The PGA TOUR Returns to Port Royal ⏤ The Bermuda Championship

Fantasy Golf

Port Royal4

The PGA TOUR returns this week to the Port Royal Golf Club in Southampton Parish for the second edition of the Bermuda Championship. Brendan Todd will defend the title he won here almost exactly a year ago by four shots over Harry Higgs. With the victory, Todd joined a fairly select group of winners at this golf course as the Robert Trent Jones design hosted the PGA Grand Slam of Golf from 2009 to 2014. Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Adam Scott, Keegan Bradley and Martin Kaymer all won the four-man competition among major championship winners formerly held here.

The Bermuda Championship is just one of two events remaining on the PGA TOUR prior to next month's Masters Tournament. That major championship certainly looms large on the calendar and its impact can be felt in the quality of the field this week. Few of the players who have entered the event have qualified for Augusta, and the historically available route of the late-win automatic invitation does not apply for the upcoming fall Masters. If the winner this week is not qualified for either of the upcoming Masters, his win here will earn him an entry into the 2021 Masters Tournament and not the playing scheduled to take place in a few weeks.

The Field and the Favorites

There is no sugar coating the fact that this week's field is awfully thin. It contains just five major champions (Danny Willett, Padraig Harrington, Stewart Cink, Jason Dufner and Henrik Stenson) and nary a single one of the top twenty players in the world. This should come as no surprise as the event requires international travel and is located just two weeks before the Masters. A number of the top players played their last competitive round before Augusta at last week's ZOZO Championship while those who like to compete heading into a major seem to prefer the more convenient Houston Open that comes next week. Nevertheless, there are still nearly twenty players in the field who have won PGA TOUR events in the last five years.

The most interesting stories to watch are some of the younger players looking to establish themselves on the PGA TOUR. Doc Redman and Maverick McNealy have generated a lot of early media attention, but both players are still searching for their first PGA TOUR win. Similarly, the amateur success of Sepp Straka has yet to translate into victory at the highest level of competition. All three players will find themselves in the field this week.

Another interesting angle with weaker field PGA TOUR events like the Bermuda Championship are the rare appearances from names long-since forgotten. Fred Funk will make his first PGA TOUR start in a while and will actually be joining his son Taylor in the field as the latter received a sponsor's invitation to the event. The emotional storyline of Camilo Villegas' return to the TOUR in the wake of the loss of his daughter has fairytale potential should he go on to win. Former world No. 1 Luke Donald and past Ryder Cupper Hunter Mahan are both in the field this week and desperate to regain their footing on the PGA TOUR.

The Course

Port Royal Golf Club is a relatively short (6842 yards) Robert Trent Jones Sr. design that sits beautifully atop a bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Accordingly, without the length, one of the primary defenses the golf course has against the long hitters of the PGA TOUR is the seemingly constant presence of wind. Most of the golf course sits largely exposed and the scoring this week is almost assuredly going to be driven by the weather conditions faced by the players.

Interestingly, the forecast calls for a week littered with rain, wind and the potential for pop-up thunderstorms. Most specifically, the wind is supposed to kick up alongside the likelihood of precipitation starting late Friday and on through the weekend. This could have a number of different effects on the players, depending largely on the balance between a course softened by rain or the extra challenge posed by wind. That having been said, a total of 24-under par took the title down here last year and we wouldn't be surprised if at least 20-under prevailed again this year.

The most stunning hole on the property is the meaty 235-yard one shot sixteenth hole. It plays over the coastline from a tee perched on the water's edge to a greensite situated on an adjacent point at the foot of the Atlantic Ocean. Two bunkers separate the edge of the putting surface from the cliffs on the left side. The bailout option to the right is another unappealing bunker from where a recovery will play downhill towards most hole locations. A par here will go a long way as both of the last two holes should offer the players birdie opportunities.

Here are our selections for this week's Bermuda Championship:

Group A (Henrik Stenson)

Group B (Harold Varner III)

Group C (Maverick McNealy)

Group D (Camilo Villegas)

Group E (Rafa Cabrera-Bello)

Group F (Jonathan Byrd)