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The Barbasol Championship 2017 – springboard for success or chance for redemption?

Golf’s four majors hardly need any introduction, even for non-golf fans. They are like the Super Bowl in American football, the Tour de France in cycling, or Wimbledon in tennis. Historical, almost sacred events that transcend the sport. It’s easy to overlook other great fixtures though, especially if they take place at the very same time as one of these prime competitions.

Most eyes in the golf world this weekend will inevitably be on The Open Championship, the calendar year’s third and oldest major. Will Rory McIlroy be able to turn his bad form of recent months around, in the tournament where he famously made his debut at a major tournament ten years ago?

In the shadow of the United Kingdom’s most prestigious golf event, across the pond, the Barbasol Championship will be held as an alternate event. First held in 2015, the tournament is played on the Grand National course of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Opelika, Alabama. Not surprisingly, with the biggest names in the game absent, alternate events provide other players with the opportunity to shine. Lesser known, up and coming contenders, but also more familiar faces who –  for whatever reason – have slid down the rankings in recent years. And let’s not forget, a two-year PGA Tour exemption, 300 FedEx Cup points and a PGA Championship invitation are also up for grabs.

Its first two editions were stories of revival. In 2015, Scott Piercy won the inaugural edition after three years without a victory. Last year, Aaron Baddeley pulled off a similar feat by ending a five-and-a-half-year victory drought.

Even though it seems difficult to predict who the next phoenix rising from the ashes will be, checking out extensive, weekly updates on online sports betting can give you an edge to score big by betting on golf. A few quid on Baddeley last year sure would have turned a nice profit.

Recap 2016: “It’s been a long time between drinks.”

After four rounds of golf, Baddeley and Si Woo Kim finished regulation tied at 18-under-par, with Michael Johnson ending up alone in third, one shot short of the playoff. The tournament wasn’t decided until the fourth hole of the playoff, when the Australian made a 24-foot putt to win the 2016 edition of the Barbasol Championship at Grand National. He earned himself $630,000, a two-year PGA Tour exemption and a spot in the PGA Championship.

“I had some real struggles,” Baddeley said. “It’s been a long time between drinks,” referring to the large gap between this win and his last victory at the 2011 Genesis Open (Northern Trust Open). The fact that he was 11 strokes off the lead halfway through the tournament, only adds to his remarkable story of redemption.

Runner-up Si Woo Kim bogeyed the 18th hole, allowing Baddeley to come alongside and force the playoff, ultimately resulting in defeat for the 21-year old South Korean professional golfer. For Kim, his 2016 Barbasol Championship runner-up finish yet proved to be the springboard for greater success.

Only a month later he would go on and grab the victory at the Wyndham Championship, scoring 21-under-par, and beating Luke Donald with a margin of five strokes. His first PGA Tour title made him the season’s youngest winner, at 21, and netted him a cool million dollars in the process.

Fast forward to the Players Championship of 2017, where Kim established himself as one of the game’s hottest new stars. After four days of golf he had outperformed some of the biggest names in the sport to win the tournament with the highest prize fund of any event in golf, collecting almost two million dollars and becoming the Players Championship’s youngest ever winner at the tender age of 21.

Preview 2017: fresh blood versus revival

With only five weeks remaining in the regular season, time is running out for pros to collect crucially important FedExCup points. More than half of the expected field for this year’s edition, currently sits lower than 125th on the points list. Will we see another new addition to the PGA Tour’s list of first-time winners? Or will the third edition of the Barbasol Championship prove to be yet another story of revival?

2017 Barbasol Championship at a glance

Dates:  Thursday, July 20 through Sunday, July 23

Course: Grand National – Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Opelika, Alabama

Par: 71

Course Length: 7,302 yards

Defending Champion: Aaron Baddeley

Tournament Record: -19 (265), Scott Piercy (2015)

Purse: $ 3,500,000

Winner’s share: $ 630,000

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