Welcome to the Barracuda Championship: The Only Stop on the PGA Tour Where the Highest Score Wins

Golf is the most unique sport in the world in that it’s the only one where the lowest score wins. It might be odd for casual fans to see the winner of every golf tournament with a negative number next to their name, but that’s just how the game has always been played.

However, there’s one stop on the PGA Tour every season in which the scoring is completely flipped. At the quirky Barracuda Championship, the highest score actually wins. How, you ask?

Let’s break it down.

A brief history lesson on the Barracuda Championship

Even if you consider yourself a die-hard golf fan, it’s possible you’ve never even heard of the Barracuda Championship. The tournament is one of the few alternate events on the PGA Tour every year, meaning it’s played on the same weekend as a more prolific tournament with a much stronger field. Because of this, the Barracuda gives lesser-known PGA Tour players a great chance to score their first professional win without having to compete against the Dustin Johnsons and the Jordan Spieths of the world.

The Barracuda Championship was founded in 1999 as an alternate event to the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Originally called the Reno-Tahoe Open, the tournament took place at Montrêux Golf and Country Club in Reno, Nev. for the first 21 years of its existence. But last year, the venue was changed to Old Greenwood Golf Course at Tahoe Mountain Club in Truckee, Calif.

Because it’s an alternate event, most of the top players in the world never show up to the Barracuda. However, the tournament has served as a springboard for major champions such as Gary Woodland and Collin Morikawa in recent years.

The only stop on the PGA Tour where the highest score wins

At the Barracuda Championship, the highest score wins.
The Barracuda Championship leaderboard at Tahoe Mountain Club’s Old Greenwood Golf Course | Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The Barracuda Championship is the most fascinating tournament on the PGA Tour circuit every year, as it’s the only event on the schedule where the highest score, not the lowest, wins. But how is that possible?

With a little something called the Modified Stableford.

The Modified Stableford is a unique golf scoring system that adds or subtracts points to a player’s score on every hole. Sink a birdie? That gets you two points. What about an eagle? That’s worth five. But a bogey? Subtract one point from your score.

The scoring system operates as follows:

  • Albatross: 8 points
  • Eagle: 5 points
  • Birdie: 2 points
  • Par: 0 points
  • Bogey: -1 point
  • Double bogey: -3 points

In Modified Stableford events, players are rewarded for risky play more than they are in regular stroke play events. Similarly, they aren’t punished as much for making mistakes. The worst score a player can get in Modified Stableford is a double bogey, which is worth -3 points. Those who routinely make big numbers in the stroke play format don’t have to worry about one bad hole ruining their entire weekend.

Who are the favorites in the 2021 Barracuda Championship?

Most eyes will be on Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, and the rest of golf’s elite this weekend at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. But don’t forget about the electric Barracuda Championship going down at the same time.

Woodland and Mito Pereira headline the field as the co-favorites at 16-1 odds. Maverick McNealy and Branden Grace fall in right behind them at 18-1, and Emiliano Grillo rounds out the top five at 20-1.

Play well, gentlemen. And remember, highest score wins!

All betting odds courtesy of FanDuel

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