J.J. Henry knows that being able to calculate how far a ball travels at the higher elevation of the Sierra Nevada was one of the keys to his victory in last year’s Reno-Tahoe Open.
He got a greater appreciation for the altitude when his rental car broke down earlier this week on the narrow, winding mountain highway that travels over an 8,900-foot pass between Lake Tahoe and the Montreux Golf & Country Club.
”Unfortunately, the car clunked out on us right on the side of Mt. Rose,” said Henry, who claimed his second career PGA victory at the 7,472-yard mountain course where the modified Stableford scoring system will be in place when tourney play begins Thursday.
”We could have picked a better place to break down,” he told reporters. ”It was kind of an adventurous hour and an a half on the side of Mt. Rose.”
Tournament officials dispatched another car to pick up Henry and his friend near the entrance to the Mt. Rose ski resort.
”Nothing like rental car trouble at 8500 ft!” Henry tweeted his followers complete with a photo of his car and barren ski runs in the background. ”Thanks (at)Reno-Tahoe-Open for coming to the rescue.”
Davis Love III, Padraig Harrington, Stuart Appleby, David Toms, Ben Curtis, John Rollins, Rory Sabbatini, Ben Crane, Camilo Villegas, Chad Campbell, Carl Petterson, Rich Beem and Woody Austin are among others playing at Reno while the world’s 73 best compete at the World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio.
”It’s a great golf course,” Henry said. ”A lot of risk-reward, reachable par 5s, drivable par 4s based on the tees and the wind direction. It’s one of the most picturesque and one of the most exciting.”
Exciting because of the scoring format adopted for the first time last year that puts a premium on eagles and birdies and makes a winner out of the man with the most points instead of the fewest strokes. Used for years at the International in Colorado, players are awarded 5 points for eagle, 2 for birdie, none for par, minus-1 for bogey and minus-3 for double bogey or worse.
Love, who is making his Reno debut, won the International in 1990 and 2003 when it was played at Castle Pines outside of Denver. He thinks long-ball hitters will have an advantage this week on the edge of the Sierra Nevada.
”I like playing at altitude and I like Stableford, obviously,” Love said Wednesday before getting his first look at the course in a practice round.
” I’ve had some success at that in the past, so I’m excited about this week,” said last year’s Ryder Cup captain and winner of the 1997 PGA Championship. His 20 career victories are second only to Lanny Wadkins’ 21 among those who’ve competed at Reno.