Course Spotlight: Past performance at Port Royal points to best bets
3 Min Read
Written by Keith Stewart @KJStewartpga
Did you know there is a way to handicap PGA TOUR events without all the ShotLink data? It can take an expert approach, but when you dig deep into the players, and design, you can find an edge others miss when they only research Strokes Gained data.
The Butterfield Bermuda Championship is hosted at the Port Royal Golf Course. No stranger to professional competitions, the Robert Trent Jones Sr. (1970) course is now in its fifth year of hosting this full-field TOUR event. Prior to the PGA TOUR, Port Royal hosted major champions for the PGA Grand Slam of Golf from 2009-2014. Here’s where the work begins. When you watch the previous competitions what stands out about the winners?
Lucas Glover (+2500) won in 2009 and Adam Scott (+1600) took the title in 2013. Both are in the field this week. The lens begins to look clearer when you compare the six Port Royal winners. Brendon Todd, Brain Gay, Lucas Herbert and Seamus Power all have won the Butterfield Bermuda. Sometimes the best way to handicap a course is to look toward the most successful players and how they have handled it.
Seamus Power reflects on 2022 Butterfield Bermuda Championship win
Port Royal GC is a par-71 layout covering 6,828 yards, approximately 600 yards shorter than El Cardonal at Diamonte last week. Players will be forced to find tighter targets in Bermuda. A quick example: Tiger’s design El Cardonal boasted 97 acres of fairway, while Port Royal has 21. Check the six names again. All of them are accurate drivers of the golf ball. Luke List (+2800) is a Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee TOUR leader, and he already won during the FedExCup Fall (Sanderson Farms Championship).
Hitting the fairway defines just one side of this skill triangle. Read the scorecard closely. Eight of the 11 par 4s are under 415 yards in length. All three par 5s are reachable, yet if you miss, you’ll need another scoring wedge to make birdie. That’s 11 holes where your approach will come inside 125 yards. Glover, Power, Todd, etc. are all elite wedge players. Leave the length at home and watch how scoring on these short par 4s leads to victory.
The four Butterfield Bermuda winners have gained over 10 strokes against the field (on average) on those par 4s. No surprise Scott, Glover and Todd are in the top five par-4 scorers in this field. The other two are Thomas Detry (+2000) and Alex Noren (+2000). Par-4 scoring is not just limited to the wedge game. Those scoring shots leave you several 10'-20’ birdie chances to convert. Gay, Herbert, Todd and Power are amongst the best putters on the TOUR. Their feel with the flatstick is the third key to contending.
Another great putting measure is your conversion rate. Each of the Butterfield Bermuda winners were ranked in the top 10 for putts per GIR the year they won (average sixth). In four editions, the average winning score is 18-under par. That historical figure is independent of the weather. Fact is, you just need sub-par scores to win. Noren, Detry, Scott and Todd are all in the top 10 for SG: Putting in the field. Brendon Todd’s (+1800) name continues to pop up in our research. The 2019 winner does hold the tournament record (24 under).
Port Royal is all about positional golf, and we don’t need analytics to figure that out. Eleven holes have elevation changes, 88 bunkers cover the course, and seven holes have water in play. All our former Port Royal winners are accurate off the tee and with their wedge game. They can convert birdie chances, and each has great course history. Suddenly, we have a solid list of favorites for the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. Don’t get me wrong, data is great… but believe me: Watching the players in Bermuda is even better.
Keith Stewart is a five-time award winning PGA Professional who covers the PGA TOUR and LPGA from a betting perspective. Founder of Read The Line, he is also published by Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News. Follow Keith Stewart on Twitter.