The 20th Barracuda Championship at Montreux Golf and Country Club came down to two players with different mindsets entering Reno’s PGA Tour stop.
Chad Campbell, owner of four career PGA Tour wins, was playing his seventh consecutive event, grinding to secure his exempt status on tour. Andrew Putnam treated the week as a working vacation taking in the sights and serenity of Lake Tahoe.
After Putnam secured his first PGA Tour win with a closing birdie Sunday, Incline may see an uptick in the number of tournament participants in 2019.
“We came here and we’re staying at Incline Village. It’s such a beautiful spot and so cool to have my wife and parents here.” Putnam said. “One of my friends flew in last night. Yeah, just a dream week for me.”
Despite his 4-point win in the modified Stableford scoring system, where points are awarded for birdies (+2) and eagles (+5) and subtracted for bogeys (-1) or worse (-3), it was a battle down to the final hole.
Campbell caught fire beginning at the par-4 sixth and reeled off birdies on five of his next eight holes to draw within 2 points of Putnam. The most important of those coming at the 13th, where he missed a 6-footer for eagle that would have vaulted him into the lead. “That hurt,” Campbell said. “Anytime you get a chance to make eagle you make up so much ground out here. Hit it right where I wanted to and it just didn’t turn.”
Putnam led the field in scrambling for the week, which was key down the stretch with critical par saves at holes 10 and 12. The Washington state resident’s short game came up huge again at the par-5 13th hole, with a tremendous shot from the deep rough from the right of the green for a tap-in birdie to push his lead back to 4 points.
Campbell failed to make any more birdies until the closing hole, leaving Putnam in position to win even with a bogey and -1 points on 18. He tempted fate off the tee despite making the prudent club selection and laying back, pushing his tee shot badly into the trees, but caught a huge break when the limbs blocked the ball from going out of bounds.
After a layup and then an approach just short of the green, Putnam’s birdie putt wobbled and bounced through the fringe before catching the edge of the hole and falling in. When it’s your week, it’s your week.
Notes: William McGirt made an early charge with the best round of the day of 20 points, finishing sixth. Las Vegas resident John Oda, who Monday qualified at Hidden Valley Country Club, made the most of his opportunity finishing T3 and earning a spot in the Wyndham Championship in two weeks. UNR grad Grant Booth led the field in points earned on the 18th hole for the week, with +14 after an eagle Sunday. He finished T64, earning his first check on Tour. Congrats to course superintendent Doug Heinrichs and the volunteers who showed up to restore Montreux after 5 inches of rain on July 22 washed out the entire golf course, including the sand from every bunker.
— Michael Smyth