By TOM LaMARRE
The sixth of seven events in the PGA Tour Fall Series will be played beginning Thursday in the Butterfield Bermuda Championship at Port Royal Golf in Southampton, Bermuda, where Seamus Power of Ireland is the defending champion.
The RSM Classic next week on the Seaside and Plantation Courses at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Ga., will be the last chance for some players to retain their PGA Tour cards for the 2024 season.
Among the players in the field this week is 51-year-old Brian Gay (pictured), who captured this event in 2020 with a birdie on the first playoff hole to beat 2023 U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark, in addition to tying for third in 2019, tying for 12th as defending champion in 2021 and tying for 11th last year.
“It’s not about length on this course,” said Gay, who played college golf at Florida and now performs mostly the Champions Tour. “You kind of get the ball in the right spot and give yourself chances and make some putts.
“I grew up on greens virtually identical to this in Alabama and attended Florida. The greens are not too fast or grainy Bermuda, something I’ve played on my whole life, so this course is just comfortable for me.
“The people are fantastic, super nice here, everybody’s happy. I come here and everybody’s in a good mood. I enjoy the golf course, and I came here the first year and finished third, so I guess I’ve got good feelings since.”
Power said after winning last year: “I think Brian’s over 50. Is he over 50? Yeah, he’s going to have a great career on the Champions Tour. He’s been on the PGA Tour for 20-something years, and it’s an incredible career.
“He’s kind of earned a right to do whatever he wants to get out of it now and it’s going to be a bonus, I feel like.”
Other former champions in the field include Lucas Herbert of Australia, who won in 2021, and Brendon Todd, who claimed the title by four strokes in 2019.
The PGA Tour year will end with three unofficial events, the Hero World Challenge hosted by Tiger Woods at New Albany Golf Course in Albany, the Bahamas, the Grant Thornton Invitational at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla., and the PNC Challenge, the father and son event in which Woods is again expected to play with his son Charlie, at Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando, Fla.
1. Lucas Glover, United States – The 43-year-old Glover claimed his fifth and sixth PGA Tour victories back-to-back in August at the Wyndham Championship and the FedEx St. Jude Championship. He has eight top-25 finishes since June, including five of sixth or better. He opened 66-67 in his only Bermuda start last year, but finished with 78-72 to tie for 63rd.
2. Seamus Power, Ireland – The defending champion in the Butterfield Bermuda Championship also tied for 12th the year before, opening and closing with 67s. Power, who has won seven times a pro including the 2021 Barbasol Championship, has recorded 11 finishes in the top 25 over the last year, including a tie for third at Mayakoba and a tie for fifth in the RSM Classic.
3. Luke List, United States – Captured his fourth title as a pro and second on the PGA Tour with a 45-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole to win a five-man playoff in the Sanderson Farms Championship. List also won the 2021 Farmers Insurance Open and has seven top-25 finishes over the last year. He opened with 68 but tied for 53rd in only Bermuda appearance last year.
4. Thomas Detry, Belgium – Two-time winner as a professional posted four rounds in the 60s at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship last year and finished second, one stroke behind Seamus Power. Detry, who also tied for 22nd the year before in Bermuda and has 11 results in the top 25 over the last year, including a tie for 13th in the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.
5. Brendon Todd, United States – The 2019 winner of the Butterfield Bermuda Championship by four strokes with 63 in the second round and 62 in the last, is back for the first time since missing the cut in his title defense. Todd, who has seven pro titles including four on the PGA Tour, has eight top 10s in the last year, including ties for second at Pebble and in the John Deere.
6. Taylor Pendrith, Canada – A two-time winner on the PGA Tour Canada held the lead in the Butterfield Bermuda Championship last year after shooting 65-61 in the middle rounds, but closed with a 76 to tie for fifth. That was one of Pendrith’s eight top-10 finishes in the last year, including a tie for third in the Shriners, solo sixth in the Barbasol and a tie for seventh at Pebble.
7. Camilo Villegas, Colombia – The 10-time winner as a pro, including four titles on the PGA Tour, showed he is back at the age of 41 by being in or near the lead last week in the World Wide Technology Championship all the way before tying for second with four rounds in the 60s. Villegas, who took time off after his young daughter passed away, has three top-10s recently.
8. Lucas Herbert, Australia – Has won four times as a pro, including the 2021 Butterfield Bermuda Championship, and in April he captured the ISPS Handa Championship in Japan on the second playoff hole in a DP World Tour event. Herbert, who is making his second appearance in Bermuda, also was third in the Dubai Desert Classic and tied for 10th in the Australian Open.
9. Akshay Bhatia, United States – The 21-year-old has won five times as a pro, including his first PGA Tour victory in July at the Barracuda Championship. That is one of Bhatia’s 10 results in the top 25 in the last year, including second in the Puerto Rico Open, fourth in the Mexico Open and a tie for 10th list week in the WW Technology. Tied for 17th in Bermuda last year.
10. Brian Gay, United States – The 51-year-old claimed his 14th victory as a pro and fifth as a pro in the 2020 Butterfield Bermuda Championship with a birdie on the first playoff hole and has tied for third, tied for 11th and tied for 12th in his three other starts in the event. Gay also is playing the Champions Tour and has six results in the 15, the best fifth in the SAS Championship
OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH: Adam Scott, Australia; Matti Schmid, Germany; Alex Smalley, United States; Denny McCarthy, United States; Troy Merritt, United States; Alex Noren, Sweden; Nick Hardy, United States; Adrian Meronk, Poland; Justin Lower, United States; Luke Donald, England.
1. S.H. Kim, South Korea – Three-time winner as a pro in Asia finished solo second recently in the Fortinet at Silverado and was T-4 in the Shriners Open among 10 top-25 results this season.
2. Callum Tarren, England – Won 2018 Order of Merit on PGA Tour, winning the Jiansu Open, and was T-2 in RSM Classic, T-7 in Fortinet, T-13 in 3M Open and Sanderson Farms this season.
3. Michael Kim, United States – Former Cal star claimed only pro victory in 2018 John Deere. Kim was T-5 in Wyndham, fifth in Puerto Rico, T-6 in Schwab, seventh in Wells Fargo this year.
4. Austin Smotherman, United States – Two-time pro winner Smotherman was near the lead at 69-67 last week but faded to T-23. T-5 in Mexico is best this year. T-23 in Bermuda last season.
5. C.T. Pan, Taiwan – Three-time winner as a pro, including the 2019 RBC Heritage, Pan was T-3 in Canadian Open, fourth in Byron Nelson, T-9 at Sanderson Farms Championship this season.
For complete results and first-round tee times, visit: https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard