Most PGA Tour stars are resting this week as the schedule shifts to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean for the $4 million Bermuda Championship.
Port Royal GC is a 6,828-yards, par 71 and the 132-man field is playing for $720,000 for first and a spot in the 2021 Masters.
Last year marked the tournament debut and there aren’t any PGA Tour Shot Link stats for this event, however, hitting the greens in regulation was imperative for a good finish a year ago on one of the Tour’s shortest courses. Looking at the top 15 finishers, all but two finished the week in the top 20 in GIR.
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The course rewarded the deadly accuracy and unconscious putting of champion Brendon Todd and also the raw power of Aaron Wise (T-3). But this is certainly a week where shorter, accurate hitters can compete. Six of the course’s par 4s measure between 350-400 yards.
The par 3s are fierce – three are well over 200 yards – and the top-10 finishers a year ago navigated those holes with aplomb.
On any island, of course, wind should be a factor. It’s expected to blow 10-20 mph throughout the week with Friday looking quite blustery as a storm (non-tropical) blows through, pushing gusts to 30 mph. Players in the late-early half of the draw could have a slight edge, so pay attention to the forecast updates as Thursday draws closer.
Events like Bermuda present a terrific opportunity for the hot young player looking to solidify his spot on Tour or the cagey veteran trying to rediscover lost form. There’s a mixture of neophytes and veterans in the field on a course where the fairways were difficult to find (54 percent last year) but the GIR numbers were near the Tour average (66 percent).
Good wind players and solid iron players should be able to navigate the layout.
As always, good luck.
Golfer power rankings
20. Branden Grace – Horrible putting has contributed to his demise (missed 8 of last 9 cuts) and explains what’s happened to a player who finished runner-up at Scottsdale in 2019, contended in the 2016 U.S. Open and set the major championship record of 62 at Royal Birkdale in the 2017 Open Championship. Slower greens (10.5 on stimpmeter) should help his chances.
19. Charley Hoffman – Mr. Thursday had three top 15s in four starts before missing the cut at Shriners due to poor putting (-2.1 SG). When he’s on, a strong ballstriker and he’s shown glimpses in what’s otherwise been a disappointing 2020. Good week to break out against a weaker than usual field.
18. Cameron Tringale – He’s 28th in the field in SG: Approach, seventh in SG: Short Game and fourth in SG: Putting over the last 12 rounds. Has made four of the last five cuts, finishing T-19 at Shriners at T-3 at 3M Open. Struggles in the wind, or he’d be higher.
17. Emiliano Grillo – Beautiful ballstriking (2.7 SG: Approach in last five tournaments) and suspect putting (-1.1 SG in same) have been Grillo’s M.O. throughout most of his PGA Tour career. He’s made seven consecutive cuts but cracked the top 20 only once in the span (T-3 3M Open). Precision game should be a good fit in first shot at Port Royal.
16. Henrik Norlander – Gains an average of 0.172 strokes per round on Bermuda greens through his career, tied for 28th in Bermuda last year. Iron play has been strong since his warm stretch last summer and a T-4 at Sanderson Farms has put him in good position in the FedEx Cup standings (51st).
15. Scott Stallings – Missed three of the last four cuts, but finished T-6 at Sanderson in the week he played four rounds. Solid here last year (T-18) and iron play is his strength. His inconsistency on the greens adds risk, but his experience and success here last year makes him worth the risk.
14. Adam Schenk – Rolling the ball nicely, thrives on Bermuda surfaces and has made nine consecutive cuts, dating to the Rocket Mortgage in early July. Hasn’t cashed in on his solid play, yet. His best finish in the stretch is T-27 last time out at Shriners.
13. Doug Ghim – With three top 25s in his last five starts, starting to find his way on the PGA Tour. Despite his poor putting on Bermuda and struggles in the wind, the Fantasy National model shines brightly on the former Texas star and his good form should produce another solid finish.
12. Brendon Todd – Not only is he the only player in the field making the long trek from L.A. to Bermuda, his iron game has been absent of late, losing shots on approach each of the last two weeks. The putter remains his best weapon – he’s gained 2.1 strokes or more in each of the last five tournaments. Have to figure he’d skip this one if he wasn’t trying to repeat.
11. Cameron Percy – Strong iron player finished T-8 at Punta Cana and has made the last three cuts. The putter is his weak link but maybe the slower green speeds help him. Has some experience at Port Royal, finishing T-48 last year.
10. Peter Malnati – After finishing runner-up at Jackson and T-6 in the first stop in Vegas, he’s accumulated 411 FedEx Cup points and locked up a spot in the 2021 Playoffs. That’s terrific news for a career grinder playing out of the 126-150 category in this extended season. Over the last 12 rounds, he leads the field in SG: Short Game and SG: Putting, ranks fifth in SG: Approach.
9. Wesley Bryan – Leads the field in SG: Approach over the last 12 rounds and iron play has been torrid since the summer, allowing him to make 7 of 8 cuts and finish T-12 last time out at Sanderson Farms. Making debut at Port Royal.
8. Stewart Cink – Normally reliable iron play went AWOL in Vegas but the Safeway Open champion added a T-12 in Jackson to his strong start to the 2020-21 season. Has made 11 of 14 cuts in 2020. Putting well over the last month.
7. Henrik Stenson – Remember this guy? The 44-year-old Swede has played only six tournaments in 2020. Won Tiger’s Hero Challenge (on an island) last December, and finished T-21 in the Dominican Republic. His laser iron game remains (8th in field in SG: Approach over last 12 rounds.). The five-time Ryder Cup team member has more than 20 victories worldwide.
6. Kristoffer Ventura – Recorded top 10s in two of the last three starts and looks like he’s starting to feel comfortable on the PGA Tour. Inconsistent iron play has been a hindrance at times, but his stats are solid through the bag in recent events and the bookmakers like him (30-1).
5. Justin Suh – Limited sample size, but strong of late with T-14 at Punta Cana and T-8 at Shriners. Career has followed a slower, more typical path compared to former college rivals Wolff, Morikawa and Hovland, but he’s talented and golf insiders believe he has a bright future on the PGA Tour. Needs to capitalize on each start.
4. Doc Redman – He’s top 3 in the field in the relevant ballstriking categories over the last 12 rounds and when he’s on, unafraid to complete a strong tournament, finishing T-3 at Wyndham and Safeway in the last 10 weeks.
3. Denny McCarthy – The man with the velvet putting stroke looks to duplicate Todd’s lights out performance last year. McCarthy has made 8 of 9 cuts and thrives on Bermuda and in windy conditions. His iron game has created ample opportunities, gaining shots on approach in all but two of his last seven starts. Finished T-15 here last year.
2. Harold Varner III – Been on a nice run with four top 30s in his last five starts, including a T-13 last time out at the Shriners. Anxious to get back into action and his work with instructor Bradley Hughes has him trending upward. Gained an average of 1.6 shots on approach in the last five tournaments.
1. Will Zalatoris – One of golf’s hottest players, he’s finished eighth or better in three of the last four starts and is playing better than anyone in the field. The two-week break probably served him well after a run of five consecutive tournaments. Ballstriking genius gained 4.7 strokes on approach at Shriners.