Butterfield Bermuda Championship
Erik van Rooyen, at an average opening price of 90-1, eagled the 72nd hole on Sunday to earn his second PGA Tour victory at the WWT Championship and win by two strokes over Camilo Villegas, who had his best finish in seven years, and Matt Kuchar. Van Rooyen dedicated his victory to his Jon Trasamar, a University of Minnesota teammate who is battling terminal cancer.
Rounding out the top 5 were Justin Suh in outright fourth while Ryan Palmer and Andrew Putnam finished T-5.
This week, the PGA Tour moves from Mexico to the North Atlantic for the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. Adam Scott (16-1) makes his debut in the event and is the shortest price on the board. Akshay Bhatia (18-1) was around 250-1 in this event last year but since won his first PGA Tour event at the Barracuda Championship earlier this summer. Brendon Todd (18-1) won this event in 2019.
Lucas Herbert (20-1) is another former champion in this field having won this event in 2021. Thomas Detry (20-1) was the runner-up last year while Ben Griffin (25-1) took third.
Lucas Glover (22-1), Alex Noren (25-1), Sanderson Farms winner Luke List (25-1) and Taylor Pendrith (25-1), fifth here in 2021 when he set the course record of 61, follow on the odds board.
Only 10 players in the OWGR Top 100 are in this week's field.
Nick Hardy (35-1), Griffin, Alex Smalley (28-1), List and Detry are all ranked inside “The Next 10” on the FedExCup Fall standings and are all set to compete in Bermuda this week. Players ranked 51-60 in the standings (which will be finalized after the RSM Classic) will qualify for next year’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the Genesis Invitational.
Numerous golfers this week are also around the Top 125 bubble, which determines playing status for 2024. Players near this bubble in this week's field include Doug Ghim (35-1), C.T. Pan (60-1), Marty Dou (75-1), Jimmy Walker (125-1), Patton Kizzire (90-1) and Harry Higgs (180-1).
The Bermuda Championship made its debut in the 2019 PGA Tour schedule as an alternate event to the WGC-HSBC Champions in China. In 2020, the event was elevated to full FedEx Cup point status with 500 points going to the tournament winner. In 2021, it was going to return to alternate event status, but the WGC event in China was canceled due to COVID-19, so it is back to full event status. The Bermuda winner will receive a Masters invitation for 2024 and the full two-year PGA Tour exemption. The total purse began as a $3 million fund in 2019 and was upgraded to $4 million in 2020. The event prize pool has since increased to $6.5 million with Bermuda-based Butterfield Bank and the Bermuda Tourism Board signing on as co-title sponsors.
Motivation is high for players in this week's field such as:
- Official World Golf Ranking top 50 spot (invite for the 2024 Masters arriving pre-Christmas for those not already exempt).
- “Next 10” FedExCup Fall Series spot (entry into the big money AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the Genesis Invitational tournaments early in 2024.)
- FedExCup Fall Series top 125 (full playing privileges for 2024 for those not already exempt)
The Port Royal Golf Course, originally known as Southampton Golf Club, in Southampton, Bermuda, will host the event for the fifth straight year and has hosted high-level professional golf before as it was the venue for the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, in which all four major champions compete, from 2009-2014. Robert Trent Jones designed Port Royal in 1970 and Roger Rulewich, an RTJ protégé, renovated it in 2009.
The track, owned and operated by the Bermuda government, is the shortest course on the PGA Tour at a par-71 of 6,828 yards. Half of the holes (1-6, 11-13) are played away from the coast and the other half (7-10, 14-18) are played at the seaside. Port Royal is predominantly constructed of TifEagle Bermudagrass (it is in Bermuda after all) on the fairways (rough only about two inches) and greens (average 8,000 square feet, the third largest on tour and a slow 10 on the stimpmeter). Players have mentioned El Camaleon (Mayakoba Golf Classic) and the Plantation Course at Kapalua (Sentry TofC) as similar courses mainly for the undulations.
Port Royal also features consistent elevation changes similar to the Plantation Course at Kapalua. And as should be expected by an RTJ design, heavy fairway bunkering is another part of the challenge.
The wind typically keeps the scoring relatively at bay here. This is a course that players could destroy at barely over 6,800 yards with non-penal rough if it was not for the fact that winds can blow at 30+ mph. There is also a current threat of a tropical depression forming just southwest of the island, so the weather likely will play a factor this week.
Including the effects of the wind, the par-3s at Port Royal are among the most difficult on tour. Three of the four measure over 213 yards. The par-3 16th is Port Royal’s signature hole. Widely considered one of the toughest par-3s in all of golf, it is a 235-yard crescent-shaped beauty with a carry directly over the Atlantic Ocean.
Eight of the 11 par-4s are less than 415 yards with the longest playing at 458 yards. Overall, Port Royal has the shortest group of par-4s on tour. Seven of the 11 par-4s have averaged over par in the three years of this event because of the high winds.
The three par-5s measure at only 507, 517 and 553 yards and have a birdie-or-better rate of 45%. Even in strong winds, players will need to take advantage of these scoring holes.
Correlated courses to Port Royal include El Camaleon, Sea Island GC, Waialae CC, Pebble Beach, PGA National, Corales, Grand Reserve and Coco Beach.
2022: Seamus Power (-19/265); 22-1
2021: Lucas Herbert (-15/269); 80-1
2020: Brian Gay (-15/269); 200-1*
2019: Brendon Todd (-24/260); 100-1
Playoff win over Wyndham Clark - *
With Port Royal being just a little over 6,800 yards in length, this event is a rarity in that we do not have to weigh off-the-tee performance very heavily, if at all. Shorter hitters off the tee, including Brian Gay and Brendon Todd, have won here as have medium-range distance hitters like Lucas Herbert and Seamus Power.
This is a second-shot golf course, so approach performance should be weighed much more than driving.
Strokes Gained Approach (Last 50 rounds)
- Lucas Glover 46.5
- Mark Hubbard 45.9
- Alex Smalley 35.4
- Kevin Roy 30.1
- Ryan Moore 26.1
- Luke List 21.2
- David Lipsky 20.1
- Doug Ghim 19
- Charley Hoffman 18.8
- Russell Knox 18.6
- Akshay Bhatia 17.5
- Davis Riley 17.4
- Dylan Wu 15.9
- D.J. Trahan 15.4
- Brandon Wu 14.8
- Ryan Palmer 14
Most of the approach shots here are standard wedges or longer approach shots because players often have to club down off the tee to avoid the cross bunkers.
Proximity Gained 75-100 Yards (Last 50 rounds)
- Brendon Todd 7.7
- Hank Lebioda 6.2
- Stewart Cink 5.8
- Doc Redman 5.7
- Austin Cook 5.6
- Ryan Moore 5.6
- Ryan Palmer 5.4
- Troy Merritt 5.3
- Ryan Armour 5.3
- Ben Martin 5.1
Proximity Gained 100-125 Yards (Last 50 rounds)
- Camilo Villegas 9.1
- Lucas Glover 8.3
- Patton Kizzire 7.4
- Brendon Todd 6.4
- David Hearn 6.4
- Satoshi Kodaira 6
- Charley Hoffman 5.4
- Brian Stuard 5.2
- Andrew Landry 5
Proximity Gained 125-150 Yards (Last 50 rounds)
- Charley Hoffman 10
- Satoshi Kodaira 7.9
- Akshay Bhatia 6.3
- Ryan Moore 6.2
- C.T. Pan 5.7
- Kyle Stanley 5.7
- Lucas Glover 5.5
- Camilo Villegas 5
Proximity Gained 200+ Yards (Last 50 rounds)
- Augusto Núñez 19
- Tommy Gainey 18.8
- Charley Hoffman 16.7
- Kevin Tway 16.5
- Peter Kuest 16.2
- Harrison Endycott 13.8
- Luke List 13.6
- Matti Schmid 12.5
- Ryan Palmer 11.7
- Taylor Pendrith 11.6
- Doug Ghim 11.3
- Kevin Roy 10.8
- Austin Smotherman 10.5
- Lucas Glover 10
NOTE: The numbers designated in the proximity categories indicate the average feet per shot gained toward the hole from the designated distance.
The wind forecast looks to be calm the first two days, but the gusts are expected to pick up on the weekend, ranging from 20-25 mph.
Strokes Gained Total Windy Conditions (Last 36 rounds)
- Adam Scott 41.6 (30 rounds)
- Kevin Chappell 35 (34 rounds)
- Ryan Moore 32.2
- Troy Merritt 28.7
- Robert Streb 27.8
- Alex Noren 27.3 (31 rounds)
- Peter Malnati 26.2
- Sean O'Hair 26.1 (30 rounds)
- Kelly Kraft 24 (27 rounds)
- Scott Piercy 21.4
- Russell Knox 21.2
- Jimmy Walker 21.1
- Scott Brown 20
If not for the windy conditions, Port Royal would be one of the easier courses on tour. Nevertheless, you still have to make a lot of birdies and/or eagles here to compete.
Birdie Or Better Gained (Last 50 rounds)
- Adam Scott 37.7
- Luke List 23.8
- Marty Dou 23.2
- Scott Piercy 22
- Lucas Glover 19.6
- MJ Daffue 19.3
- Nick Hardy 17.9
- Dylan Wu 15.9
- Thomas Detry 15.8
- Peter Kuest 15.5
- Harry Hall 15.3
- Doug Ghim 15.1
- Davis Riley 14.9
- Akshay Bhatia 14
- Camilo Villegas 13.5
- Mark Hubbard 13
Opportunities Gained measures how many birdie or eagle opportunities players gain inside of 15 feet.
Opportunities Gained (Last 50 rounds)
- Lucas Glover 36.7
- Alex Smalley 35.7
- Kevin Yu 30.6
- Kevin Roy 26.7
- Charley Hoffman 25.7
- Ryan Palmer 25.2
- Luke List 23.8
- Davis Riley 23.8
- Doug Ghim 22.2
- Adam Scott 21.1
- Ryan Gerard 20.1
Port Royal is the shortest course on the PGA Tour, so we can look at players who have had success on shorter courses (less than 7,200 yards).
Strokes Gained Total: Short Courses (Last 36 rounds)
- Brendon Todd 39.9
- Thomas Detry 39.2
- Adam Scott 37.6
- Alex Smalley 31.8
- Lanto Griffin 24.4
- Taylor Pendrith 24.3
- Brandon Wu 22.6
- Ben Martin 21.1
- Alex Noren 19.3
- Lucas Herbert 18 (33 rounds)
The Bermuda greens at Port Royal are some of the slowest on tour at 10 on the stimpmeter.
Strokes Gained Putting Slow Bermuda Greens (Last 12 rounds)
- Charley Hoffman 21.1
- Thomas Detry 17.7 (8 rounds)
- Adam Scott 17.1 (11 rounds)
- Justin Lower 16.7 (8 rounds)
- Alex Smalley 15.7 (8 rounds)
- Patton Kizzire 15.1
- Brendon Todd 12.7
- Fabian Gomez 12.6
- Peter Malnati 12.3 (10 rounds)
- Vincent Whaley 12.2 (8 rounds)
- Harry Higgs 11.9 (8 rounds)
- Martin Laird 11.4
As mentioned above, the par-3s at Port Royal are among the toughest holes on the course.
Strokes Gained Par-3s (Last 36 rounds)
- Russell Knox 15
- Lucas Glover 13.8
- Peter Kuest 13.5
- Mark Hubbard 13.4
- Charley Hoffman 12.9
- Brendon Todd 12.8
- Andrew Novak 11.6
- Brian Stuard 11
- Dylan Wu 10.7
- Scott Piercy 8.8
- Tano Goya 8.4
- Alex Noren 7.9
- Luke List 7.7
Alex Noren (25-1, DraftKings)
Noren, a 10-time DP World Tour winner, still seeks his first PGA Tour victory.
A victory here would get him into the FedEx Cup Top 60 and into the first elevated events next year and into the OWGR Top 50 to secure a Masters invitation.
He was third just four weeks ago at the Shriners, but his trusty putter let him down. Noren ranks third in this field for Strokes Gained Around The Green.
Alex Smalley (25-1, DraftKings)
Smalley has finished 11th and 12th at Port Royal over the last two years.
He also has a strong record on coastal courses with a runner-up in 2022 at the Corales Puntacana, a top-5 that same year at the RSM Classic along with a T-6 at the Mexico Open, plus a top-10 at the Scottish Open.
Smalley ranks top 5 in this field for Strokes Gained: Approach and Strokes Gained: Putting on slow Bermuda greens.
Brandon Wu (55-1, BetMGM)
While he disappointed last week in Mexico, Wu loves coastal golf courses.
Five of his seven PGA Tour top-10 finishes have been on the coast with a second (2023) at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am; seventh (2021) and third (2022) at the Puerto Rico Open; second (2022) and third (2023) at the Mexico Open; plus sixth (2022) at the Genesis Scottish Open.
Troy Merritt (75-1, Circa Sports)
Merritt got himself back within the FedEx Cup Top 125 with top-10s at the Fortinet and Sanderson Farms plus made the cut at the Shriners and last weekend in Mexico, where he only finished T-65 but shot a Sunday round of 65 to carry some momentum over to this week.
He has solid form on coastal courses with a third (2022) and a 15th (2021) at El Camaleon plus a third, a 10th and a 12th in the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town, once shooting a 61 there.
Adam Long (81-1, Circa Sports)
Long only finished T-23 last week in Mexico, but he did make some headlines going 56-for-56 in in fairways hit for a 100% mark in Driving Accuracy.
He enters the penultimate event of the season ranked 138th in the FedEx Cup standings and needs a couple of good weeks to get into the Top 125 and keep his card.
Long has a fifth and an eighth in two of his last three starts at the Corales Puntacana. Plus, he boasts a second and a third at El Camaleon, the former host venue of the WWT Championship.
Charley Hoffman (130-1, Circa Sports)
Hoffman has played intermittently in 2023 because of having skin cancer surgery earlier this year.
He has one top-10 finish in the last two years and has not made a cut since the Wyndham in August.
However, his approach and proximity numbers jumped off the page and he has won on coastal golf courses before, most notably at Mayakoba in 2014. This looks like a place where he can turn around some poor form.
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