Butterfield Bermuda Championship Tournament Preview

2022 Butterfield Bermuda Championship Tournament Preview: Everything You Need To Know About Port Royal Golf Course Before Tee Off

When I think Bermuda, I think shorts, and that’s the name of the game at the 2022 Butterfield Bermuda Championship, as we head to the second shortest course on Tour in Port Royal Golf Course (standing 12 yards longer than Pebble Beach). Port Royal, otherwise known to locals as “The House That Brian Gay Built”, is a haven for short hitting plotters, as Brendon Todd and Gay have already shown winning in the first two years of this event.

The last event that immediately followed competition in Japan was the WGC FedEx St Jude, where Abraham Ancer defeated Hideki Matsuyama & Sam Burns in a playoff. So considering Matsuyama and Ancer both played in The Olympics the week prior, I don’t see any reason to fade players in the ZOZO field purely on the basis of jetlag.

Given its position right on the Atlantic Ocean coastline, The Bermuda Championship is one of the more weather-dependent events of the year, so waiting for the tee time splits to be announced before locking in any outright bets will likely be best to plan around any severe winds or other inclement weather. This week I’ll be looking closely at Fairways Gained, SG: APP, SG: TOT – High Winds, SG: P – Bermuda, and Comp Short Course History to project success. Here’s a look at everything you can expect from the 2022 Butterfield Bermuda Championship!

Port Royal Golf Course Course Specs

  • Yards: 6,828
  • Par: 71 (4x 3’s / 11x 4’s / 3x 5’s)
  • Greens: Bermuda
  • Architect: Robert Trent Jones
  • Historical Cut Line: Even
  • Median Score 4-round Score: -2 (2021), -9 (2020)
  • Comp Courses: Waialae CC, Pebble Beach, Harbour Town, Coco Beach, Bay Hill, El Camaleon, PGA West, Sea Island GC, Sedgefield CC
  • Past Winners: Brian Gay (21), Brendon Todd (20)

A 6.8K yard course with 6 Par 4s under 400 yards & short rough, but an average cut line at Even Par? What gives?! On paper this should be the easiest course on Tour, but that hasn’t really been the case in its first 2 years on the schedule. Port Royal’s best defense is the weather, and its exposure to the wind, sitting exposed right on the Atlantic Ocean coastline. TPC Craig Ranch is another course who’s best defense was the wind, but wind in Texas is far more volatile to predict than on the coastline of the Bermuda Triangle. Here, you can all but guarantee that wind will play a deciding factor on how low the scores can go, and it’s the only tournament of the year where I factor in SG in windy conditions into my model. It will be important to pay attention to weather splits this week, particularly in the FRL market, as the AM/PM disparity at last year’s Bermuda Championship effectively eliminated half the field from the draw. Should there be any high sustained winds, the Top 10 players SG: TOT in High Winds are Bo Hoag, Matt Fitzpatrick, Russell Knox, Ben Crane, Sean O’Hair, David Hearn, Kramer Hickok, Andres Romero, Patrick Rodgers, and Lee Hodges.

Last year’s Bermuda Championship featured the lowest strength of field of any PGA Tour event that did not go head to head with another PGA Tour event (only Corales, Barracuda, and the Puerto Rico Open featured weaker fields), and this week may arguably be worse. The field is “highlighted” by Patrick Reed, Matt Fitzpatrick, and Chilean Golf God Mito Pereira, and features 56 players who have played 10 or less rounds on the PGA Tour over the last 6 months. All of that to say, it’s going to be another week of gross odds. Given that distance is not necessary here, wayward drives are still playable out of the short rough, and random wind splits can severely alter the playing conditions in AM/PM splits, there are plenty of reasons to avoid paying up at the top of the odds board and just spray some flyers in the 40/1+ range.

In terms of Course History, Brian Gay has the most polished record at the Bermuda Championship, with a T3 in 2020 followed by his win in 2021. After Gay, David Hearn, Hank Lebioda, Ryan Armour, Denny McCarthy, Kramer Hickok, and Russell Knox have each finished T20 in both years at the Bermuda Championship. As far as course history goes, I tend to put a heavier weight on it on shorter courses, as the fairway-green game tends to be more repeatable than when distance off the tee is more important.

While the is no ShotLink SG data available at this event, there are several courses on Tour that feature a similar layout as short, coastal, windy tracks with relatively easy scoring conditions. Pebble Beach is the most obvious comp as a short course right on the coast, so former AT&T Pro-Am winners Vaughn Taylor and Nick Taylor will be worth a look here. Waialae CC, Coco Beach, El Camaleon, PGA West, and Sea Island are also short, easy scoring, weak field events where high winds can come into play, while Harbour Town, Bay Hill, and Sedgefield CC offer a similar emphasis on driving accuracy as short courses with intermittent wind. The Top 10 players SG: TOT on these comp courses are Vaughn Taylor, Lucas Glover, Russell Knox, Brian Gay, Nick Taylor, Denny McCarthy, Bo Hoag, Patrick Reed, Scott Stallings, Matthew NeSmith, and Adam Hadwin.

Key Stats

  • Driving Accuracy
  • SG: APP
  • SG: TOT (High Winds)
  • Par 3: 200+
  • Par 4: 350-400
  • SG: P (Bermuda)
  • Course & Comp Short Course History

It’s another week without SG data to pull correlations from, but it’s easy to look at a tournament which has been won by Brendon Todd and Brian Gay in it’s first two years and conclude that distance doesn’t really matter at all. Looking at the weeks leading into this tournament for the winners over the last two seasons, Todd and Gay really did not enter with any trend of hot form or high finishes. Similar to Kevin Kisner at the Wyndham Championship, their schedule was just filled with a series of longer tracks on which they were severely disadvantaged to the field, making the form look a bit worse than it truly was. So with distance being unimportant, we can skip over weighted SG: OTT and strictly focus on Fairways Gained. The Top 10 players in that category this week are Brian Stuard, Ryan Armour, Russell Knox, Kramer Hickok, Mark Hubbard, Mito Pereira, Matt Fitzpatrick, Adam Hadwin, Chase Seiffert, and David Lingmerth.

This is a golf tournament, which means SG: APP will continue to dictate who has the best chance to win. Given the absence of talent in this week’s field however, it’s new list of names inside the SG: APP Top 10: Mito Pereira, Luke Donald, Cameron Percy, Matthew NeSmith, Bo Haog, Guido Migliozzi, Chad Ramey, Austin Eckroat, Joseph Bramlett, and Russell Knox.

We are in Bermuda, so the grass here is just referred to as “grass”. But to the rest of the world, it’s Bermuda Grass, in its purest form! The 10 best Bermuda putters in this week’s field are Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Matt Fitzpatrick, Johnson Wagner, Denny McCarthy, Patrick Reed, Peter Uihlein, Vaughn Taylor, Thomas Detry, Vincent Whaley, and Brian Gay.

A very simple way of handicapping this event would be to identify the players who are best at hitting fairways, striping irons, and holing putts on Bermuda greens. Only 4 players this week rate out Top 30 in all 3 of those categories: Vaughn Taylor, Scott Brown, David Hearn, and Hayden Buckley.

Beyond the basic tee to green stats, the hole-by-hole breakdowns put a particular emphasis of scoring on long Par 3s and short Par 4s. The Top 10 players in Par 3 200+ are Adam Hadwin, Denny McCarthy, Alex Smalley, John Rollins, Lucas Glover, Joseph Bramlett, Seamus Power, Aaron Rai, Luke Donald and Brandon Hagy. The Top 10 players in Par 4: 350-400 are Stephan Jaeger, Robert Garrigus, Chase Seiffert, Matthew NeSmith, Joseph Bramlett, Nick Hardy, Ricky Barnes, Fabian Gomez, Brian Stuard, and Seamus Power.

Taking each of the above key categories into account, there are just 6 players who rate out above average in each: Adam Hadwin, Brian Stuard, Scott Stallings, Matthew NeSmith, Alex Smalley, and Max McGreevy.

Spotlight: Adam Hadwin

Canada's Adam Hadwin excited to defend first tournament win - Sportsnet.ca

Nobody really deserves a spotlight in this week’s hapless field, but of all the names I’ll have to stomach backing this week, Adam Hadwin is one that I feel the least gross about. I’ll also preface by saying I’d written half of a Spotlight piece on Cameron Tringale last Thursday, as is tradition to play The Bermuda Tringale this one time of year, however since he’s not in the field, we pivot to Hadwin.

Adam Hadwin has had an average to above average career with one victory in 2017 at the Valspar Championship, despite consistently losing strokes off the tee. In fact, Hadwin’s lost strokes OTT in 4 consecutive events and in 11 of his last 13 measured tournaments. If there’s one place that won’t kill you for falling out of position OTT, it’s an extremely short, windy course with low playable rough like Port Royal. Hadwin also ranks 8th in this field in Driving Accuracy, so stripping away the premiums on distance this week, we should expect to see Hadwin gain on the field OTT. The most recent course of that profile we’ve seen Adam Hadwin play on was Sedgefield CC, where he finished T10 at the Wyndham Championship. Overall, Hadwin has strung together some hot form recently with three T10s over his last 6 starts, including a T6 at the 3M Open and T6 at The Shriners in his previous start, to go along with that T10 at the Wyndham.

In terms of the stat profile, Hadwin is 8th in my model this week, highlighted by his #1 overall rank in Par 3 Scoring: 200+ as well as Top 15 ranks in Comp Course History, Fairways Gained, Par 4: 350-400, and SG: P – Bermuda. It’s hard to ever feel incredibly confident backing Adam Hadwin, but this seems to be as good of a spot as any to back the Canadian in Bermuda.

What To Look Out For at the 2022 Butterfield Bermuda Championship

Brian Gay wins Bermuda Championship for first title since 2013

At last year’s Bermuda Championship, I played one single entry lineup, was on my way to having 6/6 through the cut, and had both Pat Perez and Henrik Stenson WD before the weekend started. I’ve learned when handicapping an island resort tournament that you can’t back players who will go on to get distracted by island life on the weekend, and especially in this incredibly weak field, I’ll be making a concerted effort to only back players who don’t feel like they are bigger than this event, only to walk away halfway through to go fishing, or whatever else it is they do on the island of Bermuda. I may go back to Mito Pereira based on the sheer talent disparity alone over the rest of this field, however it really could not be a worse course fit for him given the discount on distance and emphasis on making putts.

With all the course fit profiles in mind this week, I’m leaning early towards the below player pool, broken out by projected pricing/odds tier.

For my model this week, I’m putting a premium on Comp Course History, SG: APP, and Fairways Gained, followed by a more balanced mix of P4: 350-400, SG: P – Bermuda, Short Course History, SG: TOT – High Winds, and P3 200+. Tops in the model this week is known slayer of windy courses, Russell Knox. He rates out Top 3 in Comp Course History, Fairways Gained, and SG: TOT – High Winds, has finished T11 and T16 in his two previous Bermuda Championship appearances, and his best finish of the 2021 season (T7) came at the top comp course, Pebble Beach. After Knox, my model’s Top 10 is rounded out by Brian Stuard, Vaughn Taylor, Matt Fitzpatrick, Matthew NeSmith, Bo Hoag, Chase Seiffert, Adam Hadwin, Denny McCarthy, and Ryan Armour.