While the stars fly across the pond, an alternate-field event is taking place this week in Kentucky.
It's the Barbasol Championship and it is returning to Keene Trace Golf Club for the third time.
The field sits at 132 golfers which is the normal size for alternate-field events. The top 65 and ties will advance onto the weekend, so a relatively high percentage will get to play all four rounds this week.
Let's jump right in and talk about the course.
Keene Trace Golf Club made its debut on the PGA TOUR back in 2018 when it took over hosting duties, previously played at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama.
This course has quickly established a reputation for being wet and sloppy during tournament week.
Whether it is bad luck or poor planning by the TOUR, rain is going to be hanging around again this week. The course is already getting soaked in the lead-up to the event and the threat of precipitation is very real, all week long. More on that in the weather section.
As for the actual course, it's a par 72 that plays to 7,328 yards during tournament week.
Both of the previous editions played here have yielded field scoring averages under 70 strokes so it's one of the easiest courses they'll play all year. It's tough to say whether that's a product of the weather or if it's easy in all conditions. Realistically, the soft conditions play a huge part in that easy scoring environment.
Just how easy has it played? During the 2019 edition, the field averaged 1.1 eagles per 72 holes played which is more than three times the PGA TOUR average.
We shouldn't expect a repeat of those eagle numbers but we should plenty plenty of birdies and eagles to be flying off the shelf this week.
For turf types, they'll see bentgrass fairways, Kentucky bluegrass rough, and V8 bentgrass greens. The greens don't run too speedy, especially with rain keeping them soft all week.
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Thursday: Sunny with a high of 87 degrees. Winds at 5 to 8 MPH.
Friday: Sunny with a chance of rain late in the day. Winds at 6 to 10 MPH.
The threat of storms really ramp up over the weekend and it looks like they'll be lucky to finish on Sunday if the current forecast holds true. Let's hope the forecast gets more promising as the weekend draws nearer.
Golfers to Watch
Playing the best golf of his career right now, it's easy to see why he's starting as a pre-tournament betting favorite. Power has been inside of the top 30 after 19 of his last 20 rounds played. He's racked up five straight top 20s over that stretch.
He stumbled in Detroit after his battlefield promotion but got back on track last week with a T34 at the John Deere Classic. Playing against a glorified KFT field this week, he should feel very comfortable. All three of his KFT wins came with winning scores of 20-under or better so we know he can keep up in a birdie fest.
In theory, these alternate-field events are the perfect breeding ground for a breakout talent like Theegala to announce his presence. Theegala has 11 career starts on the PGA TOUR with a T14 at the Safeway Open last fall being the highlight so far. Down on the Korn Ferry circuit, he's popped with a pair of top 20s, as well. Early in his career he's leaning heavily on the flat stick, so we'll need to see his ball-striking stats improve before we get too confident about his future. Right now he's stuck in the Mav McNealy / Beau Hossler mold where their elite putting rounds let them pop on the leaderboard from time to time.
While Pereira made the headlines with his battlefield promotion, Jaeger has been even more impressive on the Korn Ferry Tour this season. Jaeger has SIX podium finishes (two wins, three runner-up finishes, one third) in 31 events played. He's first on the KFT Points list. Adding to that, he's also racked up top 25s in both appearances at Keene Trace Golf Club, somewhat close to his old stomping grounds at University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.
He hasn't been consistent this year but he was T6 thru 54 holes in Detroit before fading to T25. He missed the cut last week at TPC Deere Run. Why's he so high in my rankings then? Well, he's played Keene Trace twice and posted a runner-up finish (2018) and T24 (2019).
Ranking the Field
1. Seamus Power
2. Charl Schwartzel
3. Stephan Jaeger
4. Taylor Pendrith
5. Luke List
6. Richy Werenski
7. Lee Hodges
8. Mito Pereira
9. Nick Taylor
10. Russell Knox
11. Greyson Sigg
12. Adam Schenk
13. Brice Garnett
14. J.T. Poston
15. Tom Lewis
16. Henrik Norlander
17. Sahith Theegala
18. Mark Hubbard
19. Bo Hoag
20. Davis Riley