The PGA Tour hops over to Bermuda for this week's action and our man thinks Stewart Cink is well equipped for what should be a tough week. Read The Punter's in-depth preview here...
"Cink has won at Harbour Town (twice), he has top-tens in the RSM Classic and the Sony Open and he’s a quite brilliant wind player. I thought 65.064/1 was very fair."
This is just the second edition of the Bermuda Championship, an event that was played opposite the WGC-HSBC Champions 12 months ago.
After the cancelation of this year's HSBC, the Bermuda Championship has been elevated to full FedEx Cup point event status, with the winner earning a 2021 US Masters invitation, but with this year's edition of the US Masters only two weeks away, the big names are viewing this as an ideal week to take a break and the field can't be described as strong.
The only player involved that played in last week's ZOZO Championship is the defending champion, Brendon Todd.
Port Royal Golf Course, Southampton, Bermuda.
Par 71, 6828 yards
Scoring Average in 2019 69.83
Port Royal is a short, wind exposed Robert Trent Jones Sr. designed course, with a number of holes perched right on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.
Port Royal's signature hole, the 235-yard par three 16th (below), with nothing but the Atlantic Ocean between the tee and the pin, is widely regarded as one of the greatest par threes in golf.
In addition to last year's renewal of this event, Port Royal was also the host course for the now defunct Grand Slam of Golf for six years from 2009. The tournament, which was eventually ditched in 2014, was staged to showcase the four major winners over two rounds. Here are the results at Port Royal.
2009 - Lucas Glover - 11
2010 - Ernie Els -5
2011 - Keegan Bradley -4
2012 - Padraig Harrington -9
2013 - Adam Scott -8
2014 - Martin Kaymer -6
For more on the venue, here's the PGA Tour's course guide.
Live on Sky Sports all four days, starting at 16:00 on Thursday.
Inaugural Winner with Pre-event Exchange Price
2019 - Brendon Todd -24 150.0149/1
What Will it Take to Win the Bermuda Championship?
Brendon Todd won by four last year in 24-under-par. He went into the final round trailing Harry Higgs by a couple of strokes but having parred the first, he birdied the next seven holes! What had looked like being an exciting finale soon developed into a cakewalk but the chances of seeing a finish like that this time around are extremely remote...
According to the latest forecasts, Thursday looks fairly benign but the wind is going to blow hard after that. It's also going to be changing direction so we can expect a much harder test and one that may well suit the veterans with lots more experience of coastal golf in high winds, around a track that really doesn't require length off the tee.
Todd only ranked 51st for Driving Distance last year but six of the top-ten ranked inside the top-ten for Driving Accuracy. Todd ranked fourth. Bermuda rough (the grass type and not just any type of rough in Bermuda!) is notoriously tricky to play from, which is why the more accurate types should flourish again this week.
Todd ranked 10th for Greens In Regulation and six of the first seven ranked 18th or better for that stat. Higgs was the odd man out, ranking 31st.
Todd and Higgs ranked fourth and first for Scrambling so the key to success here looks to be accuracy and a great short game.
Is There an Angle In?
A number of events are staged at courses similar to this. The Sony Open, the RBC Heritage and the RSM Classic are all held on coastal, wind-affected courses and the host venues, Waialae Country Club, Harbour Town Golf Links and Sea Island Resort are all Bermuda.
Although the course used is entirely laid to Paspalum and not Bermuda, one other event that interests me is the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship. That too is staged on a windy, exposed, coastal layout away from the United States, and staged in the Dominican Republic.
It would be risky to give any evidence too much credence after just one edition but the event that threw up plenty of crossover form last year was the RSM Classic. I looked at the top-seven from last year's renewal here and the evidence is quite compelling.
Todd finished fourth in the RSM Classic, two weeks after winning this, Higgs was 35th, and Brain Gay, who was tied third behind Todd, has a fourth and a third at Sea Island. Hank Lebioda, alongside Gay in third, has finished 32nd and 30th in two starts there (two of only nine top-32 career finishes on the PGA Tour), Aaron Wise, also tied third here, finished 13th there on debut in 2017 (one MC since) and Scottie Scheffler followed his tied third here with a tied fifth at Sea Island. And finally, Fabian Gomez who finished seventh here last year, was eighth there in 2014 and he was also sitting in fifth last year, before a poor weekend saw him slip to 23rd.
Winner's Position and Exchange Price Pre-Round Four
2019 - Brendon Todd - trailing by two 6.611/2
Given Thursday is the only day when the wind isn't going to blow hard, the first round is going to be crucial as it's going to be very hard to make up ground after that.
Keep an eye on the forecast, and in-particular, Saturday. At this early stage, it looks like Saturday morning won't be as bad as Saturday afternoon and there might be an opportunity for someone to make a decent move before the wind picks up.
Rapidly rising star, Will Zalatoris, heads the market after his sixth placed finish in the US Open four starts ago. He needs to finish better than tied 69th to secure Special Temporary Membership of the PGA Tour and he'll fancies his chances to do so.
He's missed just one cut since the restart (Sanderson Farms Championship) and after a run of top-tens (including a win) on the Korn Ferry Tour, his PGA Tour figures read an impressive 6-8-MC-5. He's a worthy favourite but given the weather forecast, I'm in no rush to anyone at a short price, and that includes the defending champ.
Todd came into this event with form figures reading MC-MC-MC-MC-28 last year and he was matched at a high of 190.0189/1 but what a difference a year makes! He followed victory here with another win at the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico (which may even correlate a bit with this one) and, as already stated, he was then fourth in the RSM Classic on his next outing.
He's been in fair form all year, leading both the Travelers Championship and the WGC-FedEx St Jude with a round to go but he fell to outside the top-ten on both occasions and this is a big ask after a couple of lacklustre efforts in the CJ Cup and the ZOZO Championship.
Harold Varner III is still yet to win on the PGA Tour but he's a winner Down Under and he can handle windy conditions. He's been in fair form of late, producing figures reading 29-7-MC-29-13 but he's too short for me at less than 30.029/1.
I'll be back later tomorrow with the Find Me a 100 Winner picks and this event will feature but for now I'm going with just one, the recent Safeway Open winner, Stewart Cink.
Cink was awful the last time he played, shooting 81 in round four of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and it may have made sense for him to put his feet up and relax for a while having won the Safeway a month ago but that final round can be forgiven and I can see why he's targeting this one.
Following his win at the Safeway, Cink finished a respectable 12th at the Sanderson Farms Championship and he sat seventh and just two off the lead at halfway at the Shriners too. A third round 70 saw him slip away there and his disinterested 81 can possibly be forgiven. If that's nothing to worry about, and he returns in fair form, he must hold a decent chance around a course he's played before and that should suit him nicely.
The 2009 Open Champion shot rounds of 67 - 70 when finishing third behind Lucas Glover in the Grand Slam here and while that isn't form to write home about, the fact that he's played the course and that he's decided to play this event, when he really doesn't have to bother following the Safeway win, is a decent clue in itself.
Cink has won at Harbour Town (twice), he has top-tens in the RSM Classic and the Sony Open and he's a quite brilliant wind player. I thought 65.064/1 was very fair.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter
Stewart Cink @ 65.064/1