J.J. Henry began Sunday's final round of the 2015 Barracuda Championship as the 54-hole leader. He won this event back in 2012, the first year that the scoring switched to the Modified Stableford system and he looked in good shape to get his second trophy in Reno. The path to victory wasn't a walk in the park, but it ended up being an unyielding thrill ride. It sounds counter-intuitive, but in the Modified Stableford Scoring System the golfer with the highest score wins. Rather than just counting their aggregate score relative to par, the golfers amass points based on the model below:
|Modified Stableford Scoring System|
|Points||Strokes taken in relation to par|
|+8||Albatross (3 strokes under par)|
|+5||Eagle (2 strokes under par)|
|+2||Birdie (1 stroke under par)|
|−1||Bogey (1 stroke over par)|
|−3||Double bogey or worse (2 strokes or more over par)|
It looked initially like Henry's main competition would be David Toms and a few others, including fellow TCU Alum Tom Hoge who at one point was as high as 5th. The surprise of the day though turned out to be Kyle Reifers, who started out the day with a score of +25 (16 points behind Henry) but caught fire on the back nine scoring eagles on holes 13, 14 and 18 to take the lead with a score of +47. Henry had a score of 0 for the day after 11 holes, but birdied three in a row on 12, 13 and 14 before a clutch birdie on the 18th to force a playoff. On the second hole of the playoff both players had a chance for eagle, and Henry knocked in his putt from the fringe while Reifers missed his to solidify the former Frog's victory. Here's a look at the eagle putt followed by J.J. breaking it down with a celebratory jig:
The win for Henry means that he has earned a spot in the field for next weekend's PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. He also made a major move up in the FedEx Cup standings from 151st to 76th in total points. Golfers must finish in the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings to ensure that they will retain their tour card for next year. However, winning a tournament automatically secures them a tour card for next season. Henry's win today secures his PGA status for the next two years.
J.J. Henry and Tom Hoge were in a similar position heading into this tournament in that they were both fighting to move into that top 125 list. They have both played very well lately. In the Barbasol Championship on 7/19/15 Henry and Hoge finished 23rd and 16th respectively. In the RBC Canadian Open on 7/26/15 Hoge finished 5th and Henry placed 41st. Over the last month, Henry has moved up from 155th to 76th in the FedEx Cup standings and Hoge has gone from 163rd to 131st.
Henry will play to improve his Fed Ex Cup position next week in the PGA Championship, but his PGA Tour status for next year is already secure. Tom Hoge will have one more chance to solidify himself in the top 125 of the FedEx Cup standings in the Wyndham Championship taking place August 20th through the 23rd. If he is unable to finish in the in the top 125 of the FedEx Cup standings at the Wyndham he will still have the chance to retain his PGA Tour card by finishing in the top 25 of the money list in the Web.com playoffs which begin at the Hotel Fitness Championship taking place September 10th through the 13th.
J.J. Henry and Tom Hoge turned pro in 1998 and 2011 respectively. Henry has 3 PGA Tournament wins in his career. This is Hoge's first year on the PGA Tour after playing primarily on the Web.com Tour for the last four years. He won the 2011 Canadian Tour's Players Cup and is still searching for his first PGA Tour victory.