Internationals thriving in the wind: Final round preview of the Butterfield Bermuda Championship

Canada’s Taylor Pendrith leads from New Zealand’s Danny Lee, with Australia’s Lucas Herbert alone in third at Port Royal GC.

In the first two editions of the Butterfield Bermuda Championship two PGA Tour American veterans thrived in the blustery conditions.

This week the vibe has been all about internationals seeking an important win at the top level.

Canada's Taylor Pendrith, who leads on 17-under 196, and Australia's Lucas Herbert, currently third on 13-under, are both chasing a breakthrough first win on the PGA Tour. They sandwich second-placed Kiwi Danny Lee who is looking for his second win, six years after his first and following injury woes earlier in the year.

Pendrith and Herbert are not alone in their quest: in fact, no less than 12 of the 16 players currently T10th or better heading into the final round are chasing a maiden triumph on the circuit.

The 30-year-old leader has been thrilled by the unexpected cheers from the galleries.

"A lot of Canadian support," he said after adding a 65 to his second lap of 61. "They were singing the national anthem, which was really cool. They seem to be everywhere you go, there's Canadians every place. Made me feel at home."

His nearest rival revealed earlier in the week that his poor summer form had been the consequence of an injury that had 100% healed - and also that he had been working hard on his game, specifically his putting.

He had sounded chipper then and the mood has not remotely abated.

"I didn't have a low expectation," he said of his pre-tournament thoughts. "I'd worked my ass off this last month.

"Getting on the plane over here, I was kind of expecting to do something great, and I need to. I didn't come here just to play golf, I came over here to play some good, really good golf.

"I'm doing it right now and it's good to see it happening. I just need one more day like this."

Can he overhaul the leader? Let's take a closer look at the stats and the leading contenders.

Tournament trends

There have only been two previous editions, but we can glean some information from them.

Both times the winner ranked first on the par-4s. Both had great putting stats, ranking sixth and fourth, and third and third, for Putting Average and Putts per Round. Both of them have also performed to a high standard on similar courses (windy, demand accuracy, grainy greens) - specifically wins at El Camaleon and top five finishes at Harbour Town.

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Both winners were two shots back after 54 holes (tied fifth and tied second), while last year's play-off loser had been one back (tied second). With the potential for gusts of up to 25mph that might be less of a factor in the final round; it might also prevent anyone making a dart at the leaders.

Taylor Pendrith - leader on 17-under

His three round total matches the tournament's 54 hole record and he birdied three of the four par-3s on Saturday.

He's had five 54 hole leads - all of them on the third tier Canadian Tour - and won just the once. That was the most recent example, however, when he had a five shot lead in the 2019 Mackenzie Investments Open. He graduated from the Korn Ferry Tour last season, but was not a winner at that level.

He ranks fifth on the par-4s, fourth and eighth in putting. He's done little of note on windy, tight courses with grainy greens.

He said: "I just know that I'm hitting it really well, driving it well and my putter's been hot. The two guys I was playing with were lighting it up through six and it felt like I was getting lapped. But me and my caddie just stuck to our process and said we're going to get on a run at some point. I've never been in this position before, so it's new to me. Just going to try to enjoy the day."

Danny Lee - solo second on 14-under

He's chasing a second PGA title in his 272nd start, having first triumphed in the 2015 Greenbrier Classic. He's playing on a minor medical exemption this week - solo second would earn him a full card for the season.

He does have three worldwide wins - the other two coming on the European Tour in 2009 and the Korn Ferry Tour in 2011. On all three occasions he hunted down a leader from this position - he was one, two and six shots backs with 18 holes to play.

He's five times been second after 54 holes and is yet to earn a win, but he has always recorded tied seventh or better.

He ranks second on the par-4s, first in both putting categories and has finished second and third at El Camaleon.

He said: "I played very, very well over all. It feels great. I haven't had this kind of round or this kind of week in a while. It's good to be back in contention and feel a little bit of nerves and seeing the crowds and getting to mix with the crowds, hitting a lot of good golf shots, making a lot of birdies out there. It's been a lot of fun."

Lucas Herbert - solo third on 13-under

A 19th PGA Tour start for the Aussie whose best finish so far was his T18th at the Memorial Tournament in June.

He's inexperienced on this circuit, but he's a two-time winner on the European Tour. In the first of those, at the 2020 Dubai Desert Classic, he chased down a final round six shot deficit in high wind. The second win came earlier this year when he went wire-to-wire at the Irish Open. He's 0-for-2 when third at this stage.

He's eighth in the par-4 scoring this week and has that win in the wind and on Bermuda in Dubai, but his putting ranks are 22nd and 10th.

"The harder it is, the better, I think," he said of the Sunday forecast. "It's definitely a big thing to have won before and know what it takes to win. Experience is going to be good, but I'm going to have to play really well to beat them as well."

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The chasers

In a tie for fourth, Patrick Rodgers doesn't have good stats, but Vincent Whaley does (third, third and fourth). He's finished second in the Bahamas and ninth in Puerto Rico. His Sunday method? "I'm just doing my thing out there, just trying to plod along."

It's probably too late for Graeme McDowell. He got it to 5-under for the day through 10 holes of his third round, but stalled and is now eight back on 9-under. A pity because he leads the par-4s and is a past winner at El Camaleon. His putter hasn't been warm enough this week.

Garrick Higgo sits alongside him and has won from off the pace this season, in the Palmetto Championship (he was six back at this stage). Before that he won twice in the Canary Islands (the other side of the Atlantic). He ranks eighth on the par-4s and second and third on the greens. He might have the capacity to go low and scare the leaders.

Conclusion

We already highlighted the strong credentials of Lee after the first round and at 5/1 he merits backing if you're not already on. His stats are good, his El Camaleon record superb and he sounds confident.

Higgo might be worth changing at a huge price of 125/1 each way because he's enjoyed these conditions, can go low, and if the two leaders have problems he's actually only four back of third.

A conservative play might be just laying the leader.

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