Warm Bermuda welcomes Tour

For PGA Tour players seeking an ideal spot to earn their first victory, look no further than this week’s Bermuda Championship.

The Tour heads into its 21st straight week of tournaments since the return to action after the coronavirus shutdown. In that time, we’ve seen 16 different winners with Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau being multiple victors in that stretch. It’s no wonder some, if not all, of the players are running on fumes.

That’s one of the reasons this week’s event features a less-than-stellar field with just one of the top 50 ranked players in the world teeing it up —defending champ Brendon Todd, who is ranked 41st.

Another reason would be the travel that’s involved. After a leisurely three-week stint on the West Coast — including two weeks in Las Vegas and one in Southern California — the Tour packs up and heads east more than 3,000 miles to Port Royal Golf Club in Bermuda.

There’s at least one more reason the field is bottom-heavy in talent. Next week is a stop in Houston that many players will use as a warmup to the Masters.

Right now, the beautiful island of Bermuda is front and center for those looking up at those top-ranked players. This tournament gives them the chance to soar up the FedEx Cup rankings. And with 500 points available, the winner will certainly move into contender status. Add in all the perks, especially the two-year-plus exemption, and you’ve got plenty on the line.

This is the second year of the event with Todd winning last year. To say that kick-started his year would be an understatement as he also won two weeks later at the Mayakoba Golf Classic. Those two victories helped him to a top-20 finish in the FedEx Cup race and got him all the way to the Tour Championship.

So, yes, this tournament does matter despite the lack of a star-studded field. The PGA Tour thinks so as well. Todd’s winner’s share of the purse last year was a paltry (at least by PGA Tour standards) $540,000. This year it has been upped to $720,000.

Todd will be in the field, but we’re going with one of those players who has been showing up on leaderboards here and there with more and more frequency. We’re thinking it’s about time for Harold Varner III, at nice 25-1 odds, to put together four solid rounds and win for the first time.

He has been close enough that he’s gaining confidence every time out. And with the field being narrowed as many of the big names have The Masters in their sights, this is an ideal spot.

Varner’s most recent outing, the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas, saw him with a T-13 finish. A so-so final round of 2-under-par 70 took him out of the chase for a title. He was 2-over through his first three holes and was treading water until a run of four straight birdies on the back nine got him right back in contention. He double-bogeyed the par-3 17th (a tee shot in the water) to sink his chances of winning.

We’re banking on the fact he’s getting closer to steadying those final-round nerves.

We’re also looking at another player who has yet to win on the big tour and that’s Will Zalatoris. At 12-1 he’s the favorite and with pretty good reason. 

Since being No. 1 on the Korn Ferry Tour, all he’s done is climb the ladder on the PGA Tour. Since the start of the wraparound season he’s had four starts and three finishes of T-8 or better including a T-6 at the U.S. Open.