This year will mark the fifth running of the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. The field for this fall series event features 130-135 players and has seen a lot of names withdraw over the last few days (Cameron Champ, Erik van Rooyen, Will Gordon, Chesson Hadley, and KH Lee are all out). The only top 50 players from the OWGR in the field this week are Adam Scott and Lucas Glover. Scott last played at the Zozo Championship and only managed a T41 that week but he is the betting favorite at +1400 on the DraftKings Sportsbook. He’s joined by Glover, Akshay Bhatia, and Taylor Pendrith.
Two of the last four winners of this event — Brendon Todd and Brian Gay — both went off at 100-1 or greater in the betting odds, so long-shot winners have been the theme here. 2021 winner Lucas Herbert also went off around 66-1. The event features a regular cutline after Friday, where only the top-65 players and ties will advance to the weekend. For DFS, we could see some very low fantasy scores given the easy course and the fact it will play soft thanks to heavier rainfall than normal this season.
Port Royal GC—Southampton, Bermuda
Par 71, 6,828 yards
This is the fourth year in a row that this event will be played at Port Royal GC, a shorter Robert Trent Jones-designed course. At one time, the venue did host the now defunct “Grand Slam of Golf” and underwent massive renovations just to be able to properly host this event prior to its inaugural running in 2019. The Oceanside course is the longest on the admittedly tiny island but still only stretches out to just over 6,800 yards, making it extremely short by PGA TOUR standards.
The venue fits alongside many of the other seaside venues that we see on the PGA TOUR, as it has at least six holes that stretch out and run alongside the ocean. While pure length isn’t necessarily a big bonus here, wind control will be. Three par 5s inhabit the course this week and will all be reachable in two by nearly the entire field. These holes, as a group, played as the three easiest on the course the first three years, and they will be near must birdies on a week where low scoring will likely prevail.
With short par 5s and an open course where wind can wreak havoc, you can start to see why shorter hitters like Brendon Todd (win) and Brian Gay (T3; win) have been able to dominate here when their short games and putters get hot. Most holes at Port Royal will allow all modern-day PGA TOUR pros to have short approaches if they hit a decent drive. Position and short-iron play really start to weigh more here than distance—especially with many holes skirting the water where even a small error off the tee can court disaster. In many ways, just knowing how to manage your way around a short course like this will be a huge advantage, and that’s the strength of many veteran PGA TOUR players.
Brian Gay was an unlikely winner here in 2020 and averaged just 287 yards off the tee in the win. He ranked 10th in Putts per GIR and 17th in GIR percentage. In 2021, Lucas Herbert ranked seventh in driving distance but was also fourth in scrambling. 2022 winner Seamus Power was also 9th in GIR% and 3rd in putts per GIR. Solid putting or around the green play, with some decent ball-striking mixed in, has been the key at Port Royal. It’s also worth noting that Gay and 2019 winner Brendon Todd have done the best work of their career at other shorter venues like Waialae (Sony Open), Hilton Head (RBC Heritage) and El Camaleon (host of the Mayakoba Classic in December). Those leaderboards are all likely great comparisons for this week’s test.
2023 Weather Outlook: The wind is always a factor when you play on a small, unprotected island like Bermuda. Thursday is actually relatively calm, though, with winds under 10mph and dying out into the afternoon. The PM/AM draw does look beneficial as Friday sees the wind pick up in the afternoon, with gusts expected to be around 15mph or greater. Saturday, the real winds come in, as we’ll have constant gusts of over 20mph all day. It’s early in the week as I’m typing this, so make sure you check the forecast again before lock, but, for now, the Thursday PM / Friday AM wave may be the one to target for classic format and showdown purposes in rounds one and two.
Last 5 Winners and Winning Trends
2022—Seamus Power -19 (over Thomas Detry -18)
Putts per Green in Regulation—3rd
2021—Lucas Herbert -15 (over Patrick Reed, Danny Lee -14)
2020—Brian Gay -15 (over Wyndham Clark playoff)
2019—Brendon Todd -24 (over Harry Higgs -20)
- When Todd won in 2019, he was making his sixth start of the swing season already, and it’s worth noting that five of the top-6 finishers from 2019 had all played in four or more fall series events prior to that event.
- Both Todd and Gay ranked inside the top 10 in Driving Accuracy and GIR% for the week. Neither cracked the top 40 in terms of driving distance.
- Good short-iron play, good around-the-green play, and putting are what matters here the most, so emphasizing a player’s long-term and short-term around-the-green and putting form may reveal a couple of diamonds in the rough this week.
- In 2021, Herbert was seventh in driving distance but still only averaged around 285 yards off the tee. It’s not a course where players will get to hit drivers often.
- Power won in 2022 with some solid iron play (top 10 in GIR%) but mainly a hot putter, where he ranked third in Putts per GIR.
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
1. Akshay Bhatia ($10,000, Recent finishes: T10-T21): Bhatia has had a nice fall and looks like a player who is ready to strike again soon. He’s top 10 in SG: Ball Striking over the last 24 rounds and top 20 in birdie or better %.
2. Taylor Pendrith ($9,100, Recent finishes: T15-T3): Pendrith is another solid birdie maker who has come on of late. He followed up his close call at the Shriners with a solid 15th in Mexico and finished 5th in Bermuda last year.
3. Ben Griffin ($9,300, Recent finishes: T23-T64): Griffin has had a couple of slow weeks but popped up again in Mexico with a top-25 outing. The elite iron player sets up well for birdie fests like Bermuda and has posted top-15 finishes at similar short courses like Sedgefield and Waialae CC.
4. Mattias Schmid ($7,700, Recent finishes: T38-2nd): Schmid started off well last week but only managed a T38. He was 2nd in his previous start to Mexico, though, posting a runner-up finish in Spain on the DP World Tour. The talented German played well at this event last year for three rounds before imploding on Sunday.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Akshay Bhatia and Ben Griffin, a solid duo
We don’t have a ton of elite names in this field, so emphasizing fall form is likely the best option this week when building out your core. Both Griffin and Bhatia have played a lot this fall and enter the week trending well in ball-striking stats and with at least one top-10 in their last five starts. Griffin looks like a great value at just $9,300 this week but, of the top names, Bhatia’s consistency (four cuts in a row made) and high birdie rate make him a fine payup option here as well. Bhatia was also 17th at this event last year and comes in with better form for 2023. Other names to consider for this format include Mackenzie Hughes ($8,700), Maddi Schmid ($7,700), and Carl Yuan ($7,300).
Tournaments: Davis Riley and Brandon Wu, worth chancing
Once we drop out of the 9k range, the players this week get a lot more volatile. Two names who miss a lot of cuts but tend to post good to great results when they do find the weekend are Davis Riley and Brandon Wu. Wu has actually posted five finishes in a PGA event of T6 or better since the start of 2022, while Riley posted three top-five finishes (one a playoff loss) in 2022 and a team event win in 2023. If they get some confidence off the tee, their putters are capable of landing a big week, making them great low-ownership candidates for a weaker field like this. Other potential GPP targets include Ryan Moore ($7,400) and Brent Grant ($7,000).
MY PICK: Alex Noren ($9,600)
When you look at the list of past winners, sliding Alex Noren’s name above them in 2023 would not look out of place at all. Like Brian Gay, Brendon Todd, and Seamus Power, Noren’s best club tends to be his putter and if you put him on a shorter course where management and short iron play are key, he can start to pile up the birdies quickly. Since the start of 2021, Noren has eight top 10 finishes and in only one of those events did the winner fail to get -16 under or better.
In short, he’s had a penchant for striking on easier tracks and he comes into this year’s Bermuda Championship off a week of rest but having already made four prior Fall starts — and a busy fall schedule is something else he shares with all the past recent winners here as well. Noren grabbed a 3rd at the Shriners (+5.5 strokes on approach) and ranks top three in both strokes gained putting and around the green play, in long-term form. It’s a good spot to jump back on the veteran for both DFS and betting where his +2500 outright odds hold a little bit of appeal given how weak the top of the board is at this event.
MY SLEEPER: Kelly Kraft ($7,200)
Kraft is another veteran player to keep an eye on this week. This start will mark his fifth of the fall swing already and despite finishing well back last week (T71), he has shown some good form already. The American — who has finished runner-up in a PGA event twice in his career — ranks 9th in strokes gained total stats over the past six weeks and gained over +6.0 strokes on approach at both the Shriners and Sanderson Farms events.
While his putting can come and go, he ranks 16th in strokes gained putting stats over the last 24 rounds and has clearly found some form with the flatstick of late. While his short game remains a weakness, the low winds projected early for this week should help, especially if he maintains his form with his irons. As a player who has posted good results at coastal courses like Pebble Beach (2nd 2017) and Corales (3rd 2018, 5th, 2019), this is a good spot to consider him as a value option in big field GPPs for DFS — and look to him as a potential top 10 (+900)/top 20 (+360) target on the DraftKings Sportsbook as well.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.