2021 Bermuda Championship Odds & Preview: 3 Players Who Fit Port Royal Well
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Russell Knox.
The PGA TOUR heads to Southampton, Bermuda, this week to play the Butterfield Bermuda Championship at Port Royal Golf Club.
Port Royal Golf Club is a 6,828-yard, Par 71 layout, featuring Bermudagrass greens. This is the third edition of the tournament, and the second time it will be the primary TOUR stop for the week (it was previously an alternate event). The course was designed by Robert Trent Jones.
Last year’s event ended up being very exciting down the stretch, with Brian Gay edging out Wyndham Clark in a playoff.
The Bermuda Championship field is relatively weak, but will feature some interesting names on TOUR such as Patrick Reed, Matt Fitzpatrick, Mito Pereira, Seamus Power and Danny Willett.
Bermuda Championship Odds
Click here for the full list of odds
|Dawie Van Der Walt||+9000|
|Bo Van Pelt||+15000|
|Ted Potter Jr.||+40000|
|Richard S Johnson||+50000|
Past Winners at The Bermuda Championship
- 2020: Brian Gay (-15)
- 2019: Brendon Todd (-24)
Let’s take a look at several metrics for Port Royal Golf Club to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds.
Strokes Gained: Approach
The weaker the field, the more I tend to rely on statistics. Strokes Gained: Approach is a great way to measure current form and shows who is the most dialed in with their irons.
Total Strokes Gained: Approach in past 24 rounds:
- Mito Pereira (+23.8) (+1600)
- Luke Donald (+21.5) (+25000)
- Cameron Percy (+19.2) (+10000)
- Matthew NeSmith (+15.9) (+10000)
- Bo Hoag (+15.2) (+6500)
While Port Royal Golf Club should give us some low scores, the rough can actually be quite unforgiving. It will be important to target accurate golfers. As evidenced by both Brendon Todd and Brian Gay winning here, distance off the tee won’t be much of a factor.
Total Fairways Gained in past 24 rounds:
- Brian Stuard — (+46.4) (+9000)
- Ryan Armour — (+45.1) (+5500)
- Aaron Rai — (+29.8) (+8000)
- Russell Knox — (+29.5) (+6000)
- Kramer Hickok — (+28.7) (+10000)
Strokes Gained Putting: Bermudagrass
These low-scoring events often turn into putting contests. If the majority of the field is hitting greens in regulation, it might come down to whomever can heat up with the putter. Bermudagrass specialists will have the best chance to do just that at Port Royal.
Total Strokes Gained: Putting (Bermudagrass) in past 24 rounds:
- Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+27.9) (+1200)
- Matt Fitzpatrick (+22.7) (+1000)
- Johnson Wagner (+19.9) (+30000)
- Denny McCarthy (+16.8) (+5000)
- Patrick Reed (+16.5) (+2000)
Birdies or Better Gained
In 2019, we saw the winner of this event at 24 under par. Last year, extreme winds made scoring difficult in rounds two and three specifically. Regardless of weather this time around, the winner will likely have plenty of birdies.
Total Birdie or Better Gained in category in past 24 rounds:
- Hank Lebioda (+18.1) (+5000)
- Patrick Rodgers (+14.2) (+4500)
- Paul Barjon (+13.1) (+13000)
- Mito Pereira (+12.9) (+1600)
- Seamus Power (+11.1) (+2000)
Par 3: 200+ Yards
With three of four Par 3s at Port Royal measuring between 213 and 235 yards, including one over the ocean that will bring wind into play, it will be important for golfers to play these holes well. Further highlighting their importance, the three long Par 3s will serve as the second-, third- and fifth-most difficult holes on the course.
Total strokes gained in category in past 24 rounds:
- Thomas Detry (+4.9) (+5000)
- Garrick Higgo (+2.9) (+5000)
- Erik Barnes (+2.6) (+30000)
- Mito Pereira (+2.4)(+1600)
- Scott Brown (+2.3) (+30000)
Below, I’ve reported overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed.
These rankings are comprised of SG: App (25%) Fairways Gained (21%); SG: Putting bermudagrass (21%); Birdies or better gained (21%), and Par 3: 200+ (12%)
- Brian Stuard (+9000)
- Scott Brown (+30000)
- Vaughn Taylor (+15000)
- Matt Fitzpatrick (+1000)
- Mito Pereira (+1600)
- Mark Hubbard (+6000)
- Adam Hadwin (+3500)
- Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+1200)
- Hayden Buckley (+2500)
- Max McGreevy (+13000)
Butterfield Bermuda Championship Best Bets
Russell Knox (+6000, DraftKings): Course history will play a major part in my selection process and few are superior to Russell Knox in that department. The 36-year-old ranks seventh in Strokes Gained: Total at Port Royal Golf Club, thanks to finishes of 16th and 11th in his two starts at the course.
When evaluating Knox’ strengths as a golfer, it’s no surprise he has played the course well. Port Royal Golf Club has the second-most difficult fairways to hit on TOUR (51.5%) and Knox has the perfect off-the-tee game to combat those tight fairways.
He ranks fourth in the field in Fairways Gained and is one of the most accurate players on TOUR. He isn’t the longest hitter, which has given him trouble with so many mammoth courses on TOUR. However, that won’t be an issue at Port Royal, which is the second shortest course on the tour.
A further point in Knox’s favor is his ability to excel in windy conditions. With early weather predictions indicating winds of 20-25 MPH over the weekend, backing a strong wind player might be a good idea. Knox isn’t just a capable wind player, he ranks as the third-best wind player in the field in his past 24 rounds.
With his superb skill set, it could be argued Knox should have more than two PGA TOUR victories, with the most recent coming in 2016 (Travelers Championship). The explanation for his relative lack of signature victories is that the Scotsman has had some real struggles with the putter throughout his career. That being said, he should have a real chance to win if the winds pick up and the course plays a bit more difficult than expected.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat (+8000, DraftKings): After a very difficult few years while recovering from an injury, Kiradech Aphibarnat is starting to show some signs of returning to form. When he’s playing his best, a coastal Bermuda track is the ideal spot for Aphibarnat, as he has shown he is prone to strong performances on similar style courses. He finished 11th at this event last season despite being in pretty horrific form overall.
While his most recent PGA TOUR starts have not been fruitful, the same can’t be said for his most recent start on the European Tour at the BMW PGA Championship back in September. The native of Thailand finished in second place just one shot behind winner Billy Horschel, and had a real chance to win until the very last hole.
Two of Aphibarnat’s biggest strengths are his ability to find the fairway, and his ability to catch a hot putter on Bermudagrass. In his past five starts, he has gained 1.4 strokes per round on the field in Fairways Gained and gains an average of 0.65 strokes per round on Bermudagrass.
Although he is wildly inconsistent, when Aphibarnat has it going in a particular week he has shown that he can get himself into contention.
Brian Stuard (+9000, DraftKings): As evidenced by his top spot in my model rankings, Brian Stuard is a perfect fit for Port Royal Golf Club. Shorter hitters who consistently find the fairway have had tremendous success at this course in the past and I anticipate that ringing true once again in 2021.
In addition to being able to put it in the short grass off the tee, Stuard is also an excellent putter on Bermudagrass. The past two winners in Bermudahave both been excellent putters, and Stuard fits nicely with that theme. The 38-year-old ranks 12th in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting on Bermuda and can get scorching hot with the putter. In his most recent start on the surface, he gained 9.1 strokes putting at the Wyndham Championship.
Although he did come in 15th place at Wyndham in August, Stuard has missed four consecutive cuts in his following four starts leading up to this event. In most weeks, that would be fairly concerning. However, we have seen in the past that golfers don’t necessarily need to come into this event in peak form.
Last year, Brian Gay won the event coming off five missed cuts in a row. This week is more about course fit than recent form, and Stuard fits the bill.
Kramer Hickok (+10000, DraftKings): Many will remember Kramer Hickok’s epic, eight-hole playoff with Harris English back in June at the Travelers Championship. Since that crushing defeat, Hickok has fallen out of form and missed three of his next five cuts. However, there’s reason to believe Port Royal Golf Club could be a course where he can figure it out.
At last year’s Bermuda Championship, Hickok finished in eighth place and that was the best finish of his career to that point. In retrospect, it makes a great deal of sense the 29-year-old would play well at Port Royal. The course plays quite penal from the rough and one of the biggest strengths of Kramer’s is his driving accuracy, as evidenced by his ranking of fifth in the field for fairways gained. Also, Bermudagrass has been far and away Hickok’s best putting surface to this point in his career.
In his past 36 rounds, Hickok ranks third in the field on courses that feature Bermudagrass and under 7,200 yards. It also helps the former Texas Longhorn ranks ninth in the field in Strokes Gained: Total in extremely windy conditions. His skill in that department could loom large this week as we are expected to get winds north of 20 miles per hour.
With a win this week, Hickok might finally be able to have his name mentioned without someone attaching “Jordan Spieth’s former roommate” to it.
David Hearn (+10000, DraftKings): As we saw last year with Gay’s victory, Port Royal is a course certain golfers have played well in both previous editions regardless of current form. With back-to-back eighth-place finishes at the event, David Hearn is absolutely one of those golfers.
The 42-year-old has shown a propensity to play very well at coastal resort-style tracks. In addition to his two excellent showings in Bermuda, he has a 13th at Corales (Puntacana) and a 25th at the Puerto Rico Open.
Course form aside, Hearn is also a strong statistical fit as well. He is an excellent putter on Bermudagrass, ranking 20th in the field in that category. In his past 24 rounds, he also ranks 16th in Strokes Gained: Approach and 14th in Fairways Gained.
Hearn has been incredibly close to a PGA TOUR victory, having lost in a playoff in both 2013 and 2015. If there was ever a place to get it done, Port Royal Golf Club would be an obvious fit.