Reno-Tahoe Plays Second Fiddle


The Reno-Tahoe Open, which tees it up this week, seems to have a little problem. That depends, though, on whom you ask.
The problem is certainly not with the host course, played on 7,552 yards of acreage at Montreux Golf and Country Club on the edge of the Sierra Nevadas. The Jack Nicklaus-designed track winds through the mountain streams and sky-touching pine trees in the shadow of 10,900-foot Mount Rose near beautiful Lake Tahoe.
No, the problem has to do more with the timing. It unfortunately is played the same week as the WGC-NEC Invitational, the event that showcases almost all of the world's top names and faces.
As one of the newest events on the PGA Tour, the Reno-Tahoe has produced three champions since the inaugural tournament in 1999. Notah Begay won the first year, Scott Verplank followed in 2000, and John Cook was crowned king last year. And each year the winner has bypassed the Reno-Tahoe the following year in favor of the WGC-NEC Invitational.
Chris Riley, who finished in sole position of third place at the PGA Championship, will be amoung those in the field trying to win. Charles Howell III, who had a strong closing 69 Sunday in the PGA to finish a shot out of the top 10, well be back trying improve upon his fourth-place finish last year. And Duffy Waldorf has a top-10 showing in each of his last two attempts at the Reno-Tahoe.
The course record of 63 was set the first year by Notah Begay and matched by Brian Henninger in 2000.
Much like the International at Castle Pines, Colo., the extreme length of the course is offset by the thin mountain air and huge elevation changes.