The Barbasol Championship tees off this week at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Kentucky – about a 30 minute drive north to Lexington
This will be the sixth edition of the Barbasol, which was first played in 2015, and marked the first Tour event played in Alabama since the controversial 1990 PGA Championship at Shoal Creek.
Playing opposite the British Open, it is one of five alternate tournaments on the PGA Tour’s schedule, with the others being: Barracuda Championship (WGC-FedEx St Jude), Bermuda Championship (WGC-HSBC), Puerto Rico (WGC-Mexico), and Corales Puntacana Championship (WGC-Dell).
As an alternate tournament, the fields are weaker, the purses are smaller, and the winnings are not quite as impressive (less money, and no Masters invite). With that said, it is a PGA Tour event and the winner still receives a two-year tour exemption and a trip to next year’s PGA Championship.
Barbasol Championship Preview
Tournament: Barbasol Championship
Managed By: PGA Tour
Title Sponsor: Barbasol
Tour Debut: 2015
Dates: July 15-18, 2021
Course: Keene Trace Golf Club
Where: Nicholasville, Kentucky
Vitals: Par: 72/ 7328 yards
Architect: Robert Trent Jones, Sr (1991)
Format: 72 hole competition, 36 hole cut
Winning Share: $630,000
Defending: Jim Herman
How To Follow the Barbasol Championship
TELEVISION: Thu-Fri: 5-7:30 p.m. (GOLF Channel); Sat-Sun: 5-7 a.m. (GOLF Channel)
The Barbasol Championship debuted in 2015 as an opposite-field event to The Open Championship, where it has remained. The first three editions of the tournament were played in Alabama at the Grand National course of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Opelika. It was the first PGA Tour event played in Alabama since the PGA Championship in 1990 at Shoal Creek.
Scott Piercy was the inaugural winner of the Barbasol. The then 36-year old beat Will Wilcox by three strokes and took home a check for $630,000. Piercy would go on to finish in the top-25 in the playoffs, making it all the way to East Lake.
Aaron Baddeley won the following year in the event’s only playoff finish. The Aussie edged Si Woo Kim for his fourth PGA Tour title. Grayson Murray took the tile in 2017, the final edition in Alabama.
In 2018, the tournament moved to Kentucky to the Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, south of Lexington, and was the first PGA Tour event (excluding majors) in the state since the former Kentucky Derby Open in 1959. (Valhalla Golf Club near Louisville hosted the PGA Championship in 1996, 2000, and 2014.)
The 2018 edition also made news when it gave LPGA star and Barbasol ambassador Brittany Lincicome a spot in the field. She played well but missed the cut. Troy Merritt won his second PGA Tour title.
Jim Herman won the 2019 event in record fashion, shooting 26 under to edge Kelly Kraft by one shot.
Like other alternate events, the winner of the Barbasol Championship does not earn an invitation to the Masters and point values are limited due to the weaker field (24 OWGR points and 300 FedEx Cup points compared to 100 OWGR points and 600 FedEx points for Open Championship winners).
However, the winner still receives a two-year PGA Tour exemption and a trip to the PGA Championship. Interestingly, all four former winners claim the Barbasol as their last PGA Tour stroke-play victory.
History: Recent Winners
2019 – Jim Herman (-26)
2018 – Troy Merritt (-23)
2017 – Grayson Murray (-21)
2016 – Aaron Baddeley (-18)
2015 – Scott Piercy (-19)
261 (-26) – Jim Herman (2019)
61 (-11) – Kelly Kraft (2019)
Nestled in the rolling hills of Central Kentucky, Keene Trace Golf Club offers two distinct 18-hole championship golf courses – Champion Trace and Keene Run. The facility is just fifteen minutes from downtown Lexington.
The Champion Trace is the host course of the Barbasol Championship. It was designed in 1987 by world renowned golf course architect Arthur Hills, who passed away this year.
For the PGA Tour event it will play to pat 72, stretching to 7,328 yards. The easiest hole in 2019 was the 6th, a par-5 measuring just 516 yards. The most difficult hole was the par-4 9th hole. It played to a 4.129 and gave up just 53 birdies.
Since its inception, Champion Trace has been rated as one of the best courses in the state of Kentucky.
The Barbasol Field
The field in Kentucky is generally comprised of veterans on the career-downside, a bunch of up-and-comers, and a sprinkling of players who will actually be part of the FedEx Cup playoffs.
At No. 99 in the FedExCup standings, Charl Schwartzel is the only player in the field with a ranking inside the world top-100.
While it’s great to win the Barbasol, you generally do not want to defend the title, since it means you did not qualify for the season’s final major – The Open Championship. But Jim Herman will return to defend, and despite sitting at No. 140 in the world rankings, he’s actually the seventh highest ranked player in the field, and one of the favorites to win again.
In addition to Schwartzel and Herman, other familiar names who are considered serious contenders include Richy Werenski, Jason Dufner, JT Poston, Hudson Swafford, Luke List, Patrick Rodgers, Ryan Armour, Chesson Hadley, Nick Taylor, and Henrik Norlander.
John Daly will tee it up in his third regular tour event of the season (he missed the cut at both the Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the PGA).
Top-5 Betting Favorites
1. Charl Schwartzel (16-1)
1. Seamus Power (16-1)
3. Luke List (22-1)
4. Lee Hodges (28-1)
4. Patrick Rodgers (28-1)
4. Russell Knox (28-1)
Full Field & Odds
Keene Trace Golf Club . Nicholasville, KY . July 15-18, 2021
Joel Cook contributed to this preview.