Players looking to make late push for FedExCup Playoffs at Barracuda Championship
August 02, 2018
By Jonathan Wall , PGATOUR.COM
Ollie Schniederjans interview after Round 1 of Barracuda
RENO, Nev. — Booking a place in the FedExCup Playoffs is no easy task, especially for those sitting precariously close to the top 125 bubble with only a few weeks left in the TOUR's regular season.
With 27 of the top 125 in the FedExCup standings playing the Barracuda Championship, the event offers an opportunity to solidify their position. For those on the outside looking in — 56 players ranked from 126 to 200 are in the field at Montreux Golf & Country Club — it's a chance to spoil the party and extend the 2017-18 season beyond the Wyndham Championship.
Seamus Power and Aaron Baddeley are on opposite sides of the bubble at the moment, but both managed to make positive strides to stay on the right side of the top 125 after the first round.
"It's professional golf," said Power, who began the week at No. 123 in the current standings. "It's not as if I wouldn't like to play well every other week of the year. [Making the Playoffs] is somewhere in the back of your mind, but as long as it's not affecting the way you play, it's not that big of a deal."
Power opened with 8 points (3-under 69) in the Modified Stableford event to move up two spots to No. 121 in the projected standings. As if playing with the season on the line wasn't difficult enough, Power had to deal with a group of hornets that stung him multiple times on the 1st hole — his 10th of the day — as he was searching for Corey Conners' golf ball.
Power managed to birdie two of his next three holes after the incident before suffering two untimely bogeys as the wind began to freshen.
"I got swarmed by five or six of them and they stung me quite a bit," Power said. "A couple got under my shirt and stung me. I've been stung before, but never anything like that."
While Baddeley didn't have to deal with insects at Montreux, he had to contend with the possibility of missing out on The Northern Trust following a stretch of eight missed cuts in his previous 11 starts.
Sitting at No. 135 entering the tournament, Baddeley opened with 14 points (6-under 66) to move up 30 places to No. 105. He sits just three points behind current leader Ollie Schniederjans, who amassed 17 points, in second place.
Even with the possibility of missing out on the Playoffs for the second straight season looming — Baddeley had advanced to at least The Northern Trust in his previous 10 seasons before last year — the Aussie said he isn't sweating the possibility of the season coming to a close at the Wyndham Championship.
"I'm not stressed, to be honest," Baddeley said. "Whether you go to Web.com Tour Finals or whether you finish in the 126 to 150 category, you're going to get starts and my game's in a good spot."
Baddeley attributed his strong play to the Modified Stableford format that puts a premium on birdies and eagles, and lessens the penalty for a big number that could crater a round most weeks.
"I think there's times where you might go for a shot that you might not or go for a couple of extra pins," Baddeley said. "... It's the way the format is. The more birdies the better."
With Montreux playing at anywhere from 5,000 to 6,000 feet, Michael Thompson (10 points) noted the elevation change and wind made for some interesting club selections on Thursday. "It sometimes feels like we're taking forever to figure out our number. You just have to be patient and crunch the numbers. We started with 5 percent for elevation at the beginning of the round and moved it to 10 percent. Then you factor in the wind. We try and keep it simple, but there's definitely some additional math involved."
Despite missing the cut in his previous two appearances at the Barracuda Championship, Ollie Schniederjans was in complete control of his game on Thursday, closing with an eagle and three birdies over the final eight holes to finish with 17 points. He attributed his strong start to getting comfortable with his approach shot distances and throttling back a bit. "I was just coming out extremely aggressive. But my game is coming around. I feel in control of my swing for the first time in a while."
Chris Stroud posted 7 points in the opening round with the same putter he used to win last year's Barracuda Championship. Prior to this week, Stroud had relied on a conventional-length TaylorMade Spider before returning to an Odyssey White Ice D.A.R.T. with Matt Kuchar's preferred Arm-Lock grip. "I literally just got it rebuilt back the way it was when I won here last year. I'm going to see if I can make a big run at the FedExCup."
Aaron Baddeley and Tom Lovelady were the only two players in the field who made a big enough move on Thursday to crack the projected top 125. Baddeley moved up 30 spots to 105 while Lovelady improved five spots to 124.
QUOTABLESInstead of taking a week off, I kind of wanted to get on a roll, play a little bit before the [PGA Championship] and roll into next week with some rounds. And that was a really good one here.We can show him out here that the TOUR is thinking of him and is with him. That's what it's all about. Golf seems very small right now in comparison.
Low round: Ollie Schniederjans with 17 points (8-under 64).
Longest drive: Ben Silverman with a 387-yard drive on the par-5 18th hole.
Longest putt: David Duval with a putt of 53 feet, 9 inches for par on the par-4 12th hole.
Hardest hole: The 500-yard par-4 1st hole, which played to a stroke average of 4.288, with 12 birdies on Thursday.
Easiest hole: The 520-yard par-5 13th hole, which played to a stroke average of 4.561, with 6 eagles and 59 birdies on Thursday.
Greens in regulation: Joel Dahmen hit 16 greens at Montreux Golf & Country Club.