While 15-year-old Oliver Betschart will make history on Thursday as the youngest golfer to participate in the Butterfield Bermuda Championship, Michael Sims begin a quest of his own toward establishing another first, that of being the first Bermudian to make the cut at the prestigious event.
Kenny Leseur was also just 15 when he qualified in 2019, but Betschart is six months youngers and so will inherit the ‘youngest player’ title once he tees off at Port Royal’s 10th hole at 1.25 pm, yet to hear him speak and observe the levels of composure, maturity and reserved confidence is to bear witness to someone destined for greatness, no matter that it be a regular place on tour, atop the corporate ladder or some other place of leadership.
His humility masks a gritty determination to succeed by extracting every ounce of his ability, even as he faces the world’s best on the preeminent stage of tour golf.
Yes, he will be nervous, but any jitters will dissipate at the first swing of his driver, this he knows and then he will look to utilise the thousands of moments spent on the picturesque course straddling the westernmost parishes to his best advantage.
“Nerves are, they’re meant to be there, it just means that you care about it,” said Betschart, offering a grownup response. “I don’t think nerves are a bad thing, it’s going to happen obviously.
“I mean, this is the big stage here and you’re out here to play and have fun.
“For Port Royal, it’s all in the wind. It’s a tricky course, but when that wind picks up it just becomes so much more difficult. I think that’s what the players out here are going to have to look for now and focus on wind.”
In fact the youngster believes he has a distinct advantage over the field when it comes to knowledge and understanding of the course.
He understands he will concede distance off the tees, but he will hope to make up this deficiency with his irons and scrambling ability.”
“I’ve played this course over thousands of times now, so I know a bit more strategy and I mean, me and my coach, David Ogrin, have gone over this as well,” he said. “I definitely have a bit of an advantage now having played the course a bunch of times and I just play my game, play how I’ve been doing now for the last few years.”
Sims is hoping that his having been granted an exemption and not having had to go through the rigours of qualifying, but being left to simply work on his game and focus on the prize beyond the initial challenge will act in his favour.
“Number one, my body feels a lot better just from doing a little bit of the work that I have been doing out in the States, which has involved caddying in the past and then coming back here and qualifying and then going and caddying again,” said Sim’s, hopeful that the fifth time competing in the event is a charm. “It’s basically a rush for everything.
“With the exemption, I’ve had a couple weeks actually in my own bed, which has been really, really nice, so the body’s feeling good.
“I got to practice a little bit, so I feel good.
“So it’s either going to be great or it’s going to be pure hell out there, but that’s the way golf is anyway.”
Sims’ tournament gets under-way, alongside Betschart and Floridian, Andy Zhang.
The remaining locals in the event are Scott Roy and Eric West, with Roy slated to tee off at 1.03 [10th hole] and West at 8.45 [1st hole].
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