By Obie Kahne
The PGA Tour returns to a full 132-man field this week with the event that happens two weeks before The Masters, also known as the Bermuda Championship.
Following two small-field events that excluded plenty of tour card holders (even Tiger Woods required a sponsor’s exemption to defend his ZOZO Championship title), this week’s leaderboard is fully refreshed. Brendon Todd, the defending champion, is the only player to have competed in either of the last two events where he finished T52 and T47 while losing an average of 5.5 strokes tee-to-green.
The venue for this week, Port Royal Golf Course, is considered one of the best public golf courses in the world. Its 6,842-yard, par 71 setup makes it the longest course in Bermuda and the second shortest on the PGA tour behind Pebble Beach when it hosts the AT&T Pro-Am. Last year’s Bermuda Championship was the first at Port Royal and no Shotlink data was collected, meaning there are no strokes gained statistics to report.
Here is the top-10 from the 2019 Bermuda Championship:
Harry Higgs and Scottie Scheffler are the only two members of last year’s top-10 who are not making the trip to Bermuda while David Hearn is having the best year in terms of strokes gained thanks to solid putting performances at both the Safeway Open (T14) and the Corales Puntacana Club & Spa Championship (T33). Hank Lebioda is the only other player who hasn’t missed the cut in majority of their starts this year and, while the season is just beginning, I would be wary of investing in anyone else based solely on their performance last year.
Now let’s take a look at the Fair Value Rankings and see who looks like they could outperform their IPO pricing:
According to the Las Vegas oddsmakers, the 24-year-old Zalatoris has an 8% to win it all this week in Bermuda. Zalatoris is tied for the most top-10 finishes this season (3), including a T6 at the U.S. Open, and he sits atop the Korn Ferry Tour standings thanks to ten top-10 finishes there. Oh, and a win at Port Royal would grant him full Tour status for the 2021 season, something he doesn’t yet.
McNealy is likely overvalued this week. He has missed two cuts this year, at the Safeway Open and The Shriners, and he is losing strokes everywhere except on the green. There is little reason to pay top dollar for him this week when he could be out of it before the weekend.
Although Redman is a beast tee-to-green (3rd in the field), he is consistently outside of the top 100 in strokes gained putting on tour. If Redman can find a groove with his putter, his game tee-to-green will take care of the rest and he should finish comfortably in the top-10.
If you’re looking to add some consistency to your portfolio, look no further than Emiliano Grillo. He has yet to finish outside of the top 35 in four events this year and this is by far the weakest field we have seen.
At 39th on the board, Malnati is a steal. He leads the tour in strokes gained putting and clocks in at 5th in overall strokes gained. Moreover, he has two top-10s this season (2nd at Sanderson Farms, T5 at Shriners) and has shown the ability to shoot low scores to keep up in shootouts. He has already carded a 62 and a 63 in 14 rounds this year.
Relative to the field, Camillo Villegas and Doug Ghim are 2nd and 5th in strokes gained tee-to-green. While he is a few places behind them in that metric, Kristoffer Ventura is an extremely talented putter (6th in the field) which will become very valuable if players continue last week’s trend of picking apart the course and finish beyond 20 strokes under par. Ventura also has two top-10s to his name, finishing T7 at the Safeway Open and T6 at Sanderson Farms.
Rasmus Højgaard and Justin Suh are two more young players to keep an eye on. Højgaard, who is 19, has already won twice on the European Tour with his latest victory coming two months ago at the UK Championship. Justin Suh is 23 and is often thought of along with Colin Morikawa, Mathew Wolff, and Viktor Hovland who were fellow All-Americans in 2019. Suh, who played on the PGA Tour Latinoamérica prior to Coronavirus and is therefore relatively unknown, finished T8 at Shriners with four rounds in the 60s, so I feel confident going with him this week.
Finally, if you’re waiting for some more experienced players, a trifecta of European major winners can be found in 104th, 107th, and 112th respectively. Henrik Stenson, Padraig Harrington, and Danny Willet are all much too accomplished and recognizable for their prices to stay so low, but they are hard to ignore in this event for those same reasons. However, all three have also missed cuts in the last month. Coming off of two no-cut events it is important to remember that, in order to win, you have to Stay in the Game.