Power Rankings: Butterfield Bermuda Championship
October 25, 2021
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM
- Fresh off a win in Spain, Matt Fitzpatrick tops the rankings for the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
If Brian Gay aspires to host a PGA TOUR event, he might contact the organizers of the Butterfield Bermuda Championship because he’s been The Man at Port Royal Golf Course on the western edge of the island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Gay defends his title this week, and that was a step up on the podium from a T3 in the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2019. Just like last year, to which Gay can attest, the champion will receive 500 FedExCup points and an invitation into the 2022 Masters, among other customary perks.
Scroll past the projected contenders for an explanation of why Gay has thrived in this event, how the courses challenges and more.
Tuesday’s Fantasy Insider will include reviews of Kramer Hickok, Hank Lebioda, David Hearn and Ryan Armour, each of whom recorded a top 20 in both prior editions of the tournament.
Gay always has been a player who’d contend in a driving contest … if accuracy was rewarded. For a long, long time, he was among the leaders in fairways hit on the PGA TOUR. So, when the wind blows on shorter courses, as it can at Hilton Head and El Camaleón – to name two other sites where Gay has prevailed – he’d seem to have as good a chance as anyone. Mitigating the potential of danger on approach with precision off the tee is one way to navigate a lucrative career at the highest level.
However, like all other multiple winners, Gay isn’t a one-trick talent. His co-equal strength is the putter. It’s the reason why he’s won shootouts and, notably, the 2009 RBC Heritage by 10 strokes. So, on tracks on which longer hitters must downshift, his possibilities rise by comparison.
Port Royal is a par 71 with three par 5s, but it tips at just 6,828 yards. Outside of standard upkeep, maintenance and beautification, the course is the same. Primary rough stands at two inches and the greens – bermudagrass, naturally – are governed to measure just 10½ feet on the Stimpmeter. That’s slow by TOUR standards for a good reason, and it’s going to be necessary this week.
The trailing edge of a Nor’easter that’ll be impacting the Eastern Seaboard of the United States will linger into Thursday’s opening round on Bermuda. As of now, winds are forecast to be sustained at 25 mph with gusts touching 35 mph. The breezes will be abate to the more normal range of 15-20 mph for the remainder, but the first-round scoring average could threaten last year’s second-round split of 73.638 for the same reason.
For the week, the 2020 field average 71.151, but as it did at just 69.833 in its debut two years ago, the course would play considerably under par over 72 holes without wind as its primary defense. Inclement weather is expected to move in by Saturday and remain a threat on Sunday.
At Port Royal last year, Gay ranked T4 in driving accuracy, T15 in greens in regulation and sixth in putts per GIR. The course ranked as the third-stingiest in fairways hit and 14th-toughest in GIR. (ShotLink isn’t utilized in the tournament, so there are no measured strokes. This means that statistics including all Strokes Gained analytics and proximity to the hole aren’t gathered.)
Gay finished outside the top 40 in par-3 and par-5 scoring here a year ago, but he led the field in par-4 scoring and slotted 10th in converting his GIR into par breakers in regulation before turning away Wyndham Clark with birdie on the only hole required in a sudden-death playoff.
Six golfers who competed at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP made the trip to Bermuda (as of Monday): Matthew NeSmith (T48 at ZOZO), Brandon Hagy (T54), Kramer Hickok (T57), Sepp Straka (T66), Peter Malnati (74th) and Garrick Higgo (T75)..
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
MONDAY: Power Rankings
TUESDAY*: Sleepers; Fantasy Insider
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday