Web.com Tour’s Digital Ally Open plays out at Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate outside Kansas City, while Montreux (Reno) hosts PGA Tour’s Barracuda Championship
Now in the final stretch of the regular season, the Web.com Tour visits the Kansas City area for the Digital Ally Open, contested this week at Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate. The only Nicklaus Design layout in Kansas plays tournament host for the sixth time since the course opened for play in 2001.
The PGA Tour and the Kansas City Crusaders announced in April that Digital Ally would become the tournament’s title sponsor, effective for five years, through 2019. The event was formerly called the Midwest Classic.
This event will ready many in the field for the Web.com Tour playoffs, the four-event series during which two tournaments will be played on Nicklaus Design layouts. Sycamore Hills in Fort Wayne, Ind., is host to the Hotel Fitness Championship from Sept. 10-13, and the Jack Nicklaus-redesigned Scarlet Course at The Ohio State University in the Golden Bear’s hometown of Columbus is host to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship from Sept. 24-27.
This week’s Web.com Tour event at the Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate will feature a Golden Bear layout playing to a par of 71 and 7,237 yards. It traditionally provides plenty of birdie opportunities for Web.com Tour players. Last year’s event was won by Zack Sucher, who fired a four-round total of 19 under en route to a three-stroke victory over Aaron Watkins.
Sucher has since graduated to the PGA Tour, but past event champions Jamie Lovemark (2013 winner, as well as a former Jack Nicklaus Award winner as Division I Player of the Year) and James Nitties (2011 winner) will tee it up this week. Players will be competing for their share of a $600,000 purse—but money isn’t thing only thing at stake with this group.
Beginning in 2013, the Web.com Tour became “The Path to the PGA Tour” by awarding all 50 cards for the following PGA Tour season. With only four events remaining in the regular season, the race is on for players to finish inside the top 25 on the money list and secure PGA Tour status for the 2015-2016 season—and to finish inside the top 75 and secure a spot in the four-event Web.com Tour Finals.
The Barracuda Championship, which begins today at Jack Nicklaus-designed Montreux Golf & Country Club in Reno, Nev., is the last chance for PGA Tour golfers to qualify for the year’s final major—next week’s PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. This week’s winner will automatically qualify for the PGA Championship, if he isn’t already in the field. For a handful, however, the Barracuda serves as a springboard into the Web.com Tour Finals, where 25 PGA Tour cards will be at stake.
Television coverage today for the Barracuda is on Golf Channel from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET, Friday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET, and Saturday and Sunday from 6:00p.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET.
The Barracuda is a unique PGA Tour event that uses a Modified Stableford scoring system, as opposed to the typical stroke-play format, which encourages aggressive play by allocating points based on the number of strokes at each hole. Instead of shooting for lower scores as is customary in golf, players will be trying to put plus-scores on the board, which are the rewards for birdies and better. It won’t be easy though. Montreux’s mountain layout, host of a Tour event annually since 2009, has been ranked the sixth most-difficult course on Tour.
For most not headed to next week’s PGA Championship, the Barracuda Championship is the penultimate opportunity to make headway toward the FedEx Cup Playoffs. The Wyndham Championship in two weeks will conclude the PGA Tour Season and determine the near future for many in this week’s field at Montreux.
Past U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy (2006) is back to defend his title. Another player to watch this week is Ollie Schniederjans—the three-time All-American from Georgia Tech. Schniederjans turned pro late in the year after making his final start as an amateur in The Open Championship, where he finished in a tie for 12th. Former No. 1 amateur and Stanford graduate Patrick Rodgers is also in the field. Rodgers received the 2014 Jack Nicklaus Award as the Division I Player of the Year, and he now plays out of The Bear’s Club, the Nicklaus family’s home club in Jupiter, Fla.