Tournament: Barracuda Championship
DP World Tour Rankings: Tournament 26 of 44 events
Venue: Tahoe Mountain Club, Truckee, California, United States of America
Prize Fund: $3,700,000
Hashtag: #CudaChamp #DPWT
Alex Noren hopes a return to a favourite venue can help kick-start his 2022 campaign as he tees it up at the Barracuda Championship.
The Swede, a member of Europe’s victorious 2018 Ryder Cup side, finished in a share of ninth place in 2020 when he last played in the Modified Stableford event at Tahoe Mountain Club in California.
The 39-year-old has missed just four cuts from 15 starts this year, with his best-placed finish coming in February at The Honda Classic when he shared fifth place.
Joining Noren in the field is rising star Rasmus Højgaard, who finished in a share of tenth at last week’s Genesis Scottish Open, the first event co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour and PGA TOUR.
Instead of playing to par this week, competitors at the Barracuda Championship earn points based on their score for that hole, with albatrosses earning eight points, eagles earning five and birdies earning two. Zero points are awarded for pars, however players lose one point for a bogey and three for a double or worse.
Niklas Nørgaard Møller has carded the most birdies of all DP World Tour members during the 2022 season with 221 and hopes to continue that trend this week in California. The big-hitting Dane is also ranked fourth on driving distance and will look to take advantage of the elevation as Tahoe Mountain Club sits 6,000 feet above sea level. Møller finished in a share of 27th last week at the Barbasol Championship as Germany’s Hurly Long ended the tournament as the leading DP World Tour member in fourth place.
The Barracuda Championship counts on both the DP World Tour Rankings and the PGA TOUR’s FedEx Cup Standings, with the winner receiving exemptions on both Tours, as 50 members from the DP World Tour have been provided an opportunity to play in the United States for the second consecutive week.
Alex Noren: “I know that it’s The Open week, but I don’t think anybody would withdraw this late, and I love this course. I thought it was great last time I was here two years ago. I had this week planned, and it’s three weeks of training before the Playoffs, and I just wanted to get here and kind of follow that plan.
“It was a good spring and then I tried to get back into some better game. Like I thought I played better at the Scottish the last two, three rounds, and yeah, just kind of worked my way back. That’s why I wanted also those three weeks to kind of get the game going a bit and then the Playoffs and then have a good fall. Not just over-play, over-play, and get those three weeks of training in sort of the middle of a season. I know the PGA TOUR ends, but the DP World Tour continues until December, and PGA TOUR is pretty strong in the fall, too.”
Rasmus Højgaard: “It’s a great golf course. Conditions are good. The ball is traveling a long way. Have to probably count on maybe 10, 12 percent extra. It’s a bit long and I’d say a bit narrow off the tee, tree-lined course, but I enjoy courses like this. My home club in Denmark reminds me a little bit of this, so I’m looking forward to it.
“I’ve seen the tournament on TV and the scoring before. It seems like there’s a lot of birdie chances and potential eagles out there. But again, I don’t think that means you necessarily have to go for everything. You’ve still got to be a little bit sensible and then be aggressive at the right time, I think. I think that will be my approach.”
Niklas Nøgaard Møller: “I had a long talk to my coach about (the format); is there any reason to change strategy because if I go out and make 18 points I have zero points. Nine birdies, nine bogeys I have nine points. We talked about just make a good strategy from the tee and then be more aggressive on the lines, taking more pins, and be a little bit more aggressive with the putting because my thing is I make enough birdies but I also make too many bogeys and double bogeys.
“Crazy numbers. I just put my driver up one degree to get it to spin more in this thin air. Normally my driver goes around 290 metres, 290 in the air, and the latest stats we have we’re at 330 metres carry. You want to keep it straight because otherwise we’re never going to find it out there.”
Hurly Long: “I really enjoyed (last week). Played really well and thought the course suited me fairly well. But yeah, the game came together nicely. I was actually doing very well mentally, even the last day I was very relaxed, just didn’t quite — the last round the ball didn’t want to go in the hole, so wasn’t able to quite get the victory, but fourth is still really good, so I’m quite satisfied.”