PGA TOUR veteran Chris Stroud broke through for his first career victory at the Barracuda Championship
Sunday at the Barracuda Championship: Two hundred and ninety tournaments, 10 different putters and two playoff opponents later, PGA TOUR veteran Chris Stroud picked up his first career win.
After 11 years on Tour and one playoff loss from Ken Duke’s chip-in at the 2013 Travelers Championship, Stroud defeated Greg Owen on the first playoff hole and Richy Werenski on the second.
“I spent so long thinking about what I’d say,” Stroud said in a Golf Channel interview about what he’d say to the media after a win.
Think no more.
This win doesn’t particularly move the needle in the way Hideki Matsuyama’s blowout at the WGC-Bridgestone or had a young gun won the Barracuda. If you’re a golf fan, though, seeing a solid player like Stroud, 35, finally jump up and win one after so long is fulfilling.
It’s fulfilling for the winner, too. The Texan earned his way into next week’s PGA Championship. He also went from outside the FedEx Cup Playoffs with two weeks left to being a lock for the playoffs and owning a Tour card through 2018-19.
The final stretch
Stroud was a relative afterthought entering the day, 22nd on the leaderboard and 13 points off the leaderboard in the Barracuda’s modified stableford format. For a stroke play comparison, let’s say four to six shots, bear in mind with 21 players ahead of him, too.
After all, a different, seasoned first-time winner appeared destiny. That was 54-hole leader, Greg Owen. The Barracuda was the 264th career PGA TOUR event for the 45-year-old Englishman.
Three times a runner-up on the PGA TOUR, Owen entered Sunday with a five-point lead. The world No. 458 (now 302) looked comfortable early, carding two points without a bogey on the front nine to stay in front.
Owen managed three birdies on the back nine but leaked oil, especially beginning in the last four holes. A three-putt from inside 40 feet for bogey on No. 15 and a drive in the hazard for a bogey on 17 forced Owen to buckle down and make a putt for birdie on the par-5 18th to enter the playoff.
Stroud finished his round before the first of two weather delays that totaled nearly two hours. He scorched Montreux to the tune of nine birdies and an eagle for a 20-point Sunday. That was the week’s best score by three over Ryan Palmer’s Sunday 17.
Stroud mentioned in his post round interview that he’s been pleased with his ball striking for some time, but can’t get the putter to cooperate. Putters, that is.
The Odyssey White D.A.R.T. belly-style putter he used this week in Reno should enjoy a more tenured stay in Stroud’s Srixon bag. Stroud had positive strokes gained stats in three of four rounds, each 1.5 per round or higher.
Richy Werenski made the playoff by hanging around the top of the leaderboard before a late push.
Werenski began the day in fourth. He lost ground with a pedestrian three-point front nine. Four pars to begin the back nine preceded an 11-point bonanza in the final five holes to pull off the comeback.
Not bad for a PGA TOUR rookie with one top-10 finish before Sunday.
Werenski showed Owen-like courage to sink a six- to eight-footer for birdie to match Stroud’s easy birdie on playoff hole No. 1 on the par-5 18th. Owen missed a long chip to save birdie and was eliminated.
Back at the 18th for the second hole, Stroud piped his second straight massive drive to set up a mid-range putt for eagle and two putts to win. Werenski’s long birdie attempt was wayward and Stroud cozied his eagle putt close to seal the deal.
This year’s Barracuda Championship marked the second first-time PGA TOUR winner in a row, following Greg Chalmers in 2016.