Following last week’s action overseas, where Hideki Matsuyama claimed victory in his native Japan, the PGA Tour is once again on the road. This time players will tee it up in Bermuda, competing in the Bermuda Championship at Port Royal Golf Club in the parish of Southampton.
A coastal track, Port Royal, designed by famed architect Robert Trent Jones Jr, challenges players to be accurate, while the elements often demand intelligent shot selection. Many of the top players in the world will be absent in Bermuda this week, meaning that there’s an opportunity for a lesser-known player to make their mark. 2020 winner Brian Gay, who emerged victorious at -15 12 months ago, will be back to defend his crown. Gay will be the only previous winner in the field, though several of those in the line-up has played well at this venue since its addition on the PGA Tour two years ago.
Interestingly, only two players inside the current top 30 according to the Official World Golf Rankings will feature at Port Royal, and they are Matthew Fitzpatrick and Patrick Reed. In fact, only one other top-50 player will be involved this week, and that’s South Africa’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout, who currently ranks 43rd in the world.
What will it take to win at Port Royal?
For a Par 71, the Bermuda track is on the short side of things, measuring fewer than 7000 yards. When initially learning about this lack of distance, it’s easy to assume that this is a course that can be easily attacked, but is that really the case? Yes, it’s short and there are several Par 5’s that can be easily reached, even by those players who aren’t known to hit bombs, but Port Royal can be tricky, as it’s tight and demands smart shot selection.
On such a tight course, accuracy is key, and being wayward just won’t do. In the last two renewals, the winners have hit plenty of greens in regulation, with both Brian Gay and Brendon Todd ranking inside the top 15 for GIR. With some of the greens not easy to hit, players can easily find themselves in positions where shots from around the putting surfaces come into play, so a steady scrambler can do well at this venue. Again, in each of the previous renewals of the Bermuda Championship, strong scrambling helped the winner. In 2019 Brendon Todd finished the week as the fourth-best scrambler.
Who’s hot in the betting?
With less than a top-class field on show this week, the top of the betting looks a little different. Matthew Fitzpatrick, the second-highest ranked player in the field, is out in front as the favorite right now at best odds of +1400. Christiaan Bezuidenhout, who as mentioned above is one of just three top-50 rankers involved, is close behind at +1600, while new kid on the block Mito Pereira and one-time major winner Patrick Reed can both be found around at varying priced with varying firms between +1800 and +2200.
At bigger odds, Garrick Higgo, who showed his class when gaining his first win on the PGA Tour last season, catches the eye slightly at +5000, while Ryan Armour, who has notched back-to-back top-tens in this event is another interesting one at +5500. Bigger still is former US Open winner Graeme McDowell, who can certainly put something together in the wind, at +7000.
Mito Pereira – 2 Units @ +2200
For me, Mito Pereira looks every inch a player who isn’t far away from picking up his first win on the PGA Tour. A multiple winner on the Korn Ferry Tour, the 26-year-old has made what appears to be a seamless transition to the top level. He looks the part, has a textbook game, and has hit the ground running this season, impressing hugely when finishing third at the Fortinet Championship back in September.
Since that third-place finish, the Chilean has finished T31 and T40, which while nothing overly special, is steady. His four-round scores for the season read -16, -13, and -10, whilst he’s yet to shoot greater than 71 in a single round, posting scores of 69 or less in eight of his 12 rounds since becoming a fully-fledged PGA Tour player.
Accuracy will be important this week, and accurate is what Pereira has been this term. He currently ranks 16th for strokes gained: off-the-tee, which bodes well given the necessity of getting it right from the tee boxes, while tee-to-green, he’s the best player in this field and currently the second-best on tour (in terms of strokes gained: tee-to-green). We also know, as each of the previous winners has shown, that the ability to hit greens with regularity is required at Port Royal, and this is not something that should hamper Mito, who has hit the second-most greens in regulation on tour this season, finding an impressive 82.87% of putting surfaces when he ought to.
All in all, we’re talking about a guy whose game is clearly in good shape and a player that has all the tools necessary to pick up a win at this level. With so many of the big boys missing, this must go down as a gilt-edged opportunity for the rising star, so at odds of +2200, he’s the one to side with.