The PGA Tour continues this week as it visits Port Royal Golf Course for the 2023 Butterfield Bermuda Championship. Being contested for the fifth straight year, the Butterfield Bermuda Championship seems to consistently produce a flare for the dramatics, with the past two editions being decided by a single stroke and the 2020 edition being settled via a playoff.
Playing as a Par 71, 6,828 yard layout this week, Port Royal Golf Course will serve as a challenge for the tour’s best, with swirling winds coming right off of the water to test every facet of their game. The key to success this week will be the short game, with 3 of the previous 4 winners ranking inside the top 5 in Putts Per Round by week’s end and the winning score finishing at least at -15 or better each year. This week’s event will be headlined by several tour studs, including Adam Scott, Akshay Bhatia, Lucas Glover, Brendon Todd, Thomas Detry and Ben Griffin.
Last year’s edition was won by Seamus Power, who came out on top following a Sunday battle with Thomas Detry and Ben Griffin. Detry finished second, one stroke back, while Griffin, Kevin Yu and Patrick Rodgers finished tied for third, two strokes back. The victory was Power’s second on tour and his first since the 2021 Barbasol Championship.
Player to Fade:
In spite of some of the A-Listers playing this week, the field for this week’s Butterfield Bermuda Championship is not the strongest on tour. Shocking, I know. Events like this give us a chance to see some players who don’t get as many reps on tour as they used to back in their prime. Tommy Gainey perfectly fits this checkbox. Winner of the 2012 McGladrey Classic, Gainey has played anything but flawless golf of late, making the cut just 3 times in 14 starts this season. It’s nice seeing a tour vet like Gainey make an appearance this week, but it’s tough to expect any great success. Gainey has yet to make the cut here in Bermuda in all 4 of his previous starts and we don’t expect that to change this week.
The 103rd ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, Taylor Pendrith is probably one of the highest ranked players in the field this week, but with that ranking does not come a ton of results. Pendrith has quietly made waves on tour, with 3 top 5’s and 6 top 10’s in 60 career starts. One of those top 5’s came in this event back in 2021, where Pendrith set the course record during the second round by firing a 61, so he has some past success to rely on in this event, not to mention recent success, as he finished T-3 at the Shriner Children’s Open and T-15 at the World Wide Technology Championship in his last two starts on tour. Pendrith excels from the tee box, ranking 39th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee. If Pendrith can keep the putter rolling this week, he can certainly bring home another top 20 finish, if not be a legitimate threat for the win.
Brendon Todd is part of a dying breed on tour. Todd harkens back to the era of guys like Calvin Peete and Fred Funk, who didn’t hit the ball a country mile, but made up for it with pinpoint accuracy from the tee. This season, Todd ranks 181st in Driving Distance, averaging 282.8 yards off the tee, but he also ranks 9th in Driving Accuracy Percentage, hitting 67.26% of his fairways. Todd adds onto that a terrific short game, ranking 3rd in Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green and 16th in Strokes Gained: Putting. He must be doing something right, as he has 7 top 10’s and 8 top 25’s in 29 starts this season, including 3 top 10’s in his last 6 starts. The inaugural winner of this event in 2019, we predict that Brendon Todd will be in contention again this week and bring home another top 10 finish.
Akshay Bhatia may only be 21 years old, but he has already made plenty of waves in his young PGA Tour career, winning the 2023 Barracuda Championship, to go along with 3 top 5’s and 6 top 10’s in 42 career starts. Bhatia has the potential to become a tropical course ringer, with some of his best finishes this season coming on those style courses. T-17 at the 2022 Butterfield Bermuda Championship, 2nd at the 2023 Puerto Rico Open, T-24 at the 2023 Corales Puntacana Championship, 4th at the 2023 Mexico Open at Vidanta and T-10 at last week’s World Wide Technology Championship, not to mention his lone Korn Ferry Tour win coming at the 2022 The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic. Bhatia has a solid long game, ranking inside the top 35 in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and Strokes Gained: Approach the Green. However, his weakness is that his short game holds him back, ranking 138th in Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green and a dismal 176th in Strokes Gained: Putting. If Bhatia can get the putter rolling, he can be a threat to win anywhere he tees it up. We predict that Akshay Bhatia will continue his recent success down in the Tropics and pick up his second career PGA Tour win at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship!