Barracuda Championship in Nevada.

Those qualified for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational have little to worry about in terms of their immediate playing future but that isn’t the case for several who will tee up at the Montreux Golf and Country Club in Reno.

With only this week’s tournament, the PGA Championship and the Wyndham Championship remaining before the end of the regular PGA Tour season, those on the bubble of earning or keeping status for 2018 are undoubtedly feeling the pressure.

The magic number is 125 on the FedEx Cup standings – those better than that on August 20 guaranteed a job next season while those outside head to the four-tournament Web.com Finals series to fight for one of 25 available Tour cards.

There are 10 Australians listed in this week’s field including defending champion Greg Chalmers and 2014 winner Geoff Ogilvy, both victorious since the tournament switched to a modified stableford format in 2012.

The unusual system awards eight points for an albatross, five for an eagle, two for a birdie, nothing for a par and deducts one point for a bogey and three points for a double or worse.

Ogilvy is among those hovering perilously close to the 125 number at 121st in the standings and knows a good week could all but secure his 2018 card.

Chalmers has another year of exemption left thanks to his victory last year but that’s not the case for Cameron Percy who slipped to 135th after finishing T70 last week in Canada.

Matt Jones, too, went backwards last week with a missed cut and at 145th needs something special to turn his season around.

While Percy, Jones and Ogilvy hunt a return to the world’s top tour, rookie Curtis Luck is in position to freewheel having already earned enough FedEx Cup points to guarantee a start at the upcoming Web.com Finals.

Comfortable in the knowledge that his worst outcome is the chance to play for a PGA Tour card, the talented 20-year-old has nothing to lose and the modified scoring format could well suit his naturally aggressive style of play.

Robert Allenby, Aaron Baddeley, Stuart Appleby, Brett Drewitt and Steven Bowditch round out the Australian presence, Drewitt in position to finish his 2017 season on a high.

Those ranked 126th to 200th on the FedEx Cup standings earn a start at the Finals Series and, at 192nd, Drewitt is almost assured of a place though could put matters beyond doubt this week.

Outside the Australians, exciting rookie Ollie Schneiderjans is attracting a lot of attention, the 24-year-old already posting four top-10 finishes in his debut season.

In a year that has seen 11 first-time PGA Tour winners already, it would be no surprise to see the Texan join that club Sunday despite missing the cut in his only previous appearance here last year.


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