THIS WEEK’S RENO-Tahoe Open will see Padraig Harrington tee off in Nevada as the Dubliner attempts to rescue his fading Ryder Cup chances.
Played across the same weekend as the high-profile World Golf Championship Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio, the Reno-Tahoe will this year be contested using a modified Stableford scoring system, the first PGA Tour event to do so since 2006.
With some of the world’s top 80 players in the spotlight for the Bridgestone event at Firestone Country Club, the best of the rest in the United States, a field of 132, are due to tee off at the Montreux Golf and Country Club.
Under the Stableford system, they will be awarded five points for an eagle and two for a birdie, but can also lose one point for a bogey and three for a double bogey or worse.
The Reno-Tahoe will be without a defending champion, after last year’s winner Scott Piercy earned himself a last-minute berth in the Bridgestone Invitational courtesy of his victory at the Canadian Open on Sunday.
But there is no shortage of talent heading to the mountains of Nevada, with Japan’s Ryuji Imada, Colombian Camilo Villegas and Argentine Andres Romero all in the field.
Australia is well represented by the likes of Stuart Appleby, Rod Pampling and Mathew Goggin, as well as five others.
US veterans David Duval, Chris DiMarco, Rocco Mediate and John Daly will hope to turn back the clock and contend for the US$540,000 winner’s cheque.
European Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal is likely to keep a close an eye on Harrington’s fortunes, as the three-time major winner attempts to play his way into the transatlantic showdown at Medinah Country Club in September.
Sitting 62nd in the world rankings, Harrington failed to earn a Bridgestone berth for the first time since 1999, and he is a distant 28th in the running for a European Ryder Cup spot.
He will use the Reno-Tahoe to state his case for a captain’s pick, and as a warm-up for the final major championship of the season, the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, which starts on August 9.
Harrington, 40, has not missed a Ryder Cup since making his debut at the 1999 edition in Brookline, helping Europe to victory in four of his six appearances.