With the star names of the PGA Tour otherwise occupied at the WGC – Bridgestone Invitational, this week offers a chance for the circuit’s lesser lights to shine at the Legends Reno-Tahoe Open.
First played in 1999, the contest tends to throw up some unusual winners and last year was no exception. Despite a poor closing round of 74, Parker McLachlin took the title by a massive seven-stroke margin. Prior to the competition, McLachlin’s best Tour finish was a tie for fifth, since the event he’s done no better than a tie for 17th.
It could well be a week where we see another relative unknown coming to the fore although there are a number of experienced players in the field plus a few who narrowly missed entry into the WGC – Bridgestone Invitational. Andres Romero, Charl Schwartzel and Francesco Molinari are all on the start sheet.
Designed by Jack Nicklaus, the course at Montreux opened for play in 1997. The layout makes its way across desert and through pine forest and features fairly significant changes in elevation as well as a number of water hazards.
The stretch of holes from the 15th to the 17th is known as the “Bear Trap” – A long par-4, a tricky par-3 over water then a monstrous par-5 stretching to over 630 yards. The length of that hole is negated somewhat by the fact the course is at an altitude of nearly 6,000 feet. As a result, the course yardage of 7,472 yards is not quite so daunting.
Venue: Montreux G&CC, Reno, Nevada
Course stats: par 72, 7,472 yards
Purse: $3,000,000, Winner: $540,000
Defending Champion: Parker McLachlin (-18)
Thursday 6 – Live on British Eurosport 2 from 11.30pm
Friday 7 – Live on British Eurosport 2 from 11.30pm
Saturday 8 – Live on British Eurosport 2 from 11.30pm
Sunday 9 – Live on British Eurosport 2 from 12 midnight
Vaughn Taylor – His record in this event is pretty impressive: two starts, two wins. He hasn’t been showing brilliant form in 2009 but a tie for eighth in the Buick Open last week suggests he might be re-finding his game at just the right time to make it a “hat-trick” at Montreux.
Aaron Baddeley – He’s not playing particularly well at the moment but Baddeley is one of the biggest names in the field for this event. His putting is always solid and, if he can find some form with his long game, he’ll be tough to beat.
Steve Flesch – A previous winner here, Flesch is capable of high quality golf as his tie for sixth at this year’s Masters confirms. If he has a good week, he’ll be there or thereabouts.
Key hole: 17th. It may be 636 yards long but the altitude, plus the prevailing wind at the players’ backs, will make it potentially reachable in two. It features a large and undulating green so expect to see some amazing putts holed as well as some short ones missed.
Skills required: Handling the pressure. It may not carry such a huge purse as some events on Tour but playing privileges for the next two years are still on offer to the victor. With that prize at stake, there could be some frayed nerves coming down the stretch.