PGA Tour Picks: Bermuda Championship

With most of the very best golfers in the world staying home, the Bermuda Championship this week at Port Royal Golf Course in Southampton, Bermuda, is another chance for players on the rise to make a name for themselves.

That’s exactly what Brendon Todd did last year, when he won the inaugural Bermuda event for his first PGA Tour victory in five years, and then followed it up two weeks later by winning the Mayakoba Golf Classic.

Todd (pictured) was trying to become the first player since Tiger Woods to win three consecutive PGA Tour starts when he took a two-stroke lead into the final round of the RSM Classic, but faded to fourth at Sea Island, Ga.

“I will always be the first Bermuda champion, and that is still awesome to say,” said the 35-year-old Todd, whose only other PGA Tour victory came in the 2014 HP Byron Nelson Championship.

“I tell people how beautiful Bermuda is. It’s an amazing island that’s not difficult to get to. Really, it’s a special place. I’m excited to return to Port Royal Golf Course for another great week.”

Todd flirted with a 59 in the final round at Port Royal Golf Course before setting the course record 9-under-par 62 to win by four strokes over Harry Higgs. He also shot 63 in the second round and finished the tournament at 24-under 260.

After slumping for several years, Todd considered giving up the game.

“A year ago, I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep playing, so it was really special to get this win,” said Todd, who missed the cut in 37-of-40 PGA Tour starts through September of 2018.

“ … I’ve definitely felt like a new sense of respect and camaraderie with the better players that I didn’t have before, even during my previous good play.”

Todd didn’t come close to winning the rest of the season, but continued to play well with 11 finishes in the top 25, including a tie for eighth in the BMW Championship and a tie for 20th in the Tour Championship to wind up 20th in the FedEx Cup standings.

And he has continued to play solid golf, tying for 23rd last month in the U.S. Open at Winged Foot.

Todd, who claimed four other pro victories on lower tours, will defend his title against a field that includes major champions Henrik Stenson of Sweden, Padraig Harrington of Ireland, Danny Willett of England, Jason Dufner, Luke Donald of England and Stewart Cink—who captured the Safeway Open to start the new season last month.

Also in the field are Harold Varner III, Hunter Mahan, Charley Hoffman, Emiliano Grillo of Argentina, Russell Knox of Scotland, Rafa Cabrera-Bello of Spain, Scott Piercy, Pat Perez, Anirban Lahiri of India, Hudson Swafford, Aaron Baddeley of Australia, Nick Watney, Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela and Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand.

Among the young guns are Will Zalatoris, Henrik Norlander of Sweden, Rasmus Hojgaard of Denmark, Doc Redman, Aaron Wise, Max Homa, Denny McCarthy, Patrick Rodgers, Maverick McNealy, Wyndham Clark, Fabian Gomez of Argentina, Brandon Hagy, Kristoffer Ventura of Norway and Bo Hoag.

Tournament officials and the Bermuda Tourism Authority announced a few weeks ago that the Bermuda Championship will be the first PGA Tour event since March to welcome general admission spectators.

Since the return in June following the shutdown caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, 21 events have been played without fans on-site, but the PGA Tour and the Bermuda government reached an agreement for a limited number of spectators to be allowed on the course each day.

BEST BETS

  1. Will Zalatoris, United States – Korn Ferry Tour season points leader needs only a two-way tie for 69th or better to earn Special Temporary Membership on the PGA Tour after a tie for sixth in the U.S. Open, a tie for eighth in Corales Puntacana and tie for fifth in the Shriners after moving up to the big tour. Won 2020 TPC Colorado Championship.
  2. Kristoffer Ventura, Norway – A two-time winner on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2019, Ventura tied for seventh in the Safeway Open and tied for sixth in the Sanderson Farms to start the new season. Showed he was coming on with a tie for 20th in Puerto Rico Open, a tie for 21st in Rocket Mortgage and a tie for 19th in Barracuda late last season.
  3. Stewart Cink, United States – Ranks fifth in the early-season FedEx Cup standings after ending an 11-year victory drought by winning the Safeway Open last month for his seventh PGA Tour victory, including the 2009 Open Championship at Royal Troon. Cink then tied for 12th in Sanderson Farms Championship, so he seems to be back on track.
  4. Brendon Todd, United States – After nearly quitting the game a couple years ago, Todd resurrected his career by winning the Bermuda Championship and the Mayakoba Golf Classic in consecutive starts last year. He shot 63 in the second round and 62 in the third at Port Royal to win by four shots over Harry Higgs. Also won 2014 Byron Nelson.
  5. Aaron Wise, United States – Was in the chase most of the way in Bermuda last year, posting his second 64 in the final round to finish in a tie for third, and later in the season tied for eighth in the Barracuda Championship. Wise, who claimed his only PGA Tour title in the 2018 AT&T Byron Nelson, tied for 17th recently in the Sanderson Farms.
  6. Harold Varner III, United States – Still has only one pro victory, in the 2017 Australian PGA Championship, but has played well lately, tying for 29th in the PGA Championship, tying for seventh in the Wyndham and tying for 13th in the Shriners. Was tied for second heading to final round of 2019 PGA, but closed with an 81 to tie for 36th.
  7. Henrik Stenson, Sweden – The 2016 Open champion at Royal Troon stayed home after the restart in June, but probably is the most accomplished player in the field with 21 pro victories. Tied for 21st in the Corrales Puntacana Championship last month when he did return, and won as recently as the Hero World Challenge in Bermuda last December.
  8. Emiliano Grillo, Argentina – Won on three different tours in three straight years, capped by a victory in the 2016 Frys.com Open and seems to be playing back to that form. Tied for third in the 3M Open and tied for ninth in the Barracuda Championship late last season and was in position before a closing 73 left him tied for 21st at Puntacana.
  9. Charley Hoffman, United States – Off to a good start in the new season with a tie for sixth in the Sanderson Farms and a tie for 14th in the Corrales Puntacana. Hoffman, who was won four times on the PGA Tour but not since the 2016 Valero Texas Open, also tied for seventh in Workday Charity Open and tied for 13th in Northern Trust late last season.
  10. Hudson Swafford, United States – Collected his second PGA Tour victory last month in the Corales Puntacana Championship by one stroke over Adam Hadwin after also winning 2017 CareerBuilder Challenge. Has had a bit of a hangover after the win by missing the cut in his last two starts, but should be ready to get back on track in Bermuda.

OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH: Danny Willett, England; Jason Dufner, United States; Luke Donald, England; Pat Perez, United States; Aaron Baddeley, Australia; Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Thailand; Padraig Harrington, Ireland; Alex Cejka, Germany; Scott Piercy, United States; Russell Knox, Scotland.

SLEEPERS

  1. Rasmus Hojgaard, Denmark – The 19-year-old Dane won the 2019 AfrAsia Bank Maritus Open in his fifth Euro Tour start, also won 2020 ISIS Handa UK Championship.
  2. Doc Redman, United States – Started the new season with a T-3 third in the Safeway Open, closing with 62, after a T-3 in Wyndham and a T-29 in the PGA late last season.
  3. Henrik Norlander, Sweden – Two-time Korn Ferry Tour winner was T-4 recently in Sanderson Farms after a T-5 in RSM, a T-9 in Sony and a T-6 in Memorial last season.
  4. Maverick McNealy, United States – Post a T-17 in the Sanderson Farms after a T-5 at Pebble, solo seventh in Barracuda, T-8 in Rocket Mortgage, T-11 in Honda last season.
  5. Fabian Gomez, Argentina – Was seventh in Bermuda last year with four rounds in the 60s, closing with 65. Has slumped since winning 2015 FedEx St. Jude, 2016 Sony.

 

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