BERMUDA CHAMPIONSHIP: It’s back to the PGA Tour’s Island Circuit, the informal moniker bestowed upon the handful of tournaments in tropical locales that all attract the same group of journeymen, youngsters, and hangers-on who are essentially living off the scraps that are left after the Tour stars and big names have plotted their schedules. You won’t find any Ryder Cuppers here, or any players you’ll be seeing on tv commercials (except for Adam Scott, which… good for him. Living his best life in Bermuda!). When Brendon Todd is trading at 22.0 to win, you realize what sort of field you’re dealing with. They reached way, way down on the Priority List this time, which has led to a fun one-week re-emergence of names from the past like Jeff Overton and Ted Potter. It’ll be a great week to track the scores if you’re a golf nerd like me and will occasionally have a “wonder what happened to that guy” thought pop into your head.
This is the 6th of 7 Fall Series events, so it’s a high-stress week for many with an important re-shuffle on the horizon. The Island Circuit may seem more relaxed and less important because the galleries are smaller and the palm trees are swaying in the wind, but this is a huge week in the careers of many of these guys. A win here would be a life-changer for about three quarters of the field.
The course, Port Royal Golf Club, is a Robert Trent Jones Jr. design that is the only course on the island capable of hosting a tournament of this nature. It’s still quite short by Tour standards, measuring just 6,828 yards from all the way back, but the fairways are narrow, the greens are small and knobby, and if the wind starts whipping, which it often does, things can get interesting. The winner of this tournament has failed to reach the 20-under mark in each of the last three years, so the course is no pushover, but with so many wedges and short irons into the greens there are definitely birdie opportunities out there.
The absence of so many noteworthy players makes this a difficult field to handicap, but it also means there may be some spicy mid-market opportunities… there’s gold in them hills! With that in mind, here’s what I’m thinking:
Recommendations to BACK (odds in parenthesis)
Ben Griffin (29.0)- Griffin has yet to find the winner’s circle in 35 PGA Tour starts but he came pretty close in this event last year, opening with rounds of 65-64 and going on to finish third. He came even closer last month at the Sanderson Farms Championship, working his way into a 5-man playoff that was eventually won by Luke List. He’s kept active since then, finishing T23 in last week’s World Wide Technology Championship after shooting 67-66 over the weekend, and he’s now logged five top-25s in his last nine starts, so he’s been playing consistently well. He’s got a great opportunity for a breakthrough this week at a course he knows and likes… I’m happy to take a chance on him at nearly 30/1.
Davis Riley (47.0)- If you were profiling the type of player who is primed for a breakthrough win in a tournament like this, it would look a lot like Riley. He tasted victory at the Zurich Classic team event earlier this year and he’s been close several times throughout his career, especially last season, when he racked up four top-5 finishes in an eight-tournament stretch at one point. He’s played solid golf lately, finishing T28 at the Shriners three weeks ago and then T31 at the ZOZO, and he should have lots of confidence at Port Royal after finding the top-10 here in his lone appearance back in 2021. Riley feels like great value at a price like 47.0.
Brian Gay (340.0)- Sure, Gay is 51 years old and doesn’t compete much on the big tour these days. He averages a shade over 280 off the tee, so there’s a good chance he’s shorter than your local club champ. No matter. He can still roll the rock, ranking 8th on the Champions Tour (lol) in putting average, and he’s been playing quite well on that Tour lately, rattling off top-15 finishes in each of his last four starts. But most important, the reason for this bet, is what the man does at Port Royal. This course, with its tight, claustrophobic feel and subtle putting surfaces, is tailor-made for Gay, and he absolutely eats here, finishing 3rd, 1st, 12th, and 11th over the past four years, with the victory coming in 2020 when Gay was 48 years old. I’d back him enthusiastically at anything better than 150/1, and you can get a taste at 340.0 on the BETDAQ exchange right now… a silly price for a guy who contends year after year at this tournament.