Hoff makes Reno’s Barracuda Championship a popular event
Rich Berberian, Jr.
Brendon de Jonge
Davis Love III
Tyrone Van Aswegen
Chris Hoff has been involved with the Barracuda Championship for 13 years, and he’s been running the yearly event since 2013.
And with the tournament set to begin on Thursday, Hoff is running around like his hair is on fire, preparing for the 19th annual event at Montreux Golf & Country Club.
Hoff, who held the position as tournament manager from 1997 to 2006, left and then was hired back to replace Jana Smoley in May 2013.
And, the field became complete this past Friday … it could be one of the best in tournament history, according to Hoff.
Five former champions — defending champ Greg Chalmers, two-time winners J.J. Henry and Vaughn Taylor, Geoff Ogilvy and John Rollins — are in this year’s field.
And, Hoff has lured well-known names like Davis Love III, Angel Cabrera, Padraig Harrington, Ryan Palmer and Retief Goosen into this year’s event.
It will be Cabrera’s first appearance and the second for Love III, who missed the cut in 2014, his only appearance. Goosen was sixth in 2015 and tied for 25th in 2014. This will be Harrington’s fourth appearance. He tied for 19th in 2012, missed the cut in 2013 and tied for 47th in 2014. Palmer was fourth in 2008, tied for fifth in 2009, missed the cut in 2007 and was 69th in 2004.
Goosen won the U.S. Open twice, and between 2001 and 2005, he won six times on the PGA Tour. Harrington won back-to-back British Opens in 2007 and 2008, and he won the PGA title in 2008. He also won the Honda Classic twice. Love III, 53, has 21 PGA Tour victories, including the 1997 PGA title at Winged Foot.
Palmer has two top-10 finishes in majors — 10th in the 2011 U.S. Open and fifth in the 2014 PGA. Cabrera won the 2007 U.S. Open and the 2009 Masters. He’s the only Argentinian to win either event.
All five are searching for a win or to make enough money to keep full status on the tour. Palmer is at 134, Goosen at 173, Harrington 225 and Love is 245th. The top 125 finishers get full exempt status next year on the PGA Tour. Harrington and Goosen also play on the European Tour, and Love has been playing on the Champions Tour.
“I go to four or five events a year,” Hoff said. “It isn’t the same events every year. I go and talk to the players about our tournament, and how well they will be treated here; what the tournament has to offer. I also look at what other tournaments are doing.
“We got Davis Love and Padraig, and I think both of them played at Bridgestone (Akron) last year. They both absolutely loved it here (in the past). Players talk a lot to other players, and I think people like the course here.”
Hoff was hoping Jim Furyk would enter. Furyk is in big danger of finishing outside the top 125 for the first time in a long time. Furyk played at Barbasol and is finishing the Canadian Open today.
“We talked with his camp,” Hoff said.
The biggest on-course change came when the tournament went to the Modified Stableford scoring system in 2012. This is the sixth year in the current format.
“I can only remember one player being neutral about, and that was Geoff Ogilvie, and he won in 2014. Go figure,” Hoff said.
Most players have commented they like changing things up in terms of the format. There are several match-play events, but no Stableford events since the International that was held in Colorado.
There have been constant changes off the course throughout the years. The tournament is fluid; always looking to bring more to spectators.
The newest idea is the Great Clubhouse Cookout on the patio of the 18th green. The patio will have Gus’ Open Pit Barbecue, a Lake Tahoe staple, grilling chicken, pork and beef. You can purchase food and drinks while getting great views of the last hole. All spectators are welcome.
“Where the bleachers were last year, we’ve put in a patio,” Hoff said. “We have picnic tables. Everybody has access to that site. All you need is your daily ticket. You get a place to sit and great barbecue.”
And, you get to see some pretty good golf, too.