It’s part of our first peek into the brave new world of the PGA Tour/DP World Tour alliance when 50 of Europe’s finest make the journey to Kentucky for the co-sanctioned Barbasol Championship.
Co-sanctioned events are nothing new but never have the game’s two biggest circuits collaborated on a tournament making this week a noteworthy date on the historical calendar.
Most of the attention will be across the pond at the other co-sanctioned event – The Scottish Open – but that doesn’t lessen the significance of this happening on U.S. soil.
The 144-man field will be made up mostly of U.S. based players with 94 spots reserved for PGA Tour members and 50 for eligible DP World Tour players.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Last week’s winner J.T Poston seems to be a fan of this time of year having been part of a six-hole play-off at the Barbasol in 2021.
The American was eventually beaten by Ireland’s Seamus Power in Kentucky, the Irishman on a meteoric rise through the world rankings since.
A sloppy finish cost Poston what appeared to be a certain victory, a double bogey at the par-5 15th compounded by a three-putt bogey at the very next eventually hole proving fatal.
RIGHT: Seamus Power claimed his maiden PGA Tour win last year in sudden death. PHOTO: Andy Lyons/Getty Images.
Par was ultimately good enough for Power on the sixth hole of sudden death after his American opponent found water off the tee at the par-4 18th.
Power will not defend his maiden PGA Tour win this week, instead playing the JP McManus Pro-Am at home in the leadup to playing The Open at St. Andrews next week.
COURSE: The Champion Trace course at Keene Trace has hosted this event since 2018 and proved an entertaining venue for tournament golf.
An Arthur Hills design opened in 1988, the course has met with approval from PGA Tour members and local Kentucky golfers alike.
With no tournament held in 2020 because of Covid the three winning totals so far have been 23-under, 26-under and 21-under so plenty of birdies for fans to enjoy.
Keene Trace has the luxury of 36 holes and the Champion Trace course (the other is called Keene Trace) is clearly designed with the better player in mind.
Water features on several holes (though is generally not in play for golfers of this level) and thoughtful bunker positioning demands decision making both from the tee and for approach shots.
Mostly large putting surfaces offer a variety of pin positions with some roller coaster putts possible if players find themselves out of position.
The finishing holes get most of the attention with the 17th featuring a split fairway and water lurking right while the 18th is a tough finish with water also a feature along the length of the hole to the right.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: As the purse suggests the Barbasol generally attracts a weaker field than the average Tour event given its traditional position opposite The Open Championship.
Moving up a week in the schedule has done little to help that as the opposing Scottish Open boasts a field almost as strong as the final men’s major on the calendar the following week.
However, with a spot at St. Andrews up for grabs there is plenty to play for aside from the purse and expect plenty of aggressive golf.
It is somewhat confronting to look through the field and see so many European Tour names listed in a U.S. event which is perhaps an omen of an intriguing week to come.
However, given most of Europe’s best are teeing up in Scotland it would seem a good bet that a PGA Tour player will take home the trophy Sunday.
Patrick Flavin and Chris Gotterup are two lesser known players who ran hot last week at the John Deere event and Gotterup, in particular, looks a good prospect.
The 22-year-old has made four cuts from five PGA Tour starts this year including at the U.S. Open.
He has also registered two top-10 finishes (one of those last week when T4 in Illinois) which suggests his game is in a good place at the moment.
Flavin is a Korn Ferry Tour player who has struggled for much of the year but produced some extraordinary play when he needed it most last week.
The 26-year-old told The Grind podcast the back nine at TPC Deere Run was the most important nine holes of his life, so he comes into this week with plenty of confidence.
72-HOLE RECORD: 262 (-26, Jim Herman, 2019)
18-HOLE RECORD: 61 (Kelly Kraft, 2019)
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: Aaron Baddeley (2016)
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Brett Drewitt, Aaron Baddeley, Cameron Percy and Greg Chalmers.
Round 1: Friday (Fox Sports 503 6am – 9am)
Round 2: Saturday (Fox Sports 503 6am – 9am)
Round 3: Sunday (Fox Sports 503 6am – 9am)
Round 4: Monday (Fox Sports 503 5am – 8am)
*AEST, check local guides