British Open first alternate Alex Noren in contention at Barracuda

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Chez Reavie continues to tear up the golf course, and Alex Noren has some extra incentive this week.

Reavie leads the Barracuda PGA Tour Championship with over 37 points at Tahoe Mountain Club’s Old Greenwood course, where they use the modified Stableford scoring system.

Martin Laird is next at plus-31 and Noren is tied with Cam Davis at plus-28.

But Noren was about to play in the last major men’s tournament of the year, the British Open at St. Andrews.

Noren had been the first British Open substitute, but decided to fly to California to play Barracuda instead.

“I didn’t think anyone would step down,” Noren said Friday. “They did, and it’s sad for them, but I wanted to play that too.”

When Justin Rose pulled out of the Open, it opened up a spot that would have gone to Noren. Instead, that spot went to Rikuya Hoshino. Erik van Rooyen, who won the Barracuda in 2021 to earn a place in the 2022 Open Championship, also withdrew before the start of the Open.

“I wanted to score more points. I have three weeks of training after that before the [FexEx Cup] playoffs, and I wanted to play this week, and maybe that mindset made me have a little less patience than necessary this time around. Golf is a long career, and I’ve played a lot of British Opens, and I’ll be able to play again.

Noren tried to forget what might have been and just went to work at Old Greenwood, posting a plus-28 in three rounds.

He admits it’s hard to escape the British Open because it’s on TV everywhere he goes in Truckee.

He said being in contention in the Barracuda somewhat eased the pain of missing the Open.

“Every time they show ‘The Open’ on TV I get frustrated, but I love coming here. I think it’s one of the best courses on the Tour and a great tournament. It’s very nice to play,” Noren said.

Noren, 40, is ranked No. 66 in the world, No. 75 in the FedEx Cup standings.

Reavie, meanwhile, had his first Barracuda bogey on the No. 15 on Saturday, this after birdying five in the third round. He said he expects to feel nervous on Sunday as he waits for his afternoon tee time.

“I have to spend an hour or two at home calming down because I’m so looking forward to coming here and competing,” Reavie said. “I can come here and try too hard if I get too excited.”

Reavie, who golfed at Arizona State, is one of only two PGA Tour golfers from that school who have not defected to the LIV Tour, along with John Rahm. Former ASU golfers Phil Mickelson, Paul Casey, Pat Perez and Matt Jones have all jumped at LIV.

big jump

Michael Thompson had nine birdies and nine pars, and had 18 points on Saturday. He has plus-26 points going into Sunday’s final round.

Joshua Creel had two eagles on Saturday, on holes 8 and 16 and had 11 points on the day. He has plus -26 points in three rounds.

Harry Higgs also had 11 points on Saturday, courtesy of three birdies and an eagle. He is plus-26 points before Sunday. Higgs said he was better off if he could avoid chipping.

“I hit a lot of good iron shots and got bonus putts. The first day I just hit a few balls right where I had to play,” Higgs said. “But this format is kind of fun. You can kind of get away with that.

He loves the feeling of hitting the ball on his tee shots and watching it fly farther than most golf courses he plays on.

“It’s also fun when it happens in the fairways; you can hit very, very far here, bounce and roll and fly a little farther with altitude,” Higgs said.

Higgs said he hasn’t been playing well this season and worries too much about the little things that go wrong.

“I just wasn’t sharp, I didn’t play good golf, I didn’t play like me,” he said. “My attitude has been horrible. I’ve pissed and moaned about little things that go wrong and build and build and build. I’ve played too much on the cut line all year. I consider myself as much, much better than that. But of course there comes a time when talking is cheap and now you’re going to have to show it, more so to myself.

Rating

The Barracuda Championship uses the Modified Stableford Scoring Format, the first PGA Tour event to use the format since The International in 2006. Players are awarded points based on the number of strokes taken at each hole with the aim of obtaining the highest overall score.

Albatros +8, Eagle +5, Birdie +2, Par 0, Bogey -1, Double bogey or worse -3.

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