Spotlight on: Matt Fitzpatrick in the Butterfield Bermuda Championship at Port Royal

The Englishman was a brilliant winner at Valderrama on his latest start but can he taste more success when switching back to the PGA Tour this week?

On first glance, Matt Fitzpatrick seems a surprise inclusion in the field for this week's Bermuda Championship.

While almost every other big name in world golf rests up (there is no European Tour event), the Yorkshireman has decided that his next move should be to fly out to a course set in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

The organisers are delighted to have him add some class to one of the weakest overall fields ever seen on the PGA Tour.

But what is Fitzpatrick's motivation?

He explained during his pre-tournament press conference on Tuesday: "I was planning on playing Houston (November 11-14) originally, but we sort of looked at it statistically, that didn't suit my game as much as here, so we decided to do a swap.

"As well, I'll be playing DP World in Dubai, which is like three or four weeks, so I didn't really want to go from Houston to Dubai with a 10-hour time change and 16-, 17-hour flight.

"We felt that this suited the travel plans better as well, gives me more time to prep."

This week's venue, Port Royal Golf Course, is set by the sea and, not surprisingly, plenty of wind is predicted.

Fitzpatrick sees it as a huge factor but one he can cope with.

"You've got to be able to control your ball and for me, growing up in the U.K., I've played in plenty of wind. Playing the European Tour as well is the same.

"That's probably the No. 1 thing here from what I've been told is, you know, your wind skills. Effectively, how well you control your golf ball is a big factor in people playing well here as well as driving it straight and hitting your irons well as well.

"Most places will have approach play as kind of No. 1 most important thing, but on top of that you're looking at driving accuracy and wind here. Those were things that stood out for me more so than Houston, for example."

Will he prove up to the test? Let's look at the options for backing Fitzpatrick this week.

Fitzpatrick in the outright

Having won the Andalucia Masters on his latest start, Fitzpatrick's game is clearly in a good spot

Looking at his stats from Valderrama, he ranked 4th for Strokes Gained: Tee To Green and 1st SG: Around The Green.

This is his tournament debut at Port Royal and he'll hope the weak field offers him a golden chance to post that elusive first PGA Tour win.

Fitzpatrick has amassed over $7m in prize money from his 91 PGA Tour starts, racking up 15 top 10s, one third (Memorial 2020) and one second (Arnold Palmer Invitational 2019).

The weather forecast suggests winds over 25mph but pleasant temperatures between 75 and 80 degrees.

Fitzpatrick has played five measured rounds in such conditions, shooting 71, 74, 73, 76 and 73. In none of those did he advance his leaderboard position so, although the sample size is small, he's yet to really excel when facing strong winds set against warm skies.

Fitzpatrick in the first round

While the 27-year-old from Sheffield has yet to win on the PGA Tour, he's twice held a first-round lead Stateside.

The first of those came in the 2017 Arnold Palmer Invitational when his opening 67 was good for a piece of the 18-hole lead.

He repeated the feat in the WGC-Workday Championship earlier this year after starting out with a 66.

Fitzpatrick has also managed two first-day leads on the European Tour: the 2015 British Masters after a 64 and the 2019 Dubai Desert Classic via a 65.

Earlier in 2021 he put together a string of fast starts on the PGA Tour, his end of R1 positions reading: 2-1-7-3 (Genesis, Workday, Arnold Palmer and Players Championship).

Fitzpatrick was also fourth after the first 18 of the Scottish Open so he does have a record for starting fast at windy venues (three of the five just mentioned are in Florida or Scotland).

The big question is whether he can do as well in these really strong winds.

Fitzpatrick in a 72-hole match vs Bezuidenhout

With Fitzpatrick and Christiaan Bezuidenhout the two market leaders this week, it's natural to see that they've been paired together in a 72-hole match bet.

So what do the stats say when this duo battle it out in the same event?

They've played in the same tournament no less than 28 times over the last two years and Fitzpatrick has shot the lowest 72-hole score in 18 of them, including seven of the last 10.

Fitzpatrick has a good record up against Christiaan Bezuidenhout.
Fitzpatrick has a good record up against Christiaan Bezuidenhout.

If we apply the filter of PGA Tour events, it's 8-6 in Fitzpatrick's favour, the Englishman 4-3 ahead in 2021 tournaments.

On those numbers, Fitz deserves to be the slight favourite and that's how Planet Sport Bet see it.

Fitzpatrick's R1 three-ball

Fitzpatrick tees off at 08:08 from the 10th on Thursday morning and has fellow Englishman Luke Donald and American Nick Watney for company.

On world rankings, there is only one winner with Fitzgerald 26th, Donald 507th and Watney 313th.

And yet, the last four times they played in the same opening round, Donald shot lower in two, Fitzpatrick lower in one while there was also a Donald-Fitzpatrick tie.

On that evidence, Donald - who picks his courses and tournaments carefully - is worth a bet.

READ MORE: Punter's pointers: Patrick Reed starts in this week's Butterfield Bermuda Championship.

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