With the PGA and European Tour’s top players competing in the Bridgestone Invitational this week, some lesser lights – many who are fighting for their 2013 playing privileges – will take part in the Reno-Tahoe Open at Jack Nicklaus’ Montreux Country Club.
In an effort to increase the profile of the event, organisers announced this week the tournament would be decided on Modified Stableford, rather than strokeplay. It is the only tournament on the regular PGA Tour schedule to depart from strokeplay and the first time the format has been used since The International was last staged in 2006.
Despite the rival World Golf Championship event there are some big names in the field for the tournament, which takes place a week before the fourth and final major of the season.
Padraig Harrington isn’t eligible for the Bridgestone despite a recent resurgence, and takes his place in the field alongside Australian Stuart Appleby, John Daly, Camilo Villegas and JB Holmes.
The tournament – inaugurated in 1999 – isn’t steeped in heritage but has seen some relatively high profile winners, including Ryder Cup star Scott Verplank, who beat Jean Van de Velde in a play-off in 2000.
Last year, Scott Piercy triumphed by one stroke over Pat Perez, but the American won’t return to defend his title, having received an exemption to play in Ohio after victory at last week’s RBC Canadian Open.
Venue: Montreux Golf and Country Club, Reno
Date: Aug 02-05
Course stats: par 72, 7472 yards
Purse: $3,000,000 Winner: $540,000
Defending Champion: Scott Piercy
TV Coverage: not being shown on British television
Padraig Harrington: looks almost back to his major-winning best, threatening at US Open and recording four top 10s since then. He hasn’t appeared in this event before, but the Modified Stableford format should suit him down to the ground.
Camilo Villegas: the Columbian was in great shape last week before a brace of 73s over the weekend, and has shown signs in recent weeks that he may be on the verge of rekindling the form that saw him break into the world’s top 10.
John Rollins: in his 18 events this season, he has missed nine cuts and recorded nine top-25 finishes, suggesting he may well compete if he makes the cut. The Texan is also a past winner at Montreux.
Key hole: 18th. The finishing hole is a 616-yard par 5. Last year, it ranked as 16th hardest hole, but with this year’s format, it could be the difference between success and failure. If organisers move the tees forward it could be a pivotal hole, with five points on offer for an eagle.
Skills required: An aggressive mindset. Modified Stableford doesn’t reward the conservative, so players will need to get out there and show some attacking intent.
Nick Bonfield blogs about Modified Stableford