by Aaron "1-iron" Garry - 08/17/2005
Ah Reno. The PGA Tour returns to its least heralded and least historic event this week for the Reno Tahoe Open at Montreux Country Club. Last year, Vaughn Taylor survived a four-man playoff to capture his first PGA Tour victory. This year, "1-iron" believes it will be the maiden voyage for another lucky PGA Tour player.
If a player is to take home their first PGA Tour victory, they must be long. At Reno, the Montreux course plays just a shade under 7,500 yards and Vaughn Taylor's winning score of 10 under par last year may set the bar for the 2005 edition. Last week, "1-iron" got into a fascinating discussion on the "Too Much Show" on WFIN in Findlay, Ohio as the topic of "Tiger-proofing" today's courses came up. "1-iron" sees it as follows:
The fans would much rather see an event like the MCI Heritage classic, where the course forces the player to think their way around on every shot. Harbor Town plays at just under 6,900 yards and consistently challenges the players to put a premium on shot-making. With Augusta going to 7,400 yards it does the complete opposite of "Tiger-Proofing." It actually starts something we'll call "Funk-proofing" as guys like Freddie Funk won't have a chance to successfully compete on a level playing field. Pure length shouldn't be the only multiplier on Tour, you've got to examine the total package, and the Tour is beginning to look past that.
Onto the picks........
18 Shots -- 2005 Reno Tahoe Open Odds and Picks
6 Who Will:
1. Daniel Chopra (28/1): The best friend a column could ask for. Don't be surprised when "The Big Lamb Chopra" takes the Reno Tahoe this week for his first PGA Tour Victory. His last three starts at Milwaukee, Buick and International have been T29, T12 and T15 respectively. "1-iron" gave him a tip about Par 3's at the Colonial and he promptly went out and missed four of five cuts, however once he forgot the tip - it's been clear sailing. Hopefully he stays out of Caesar's Palace this week and concentrates on making a start out of the "1-iron."
2. Todd Hamilton (50/1): The best player in an otherwise pedestrian field. T47 last week at Baltusrol after two Missed Cuts in a row at St. Andrews and Castle Pines. Ham is in his element this week against a lighter field, and should be the one chasing Chopra. It's a good thing Ham has the five-year British Open exemption, or else this would be a dogfight to keep his card.
3. Craig Barlow (33/1): "Sweet Swingin' Craig Barlow" is on the scene to turn it out this week in Reno. After a T8 at the Buick against a terrific field, and a T15 against an equally stellar field at Castle Pines - Barlow is in Reno to win for the first time, and the "1-iron" is a believer!
4. Scott McCarron (25/1): Scotty's made his last four cuts including a T59 at the PGA. The week prior in Colorado, he turned in a T10 at the International. He's the 2004 Runner Up at this event and lost to "Vodka Tonic Vaughn Taylor" in a playoff.
5. Jerry Kelly (22/1): The 2001 Runner Up returns after making a Friday charge at the PGA Championship. Unfortunately the tournament ended on Monday and his only highlight over the weekend was high-fiving Tiger Woods after he holed out at number 7. Kelly gave us a T34 after being in second going into the weekend. He's had a light year by his standards with only one Top 10 and just over $780,000 in earnings. That said, he's playing against the B-teamers this week.
6. John Rollins (33/1): A real up and comer on Tour. Rollins lists one of his hobbies as "Playing Guitar." - Well, the "1-iron" doesn't care for musical instruments, but if Rollins could make some sweet music at Reno - that would be just fine by this columnist. After a T2 at the BC, Rollins has been rather ordinary...but this "Shooting Star" should make an impact in Tahoe. T14 last year at Montreaux.
6 Who Can:
7. Hank Kuehne (50/1): The Bomber sets his sights on the 7,400 yard Montreaux Country Club in Tahoe this week. The big guy from Texas is really coming on in recent weeks. Solo fourth at the International two weeks ago, and a T2 at the John Deere have vaulted him into a lock for next year's card. He missed the cut here last year, so the "1-iron" takes a wait and see approach to this one.
8. Justin Rose (28/1): Is there anyone with more talent doing less with his game? This young lad from England just can't get it together. Once touted as the next Faldo, he's been banished to playing for peanuts with the minor league Tour players at Montreaux. Has six Top 25's this year but not one big-time finish. His putting average of 1.81 ranks 173rd on Tour, and that's a recipe to be playing the Asian Tour next year. This field could be just what he needs to get the engine in gear.
9. Andrew Magee (150/1): This year started out so promising for "Mag's" with two Top 10's at Hawaii and the Hope. However, things have spiraled low lately. Before his 75th and T57 at Buick and International respectively - four missed cuts and a W/D marred the landscape. He's a fighter against a weak field this week. Should prosper.
10. Dean Wilson (80/1): Annika made him a name, and his game is starting to keep him in the fold. Two Top 10's this year at Barclays and Milwaukee. Tied for 14th here last year.
11. Tim Herron (20/1): "Lumpy" an odd appearance at a tournament that isn't in Akron this week. Lumps has four Top 10's and is having a terrific year, but he missed the cut at the PGA last week which may hurt his confidence coming to Reno. Was runner-up here in 2003 and skipped the event last year.
12. Vaughn Taylor (40/1): Say it with me - "VODKA TONIC VAUGHN TAYLOR!!!" is the defending champion at this event and returns to defend his title. Coming off a T28 at the PGA Championship but battled two MC's at the events prior. Don't rule him out, but "1-iron" never forecasts repeats.
6 Who Won't:
13. Mario Tiziani (200/1): This has been an ugly, ugly year for "The Tiz-manian Devil." He's made all of $85,000 in official money and has missed more cuts then he's made. However, you never take anyone lightly...take it back, I don't see much from him this week.
14. Wes Short Jr. (150/1): Had a very nice run at the John Deere where he pulled a T4, however he's splitting time on the Nationwide and the Big Tour this year. He's playing well, but it's too chancy to take a flier on him.
15. Roland Thatcher (65/1): Before missing the cut at the International - "Thatchy" had put together a nice string of three Top 30's. He pulled a T5 here last year, but his putting is not even close to where it needs to be to compete. I'm sitting him out this week.
16. Bill Glasson (250/1): He's missed nine Cuts this year and has $52,000 in official money. While he used to be a star (seven Tour Wins from 1985-1997), that star has faded. He may give us a glimpse of the old Billy G, but there are better choices out there this week.
17. Notah Begay (250/1): Don't even think about taking him this week. He's played five times and has missed four cuts. That's all I'm going to write about that. Wait, one more - he missed the cut at this tournament last year. Ouch.
18. Paul Azinger (150/1): I'm putting him here because he irritated me to no end at the British Open when he was openly rooting for Tiger Woods. The truth? The truth? You can't handle the truth. He's missed his last three cuts and won't have a card after this year if things don't turn around. That means he'll be on TV more. Wonderful.
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All odds are approximate. Check Bodog for updated odds.