November 8, 2023, 12:13 pm
The PGA FedExCupFall returns after an emotional win in Mexico last week for Erik van Rooyen. The course played as easily as expected and will hopefully see at least some semblance of resistance next year, but then again, it is a fall event in Mexico, so not enough people care to probably do anything. The DraftKings plays saw decent results. Aberg did the best of the top three in the field, fighting back on Sunday to collect a top-ten finish. Davis Thompson did fairly well, but couldn’t quite get enough birdies to truly contend and finished T15. Our value play Matti Schmid came out of the gates hot, but couldn’t sustain as the week went on and finished a respectable T38.
This week sees the conclusion of three straight international events as we head to Bermuda for the Butterfield Bermuda Championship played at Port Royal Golf Club. This might be the weakest field we see this entire season and is the perfect week to play the game. After the first handful or so of guys at the top of the board, all of these guys are pretty much the same and could be swapped out for one another price-wise. The point I am trying to make here is to get weird, get different and please, please do not play into ownership. It is a recipe for disaster in fields like this.
While the field may be terrible, there are still plenty of incentives at stake for players during the fall. If this is your first deep dive into a fall event this year, I have provided a breakdown below of what is at stake.
FedExCup points are still going to be accrued for those in the field who did not finish inside the top 50 of this past season’s standings. It is a little bit of a mess how they are doing this but here is my best attempt at summarizing everything:
- Those who finished inside the top 50 are qualified for Signature Events next season and can compete in the FedExCupFall events, but only for money and not accrue and FedExCup points.
- Those who finished 51-70 are guaranteed their Tour eligibility but can continue to earn points to make themselves eligible for the first two Signature Events (after the Sentry Tournament of Champions).
- Those who finished the season at 71 and beyond are competing to be inside the top 125 by the end of the FedExCupFall and receive exemption for all full-field events and the PLAYERS Championship in 2024.
- All winners of events during the FedExCupFall series will receive invites to the Sentry Tournament of Champions, PLAYERS Championship, the Masters, and the PGA Championship (if not already qualified).
Let’s dig into the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter (X) @mlafem10 where I post additional information and am always available for questions.
Port Royal Golf Course is our host this week, located in Southampton, Bermuda. This will be the fifth edition of the tournament and the fourth with it being a permanent mainstay on the Tour schedule.
Port Royal GC comes in as the shortest course on the Tour schedule playing at 6,828 yards. While the course is short, there are two main defenses the course can trouble players with. The first being the unpredictable winds from the Atlantic Ocean, as this course has several holes along the waterfront. Not only can the gusts come out of nowhere, but can change direction from day to day or even minute to minute. The second defense the course has are the many, strategically placed bunkers lining the fairways. This creates a lot of decisions on what club to hit off the tee for players and a variety of styles can succeed here.
Playing as a Par 71, Port Royal features three Par 5s which play as the three easiest holes on the course. Each of these holes gives up a birdie north of 40% of the time, with the easiest hole being the 517-yard fifth hole which sees a birdie scored on it just over 50% of the time, and an eagle rate north of 4%.
The Par 3s could have also been listed as a course defense. Three of the four of them play as the three hardest holes on the course and may be three of the hardest on Tour, considering the ever-looming wind. The eighth, thirteenth, and sixteenth holes all play over 200 yards and feature bogey rates over 20%, with the 235-yard sixteenth seeing a double bogey rate nearly 4% of the time.
Given the length of the course and how long a majority of the Par 3s are, that does not leave a lot of room for the Par 4s. Six of the eleven at Port Royal play under 400 yards and four of the remaining five of them playing under 450 yards. Even though these holes are short, they are not heavily taken advantage of by the field as most play right around par or slightly below. The fourth, fourteenth, and fifteenth holes play above par, typically, but are also gettable. They feature quite a mixed bag of scores and performance on these holes could swing things.
The fairways, rough (which is typically on 2”, so not very penal at all), and greens all feature Bermuda grass, obviously. The greens are pretty massive in size, which helps the scoring conditions, especially when it gets windy. As is the standard with coastal courses, the green speeds will play pretty slow this week, so that is an additional angle to look at when looking at Bermuda green putters this week. There is not much to speak on in terms of around the green play here, just some standard bunkers.
Here is a link to a flyover of the course:
The field of 132 this week is enough to make you throw up in your mouth a little, but regardless, there is still money to be made. Adam Scott and young guns Akshay Bhatia and Thomas Detry headline the field from a name-recognition perspective. There will be the traditional cut line on Friday with the top 65 and ties advancing to the weekend.
As of this writing, Cameron Champ, Chad Ramey, Tyler Duncan, Nate Lashley, K.H. Lee, Will Gordon, Aaron Baddeley, Carson Young, Chesson Hadley, Erik van Rooyen, Mackenzie Hughes and Ryuji Imada have all withdrawn. They were replaced in the field by Kyle Stanley, Arjun Atwal, D.J. Trahan, Bo Van Pelt, George McNeill, Richard S. Johnson, Kevin Stadler, David Hearn, Omar Uresti, and Brian Davis have replaced them. I am pretty sure a few of those guys are just EA Sports create-a-players.
Qualifying for this tournament was held on October 23 and the four golfers who played their way in were Martin Contini, Andy Zhang, Danny Guise, and Kyle Wilshire.
Here are the key stats I am considering when building my lineups this week. We once again do not get any ShotLink data, but given how the course is designed and the geography of the course, we can make reasonable assumptions about what it takes to do well in Bermuda.
- SG: Approach– Iron play is always on this list and forever will be. It is the most correlated long-term stat with success. Even on shorter courses with big greens, putting yourself in position to score will be essential to keep up with the winning score this week.
- SG: Windy Conditions- This is a course right alongside the coastline and wind gusts can ramp up in a hurry and be rather unpredictable. This stat can be a little noisy, but I will certainly be giving it consideration.
- SG: P (Slow Bermuda)– Winning scores tend to be in the 15 to 19 under par range, so making birdies and avoiding bogeys will be a big key this week. Making your putts is an easy way to check both of those boxes.
- Proximity 75-150- While the wind sometimes makes this course play a little longer than its yardage indicates, it is still the shortest course in the regular Tour rotation. This leads to a lot of wedges, so we want to target good wedge players.
- Par 5 Scoring- As is the case with most courses, the three Par 5s here are the easiest three holes on the course. With some tough Par 3s to contend with, golfers are going to have to take advantage of these holes that give out a birdie almost half of the time.
DFS Top Tier Play
You can go a number of different directions this week up top, but whatever roster construction I land on, I will be sure to have Ghim in there. Starting off your lineups with Ghim may be getting a little too cute, but in a tournament with this weak of a field, this would be the time to do it if you wanted to go that route. I prefer him as a solid second man in type. Ghim has two top 20’s in the fall and two missed cuts and I am perfectly fine assuming that type of risk this week. Ghim does a host of things well that set up nicely for this course which has me intrigued by his upside here. He ranks sixth in good drives, so he shouldn’t be getting into trouble off the tee (has actually gained in 10 of his last 11 off the tee) and should be able to take advantage of that position with his elite iron play where he ranks 11th in the field on approach. Ghim also has had a pretty good track record on short courses, highlighted by his success in recent years at TPC Sawgrass. More ammunition in Ghim’s favor is he ranks first in the field on easy Par 5s, as well as sixth on difficult Par 3s, which are going to be important factors in doing well this week. The one glaring hole in Ghim’s game is the putter and all we can do is hope that he doesn’t bleed strokes on the greens this week. Bermuda greens are his worst putting surface, but of all the stats that I am willing to take a chance on turning around for one week, it’s putting. Again, his off-the-tee and iron play are solid enough, that I think just even an average putting week could set Ghim up for success here. We also get the benefit of Ghim slipping through the cracks ownership-wise, even coming off the 15th last week in Mexico. Alex Smalley right below him at $8,900 and Taylor Pendrith right above him at $9,100 seem to be garnering far more interest.
Others Considered: Thomas Detry ($10,500), Adam Scott ($10,700)
DFS Mid-Tier Play
Coming off a missed cut in Mexico, I look for a nice bounce back from Hubbard this week. Course history is really one of the only holes you could poke in Hubbard’s case this week, which I couldn’t care less about really. Hubbard is one of the most reliable iron players in the field (sixth over the past 24 rounds) and uses that elite iron play to navigate tough wind conditions well enough that I don’t have to worry about that. Hubbard does excellent work on shorter courses as well, where he ranks top five in this field. Again, Bermuda is his worst putting surface, but he is a far superior putter to Ghim and very rarely putts himself out of a tournament. I again, am attracted to his projected ownership number as well, given his upside (where DataGolf gives him the ninth-best odds of winning the tournament and 24% odds of a top ten). He will not be completely unowned by any means, but his ownership number will be in check enough that I think he makes a ton of sense this week as a second or even third man in your lineups.
Others Considered: Ryan Palmer ($8,500), Justin Lower ($7,600)
DFS Value Play
Listen, it’s a bunch of jabronis down in this neck of the woods for pricing this week, so the only thing I beg of you is not to play any highly owned jabronis in this range. Amateur, Nick Dunlap, Camilo Villegas, Brian Gay and Austin Smotherman seem to be the leaders in the clubhouse whom this applies. Every golfer in this range comes with major risk and I’m sure a good handful will be near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday because of how weak the field is. For DraftKings purposes, you have to play the game and use this as leverage to separate yourself from the field if one of these guys hits in a big way or, more likely, one of these huge ownership guys fail and you didn’t fall for the trap. Now, on to Ben Martin. It hasn’t been a stellar fall for Martin so far, but there are things to like about his game for this course in particular. I am really leaning into approach play and while the short term hasn’t been kind to Martin (losing in six of the past seven), I am going to put some faith in his long-term numbers, where he ranks 15th in the field. Martin has had his best results on short, coastal courses (2nd in the Dominican Republic, 3rd in Puerto Rico, 3rd at Harbour Town) and uses that good approach play to navigate the winds. Martin is also really solid off the tee and putting on Bermuda greens. Of all the guys in this range, I think he has one of the best potentials for a top 25-plus finish and will come with virtually no ownership, win-win.
Others Considered: Cameron Percy ($7,000), Russell Knox ($7,300)
Thomas Detry +1800 (1U DK)
Alex Smalley +2800 (.72U FD)
Justin Lower +7000 (.28U FD)
Position Player Name DK Salary G Doug Ghim $9,000 G Mark Hubbard $8,800 G Ben Martin $7,200 G G G REMAINING BUDGET REMAINING BUDGET: $24,900 FOR 3 GOLFERS