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DFS Picks For The Butterfield Bermuda Championship October 28-31 2021

Christiaan Bezuidenhout
GREENSBORO, NC - AUGUST 14: Christiaan Bezuidenhout tees off on the 16th hole during the second round of the Wyndham Championship golf tournament at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, NC on August 14, 2020. (Photo by William Howard/Icon Sportswire)

                                                                                                                               

An excellent week for fans of good grammar (we can take the caps lock off the keyboard) and also a fine week for veteran performers. Why so? Well, we’ll deal with this noion in more detail later in this week’s report, but two editions of this event have reaped two victories for the PGA TOUR’s experienced brigade. Yes, this trip across crystal blue water to Bermuda has proved to be career-reviving. That said, it would not have taken much for it to have been career-kickstarting and the potential is definitely there for the youngsters. This is a low-grade field (originally planned to be opposite the WGC-HSBC Champions before that was cancelled) and opportunity knocks.

Port Royal Golf Course
There’s a lot to like about the PGA TOUR’s ventures south of the border. They began with the trip to El Camaleon in Mexico and the reach has increased, taking in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and this third visit to Bermuda. In truth, those locations are a long way from one another (although in the same part of the world) and yet there are many similarities too.

All four utilise courses that are close by the ocean and are vulnerable to anything from sea breezes to absolutely humdingers of gales. It’s been rare that a winner at any of them was not competent at hitting a ball into, down and/or across a wind. They all boast grainy greens; some of them have paspalum on the greens, this week the field will take on Bermuda; it’s another common bond.

The final point about these locations – and it has so far proved most important at Port Royal – is that accurate hitters have had an advantage. This is partly to do with the wind, partly due to the lie of the land and the shaping of the holes. Because this Robert Trent Jones design demands tidy approach play. Missing fairways is not a massive problem, but hitting greens very much is a tricky business. 

There will be golfers who spy the card (par 71, 6,828 yards) and think they can overpower it. The difficulty comes from undulating terrain, some quirky green locations, variable gusts, and competence at hitting from Bermuda on the fairways and a Bermuda/Zoysia mix in the rough.

Weather
The weather forecast for Southampton, Bermuda is not great. Well, on the one hand, it’s wonderful. This course needs wind and on Thursday it should get it. As on the final day of practice, nearly 30mph is forecast so we can expect that to gust higher and it should be a great watch. Thereafter, we can look forward to wind of between 15 and 20mph so it is an undoubted factor. The real problem comes from the possibility of thunderstorms which could disrupt Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Temperatures will be in the high 70s, the weekend is likely to see rain.

Past Champions of the Butterfield Bermuda Championship
The first edition of this event saw Brendon Todd claim the honors, overhauling the 54-hole lead of Harry Higgs. Earlier in the week Scottie Scheffler had claimed the first round lead and veteran Brian Gay finished third.

A year later Gay went better. He made a slow start, but his fondness for the test allowed him to fly home on a wet sail and catch the pace-setter (and aptly-named) Wyndham Clark. Gay prevailed in extra holes. The notion that this track suits old heads who can tack in the wind was emphasised by the presence of Stewart Cink in the top five.

Two weeks after his success here Todd traveled to the afore mentioned El Camaleon and won again. And guess what? Gay likes it there, too. In fact, he’s made 10 trips there, never missed a cut and was the winner himself in 2008. Ryan Armour has twice finished top 10 in this event and he’s good at El Camaleon too (4-for-6 with a best of T–4). And Aaron Wise, who was third at Port Royal in 2019, was second at El Camaleon last year. 

Last year’s winner Gay sums it all up rather nicely: “I love Bermuda greens. Living in Florida, the wind doesn’t bother me. It’s not a long golf course. It’s a golf course where I get a lot of short clubs and you can’t really overpower a golf course. It keeps the shorter hitters in the game. Everybody has a chance here.”

Here’s are some entirely FREE suggestions for you this week with MORE for subscribers (DraftKings Prices)

CaptainC. Bezuidenhout $10,700
B listD. McCarthy $8,500
B listD. Frittelli $7,600
C listG. McDowell $7,200
C listA. Cook $6,900
AvoidT. Detry $8,900
    


Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($10,700) First things first. This is an odd week. The field demands that we reset, or at least, rejig our expectations. For the most part I am more than content to avoid those with a big salary because the test is distinct, but the South African gets a vote for two reasons. The first is his relentless consistency. He’s played four rounds of golf in each of his last 25 strokeplay starts and just two of them were no-cut events. That’s not to be sniffed at. The second is his wonderful short game. Folk will miss plenty of greens here so being able to rescue par matters.

Denny McCarthy ($8,500)
 There have been times recently when I have warned against including McCarthy, but I did so with the proviso that the message would soon change. Here’s where I say: ‘Start the car.’ McCarthy has finished T–15 and T–4 at the course, he’s made three cuts (including T–4) in the Dominican Republic and is 3-for-4 at El Camaleon. Eight of his nine PGA TOUR top 10s are on Bermuda and he contended two starts ago in Mississippi.

Dylan Frittelli ($7,600) The one-time PGA TOUR winner from South Africa is also a two-time winner on the European Tour and the second came at The Heritage Club on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius which plays very like this week. He’s also finished T–8 at Harbour Town and T–11 at El Camaleon.

Graeme McDowell ($7,200) Maybe my favourite play at $7.2k ever. Okay, he’s a course debutant, but he’s won at El Camaleon, he’s won at Harbour Town, he’s won at Corales Puntacana, and he grew up playing in the wind by the ocean. Made four of his last five cuts and this week is in this veteran’s wheelhouse.

Austin Cook ($6,900) A winner at Sea Island where his smart tee-to-green game and excellent putting shone through, qualities that can pay dividends again this week. He ended the Korn Ferry Tour Finals with T–11 and repeated that result to open the 2021/22 season. Younger than Gay, but the short, straight, good Bermuda putter profile is shared.

Thomas Detry ($8,900) The Belgian is a very fine golfer, one good enough to record 26 European Tour top 10 finishes. But he’s yet to win and has the nasty habit of throwing in big numbers on single holes. I don’t fancy that on this track. He was fourth in the recent Dutch Open but had one missed cut before that and two since. In fact eight of his last 13 starts were not top 50. Not good enough on a salary like this week’s.

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• See our choices from the top, but also value picks with low salaries that will score unexpectedly high.
• We include players to avoid this week and WHY…

Here’s Another Alternate of Core Picks For The Bermuda Championship

CaptainC. Ramey $9,500
B listG. Higgo $8,300
B listR. Knox $7,700
C listH. Lebioda $7,500
C listK. Kitayama $6,800
AvoidP. Reed $10,700

Chad Ramey ($9,500) An echo of the Bezuidenhout play in that this is a fellow who knows how to play four rounds of golf. In fact he earned graduation from the Korn Ferry Tour by making 38 of 39 cuts through 2020 and 2021. He did miss the weekend in his opening effort of the new PGA Tour season, but righted that in his home state and then added T–14 last time out. Should have no fear of the field.

Garrick Higgo ($8,300) One worry is the travel – he’s made his way from Japan. But I like that Higgo is slipping back into a mode of golf that served him very, very well at the start of the summer. Because it was on the other side of the Atlantic, in the Canary Islands, that he won twice on the European Tour. He then added triumph in the Palmetto Championship. We opposed him last week and were right to (T–75 in a small field). Now support him. 

Russell Knox ($7,700) What’s not to like? Up there with McDowell as a lovely fit. The course? He’s finished T–11 and T–16. His El Camaleon log book? Eight starts, eight cuts made, never worse than T–37, three top 10s, lost a play-off (to McDowell). He also carded a pair of 66s in his penultimate start. 

Hank Lebioda ($7,500) There’s little doubt that he loves the course. He was T–3 there in 2019 and T–16 last year. He doesn’t smash the ball, he’s fairly accurate, he plays his golf in Florida, he’s a very fine putter on Bermuda greens. True, he’s missed four cuts in a row. He also landed three top 10s before that, on shorter courses that suited him.

Kurt Kitayama ($6,800) The American is a two-time winner on the European Tour and the pair of them are waving big flags based on this course and this weather forecast. The first was at a blustery Four Seasons, right by the sea in Mauritius. The second was north of there, on another resort course by the sea, in the Oman Open. That final round was not so much blustery as gale-like. Kitayama loved the conditions both times and this is a golden opportunity for him to set a PGA TOUR marker.

Patrick Reed ($10,400) Since being spurned by Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker Reed has missed the cut in the Shriners Children’s Open and then finished T–68 in the 78-man CJ CUP field (when ranking 73rd for Strokes Gained Tee to Green). He is a winner in Florida, but in nine starts at Waialae, El Camaleon, Harbour Town and Puerto Rico he has missed six cuts and has only one top 25. A lot of risk for a big salary. 

Strategy
Absolutely no apologies here for looking at course form and also records at El Camaleon: The two layouts have identikit profiles and the players who thrive on them back that up in some style. Todd does not own a vast array of PGA TOUR top fives, but he has landed them at Harbour Town and Sea Island which again fit the bill of grainy grass, breezy seaside location and accurate hitting required; Gay is gun at both those courses, too. We can even call upon Fred Funk for goodness sake. The 64-year-old made the cut here last year and is another past winner at El Camaleon. Form in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic is not to be overlooked either.

Other Player Options For The Bermuda Championship
•  Ryan Armour has enjoyed this test, finishing T–8 twice. Can he ride the wave or will expectation be too high? 
•  Canada’s David Hearn boasts the exact same good course form as Armour but be wary that he has one top 50 finish (T–20) in 13 starts. 
•  Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick is seeking to win back-to-back after claiming the European Tour’s Andalucia Masters at Valderrama. However, he hits the top 10 in just 17% of his PGA Tour starts.

COVID-19 and Injury Warning:

Pro DFS players know it makes sense to stay up-to-date on Twitter, DraftKings, FanDuel and-or subscribe to any number of email feeds and whatever to remain up to speed with injuries or COVID-19 withdraws. Players that don’t make the cut are tough enough. Players that don’t play all four rounds (even when pulling out at the last minute) make for a pretty weak lineup. 

Go win your lineups and then tell us how you did. Twitter (@FantasyDFSX) is a good place for that. 

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