Draws and Fades: Alex Noren knocking on door for long-deserved TOUR win
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Written by Brady Kannon @lasvegasgolfer
For the second straight week on TOUR, we have a 41-year-old atop the leaderboard after 36 holes. Alex Noren got both he and us off to a hot start on Thursday, cashing our First Round Leader ticket at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. But the focus now turns to the weekend in Southampton, Bermuda, as we have hit the halfway point of the PGA TOUR's penultimate event of the FedExCup Fall.
At the conclusion of the opening round, Noren owned a two-shot lead at 10-under par for the championship. He heads into the weekend with that same two-shot advantage after firing a 5-under 66 on Friday to get to 15-under par. Noren, who has 11 career victories worldwide including 10 on the DP World Tour, is seeking his first-ever win on the PGA TOUR.
Alex Noren takes two-stroke lead into the weekend at Butterfield Bermuda
Camilo Villegas, another 41-year-old, was atop the leaderboard after 36 holes last week in Los Cabos, Mexico, and the hot play continues for the man that began the week on the outside looking in, ranking 147th in FedExCup Fall points. Villegas shot a 63 on Friday to get into a tie for fourth place at 12-under par. Another TOUR veteran, 40-year-old Ryan Moore, is one better than Villegas after two rounds at 13 under.
Speaking of veterans, 50-year-old Stewart Cink has gotten himself into the mix with rounds of 64 and 67, good enough for a tie for sixth place at 11-under par for the championship. Cink is one of six players sitting at 11 under, along with Akshay Bhatia and 2019 Bermuda Champion Brendon Todd. Pre-tournament favorite, Adam Scott, is tied for 12th at 10-under par -- five shots off the lead with two rounds left to play.
Here are the current odds at BetMGM Sportsbook.
+200: Alex Noren, -15 1st
+900: Ryan Moore, -13 T2
+1200: Akshay Bhatia, -11, T6
+1200: Brendon Todd, -11, T6
+1600: Adam Scott, -10, T12
+1600: Satoshi Kodaira, -13, T2
+2000: Camilo Villegas, -12, 5th
+2000: Ryan Brehm, -13, T2
+2200: Matti Schmid, -11, T6
The winds picked up at Port Royal Golf Course on Friday, blowing in the neighborhood of 10-15 mph. The forecast calls for slightly stronger winds on Saturday and Sunday with possible afternoon showers showing up on Saturday as well.
Obviously the scoring conditions have been quite favorable. Play was suspended due to darkness on Friday evening at 5:40 p.m. local time with nine players still out on the golf course and two holes left to play -- but the cut line will be at 5-under par. Of the 123 players that completed play on Friday, only 20 shot rounds over par. We've got a birdie fest on our hands for sure -- but will the uptick in wind slow the scoring down? Pre-tournament, I saw the winning score proposition bet posted at under/over 17.5-under par. We're already at 15 under.
My feeling is that 15-20 mph of wind, playing coastal golf, is probably something most of these players are pretty used to -- or would come to expect at a venue like Port Royal. Here is what I am expecting over the weekend in Bermuda.
Alex Noren (+200)
We've stated here in this column previously, that a lead by margin in a birdie fest is a tough one to overcome for the chasers. If everyone is going low, the leader is difficult to catch. Now, there is more wind expected over the weekend and it should play a factor. However, I have faith in Noren to be able to handle the wind as he has shown prowess at coastal golf courses in the past -- both on the DP World Tour and here in the states, most notably when he finished second to Jason Day at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in 2018. He's getting it done on approach and both on and around the greens. Noren went super low on Thursday, yet didn't have that complete drop-off, follow-up round the very next day. That tells me that he's going along quite nicely right now and I think it will continue.
Fred Biondi (+25000)
We've been talking quite a bit about the 40-plus-year-olds -- how about a 22-year-old? If you want to have some fun with a massive longshot, try the TOUR rookie out of the University of Florida. Five shots behind Noren heading into the weekend, Biondi just won the men's individual NCAA championship a little more than five months ago. Other men's NCAA individual champions include names such as Jack Nicklaus, Ben Crenshaw, Curtis Strange, Tiger Woods, Justin Leonard, Luke Donald, Max Homa and Aaron Wise. Biondi's play the first two days has been a bit haphazard but he's managed to shoot rounds of 68 and 64. If he gets it cleaned up in the least, he ought to continue to make his way up the leaderboard and have a shot come Sunday. I do like his familiarity with Bermudagrass from his days at Florida -- which should also help his ability to play in the wind. Yes, it is a longshot, but I actually feel we are getting a bit of a bargain.
Adam Scott (+1600)
Adam Scott on the pressure of playing as a tournament favorite
I don't necessarily expect Scott to crash over the weekend. He is arguably the most talented player in the field and certainly the most accomplished as far as a golf career. He's also one heck of a wind player, but the price tag is way too expensive in my opinion. We are paying for the fact that he's Adam Scott and has the career resume that he does. Scott is five shots off the lead with only half of a golf tournament remaining, yet his price is the same as it was going in on Thursday. Personally, I feel +2500 is a more realistic price. Just as consumers we don't want to pay X for a head of lettuce when it should be Y. Same concept in betting. Over time, we'll run out of bankroll if we continue to overpay for our selections.