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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Watney set to prove himself in baking Barracuda

Slick Nick looks back in business

Nick Watney has provided plenty of evidence to suggest all his talent remains
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Palmer's top tip
Nick Watney 35-1

Former world number ten Nick Watney can use the low-key Barracuda Championship to reignite a career which has faltered due to back problems.

Watney competed in only four tournaments last year to recuperate, but has played a full schedule in 2017, providing plenty of evidence that his talent remains.

He finished 14th three times early in the campaign – Pebble Beach, the Honda and the Valspar – and last month he signed for rounds of 64 in the Quicken Loans National and the Greenbrier Classic.

Four under-par rounds for 27th place in Canada last week was a tidy warm-up for Reno, where he has played five times previously, finishing tenth on debut in 2003, fifth in 2006 and eighth in 2014.

He lived in Nevada for several years, is proven in the forecast extreme heat, and has one of the best caddies in the business (Tony Navarro) for an event where clubbing is notoriously difficult.

Next best
Aaron Baddeley 50-1

Another experienced 36-year-old with multiple US Tour victories under his belt can provide the main challenge to Watney. Aaron Baddeley, an Arizona resident for his entire professional career, is not frightened by savage temperatures and will be looking forward to the Barracuda.

Baddeley closed the Open with a fantastic 64 for 27th spot, his best finish in the biggest tournament of the season, a timely confidence boost for the Barracuda. He was fourth on his Reno debut in 2005 and, like Watney, is an attacking player suited by the format.

Other selection
Kevin Tway 33-1

Complete a three-pronged Reno attack with the in-form Kevin Tway, who has been threatening a US Tour breakthrough from spring onwards with a series of bold efforts. Tway is from Oklahoma, so comfortable in high temperatures, and the power-packed slugger can be fancied to post a couple of five-point eagles this week.

Staking plan
N Watney
2.5pts each-way 35-1 bet365, Betfred
A Baddeley
1.5pts each-way 50-1 Coral
K Tway
1pt each-way 33-1 general


Tournament lowdown

Course Montreux Country Club, Reno, Nevada
Prize money $3.3m ($576,000 to the winner)
Length 7,472 yards
Par 72
Format The Modified Stableford scoring system was introduced for the first time in 2012, allocating points based on the number of shots taken at each hole. Albatross = eight points; eagle = five; birdie = two; par = zero; bogey = minus one; double-bogey or worse = minus three
Field 132
Course records (strokeplay) – 72 holes 267 Vaughn Taylor (2005) 18 holes 61 Scott Piercy (2011)
Course records (Stableford) – 72 holes 49 Geoff Ogilvy (2014) 18 holes 22 Kyle Reifers (2015)
Course winners taking part Vaughn Taylor (twice), John Rollins, JJ Henry (twice), Geoff Ogilvy, Greg Chalmers
When to bet By 3pm on Thursday
Time difference Nevada is eight hours behind the UK and Ireland

Course overview This Jack Nicklaus design opened in 1997 and hosted every Reno-Tahoe Open, the first in 1999. The tournament became the Barracuda Championship under new sponsors in 2014. The track is at altitude and the ball flies around ten per cent further than normal. The scenic layout winds through towering pine trees, creeks, seven lakes and four waterfalls through a forest, with lots of elevation changes. In 2002, three new holes were built, replacing the previous tenth, 11th and 12th. The stretch of holes from 15 to 17 are known as the Bear Trap. The 220-yard par-three 16th and the 464-yard par-four 17th are often the most difficult holes. The fairways are generous, greens are Bentgrass, bigger than average and undulating

The story of last year Greg Chalmers made an overdue breakthrough in his 386th US Tour start, the Australian left-hander edging Gary Woodland by a point

Weather forecast Hot and sunny all week, with light breezes

Type of player suited to challenge The extra distance that the ball travels in Reno cuts this course down to size. All lengths of hitter can thrive. The Stableford format encourages aggressive play, with rewards for eagles and birdies greater than the penalties for bogeys and doubles. Support players who can handle extreme heat

Key attribute Accuracy

Watney lived in Nevada for several years and is proven in the forecast extreme heat
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