The heavy travel schedule continues this week as the PGA TOUR heads to Bermuda for the third edition of the Butterfield Bermuda Championship, at Port Royal Golf Course.
If you are keeping track at home, the TOUR has now gone from Las Vegas to Japan to Bermuda over the course of three weeks. They aren't done hopping around yet, either, as next week they will jump over to Mexico.
Back to this week, there will be 132 golfers pegging it at Port Royal. The event was initially scheduled alongside the WGC-HSBC Champions as an alternate event but the WGC had to be canceled again this year. Even with the tournament giving out the full allotment of FedExCup Points, the superstars did not come running as the field continues to thin out on Monday morning with buckets full of pre-tournament WDs.
The show must go on, though, and in the end, we will crown a PGA TOUR winner.
Unlike the last two weeks, golfers will see a cut-line at the Bermuda, with the top 65 and ties playing the weekend, as usual.
This week's host venue is Port Royal Golf Course.
It's a Robert Trent Jones design and it hosted the PGA Grand Slam of Golf from 2009 through 2014.
Port Royal will be one of the shortest courses the PGA TOUR plays all season long. It's a par 71 that plays to just 6,828 yards on the scorecard.
All three of the par 5s play under 555 yards. There are eight par 4s under 415 yards. This is really not a course that you need distance in order to contend. Just look at the last two champions, Brendon Todd and Brian Gay. They are both short hitters that rely on wedge play and a hot putter.
Played right along the coast, wind can become a big factor at this course. That can cause huge swings in the scoring enviroment. Just take the last two years as an example. At the 2019 edition the field scoring average was 69.8 (-1.2 RTP) while last year it picked up to 71.1 (+0.1 RTP). When you look at this week's weather forecast, then last year's scoring average seems more likely, but more on that in a little bit.
Off the tee, golfers don't need to grip it and rip it but they also won't be heavily penalized by errant drives. Last year, the field averaged just 73% GIR from the fairways while that number dropped to just 58% when missing the fairway.
When we see GIR numbers that low, it generally means that scrambling becomes a very big piece of the puzzle if you want to contend.
For grass, they will see bermudagrass fairways and greens with a bermuda/zoysia blend in the rough. The green sizes are smaller than TOUR-average and they also run slower than average, as we often see at coastal courses.
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Quotes on the Course
Ryan Armour: "It's not the easiest golf course. It's got its quirks and you've kind of got to go from point A to point B and take your chances with how many looks you get throughout the day. You can't really overpower this place, which is good for me. It's kind of nice knowing that everyone's kind of going to be hitting from the same spot."
Brendon Todd: "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."
Aaron Wise: "It’s definitely not a bomber’s golf course, and the crazy part is how much it changes because the wind’s blowing 30 miles an hour. All of a sudden, if the wind switches to the dead opposite way, a ball goes 50 yards shorter or longer than it did the day before. "
Boo Weekley: "I mean, this is a great little golf course. It’s very similar to Hilton Head, it just ain’t got the trees. Kind of got to hit it in the right spot and leave yourself, you know, certain clubs."
Scottie Scheffler: "I think we play in a lot more wind than guys expect and this is definitely one of those places. I guess definitely the experience from Texas will definitely help here."
It's more guesswork than usual this week since we have just one year of data.
Sea Island Resort
GC of Houston
If you go by the golfer quotes then you might include Harbour Town or Kapalua. If you look at early success at Port Royal, almost everyone on the list has a poor track record at Harbour Town. As for Kapalua, you won't find many in the field that qualify for that most years.
Instead, we are left with short, less-than-driver layouts where wind is a common defense.
Thursday: Cloudy, chance of rain, with a high of 75 degrees. Winds at 20 MPH+
Friday: Overcast with a high of 75 degrees. Winds at 6 to 11 MPH.
That looks like a brutal opening round in terms of wind speeds, and Mother Nature returns over the weekend. Buckle up.