Typically an alternate field event, the Butterfield Bermuda Championship at Port Royal Golf Course will take center stage this week on the PGA Tour. With the WGC-HSBC Champions canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, players will turn their attention to Bermuda as a full-field, cut-enforced tournament is in play for the first-time in three weeks.
Having played host only two previous times, Port Royal GC has produced two fairly similar winners in its short history. In 2019, it was Brendon Todd who broke through and returned to his winning ways. Overcoming the yips, Todd’s victory in Bermuda marked his first time in the winner’s circle in more than five years.
Playing his last 11 holes in 9 under, the former Georgia Bulldog carded a final round of 9-under 62 to get to 24 under for the tournament and get the better of Harry Higgs by four strokes. Todd would parlay his success in Bermuda to another victory two weeks later in Mayakoba.
Leading the field in birdies, par-3 scoring and par-4 scoring, Todd utilized a lethal combination of accurate driving, solid iron play and timely putting en route to his victory. The following year, it was Brian Gay who employed a similar game plan on his way to victory.
Admittingly preparing for the Champions Tour, Gay put an end to a seven-year drought with his victory at Port Royal GC. In what was a far different tournament than the year before – due to high winds and difficult conditions – Gay’s final round of 7-under 64 was good enough to get into a playoff at 15 under. Facing off against Wyndham Clark, the 49-year-old made birdie on the first playoff hole to secure the long-awaited victory.
In what is usually a weaker field due to its place on the golf calendar, this year’s Bermuda Championship will host the likes of Patrick Reed and Matt Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick tops the oddsboard at BetOnline Sportsbook. After winning the Andalucia Masters at Valderrama a couple of weeks back on the European Tour, the Englishman is in fine form ahead of the Bermuda Championship.
One to split fairways with regularity and lean on the putter from time to time, Fitzpatrick should take to Port Royal GC. He’s still looking for his first victory on the PGA Tour and this week could very well be his best opportunity to break through given the field, the course and his current form. At +1100, our odds calculator gives Fitzpatrick an 8.33 percent chance to be victorious.
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Here’s a look at the golfers with the likeliest odds to emerge triumphant in Bermuda this week:
Who Is Favored In 2021 Bermuda Championship Odds?
|Dawie van der Walt||+11000|
Odds as of October 25 at Bovada
Course and Analysis:
While this is only the third time Port Royal GC will host an event on the PGA Tour, it did have the privilege of welcoming the year’s major champions in an annual exhibition match. From 2009 to 2014, the PGA Grand Slam of Golf took place in Bermuda with Adam Scott winning the very last one off his Masters victory.
There is hardly anything to take from those six years, but there is more than enough from the two previous Bermuda Championships. Playing to just over 6,800 yards, Port Royal GC’s main defense is typically the elements. As we saw last year, despite the lack of length to the course – outside of the long, difficult par 3s – if the wind decides to perk up, it poses plenty of issues for players.
That appears to be taking shape, at least as I wrote this early in the week. With 25-mph winds on Thursday, inclement weather and thunderstorms are expected to roll in once the weekend comes about. The wind looks steady throughout the first two days, so a wave advantage is unlikely to present itself at this point in time. However, that can always change and is something to keep an eye on.
A par 71, the name of the game is keeping the ball in play, avoiding the trouble and finding a hot putter. That essentially sums up the two previous winners in Todd and Gay, in addition to a few other metrics. Both players took advantage of the par 4s as the majority lie between 350 and 400 yards, meaning plenty of wedge opportunities are to be had.
Looking to follow in their footsteps, we will target those players who do a great job of avoiding the big number, while also capitalizing on their scoring opportunities.
Bermuda Championship Odds Expert Picks
Adam Hadwin (+3300 to win)
The plan was to look to the likes of Hayden Buckley and Chad Ramey, but given their current location on the oddsboard, it was a hard pass. Instead, we’ll kick off our Bermuda Championship outright selections with the Canadian. I’ve had my eye on him ever since his first round at the Fortinet Championship and he has slowly but surely rounded into form to begin this 2021-22 PGA Tour season.
Most recently finishing in a tie for sixth at the Shriners Children’s Open, Hadwin’s game should be tailor-made for Port Royal GC. The 33-year-old, making his Bermuda Championship debut, can lean on his previous success on courses that require accuracy and precision, namely the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook where he broke through for his lone PGA Tour victory back in 2017 over Patrick Cantlay.
Hitting fairways at an above-average clip in his two made cuts this season, accuracy off the tee is nothing new for Hadwin. While his off-the-tee numbers read red in his last four tournaments, distance (or lack of) is the main contributor to the misleading statistic. Yet it seems like his irons are finally starting to cooperate – pulling together performances of +0.5 and +5.7 Strokes Gained: Approach in his last two starts.
Always one to find his touch on the greens, he should take to the Bermuda putting surfaces. His last two outings on such read +2.1 SG: Putting at Country Club of Jackson and +2.7 SG: Putting at Sedgefield Country Club. With his game primed, Hadwin would fit the bill of a previous tour winner longing for a return to the top, just as Todd and Gay have previously accomplished.
Denny McCarthy (+4500 to win)
Short courses that require accuracy and have the potential to turn into a putting contest scream McCarthy’s name. With some of the finest course history – outside of Brian Gay – the former Georgetown Prep Hoya possesses finishes of T-15 and T-4 in his two trips to Port Royal GC. While he did not arrive in stellar form last year, he did in 2019, coming off back-to-back top-10 finishes at the Shriners Children’s Open and the Houston Open.
This year appears to be somewhere in the middle as McCarthy has two missed cuts and a top-20 finish to his name thus far this season. Surprisingly, the poor outings are not so much at the hands of his ball-striking, but rather his putting, for which McCarthy is known and relies on heavily.
Losing strokes to the field in both of his missed cuts, a return to Bermuda grass should be a welcome sight for the Maryland native. Posting +3.6 and +5.6 on his last two outings on the surface, I am comfortable in saying one of the best putters on the tour will be his normal self at Port Royal GC.
While the putter has been somewhat of a disappointment early on, an area of the game where McCarthy is making strides is on par 4s. Gaining strokes on those particular holes in each start, that aspect of his game should bode well for his chances at the Bermuda Championship. With Todd leading the field in par-4 scoring in 2019 and Gay leading on those which measure 350 to 400 yards, McCarthy should only continue to thrive at Port Royal GC.
Paul Barjon (+15000 to win)
This is hardly the tournament to make your way to the top of the oddsboard and set up shop there. Instead, we will go even further down where I believe a couple of recent Korn Ferry Tour graduates provide intriguing numbers. The first is the Frenchman (via New Caledonia), Barjon, whose name popped up on the leaderboard at the Sanderson Farms Championship.
Finishing inside the top 25 in the regular-season Korn Ferry Tour standings, Barjon collected a victory, three runners-up and another podium finish to secure his status. He has since connected on weekend appearances in both of his starts, finishing in a tie for 42nd at the Fortinet Championship and a tie for 39th at the Sanderson Farms Championship.
Finding his touch on the greens to begin his rookie campaign, Barjon is not the typical player to back at Port Royal GC. Plenty long off the tee, the 29-year-old has the tendency to get sporadic with driver in hand. Hoping he can take advantage of his distance through other clubs, Barjon has a knack for making plenty of birdies. The key will be limiting mistakes and if he is able to do so, he has the game to contend in this field.
Austin Smotherman (+15000 to win)
Pressure is nothing new for Smotherman, No. 25 in the Korn Ferry Tour regular-season standings. On the shoulders of strong iron play, the 27-year-old collected five top-10 finishes and a victory last season on the Korn Ferry Tour.
Having played only once this season, Smotherman quite literally had a mixed bag at the Fortinet Championship. Posting +4.5 SG: Tee-to-Green – primarily due to his off-the-tee numbers – Smotherman finished in a tie for 66th as he lost –7.8 SG: Putting for the week.
Showing off his driving prowess in Napa, we’ll essentially be banking on a bounce-back with the flat stick. I’ll chance Smotherman, a former college teammate of Bryson DeChambeau and Harry Higgs (who finished runner-up here in 2019), can piece the entirety of his game together at the Bermuda Championship.
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Odds Shark Staff Thu, Aug 18, 10:00am