Bermuda Championship Betting Tips: Six each-way picks from our man Jamie Worsley
Possessing a field which is a far cry from the star-studded one on show at last week’s CJ Cup at Conagree Golf Club – which saw Rory McIlroy claim his third title of the year, taking him atop the world rankings for the first time in two years – this week we’re off to the small island of Bermuda, off the coast of the U.S for the Bermuda Championship at Port Royal Golf Club.
This event first came onto the schedule in 2019, as an alternate event played opposite the WGC – HSBC Champions event in China, though since 2020 has played as a full event but hasn’t seen this translate to a substantial improvement in field strength.
Tournaments played on small islands are often at the mercy of the weather and this has been well reflected in the three events staged here so far.
In the calm conditions of 2019 Brendon Todd shot an excellent -24 to win by four over Harry Higgs. However, in the last two years, with much windier, troublesome conditions, we’ve seen scoring significantly tougher, as both Lucas Herbert last year and Brian Gay in 2020 shot -15 when winning.
Situated overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the Robert Trent Jones designed Port Royal Golf Club returns as host for the fourth straight year. At 6828 yards, this par 71 is one of the shortest courses they will play all season and though the scoring the last couple of years has been tougher, there are scoring opportunities in abundance; adverse weather almost imperative to stop the players taking it apart.
Fairways have been hard to find here but are not too demanding should you miss, ranking as one of the easiest courses on tour in which to find greens from off the fairways; due to a lack of rough and an open feeling to most holes, even those that are tree-lined; whilst the undulating greens themselves are bermuda (of course!), large and well-bunkered, with run-off areas providing added punishment for wayward approach shots.
The main dangers/challenges come from water being in-play on around five holes and of course wind management if it does indeed blow this week. Whilst a challenging set of par 3s, with three above 210 yards, two at 235 offer further difficulties.
In contrast the three par 5s are all reachable, with two of them below 520 yards, whilst the par 4s offer up plenty of birdie chances, with just one above 450 yards, including the drivable 10th.
For the most part, this is a course where players will feel they can orchestrate scoring opportunities whilst stood on virtually every tee – if conditions allow.
This is one of those events where strokes-gained stats aren’t recorded, so it’s a little more difficult to put the puzzle together in terms of exactly how players have won or gone well here. Though there are still a few things which have stood out over the last three years.
Whilst a course of this length doesn’t rule anybody out, shown by shorter, steadier types winning the first two renewals, there’s a strong case to be made that it sets up well for the bombers. The lack of penalty aside these fairways along with the ability to cut corners and drive/get close to many of the shorter par 4s means they can overpower this venue.
We saw this come to fruition last year as Australia’s Lucas Herbert won with his combination of a quality short-game and power off-the-tee, with Patrick Rodgers in 4th, another player who packs a punch with the driver.
Short and steady Brian Gay won in 2020, though the two guys closest to him on the leaderboard, Wyndham Clark in 2nd and Ollie Schneiderjans in 3rd are both far longer than they are straight, whilst players like Aaron Wise and Scottie Scheffler featured behind Brendon Todd in 2019.
As mentioned, Herbert combines his power off-the-tee with a quality short-game, something he replicated last year, ranking 4th in scrambling and 10th in putting average. All three leaderboards since 2019 have been littered with players who possess an excellent short-game, either on or around-the-greens and in many cases, both.
The two other winners, Brendon Todd and Brian Gay are very much representative of this, particularly with the putter; players such as Patrick Reed and Wyndham Clark emphasising this need for a good short-game here further, which should be even more the case this week in difficult conditions.
In addition to this par 5 scoring is key, with birdies and eagles coming by the bucket load and in terms of iron play, most players will have plenty of short wedges into these holes; those who excel between 100-125 yards with an iron in hand should also have an advantage.
Key Stats: SG: Around-the-Greens, SG: Putting, Scrambling, Driving Distance, Par 5 Scoring, Proximity 100-125 Yards
RSM Classic @ Sea Island Resort
The RSM Classic is played at a coastal venue with bermuda greens, a lack of penalty off-the-tee and a similar level of difficulty in scrambling.
Brendon Todd and Brian Gay both have top 5s there, whilst David Hearn, Scott Stallings and Denny McCarthy have gone well, too possessing a strong record here in Bermuda.
Sony Open @ Waialae Country Club
Played in Hawaii, the Sony Open is an event always at the mercy of the weather and has other similarities in the shape of the length of the course, bermuda greens and fairways that are both tough to find but not overly penal should you miss.
Brian Gay, David Hearn and Russell Knox all possessing strong form at both courses.
Sanderson Farms Championship @ Country Club of Jackson
Despite being a much longer course, the CCoJ ranks similarly to Port Royal GC in most aspects from a statistical point of view and has developed some strong form-ties.
The strongest of those come from Ryan Armour and Peter Malnati, both ex winners there who have a good record in Bermuda. With Denny McCarthy and Scott Stallings cropping up again.
Fortinet Championship @ Silverado Resort
Silverado is both narrow off-the-tee but like Port Royal, not overly punishing should you miss the short grass, ranking closely to this week’s venue in GIR from other than the fairway.
Brendon Todd and Scott Stallings provide strong form-ties, whilst Doc Redman adds to it, having finished 4th here last year and possessing a 3rd in the Fortinet.
Mayakoba Classic @ El Camaleon
The Mayakoba Classic’s El Camaleon is short and tight off-the-tee; also ranking closely to Port Royal in terms of difficulty in scrambling and finding greens.
Brendon Todd has won at both courses, Aaron Wise has finished 2nd there as well as 3rd here and Russell Knox has finishes of 2nd and 3rd there to go with a strong record here.
American Express @ PGA West
Though fairways are easier to find in the Amex, it ranks closely to Port Royal in GIR and penalty for missing fairways, whilst being similarly short.
Brian Gay is a past winner, with Brendon Todd, Scott Stallings and Denny McCarthy once again strengthening form-ties.
We’re set for stormy conditions in Bermuda, with stoppages looking likely over the course of the week. Though the rain will soften it up, there’s enough in the way of a constant strong breeze – which could get more severe – to make this week likely to be as tricky as the last couple of years.
Lucas Herbert does not return to defend his title, with Irishman, Seamus Power the highest ranked player in the field at #48. Poland’s Adrian Meronk makes his first start in a regular PGA Tour event as the next best ranked player in the field at #61, with Denny McCarthy, Lucas Glover and Erik Van Rooyen making up the group of just five players from inside the world’s top 100.
Bermuda Championship Tips
- Byeong Hun An 50/1 – 1/5 8 places (Betfair) – 1 pt ew
- Adam Long 50/1 – 1/5 8 places (Betfair) – 1 pt ew
- Harry Hall 70/1 – 1/5 8 places (Bet365) – 1 pt ew
- Garrick Higgo 60/1 -1/5 8 places (Bet365) – 1 pt ew
- Kevin Yu 90/1 – 1/5 8 places (Bet365) – 1 pt ew
- Akshay Bhatia 350/1 – 1/5 8 places (Bet365) – 1 pt ew
Market Leaders: Denny McCarthy 16/1, Thomas Detry 18/1, Seamus Power 22/1, Mark Hubbard 25/1, Adrian Meronk 28/1, Nick Hardy 28/1, Patrick Rodgers 28/1, Justin Lower 28/1, Aaron Rai 28/1
There’s little at the top end of the market that appeals to me here, though I am keen to see how Adrian Meronk gets on, as I feel the course will suit. The conditions may make for an unpredictable week and with the lack of quality in this field, I feel it’s anyone’s game.
With that I start at the 50/1 mark and with a player who booked his return to the PGA Tour thanks to a particularly strong start to the Korn Ferry Tour last season, which included a victory - his first for seven years - Korea’s Byeong Hun An.
Byeong-hun An 50/1 – 1/5 8 places (Betfair) – 1 pt ew
An’s six-year stint on the PGA Tour came to an end following a disappointing 2020/21 season but he has wasted little time in getting some serious FedEx Cup points on the board on his return, finishing 4th in the Fortinet Championship in week one of the new season.
He missed the cut on his next start in the Sanderson Farms Championship, though bounced back with a solid 44th at the Shriners Open next time out, before finishing 62nd in last week’s CJ Cup.
Throughout those six years during his first spell on the main tour, he built up a big reputation of a strong T2G player, one who could’ve well been a PGA Tour winner if it hadn’t been for serious issues with the putter.
These issues seemed to have been improved on the Korn Ferry Tour this year, where An ranked 36th in putting average and looked to have carried over to this year, as he gained strokes in that 4th in the Fortinet. Though not quite as good overall on his next three starts, there have been plenty of good rounds, which still remains a positive for a player who so struggled with the club.
No doubt the biggest contributing factor to him losing his tour card was that along with continuing to putt poorly, that typically strong ball-striking game had also deserted him.
His iron game still needs some work, though at this very early stage in the season he does rank 14th in proximity 100-125 yards, which should be a big positive this week; whilst he’s largely driven it well and as a big hitter ticks another box. Further to this the standout area of his game this season has been around-the-greens, where he ranks 7th, an area that was always strong.
An hasn’t played here before but does have strong form at the Sanderson Farms and Fortinet, finishing 3rd and 4th respectively; with the power he has off-the-tee, the quality he’s been showing with his wedges at this early point in the season and possessing that deft touch around the greens that should see him scramble well in these difficult conditions, he can go well on his first try in Bermuda and take advantage of this weak field to win his first PGA Tour title.
Adam Long was showing some good form at the end of last season; he’s started this season in solid fashion and with some strong correlating form, can claim a second PGA Tour win in Bermuda this week.
Long picked up four top 25 finishes in his final six events of the 2021/22 season and though missing the cut on his first start of this, at the Fortinet Championship, he’s gone solidly on his next two starts; finishing 30th in the Sanderson Farms Championship and then 53rd in the ZOZO Championship, a result that can be upgraded slightly as he shot three consecutive rounds of 68 to sit inside the top 25 going into the final round, before a final round 75 dropped him down the leaderboard.
Long was doing most things well towards the end of last season, though it’s with the short-game he excels, ranking 17th in scrambling and 24th in putting on the PGA Tour last season. This in addition to being a solid wedge player, meaning he has plenty in his locker to enable him to get at Port Royal GC.
He hasn’t played here before, though as a past champion of the American Express, as well as being a 2nd and 3rd place finisher in the Mayakoba Classic, he has strong results in correlating events; if able to build on that strong end to last season, as well as two solid efforts on his most recent starts, can go well this week.
Englishman Harry Hall found something with his ball-striking last time out in the Shriners Open and as a relatively big hitter with a strong short-game, looks the type to go well this week.
Hall, who resides in Vegas after attending college there, earned his way to the PGA Tour thanks to being a two-time winner on the Korn Ferry Tour in the 2021/22 season, helping him achieve a ranking of 12th on the KFT Points List.
He signed off that season in strong form, finishing 3rd in the Korn Ferry Tour Championship at the start of September and though missing his first two cuts of the PGA Tour season, bounced back with a 15th place finish in Vegas, where he finally found some solid ball-striking to compliment his excellent short-game.
We see this quality on and around-the-greens when looking at his stats from the KFT last season, as he ranked 12th in putting and 20th in scrambling; carrying that form over into the early part of this season, ranking 5th on the greens and 49th around-the-greens so far; with his strong profile for this event completed by rankings of 7th in proximity 100-125 and 22nd in par 5 scoring.
This should translate to a player who can go well here, particularly in the tough conditions and we did see some promise last year, as he only missed the cut by one. In addition to this his first victory on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2021 came in the Wichita Open at Crestview Country Club, a course also designed by Robert Trent Jones.
Hall may not be as classy an operator as some of the top KFT grads this year but he makes up for this with a strong winner’s mentality and I’m expecting him to transfer that winning ability he’s shown at a lower level to the big stage. This looks like an excellent opportunity to do so this week.
South Africa’s Garrick Higgo very much fits that mould of big hitter/strong short-game that the likes of Lucas Herbert and Wyndham Clark have used to go well here in the past. With a contending 3rd place finish in the Sanderson Farms Championship two starts ago showing hugely encouraging signs in comparison to his end of season form from last season, he can take it to this weak field this week to win a 2nd PGA Tour title in as many years.
After winning the Palmetto Championship last year on his first ever start in a regular PGA Tour event, it would be fair to say that Higgo likely found his incredibly steep rise a little overwhelming, producing far more missed cuts in the following fifteen months and recording just three top 25 finishes.
This season started similarly, as he missed the cut in the Fortinet Championship, showing little in the way of positives but he bounced back in a big way next time out with that 3rd in the Sanderson Farms, producing his best ball-striking and putting performances since that victory a little over twelve months earlier.
He’ll have to overcome a poor ball-striking performance on his next and latest start at the Shriners Open, though I was buoyed to see the short-game in fine form.
I’m confident he can do that here, as a solid 34th last year offered even more promise when looking a little closer. He shot a 67 in round one to sit 4th at the end of Thursday and fired the joint-best round of the day in round three, with a 65; enough to have him sat inside the top 10 heading into the final round before a closing 75 did for his chances.
In addition we have that 3rd in the Sanderson Farms to provide further encouragement and as a three-time DP World Tour/one-time PGA Tour winner, he has just about as much winning experience as anyone here, something he can use to his benefit this week.
As a former #1 amateur, Kevin Yu possesses a higher ceiling than most players in this field and following an encouraging start to life on the PGA Tour he looks set to be a serious player this week.
Turning pro in June of last year, Yu headed straight for the Korn Ferry Tour and made an instant splash, finishing 20th, 5th, 25th and 2nd in his first four starts.
Fast forward to this year and he once again signalled his potential, finishing 7th in the Puerto Rico Open on the PGA Tour, before playing exclusively on the Korn Ferry Tour for the rest of the season, picking up another two 2nd place finishes and ultimately earning his tour card thanks to finishing top 25 in the regular season points list.
He started his first season on the PGA Tour with a missed cut at the Fortinet Championship, though actually played excellently T2G; a really poor couple of rounds on the greens causing the missed cut. He bounced back strongly in his next two starts, finishing 19th in the Sanderson Farms Championship and was 37th on his most recent start in the Shriners Open, again playing well T2G and combining with much improved performances on the greens.
It’s easy to see where his main strength currently lies – with the driver – as he has ranked 4th and 10th off-the-tee on those two most recent starts; possessing an impressive combination of length and accuracy, something that he showed on the Korn Ferry Tour, ranking 2nd in total driving last season.
He can use that quality to take it to these par 5s and short par 4s; if continuing to produce the general all-round quality T2G that he’s shown across his other starts too, as well as finding further improved performances on the greens, he can make up for that string of 2nds on the KFT by picking up a title on the big tour this week.
I’m going to finish with another player with an incredibly high ceiling, former #4 amateur, Akshay Bhatia. The 20-year-old won for the first time on the Korn Ferry Tour at the start of the year and though struggling for form after that, I feel he’s well worth taking a chance on in this field at such a huge price.
The standout reason, aside from his huge potential, is that victory, which came in the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic. There he showed his ability to handle the unpredictably tricky weather conditions that the event has been well known for; a victory that came following a lengthy period out of action, in which he had previously looked a little out of sorts, much like the situation he finds himself in here this week.
Bhatia has had plenty of starts on the PGA Tour and they tell the story of a player who possesses a little bit of everything, including length off-the-tee; most eye-catching is the touch he showed on and around-the-greens in the 2020/21 season, particularly in his 9th place finish in the Fortinet Championship – on another correlating course no less – and a 30th at Pebble Beach.
This type of skillset means Bhatia is a good fit for what I’m looking for this week and with that proven experience of winning an event on a windy island course, this immensely talented youngster can well outplay his odds in Bermuda this week.