Course Guide: The tiny island of Bermuda has the biggest concentration of golf courses on the planet, with 7 courses packed into 21 square miles. The Bermuda Championship takes places at Port Royal Golf Course which has seen some high-level professional golf played upon it. This course hosted the PGA Grand Slam of Golf from 2009-2014, organised by the PGA of America, where the 4 reigning Major champions came here to compete in October. And 12 months ago the inaugural Bermuda Championship, which was an alternate event running beside the WGC-HSBC Champions, saw Brendon Todd triumph.
Port Royal Golf Course, Southampton, Bermuda: Designer: Robert Trent Jones 1970, with Roger Rulewich renovation 2009; Course Type: Coastal, Resort; Par: 71; Length: 6,828 yards; Holes with Water Hazards: 4; Bermuda; Rough: Bermuda with Zoysiagrass 2″; Greens: 6,000 sq.ft average TifEagle Bermudagrass; Tournament Stimpmeter 11ft.Scoring Average: 69.83 (-1.17), Difficulty Rank 28 of 41 courses.
Course Designer Links: For research purposes, other Trent Jones designs include:
- Bellerive – 2018 PGA Championship
- Hazeltine – 2009 PGA Championship
- Firestone South – WGC Bridgestone Invitational
- Robert Trent Jones Golf Club – 2015 Congressional Loans National
- Highlands Course, Atlanta Athletic Club – 2011 PGA Championship
- Valderrama – 2002 – 2008 Volvo Masters, 2010-11 Andalucía Masters, 2016 Open de Espana, 2017 – 2020 Andalucía Valderrama Masters
Course Overview: Port Royal Golf Course is a short Par 71 set on the Atlantic coastline of Bermuda. It has a 36/35 split, with the front 9 featuring a couple of reachable par-5s. The course reminds me a little of El Camaleon in Mexico, which we’ll be visiting in December for the Mayakoba Golf Classic, in the aspect that both are short and have contrasting elements to the course. Other players in the inaugural Bermuda Championship last year mentioned Plantation Course on Maui as a correlating course, not for length but purely for the undulations involved across the course. A tree-less Harbour Town was Boo Weekley’s assessment.
Here at Port Royal, the first 6 holes are played away from the coastline, protected partially against the wind, set in a low point. Most of the holes are guarded by trees earlier on, and it gives the appearance of a tropical inland golf course. With a genuine par-5 (2nd hole) and what in effect is a long par-4 (517 yards) playing as a par-5 (7th hole), this is the section of the course where scoring is essential, especially as there are 3 attackable par-4s as well. From the 7th green onwards through the 10th hole, the course opens out onto the coast, with no protection from the wind. This again is the case across the closing 5-hole stretch of the 14th through the 18th.
The back 9 has a couple of stretching par-3s (13th and 16th) both measuring 235 yards, with the 17th par-5 at 501 yards being a huge eagle opportunity if you can avoid the fairway bunkers and water all the way down the left-hand side.
From an overall perspective, players here mention huge elevation changes across the course and a number of isolated tee boxes. The course itself features Bermudagrass throughout and TifEagle Bermudagrass greens. When the PGA Grand Slam of Golf came here, the course also featured rough which was described as penal enough to cause problems with approach shots in terms of distance control. Jim Furyk describes this course back at the 2014 Grand Slam as not being about power; instead it’s a test where both course and wind management are critical.
And Jim was proved right when the PGA Tour visited here for the first time in 2019. The likes of Brendon Todd and Brian Gay mixed it with longer hitters such as Harry Higgs and Scottie Scheffler at the top of the leaderboard. All shapes and sizes can compete here, with Brendon and Scottie both firing course record 62s. With receptive greens and little rough, Todd won this by 4 shots at -24/260, but as ever with coastal golf, if the wind blows here, as forecast, the track gets tougher.
Winners: 2019: Brendon Todd (-24).
Tournament Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event that are well worth a look. Naturally they’ll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | First Round Leader | Combined Stats.
Published Predictor Model: Our published predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 10 of my published predictor are Charley Hoffman, Henrik Stenson, Brian Stuard, Scott Piercy, Pat Perez, Emiliano Grillo, Kelly Kraft, Luke List, Ryan Armour and Peter Malnati.
Recent Player Skill Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Tour Championship and Andalucía Masters, which includes PGA Tour and European Tour events. Rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:
- Driving Accuracy: 1) Brendon Todd; 2) Johnson Wagner; 3) Ryan Armour / David Hearn / Henrik Stenson; 6) Vaughn Taylor; 7) Padraig Harrington; 8) Arjun Atwal; 9) Scott Piercy; 10) Chris Baker; 11) Bo Van Pelt / Tim Wilkinson; 13) Denny McCarthy / Seamus Power; 15) Ben Martin; 16) Brian Stuard; 17) Henrik Norlander / Kyle Stanley; 19) Brice Garnett; 20) Michael Gellerman; 21) Kramer Hickok; 22) Fabian Gomez / Harold Varner III; 24) Stewart Cink; 25) Rob Oppenheim.
- Greens in Regulation: 1) Emiliano Grillo; 2) Cameron Percy; 3) Mark Anderson; 4) Justin Suh / Henrik Stenson; 6) Russell Knox / Patrick Rodgers; 8) Jason Dufner; 9) Ricky Barnes / Camilo Villegas; 11) Will Zalatoris; 12) Doc Redman / Bo Van Pelt; 14) Brandon Hagy; 15) Padraig Harrington; 16) Wesley Bryan / David Hearn; 18) Lucas Bjerregaard / Nelson Ledesma / Kristoffer Ventura; 21) Aaron Wise; 22) Pat Perez / Nick Watney; 24) Stewart Cink / Chase Seiffert.
- Scrambling: 1) Doc Redman; 2) Doug Ghim; 3) Pat Perez / Henrik Stenson / Will Zalatoris; 6) Hank Lebioda; 7) Brendon Todd; 8) Fabian Gomez; 9) David Hearn; 10) Jonathan Byrd; 11) Padraig Harrington / Tim Wilkinson; 13) Bill Haas / Matt Jones / Anirban Lahiri / Brian Stuard; 17) Michael Gligic / Charley Hoffman; 19) Adam Schenk; 20) Denny McCarthy / Scott Stallings; 22) Maverick McNealy; 23) Ben Martin; 24) Wyndham Clark / Tyler McCumber.
- Putting Average (Putts per GIR): 1) Wesley Bryan; 2) Harold Varner III; 3) Peter Malnati; 4) Tommy Gainey / Ben Taylor; 6) Cameron Tringale; 7) Ricky Barnes; 8) Rhein Gibson / Kristoffer Ventura; 10) Scott Harrington / Brendon Todd; 12) Anirban Lahiri; 13) Justin Suh; 14) Rafa Cabrera Bello; 15) Bronson Burgoon; 16) 16) Kelly Kraft; 17) Johnson Wagner; 18) Beau Hossler; 19) Cameron Percy; 20) Scott Piercy; 21) Andrew Putnam; 22) Danny Willett; 23) Kiradech Aphibarnrat / Padraig Harrington / Roger Sloan / Sepp Straka / Brian Stuard / D.J. Trahan.
Recent Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Tour Championship and Andalucía Masters, which includes PGA Tour and European Tour events. Players rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:
- Top 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Padraig Harrington / Will Zalatoris; 3) Luke List; 4) Ryan Brehm; 5) Rasmus Hojgaard / Sepp Straka; 7) Michael Gligic; 8) Nelson Ledesma / Doc Redman; 10) Beau Hossler; 11) Patrick Rodgers; 12) Wyndham Clark / Kristoffer Ventura; 14) Scott Piercy; 15) Jason Dufner; 16) Johnson Wagner; 17) Charley Hoffman / Henrik Norlander; 19) Michael Gellerman / Tyler McCumber; 21) Vincent Whaley; 22) Chris Baker; 23) Jamie Lovemark; 24) Emiliano Grillo; 25) Wesley Bryan.
- Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Ricky Barnes; 2) Nelson Ledesma / Justin Suh; 4) Ryan Blaum; 5) Doug Ghim; 6) Cameron Percy; 7) Mark Anderson / Emiliano Grillo / Will Zalatoris; 10) Scott Stallings; 11) Doc Redman; 12) D.J. Trahan; 13) Wesley Bryan; 14) Brendon Todd; 15) Henrik Stenson; 16) Harold Varner III; 17) Peter Malnati; 18) Russell Knox; 19) Scott Piercy / Camilo Villegas; 21) Rob Oppenheim; 22) Stewart Cink / Brian Stuard; 24) Troy Merritt; 25) Ryan Brehm.
- Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) Doug Ghim; 2) Rhein Gibson; 3) Adam Schenk; 4) Fabian Gomez; 5) Anirban Lahiri; 6) Hank Lebioda; 7) Joseph Bramlett; 8) Beau Hossler / Camilo Villegas; 10) Stewart Cink / Bo Hoag; 12) Josh Teater; 13) Wyndham Clark / D.J. Trahan; 15) Padraig Harrington / Michael Kim / George McNeill / Peter Uihlein / Kristoffer Ventura; 20) Wes Roach; 21) Danny Willett; 22) Ricky Barnes / Brandon Hagy / Jamie Lovemark; 25) Kevin Tway.
- Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Nelson Ledesma; 2) Doug Ghim; 3) Ricky Barnes; 4) Justin Suh; 5) Padraig Harrington; 6) Doc Redman; 7) D.J. Trahan; 8) Will Zalatoris; 9) Mark Anderson; 10) Josh Teater / Harold Varner III; 12) Emiliano Grillo; 13) Sepp Straka; 14) Camilo Villegas; 15) Roger Sloan; 16) Wesley Bryan; 17) Ryan Brehm; 18) Pat Perez / Kristoffer Ventura; 20) Anirban Lahiri; 21) Adam Schenk; 22) Luke List; 23) Stewart Cink; 24) Rasmus Hojgaard / Kevin Tway.
- Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Ben Taylor / Brendon Todd; 3) Peter Malnati; 4) Justin Suh; 5) Kristoffer Ventura; 6) Michael Gligic / Denny McCarthy; 8) Rhein Gibson / Cameron Tringale; 10) David Hearn; 11) Zack Sucher; 12) Andrew Putnam; 13) Johnson Wagner; 14) Brice Garnett; 15) Harold Varner III; 16) Rafa Cabrera Bello; 17) Danny Willett; 18) Hank Lebioda; 19) Stewart Cink; 20) Ryan Blaum / Cameron Percy; 22) Matt Jones; 23) Lucas Bjerregaard / Wesley Bryan; 25) Doug Ghim.
- Top 25 SG Total: 1) Justin Suh; 2) Doug Ghim; 3) Harold Varner III; 4) Ricky Barnes / Nelson Ledesma; 6) Peter Malnati; 7) Michael Gligic; 8) Kristoffer Ventura; 9) Padraig Harrington / Will Zalatoris; 11) Wesley Bryan; 12) Emiliano Grillo; 13) Doc Redman / Sepp Straka; 15) D.J. Trahan; 16) Ben Taylor / Brendon Todd; 18) Anirban Lahiri; 19) Cameron Tringale; 20) Roger Sloan; 21) David Hearn; 22) Aaron Baddeley / Stewart Cink / Beau Hossler; 25) Adam Schenk.
Winners & Prices: 2019: Todd 100/1. For a full summary of winner’s odds on the PGA Tour since 2010 click here.
- 2019: Thursday: Mostly cloudy, with a high of 77. Wind E 12-22 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 78. Wind SE 10-18 mph. Saturday: Mostly sunny, with a high of 79. Wind ESE 10-16 mph. Sunday: Mostly cloudy, with a high of 78. Wind NW 5-10 mph.
Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Southampton, Bermuda, is here. As you would expect with a tropical island in the north Atlantic, precipitation can be a feature here in Bermuda with tropical storms. And if forecasts are to be believed then the course should receive quite a deluge of rain on Monday, so I’m expecting cut in the fairways and receptive greens. The latter is almost assured on the PGA Tour these days, but with 25mph to 30mph south-westerly winds set for Friday and 20-25 mph winds forecast for the weekend’s play, expect soft greens. Temperatures will be a pleasant 23-25 degrees Celsius throughout.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of Bermuda winner Brendon Todd gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:
- 2019, Brendon Todd (-24). 303 yards (51st), 69.6% fairways (4th), 76.4% greens in regulation (10th), 82.4 % scrambling (4th), 1.55 putts per GIR (3rd).
So let’s take a view from players as to how the Port Royal Golf Course sets up and what skill sets the course favours:
Brendon Todd: “ I mean, this golf course is good for me. It’s one of the shorter ones we play on the Tour and it forces everybody to hit the ball with the same clubs off the tee because there’s cross bunkers in certain places. The good thing about that for me is, I’m hitting the same clubs into the greens as everybody else and for some reason that tends to work out well in my favour. So the course is good for me, for my game, and I’ve been swinging well. These greens are grainy, they’re a little bit slow, so you’re always kind of guessing whether it’s two balls or three balls, how hard to hit it. I think everybody’s battling it a little bit, but it’s also why the scores are low, it helps the ball stop close to the hole and you can ram a few in.”
Rob Oppenheim: “A lot of hills, for sure. You know, the wind makes this course, completely changes the course. I got here Monday, played and it was a complete different wind, so this course is very dictated by the wind direction and how much wind. So today it was, I think, the easier wind. It wasn’t up as much as it was the last two days, so you can see there’s some pretty good scores out there. And the greens are in great shape, so I think it’s definitely, they’re receptive as well, so if you’re in the fairway, you can attack it.”
Brian Gay: “It reminds me actually, walking around, kind of walking around Maui is what it reminds me of.”
Martin Kaymer: “There are a couple very difficult holes where you can really screw up, where you can make big numbers. When you take 16, for example. But I think when you play on that grass, that Bermuda grass, it’s very important to hit good tee shots. It’s very difficult to judge distances from the first cut, from the rough, so I think the key is really to hit as many fairways as possible. But again, tee shots and then give yourself as many chances as possible. The wind, we all know, is going to be a factor. Playing on an island, it’s not a big surprise. We all have done that in the past, we all know how that works.
Yeah, when you’re standing on that 10th tee box, you know the next four or five holes are going to be difficult, because there are some tricky tee shots, a lot of elevations as well, especially when you’re standing on the 11th fairway and you have to hit it down to the green. It’s very difficult to judge the yardage or to judge the wind more and therefore to judge the yardage. So the back nine, that’s definitely more challenging than the front nine. The first six, seven holes, they’re important that you take advantage of them, that you make at least two or three birdies. That helps for the back nine.”
Jim Furyk: “Not at all. 17th is very reachable for me. The 7th is an iron shot for me in for a second shot. The only hole that I might give up ground on, is No. 2. But, I just played the fives really poorly. I drove it bad on 7, I did hit a bad drive there. A bad second shot on 17. I hit a good bunker shot, missed the putt. Hit a bad wedge into No. 2. I had it laid up perfect. No, I didn’t take advantage of the 5’s, but it’s not really the yardage. Two of them are very, very short. They’re long par-4s, really. Then the second hole is not going to be reachable for me unless it gets real downwind. But, I need to do a little better job with my wedge game. It’s not a power, this golf course, power has nothing to do with playing well on this golf course. I realized those three are all very long, but they’re also very good at scoring. Bubba can hit a lot of shots and work it into the wind. Rory’s obviously able to do that, being the No. 1 player in the world. And Martin is a good ball-striker. So, the power isn’t part of it, but they can move the ball better than I did today.”
Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for Bermuda Championship winners:
- 2019 – Brendon Todd: Round 1: 25th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 2nd.
Shots From the Lead: Below are the winners of the Bermuda Championship and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:
- 2019 – Brendon Todd: Round 1: 6 back, Round 2: level, Round 3: 2 back.
Incoming form of winners:
- Brendon Todd: 28th Houston/MC Shriners/MC Safeway/MC Sanderson Farms.
First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave and winning score since 2019. For full first round leader stats click here.
- 2019 – Scheffler -9/61 – AM Wave – 35/1
For the record, here’s the breakdown of Bermudagrass PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:
- 4 – Bill Haas.
- 3 – Brian Gay, Henrik Stenson.
- 2 – Luke Donald, Jason Dufner, Matt Every, Fabian Gomez, Scott Piercy.
- 1 – Ryan Armour, Aaron Baddeley, Wesley Bryan, Jonathan Byrd, Tommy Gainey, Branden Grace, Padraig Harrington, Max Homa, Peter Malnati, Keith Mitchell, Pat Perez, John Senden, Scott Stallings, Robert Streb, Brian Stuard, Brendon Todd, D.J. Trahan, Jhonattan Vegas, Nick Watney, Aaron Wise.
We only have one renewal of the Bermuda Championship to work from and that was played in very scoring-friendly conditions. What was apparent is that Port Royal does not discriminate. Long bombers such as Harry Higgs and Scottie Scheffler both led through points of the tournament, with Brian Gay and Brendon Todd their nearest pursuers. In the end a beautiful final round of 62 from Brendon Todd, decided the tournament. He was ranked 525th in the OWGR and his last top-10 finish on the PGA Tour was at the 2015 Greenbrier Classic.
With no Strokes Gained Data, we have to work from the traditional statistics available. 6 of the top 10 finishers ranked in the top 10 for Driving Accuracy, and that’s a rarity on the PGA Tour. Todd, Gay (finished T3) and Lebioda (finished T3) ranked in the top 5 for Putting Average (Putts per GIR), Intriguingly of the players who finished in the each-way places (top 7) last year, 4 of them, namely Gay (40/1), Higgs (60/1) and 2 favourites Scheffler and Wise (both 20/1) ranked in the top 20 of my 8-week Putting Average (Putts per GIR) tracker that week.
My selections are as follows: