Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's Barbasol Championship Tips

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Congratulations if you were on-board J.T. Poston at Monday best odds of 66/1. J.T. was mighty impressive, leading wire-to-wire and taking his 2nd PGA Tour victory. I landed a part 40/1 each-way return on Cam Davis, who played well enough. Ultimately a sloppy Saturday bogey and double bogey on holes 10/11 when 4 under through 9 cost him a serious contending performance opportunity.

The co-sanctioned Genesis Scottish Open takes centre stage on both the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour this week in the build-up to the Open Championship. It would be easy to cast aside the Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club in Kentucky, but I always like to solve the betting puzzle of these alternate PGA Tour events. The full 2-year PGA Tour exemption available to the winner is a huge carrot, as is the possibility of harvesting enough FedEx Cup points to grab a spot in the magical top 125, with the FedEx Cup Playoffs just over the horizon.

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Before we go into the detail surrounding the Barbasol Championship we always have new visitors to Golf Betting System. Welcome and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published every Tuesday of the golfing calendar), the Steve Bamford Golf Channel on YouTube and our hugely popular, +6,100 strong, private Group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

Course Guide: The Barbasol Championship was introduced in 2015 and is now played at the Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Kentucky. The course is a 7,328 yard, Par 72 where the green light is always on to shoot low scores. Hot and humid weather conditions where the ball really flies, this medium-length golf course has no real defence for PGA Tour professionals.

Champion Course, Keene Trace Golf Club, Nicholasville, Kentucky: Designer: Arthur Hills 1997; Course Type: Resort; Par: 72; Length: 7,328 yards; Number of Holes with Water In-Play:6; Fairways: Bentgrass; Rough: Kentucky Bluegrass with Fescue; Greens: 6,000 sq.ft average featuring Bentgrass; Stimpmeter: 11ft; Course Scoring Average 2018: 69.91 (-2.09), Rank 48 of 51 courses. 2019: 69.59 (-2.41), Rank 46 of 49 courses. 2021: 69.89 (-2.11), Rank 46 of 51 courses.

Course Overview: This is a full-throttle golf course, where eagles and birdies are the true currency. Perennially in the 6 easiest courses on the PGA Tour, the Champion Course at Keene Trace features wide fairways and large Bentgrass green surfaces. Hot and humid weather conditions allow the ball to fly long distances and this tournament is often played with soft turf and receptive green conditions. It’s a recipe for a good old-fashioned PGA Tour birdie-fest.

The longest of 4 par-5s only measures 573 yards and a set of par-4s which vary from 392 yards (shortest) to 462 yards (longest) offer-up very little resistance and we have seen some severe scoring here over the first 3 renewals.

James Hahn holds the course record with a 60 – pretty mad on a Par 72, whilst Kelly Kraft has shot a 61, with Jim Herman, Troy Merritt and J.T. Poston adding 62s over 2018 and 2019.

barbasol championship tips

Barbasol Championship Winners: Hosted at Keene Trace: 2021: Seamus Power (-21); 2019: Jim Herman (-26); 2018: Troy Merritt (-23); Hosted at Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail: 2017: Grayson Murray (-21); 2016: Aaron Baddeley (-18); 2015: Scott Piercy (-19).

OWGR of Winners: 2021: Power 210; 2019: Herman 1252; 2018: Merritt 327.

Cut Line: 2021: -4; 2019: -4; 2018: -4.

Lead Score Progression:

  • 2021: Round 1 -8; Round 2 -13; Round 3 -19; Round 4 -21.
  • 2019: Round 1 -10; Round 2 -14; Round 3 -24; Round 4 -26.
  • 2018: Round 1 -10; Round 2 -15; Round 3 -18; Round 4 -23.

Tournament Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event that are well worth a look. Naturally they’ll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Combined Stats | SG Stats.

Published Predictor Model: Our published predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 10 of my published predictor are Ryan Armour, Austin Cook, Kelly Kraft, Chesson Hadley, Vaughn Taylor, Marcel Schneider, Adam Svensson, Scott Brown, Ryan Moore, Michael Kim.

Barbasol Championship Winning Prices: 2021: Power 20/1; 2019: Herman 500/1; 2018: Merritt 55/1; 2017: Murray 66/1; 2016: Baddeley 55/1; 2015: Piercy 25/1. Overall Average: 120/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2021: Thursday: Thursday: Mostly cloudy. High of 88. Wind SW 7-14 mph, gusting to 18 mph. Play was suspended due to dangerous weather situations from 3:40 – 5 p.m. and from 6:16 – 7:31 p.m. Play was suspended due to darkness at 8:47 p.m. with 30 players yet to complete their round. Friday: Partly cloudy. High of 81. Wind SW 8-14 mph. Play was suspended due to darkness at 8:47 p.m. on Thursday with 30 players yet to complete their round. The first round resumed at 8:09 a.m. Friday and was completed at 9:33 a.m. The second round began as scheduled at 7:45 a.m. Saturday: Cloudy with morning showers and thunderstorms. High of 82. Wind WNW 7-14 mph. Play was suspended due to a dangerous weather situation at 9:04 a.m. and resumed at 11:03 a.m. Sunday: Partly cloudy. High of 82. Wind ENE 7-14 mph.
  • 2019: Thursday: Partly cloudy, hot and humid. High of 90. Wind SW 6-12 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy, hot and humid. High of 91. Wind SW 6-12 mph. Saturday: Mostly sunny, hot and humid. High of 94. Wind SW 6-12 mph. Sunday: Hot and humid, with severe afternoon thunderstorms. High of 88. Wind SW 6-12 mph. Play was suspended due to a dangerous weather situation at 2:07 p.m. with 32 players left to complete their round. Play resumed at 5:14 p.m. for a total delay of 3 hours, 7 minutes.
  • 2018: Thursday: Mostly Sunny, with a high of 86. Wind ESE 6-12 mph. Due to wet course conditions, preferred lies in closely-mown areas were utilized. Saturday: Partly cloudy in the morning, giving way to clouds in the afternoon. High of 79. Wind WSW 8-15 mph. Round two resumed at 7:32 a.m. Due to wet course conditions, preferred lies in closely-mown areas were utilized in round two and will remain in effect for round three. From Friday afternoon through Saturday morning, the course received a total of 2” of rain. Sunday: Just 21 players completed the final round Sunday. Monday: Overcast, with a high of 71. Wind NW 5-10 mph. A total of 5.2 inches of inches fell over the course of the week

Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Lexington, Kentucky, is here.

Hot and humid are the standard conditions at this time of year in Lexington. Temperatures around the 30 degrees Celsius mark will greet the players, and apart from Friday the wind looks like it will lay down for the week. Chances of thunderstorms are at over 50% every day between Wednesday and Saturday – so there’s the potential for disruption and soft turf conditions, which will only aid the low scoring.

Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the AT&T Byron Nelson / Soudal Open which includes both PGA Tour and DP World Tour events. Players’ rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Austin Smotherman; 2) Fabian Gomez; 3) Chris Stroud; 4) Paul Barjon; 5) Grayson Murray; 6) Hayden Buckley; 7) Conrad Shindler; 8) James Hahn / Kelly Kraft; 10) Ryan Brehm / Taylor Moore; 12) Trey Mullinax; 13) Chris Gotterup / Kevin Streelman; 15) Michael Gligic; 16) Doc Redman; 17) Sangmoon Bae;  18) John Huh / Kramer Hickok; 20) Tommy Gainey; 21) Brice Garnett; 22) Ryan Armour / Curtis Thompson; 24) Cameron Percy; 25) Robert Garrigus / Andrew Novak / Adam Svensson.
  • Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Aaron Baddeley; 2) Fabian Gomez; 3) Chris Gotterup; 4) Chesson Hadley; 5) Mark Hubbard; 6) Vaughn Taylor; 7) Sam Ryder; 8) Chase Seiffert; 9) Lee Hodges; 10) Tyler Duncan; 11) Scott Gutschewski; 12) Ben Kohles / Chris Stroud; 14) Kevin Streelman; 15) Ryan Moore; 16) Adam Svensson; 17) Sangmoon Bae; 18) Jared Wolfe; 19) Wesley Bryan; 20) Hank Lebioda; 21) Austin Cook / Kramer Hickok / Michael Thompson; 24) Ryan Armour / Hayden Buckley / Jonathan Byrd.
  • Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) John Huh; 2) Omar Uresti; 3) Chesson Hadley; 4) D.A. Points; 5) Seung-yul Noh; 6) David Hearn; 7) Kevin Chappell; 8) Bill Haas; 9) Arjun Atwal; 10) Jim Knous; 11) Kevin Streelman / Michael Thompson; 13) Chris Gotterup / Camilo Villegas; 15) William McGirt; 16) Henrik Norlander; 17) Brice Garnett; 18) David Lingmerth; 19) Conrad Shindler; 20) Kevin Tway; 21) Bo Van Pelt; 22) Greg Chalmers; 23) Taylor Moore; 24) David Skinns; 25) Jason Dufner.
  • Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Fabian Gomez; 2) Chris Stroud; 3) Chesson Hadley; 4) Aaron Baddeley; 5) Chris Gotterup; 6) John Huh; 7) Kevin Streelman; 8) Tyler Duncan / Conrad Shindler; 10) Austin Smotherman; 11) Sam Ryder; 12) Hayden Buckley; 13) Kramer Hickok / Mark Hubbard; 15) Ryan Armour / David Hearn / Hank Lebioda; 18) Adam Svensson; 19) Sangmoon Bae; 20) Robert Streb; 21) Chase Seiffert; 22) Lee Hodges / Kelly Kraft; 24) Andrew Novak / Vince Whaley.
  • Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Jim Knous; 2) Ricky Barnes / Seung-yul Noh; 4) Michael Gligic; 5) Mark Hubbard / Adam Svensson; 7) Ben Crane; 8) David Skinns / Vince Whaley; 10) Jonas Blixt; 11) Wesley Bryan; 12) Bill Haas; 13) Lee Hodges; 14) Kelly Kraft; 15) Chesson Hadley / Bo Van Pelt; 17) Austin Cook / David Lingmerth; 19) Vaughn Taylor; 20) William McGirt; 21) Paul Barjon / D.A. Points; 23) Michael Thompson; 24) Conrad Shindler; 25) Jonathan Byrd.
  • Top 25 SG Total: 1) Chesson Hadley; 2) Mark Hubbard; 3) Chris Gotterup; 4) Conrad Shindler / Michael Thompson; 6) Adam Svensson; 7) Fabian Gomez; 8) Vince Whaley; 9) John Huh; 10) Lee Hodges; 11) Aaron Baddeley; 12) Jonathan Byrd / Tyler Duncan / Michael Gligic / Bill Haas; 16) Seung-yul Noh; 17) Kelly Kraft / David Lingmerth / Kevin Streelman; 20) Hank Lebioda / William McGirt; 22) Ryan Moore; 23) Brice Garnett / Sam Ryder; 25) Hayden Buckley.

For a summary of the Strokes Gained Performances from this week’s field here at Keene Trace since 2018 click here.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the winners of the Barbasol Championship back to 2018 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this classical test:

  • 2021, Seamus Power (-21). 290 yards (28th), 66.1% fairways (30th), 79.2% greens in regulation (8th), 31’5″ proximity to hole (27th), 80.0 % scrambling (5th), 1.67 putts per GIR (10th).
  • 2019, Jim Herman (-26). 301 yards (30th), 73.2% fairways (8th), 87.5% greens in regulation (1st), 26’8″ proximity to hole (4th), 88.9% scrambling (1st), 1.73 putts per GIR (39th).
  • 2018, Troy Merritt (-23). 291 yards (16th), 73.2% fairways (15th), 84.7% greens in regulation (5th), 27’4″ proximity to hole (7th), 81.8% scrambling (3rd), 1.64 putts per GIR (4th).

Tournament Skill Averages:

  • Driving Distance: 25th, Driving Accuracy: 17th, Greens in Regulation: 5th, Proximity to Hole: 13th, Scrambling: 3rd, Putting Average 18th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:

  • 2021, Seamus Power (-21). SG Off the Tee: 15th, SG Approach: 17th, SG Around the Green: 8th, SG Tee to Green: 6th, SG Putting: 19th.
  • 2019, Jim Herman (-26). SG Off the Tee: 18th, SG Approach: 13th, SG Around the Green: 20th, SG Tee to Green: 5th, SG Putting: 4th.
  • 2018, Troy Merritt (-23). SG Off the Tee: 12th, SG Approach: 1st, SG Around the Green: 32nd, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 51st.

Strokes Gained Tournament Skill Averages:

  • SG Off the Tee: 15th, SG Approach: 10th, SG Around the Green: 20th, SG Tee to Green: 4th, SG Putting: 25th.

Let’s take a view from players as to how the Champion Course at Keene Trace sets up and what skill sets the course favours:

Seamus Power (2021): “Key this week is staying aggressive. What am I, 11 under? You’re not winning anything at 11 under. I mean, you know you’re going to have to go well up into the 20s. So I’ll do a little bit of practice here and try to get the game sharp to go at some pins tomorrow. It’s one of those courses you’re going to try to make as many birdies as you can.”

Jim Herman (2019): ” I thought the last two days were good, but improved on it. You just know that you got to go low. Kelly played great, shot 61 for him, I shot 62. So, no lead is safe, so you got to keep the pedal down and see how many birdies you can make.

I’m just driving the ball well. Have had a really good iron game the last three days. And I’m rolling the ball really well. So, any time you can have those three, you’re going to be in good shape, so it’s a great place. I guess the tee shots line up for me, and I’m reading the greens really well.”

Troy Merritt (2018): “I was very pleased with the way I struck the ball. Hit the driver very well. With ball in hand in the fairways it’s pretty important to get the ball in the fairway, and it gives you a chance to get a preferred lie and be able to attack the pins out here with it being as soft as they were. The course has dried out quite a bit since Tuesday when I first played it. It’s a fun track. If you can get the ball in the fairway and the right the ball in the right quadrants on these greens you can make some birdies. That’s kind of what we did today. Got it in the fairways, hit some good shots, and made a lot of nice putts.

You know, you like to think that most courses are going to set up to your game, that’s for sure. On the Tour most don’t for me. I like this one, especially off the tee. There is more left-to-right holes off the tee. I like to work a fade. The ones that work right to left I can get away with playing a fade back into the fairway. They’re wide enough and soft enough right now to where I can do that. I really enjoy the green complexes. There is a lot going on, but if you get in the right quadrant you can make birdies. We’ve done that for two days now.”

Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the winners of the Barbasol Championship since 2018:

  • 2021 – Seamus Power: Round 1: 3rd, Round 2: 4th, Round 3: 5th.
  • 2019 – Jim Herman: Round 1: 4th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2018 – Troy Merritt: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.

Shots From the Lead: Below are the shots from the lead during the tournament of Barbasol Championship winners since 2018:

  • 2021 – Seamus Power: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: 3 back.
  • 2019 – Jim Herman: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 1 ahead, Round 3: 1 ahead.
  • 2018 – Troy Merritt: Round 1: 3 ahead, Round 2: 2 ahead, Round 3: level.

Form of Barbasol Championship winners since 2018:

  • Seamus Power: 8th JDC/8th Rocket/19th Travelers/19th Palmetto.
  • Jim Herman: MC JDC/MC Rocket /MDF Travelers/MC Canadian Open.
  • Troy Merritt: 43rd JDC/17th Quicken/MC Travelers/12th St Jude.

For the record, here’s the breakdown of pure Bentgrass green PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

  • 3 – Ryan Moore.
  • 2 – Jason Dufner.
  • 1 -Jonas Blixt, Jonathan Byrd, Bill Haas, Jim Herman, Michael Kim, David Lingmerth, Ben Martin, Sean O’Hair, Kevin Streelman, Michael Thompson, Camilo Villegas.

Won by Seamus Power (20/1), Jim Herman (500/1) and Troy Merritt (55/1), the full 2-year PGA Tour exemption available to the winner is a huge carrot, as is the possibility of harvesting enough FedEx Cup points to grab a spot in the magical top 125 or even top 150 (partial status for 22/23). Played in sweltering and humid conditions in deepest Kentucky, -21/267, -26/262 and -23/265 have been the winning totals required.

Linking these 3 champions is a task I’ve not got enough spare days to master. Power was in red-hot form and was the betting favourite. Jim Herman arrived off the back of 7 Missed Cuts and a single MDF in his previous 8 appearances. Troy Merritt had finished 12th, 17th and 43rd across 3 of his past 4 appearances, so was in decent enough nick.

One fairly obvious thing does link the 3 though. All had motivation to play well, on the basis of their FedEx Cup ranking on arrival. Merritt, despite his good form, was 131st in the season long standings, with no win exemption to rest his laurels on. Seamus Power was in career-best form, but at 123rd in the FedEx Cup still had work to do to lock up full playing privileges for the following season. As you would expect, Jim Herman was in the PGA Tour wastelands, ranking 232nd in the FedEx Cup with no win exemption prop to fall back upon.

My Final Barbasol Championship Tips Are As Follows:

Chris Gotterup 2pts EW 20/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

If there’s one thing we’ve learnt over recent years it’s that precocious young talent on the PGA Tour isn’t afraid to contend and win.

Chris Gotterup is the reigning Jack Nicklaus Award winner out of the University of Oklahoma. In March, Gotterup contended as an amateur en route to a 7th place finish at the Puerto Rico Open. Playing on sponsors’ exemptions – think Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, Will Zalatoris etc – Gotterup has hit the ground running. 43rd at the U.S. Open then 35th at the Travelers, Gotterup went low last week in Illinois, finishing 4th. He’s now played himself into the Barbasol Championship and undoubtedly has a crack at Special Temporary PGA Tour Membership, where he needs to hit 287 FedEx Cup points – he has around 60% of that total already. A weak field, on a gettable golf course in Kentucky should be right up his street.

Gotterup’s driving and approach play is first class and in this field in my Strokes Gained 8-week tracker he ranks in the top 5 for Strokes Gained Tee to Green and in the top 3 for Strokes Gained Current form. RESULT: MC

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Kelly Kraft 1pt EW 50/1 (6EW, 1/5) with Unibet

Kelly Kraft has plenty to play for at the Barbasol Championship this week. Playing for his PGA Tour future after missing the terms of his Medical Extension with a MC at the Valspar Championship, Kraft has been towards the top of quite a few leaderboards of late. 15th at the Mexico Open and 13th at the RBC Canadian Open, Kelly was a feature last week at the John Deere Classic. A Friday 63 fired him into 7th spot going into the weekend and he was still 10th heading into Sunday. The fact that Kraft hadn’t contended on a Sunday in a PGA Tour event since 2019 got to him in the final round, but the Dallas, Texas-based 33 year-old still finished 24th and jumped into the FedEx Cup top 150 for the first time this season.

Now Kelly ranked 154th in the FedEx Cup standings arriving here in Kentucky 3 years ago. Coming off a 66th at the John Deere Classic the week before, he shot 65-67-61 here at Keene Trace to enter Sunday just a shot back of Jim Herman, and played in the Final Group. He matched Herman, firing a Sunday 70 and falling just a shot shy of victory behind the 500/1 chance. So Kraft undoubtedly has previous here and he has form when it comes to these alternate PGA Tour events: 3rd (2018), 5th (2019) and 14th (2020) at the Corales Championship, plus 15th at the Puerto Rico Open, highlight that the Texan takes these tournaments seriously. Driving the ball well at the moment, Kelly is one to have on-side this week. RESULT: MC

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Austin Cook 1pt EW 80/1 (6EW, 1/5) with Unibet

Austin Cook, like many in this field, needs results and quickly. 157th in the FedEx Cup standings and with no winner’s exemption to fall back on brings urgency to the Arkansas, 31 year-old’s plight. But there are green shoots of improvement. 13th at the RBC Canadian Open was Cook’s best finish since a season-opening 11th at the Fortinet Championship. 63rd at the Travelers Championship and a career-best 16th at the John Deere Classic have followed, where he finished with a 66. Cook has a little momentum arriving at a tournament he likes.

6th at the 2015 Barbasol, played at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama, came on a sponsor’s invite and Austin also played beautifully here at Keene Trace in 2019. 67-66-63 saw him in 3rd spot coming into Sunday, where like Herman and Kraft he shot a 70 to grab 4th spot at a 40/1 each-way price point. In the top 15 in this field for Strokes Gained Total at Keene Trace, Austin’s improving approach play and warm putter should be an excellent combination in familiar surrounds. Won the 2018 RSM Classic at -21/261 and his -23/261 total at the 2020 Shriners Open highlights a player who can go low on short- and medium-length tracks. RESULT: T27

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 17:10BST 4.7.22 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.