‘I didn’t think anybody would withdraw’: British Open first alternate Alex Noren, who skipped St. Andrews, is in contention at Barracuda Championship

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Chez Reavie continues to tear up the golf course, and Alex Noren has some added incentive this week.

Reavie leads the PGA Tour’s Barracuda Championship with plus-37 points at the Tahoe Mountain Club’s Old Greenwood course, where they are using the Modified Stableford scoring system.

Martin Laird is next with plus-31 and Noren is tied with Cam Davis, both at plus-28 points.

But Noren was oh-so-close to playing in the year’s final men’s major, the British Open at St. Andrews.

Noren had been the first alternate for the British Open, but decided to fly to California to play in the Barracuda instead.

“I didn’t think anybody would withdraw,” Noren said Friday. “They actually did, and sad for them, but also I wanted to play this.”

When Justin Rose withdrew from the Open, that opened a spot that would have gone to Noren. Instead that spot went to Rikuya Hoshino. Erik van Rooyen, who won the Barracuda in 2021 to earn a spot in the 2022 Open Championship, also withdrew before the Open started.

“I wanted to get some more points. I’ve got three weeks of training after this before the [FexEx Cup] playoffs, and I wanted to play this week, and maybe that mindset made me have a little less patience that I needed this time. Golf is a long career, and I’ve played a lot of British Opens, and I’ll get to play it again.”

Noren tried to forget about what might have been and simply went to work at Old Greenwood, posting a score of plus-28 points through three rounds.

He admits it’s hard to escape the British Open, because it’s on TVs everywhere he goes around Truckee.

He said being contention in the Barracuda, somewhat eases the pain of missing The Open.

“Every time they show ‘The Open’ on TV, I get frustrated, but I love coming here. I think it’s one of the best courses on the Tour and a great tournament. It’s very enjoyable to play,” Noren said.

Noren, 40, is ranked No. 66 in the world, No. 75 in the FedEx Cup rankings.

Reavie, meanwhile, had his first bogey of the Barracuda on No. 15 on Saturday, this after he had five birdies in the third round. He said he expects to feel some nervousness on Sunday, while he waits for his afternoon tee time.

“I have to spend an hour or two at home just calming myself down because I’m so looking forward to coming out here and competing,” Reavie said. “I can come out here and try too hard if I get too excited.”

Reavie, who played golf at Arizona State, is one of only two PGA Tour golfers from that school who have not defected to the LIV Tour, along with John Rahm. Fellow former ASU golfers Phil Mickelson, Paul Casey, Pat Perez and Matt Jones have all jumped to the LIV.

Big leap

Michael Thompson had nine birdies, and nine pars, and totaled 18 points on Saturday. He has plus-26 points heading into Sunday’s final round.

Joshua Creel had two eagles on Saturday, on holes No. 8 and 16 and picked up 11 points on the day. He has plus -26 points through three rounds.

Harry Higgs also earned 11 points on Saturday, thanks to three birdies and an eagle. He is at plus-26 points heading into Sunday. Higgs said he is better off if he can avoid chipping.

“I’ve hit a lot of good iron shots and holed some kind of bonus putts. The first day I just hit a few balls just into a spot where I had to chip out,” Higgs said. “But this format is kind of fun. You can kind of get away with that.”

He enjoys the feeling of smashing the ball on his tee shots and watching it fly farther than it does at most golf courses he plays at.

“It’s fun when it gets in the fairways, too; you can hit a long, long way out here, bouncing and rolling and flying a little further with the altitude,” Higgs said.

Higgs said he has not played well this season and is worrying too much about the little things going wrong.

“I’ve just not been sharp, not been playing good golf, not been kind of playing like myself,” he said. “My attitude has been horrible. I’ve been pissing and moaning about little things that go wrong and then that builds and builds and builds. Been playing on the cut line way too much all year. I view myself as much, much better than that. But obviously there comes a time where talk is cheap and you’re now going to have to show it, more so to myself.”


The Barracuda Championship is employing the Modified Stableford scoring format, the first PGA Tour event to use the format since The International in 2006. Players are allocated points based on the number of strokes taken at each hole with the goal of achieving the highest overall score.

Albatross +8, Eagle +5, Birdie +2, Par 0, Bogey -1, Double bogey or worse -3.