Bermuda Championship 2020
Slightly frustrating, on a couple of fronts. Firstly, Cameron Smith notched a very easy win in the Top Australian section, which should have resulted in a profit for the week regardless of any other returns. However, Adam Scott pulled out with a positive Covid test, and bookies (principally WH where the bet was recommended) have not been true to their word. I checked with WH what their policy was regarding Scott, and was ensured that the bet stood, and would be settled at the price taken with no Rule 4. In the aftermath of Smith obliging, they have seen fit to apply different deductions in price to various followers. The most annoying part was it would have been approx 20/1 that Scott would have beaten him as things transpired. A silver lining for a few subscribers was that they couldn’t get on Smith in Top Oz after the Scott withdrawal, and made the decision to back him in the Top Rest of the World section instead. Which produced a tasty 14/1 winner. **I have since had quite a few messages from subscribers to say they pursued voided bets in this market, and have been successful in gaining full payment with no R4.
I have settled the bet for P+L purposes at approx 85/40, which is under what most have told me they got paid at, but equates to 10/3 incorporating the Adam Scott Rule 4.
Cameron Champ, advised each way at 100/1 then contrived to bogey the easy par 5 16th, when a par would have been enough for a Top 7 finish. These things happen. Probably more than I would like this year, but it’s testament to the selections we have been on that even given an uneven slice of bad fortune over the year, we are still very much well ahead.
I was scheduled to cover the WGC HSBC Champions event from Shanghai this week, but the ongoing pandemic saw that tournament scrubbed from the schedule. Instead we head to the Bermuda Championship, which gives a chance for much of the PGA Tours second tier to shine at the Port Royal Golf Course. Very short by anyone’s standards at just over 6800 yards, this Par 71 which may even see a winning score lower than the 23 under which Patrick Cantlay produced at Sherwood. The one defence on offer is any prevailing wind, and if the current forecast is correct the players could be kept very honest over the weekend. I would take a stab at around 17-19 under par being required come Sunday evening. As will always be the case on such a short layout, with relatively generous and likely soft fairways, accurate approach play and a hot putter will go a long way.
Whilst last week, we had the cream of the game offered up as 11/1 favourites, this week we have a player who has played in just 12 PGA Tour events chalked up the same price. It is obviously a sign that this is a markedly weakened field, but also shouts that the market makers certainly haven’t missed the hot start Will Zalatoris has made to the next phase of his exciting career. 6th at the US Open, 8th at the Corales and 5th at the Shriners, some would suggest this will be a walk in the park for the 24 year old Californian. Things are rarely so simple. I wouldn’t go out of my way to put anyone off if they were dead set on backing him, but I would suggest that backing such a type at as short as11/1 wouldn’t see you making money long term. And that is what it’s all about. To pick holes in Will’s superb recent displays, the one area he has struggled has been with the putter. He will need that to click to be successful here. His main asset, his superiority from tee, may also be somewhat negated around this fiddly layout. I may have been semi interested at 18/1, but as it is he can win without me.
Just behind him in the market, and maybe more deserving of favouritism here, is defending champion Brendon Todd. The 3 time winner on Tour used this event last year as the springboard to saving his career. He was ready to call time on his days as a professional until out of nowhere he rediscovered, and even surpassed his previous best form. He has been a model of consistency pretty much ever since then, and will surely be relishing his week as defending champ. His latest two outings have however been somewhat below par, and I just don’t see any value in his odds here this week.
Those two along with Harold Varner and Emiliano Grillo are all used to operating at a much higher level than this,and this is an angle I am keen to explore this week. The majority of the field assembled here are has beens or won’t be’s. Any of the 4 named players above could easily outclass this lot, but none appeal at the prices. I do however have 4 outright selections, at least 3 of whom I believe will be winning in more elite fields than this in due course.
First up is DOC REDMAN. Two years younger than Zalatoris, the North Carolina man has come a long way in a short period of time. Only 19 months ago, he Monday qualified for the Rocket Mortgage Classic. A birdie blitz over the 4 days there resulted in a runner up finish which helped propel him to PGA membership for the 2019-2020 season. A consistent campaign was rewarded when another low scoring assault at the Wyndham saw him qualify for the FedEx Playoffs in his first season on Tour. He got no further than the Northern Trust, but bounced back with a 3rd place finish in his next event at the Safeway Open. That was courtesy of a scintillating Sunday 62, and decent rounds on Payday are par for the course for Redman. He leads the Tour for the season in final round scoring average, and though this is a limited sample size, his best scoring average for the season just finished was also Round 4. In a field packed full of players not accustomed to winning, or producing when it matters, it is certainly a positive that Redman doesn’t go missing when the cheques are been written out.
Averaging under 300 yards off tee, Doc certainly wouldn’t be the longest. That will be of no disadvantage here, but his consistency in finding fairways and then excelling with his approaches is exactly the mould of a winner in waiting around this week’s layout. 13th in Driving Accuracy for 2020, 11th SG: Approach to Green and 12th for Greens in Regulation, I expect Redman to serve up a plethora of birdie chances. With his recent experiences in more daunting arenas than this to serve as a launchpad, I don’t expect his first win to be too far away. 28/1 that it comes here, in what will probably be the weakest field of the year, is too big to me.
Another exciting youngster is Mexican born Norwegian KRISTOFFER VENTURA, and he too has the potential to be far better than most of his peers here. Twice a winner in the space of a month on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2019, after a slightly inauspicious start his graduation to the games top level has been ultimately pretty impressive. In his last 9 starts he has missed only two cuts, and one of those was on a total of 5 under par. He has accrued 5 finishes inside the top 21 in that phase including 6th at the Sandersons Farms and 7th at the Safeway. Both those events were low scoring tournaments, akin to what will be required. Both also saw a more stellar line up to what the 25 year old faces here. Ventura’s most potent weapon is certainly his putter, and as already alluded to, any potential winner will need to be holing birdie putt with regularity. 4th on Tour for Strokes Gained in this department last term,he has kicked off in the same vein this time in a lofty 14th position. Being new on Tour has the regular disadvantage of lacking any previous course experience at most venues, but this week Ventura actually has that in his bag. 41st here last year, when a Sunday 67 was his best of the week, I feel he can improve drastically on that. A much more rounded player now, hitting far more greens than was 12 months ago, he can reward that improvement with his hot flat stick. I expect him to go close here.
As hot putters go, they don’t come much more prolific than DENNY MCCARTHY. Leader on Tour last term, he has once again begun to find his range on the greens. It’s in the last 3 months though that Maryland man has really signaled that there is more to his game than a fruitful flat stick. His displays from the fairways have improved drastically, particularly in his excellent Top 10 finish at the Wyndham, and a 6th place finish at the Sandersons Farms. Another who lacks distance from the tee box, he will be relishing lining up on a level playing field here. 16th for Driving Accuracy this season, all facets of Denny’s game seem to be falling into line. A 15th place finish here last year, including a Saturday 65, gives him that all important course knowledge. He started 14/1 favourite a year ago, he is better player tee to green now, and in a field that won’t take much beating I see the 33/1 on offer as a very worthwhile play.
I had thought long and hard about including Tyler McCumber, but have just come down on the side of leaving him out. If the 66/1 available with a couple of firms was accompanied by 8 places, I may have sided differently. As it is I can just about let him go.
Padraig Harrington was another very much on my mind, but I have chosen to play him elsewhere instead.
That leaves my final selection in the outright market as SCOTT STALLINGS. Another who played well in the aforementioned Sandersons Farms, where he tied with McCarthy for 6th place, he is a journeyman pro who knows how to get the job done. A three time winner on Tour, the most recent being the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open. His win there at Torrey Pines proves his effectiveness at coastal venues, and he won’t suffer if the wind does get up over the weekend. I wouldn’t worry about his missed cut either side of that display in Mississippi, as Stallings is pretty inconsistent by nature. His last 5 top 10 finishes have come off the back of, MC/62/48/MC/MC, so it’s quite the norm to produce his best off a poor lead up. Scott has certain types of venues where he will shine, and I feel this is an ideal set up for him. His approach play in the Sandersons was excellent, and after an 18th place finish here last year which comprised 4 under par rounds, I feel he will be looking at this as a real opportunity to notch career win number 4 on the PGA Tour. 50/1 to 8 places appeals enough to get involved.
Top Continental European:
I really do like the claims of KRISTOFFER VENTURA this week, and in a section that I don’t feel will take much winning, I view him as an excellent bet at 4/1. I alluded earlier to his recent consistency, and I feel everything is in place for him to continue in that vein here. Even if he doesn’t get into contention to land the win, anything on the fringes of it could be good enough to land this bet. The opposition simply doesn’t appeal.
Henrik Stenson must be desperate for game time and something resembling a respectable game to bring to Augusta in a couple of weeks. The Swede has played very little golf in 2020, and hasn’t suggested that he is anywhere near ready to contend for titles. He’s easy to avoid. I have nominated Sepp Straka at long odds a couple of times in the recent past, but I don’t see this course as an ideal layout for him. More one to be on at big prices in the First Round Leader market than short odds in one requiring 4 decent rounds, he wouldn’t be for me here. Rasmus Hojgaard is a serious talent, but makes only his second start on the PGA Tour here. His first, a 14 over par missed cut at the US Open, will surely be improved upon but he is entitled to a bit more bedding in time. Henrik Norlander would be the one I would be somewhat worried about, but I would see him as priced about right. On the contrary I feel Ventura should be quite a deal shorter to lad this section, and rates a confident bet.
A section which has been kind to me of late, we don’t have any Cameron Smith to go to war with this week, but I am very keen on CAMERON PERCY. Another who was on my mind for outright glory, I prefer to get him on side here in a market where he has very little to beat. One of the shortest hitters on Tour, but also one of the best at finding greens in the required number, it’s layouts like this week that bring the veteran Aussie into the mix. He has made an excellent start to the 2021 season with all 3 weekends made, and a highlight being his 8th place finish at the Corales Championship. A closing 74 at his previous outing at the Safeway ruined a title assault there,but there was plenty to like about his week’s work. 3 holes on his front 9 did the damage that Sunday, but the fact here bounded so well in the Dominican Republic is a big positive. If the forecast wind does arrive over the weekend, it would be of no worry for our man.
Matt Jones is likely to be his chief rival here, but though much longer than Percy from the tee box, he struggles badly to find fairways and greens. Around this layout, he will need to very much over perform on those departments to be a factor. Given his general play these past 3 months, over performing would not be something I would be anticipating.It’s very rare for Aaron Baddeley to make the weekend these days, and all told if Cameron Percy does I doubt he will have much competition over the final 36 holes. 11/5 is too big, and I would rate him an 11/8 shot.
Top GB & Ire:
As stated earlier, I am keen to get PADRAIG HARRINGTON on side this week. The reason for choosing this particular section is that it looks very winnable indeed. Even if Pod has a bad week. Like Stenson, Danny Willett is here desperately in search of something resembling a functioning game to bring to Augusta. Recent displays suggest that search will be in vain. Tom Lewis in my opinion always seems somewhat under priced in these lower grade events, and I have little interest in the price on offer here. Luke Donald and Ben Taylor are unlikely to see the weekend. That leaves Harrington’s Irish compatriot Seamus Power and Scotland’s Russel Knox as potential challengers. Power has offered very little in the new season, and will need to be far more proficient from the fairways,whilst Knox only has the one show of life since the resumption in June. That came 3 outings ago at the Safeway Open, and I can certainly see the case for this layout suiting the Scot. At the prices though, it is very much an inform Harrington that I want to be with.
9th in the Scottish Open, 40th in a decent field at a Wentworth he doesn’t love, and 14th in the Scottish Championship, the 3 time Major winner has found some form as he approached his 50th birthday. Pod has never been the longest off the tee. His game has been built around strategy, accuracy, excellent iron play and scrambling like his life depended on it. When presented with a short track where placement off the tee, and the ability to deal with wind of various directions, he will typically produce his best. Creativity is in no short supply in the Irishman, and if we do get winds of up to 30mph over the weekend, there won’t be anyone better equipped to deal with it. Padraig didn’t play here last year, but has played here twice before, both times in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf. One of those occasions he emerged victorious, beating none other than Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley. Now that was in 2012, and he isn’t the same player anymore, but he has proved in his 3 most recent outings that there is life in the old dog yet. And when faced with a suitable challenge, and this layout couldn’t be handpicked any better, he is certainly still capable. I expect a decent showing from him this week, and with only Knox of any real worry to me, I view the 4/1 on offer as quite a bit too big.
**For those who can get on with a firm offering acceptable prices on all 3 above alternative market bets, I would suggest having a small trixie. It won’t be included in the official bets, as many won’t be able to get on,but I would recommend a .5pt trixie (2pts staked).
Top 20 Finish:
My final bet this week is MICHAEL GLIGIC to continue his upward trajectory within the game by bagging a Top 20 finish here, and reward those who back it at 6/1. 2020 has been his first full year on Tour, previously just playing in his home Canadian Open. He has really started to get the hang of things of late, with only one missed cut in his last 7 outings. On 4 occasions has he been right on the fringes of the top 20, with his best finish being 14th at the Safeway. Backing him at 6/1 in those 7 events would have seen us break even, but this is by far the weakest field he will have faced and there are reasons to believe he will be in his element here. He gained his promotion to the PGA Tourvia the Korn Ferry, and many of his best performances there came by the coast, including his win in the 2019 Panama Championship. At 31 he isn’t in the young bracket anymore as regards getting started on the PGA Tour,and he will be very keen to make the most of opportunities such as these to cement his place at the games big money table. 6/1 that he notches a top 20 here is a couple of points too big.
1.1pt ew Doc Redman 28/1 (⅕ odds 8 places, WH) *General 25/1 to 8 places acceptable
.9pt ew Kristoffer Ventura 33/1 (⅕ odds 8 places, WH) *Anything variation currently listed on Oddschecker is acceptable
.9pt ew Denny McCarthy 33/1 (⅕ odds 8 places, WH) *Same odds available with different place terms elsewhere
.6pt ew Scott Stallings 50/1 (⅕ odds 8 places, WH/PP/BFSB)
Top Continental Euro:
4pts Kristoffer Ventura 4/1 (PP/BFSB + Several Internet Firms) *10/3 upwards acceptable
6pts Cameron Percy 11/5 (PP/BFSB + Several Internet Firms) *7/4 upwards acceptable
Top GB & Ire:
5pts Padraig Harrington 4/1 (PP) *10/3 upwards acceptable
*Coral/Lads not listed on Oddschecker, but are betting on all 3 markets. Also accept multiples for those looking to do the trixie
Top 20 Finish:
3pts Michael Gligic 6/1 (PP/BFSB) *9/2 upwards acceptable
*Obviously a lot of bets recommended with PP/BFSB this week. I understand not everyone can get on here, especially with shops now closed in Rep of Ireland, but there is plenty of back up available. And where there is a will, there is a way!!
Running Totals 2020:
Best of Luck this week. I will return next Tuesday for the Houston Open, which precedes the much awaited and belated Masters!