Gusting winds and persistent rain could do little to diminish the case for spectacular performances and high drama in the final round of the Butterfield Bermuda Championship at picturesque Port Royal Golf Course today (Sunday).
Australia’s Lucas Herbert eventually won his inaugural tour title but his victory was not without adversity, a few faux paid, and determined challenges by several others who had designs on lifting the Bermuda Triangle trophy cast in cedar themselves.
As overnight leader Taylor Pedrith fell away, so Lucas Herbert and Danny Lee commenced a battle among the final group, before Lee was undone by a double bogey at 12 furthered by consecutive bogeys at 13 and 14 that placed him three shots back.
Tour rookie Pendrith, playing in just his third top tier event, had a disastrous front nine of three-over, steadied the ship to stay a stroke of the lead into the final three holes.
Not only Pendrith and Lee, his playing partners, Herbert had as his toughest foe the specter of Patrick Reed, the 2018 Masters champion, who was already safely in the clubhouse at -14 following a final round 65 that included seven birdies against just a single bogey, but his aura yet wafting on course.
A hiccup on 13 seemed a possible precursor to succumbing to the pressure involved, however a swift recovery ensued at the 14th as a birdie planted him back in front at -15 and given the controls Herbert never again wavered effecting par on the remaining four holes.
While Lucas’ driving and approach play throughout the week left a bit to be desired _ he was less than stellar in greens-in-regulation and fairways hit _ he stood among the leaders in driving distance and putting, while being above average in sand saves the latter three areas serving him well with gusting winds and rain placing shot-making around and on the greens at a premium.
Asked how much Patrick Reed’s score played into his mind considering his status as a Masters champion and a nine-time Tour winner, Herbert replied: “Yeah, I think, I mean, early on in the round I think I checked the board through about three or four holes and it was a pretty big gap between fourth and third, which I think I was third at that point.
“From there, I wanted to feel like we all kind of pushed on and pushed forward and really separated ourselves from the rest of the field, you know. My feeling was if it was just us three, it was easy to keep an eye on how other guys were playing and you knew a lot about what was going on. Obviously you see Patrick play well and post 14 under, it’s difficult to know what they’re doing when that group’s in front of you and you’re sort of watching a leaderboard.
“I think we saw he posted that on 14, so yeah, from there we knew that was the number that we just had to beat coming in. I felt like 16 was going to do it outright and 15 was probably a playoff, so that was kind of what I was thinking heading down probably 13 and 14.
“It was good being in that group that we’re in though because it felt like it was sort of a three-horse race and almost like match play really.”
Further queried about events on 13 and 14 Herbert said that he’d not thought he’d done much in error at 13 to drop a shot, but admitted his rebounding on 14 to be a crucial play on his part toward ensuring victory.
“Yeah, I mean, I didn’t do a lot wrong for that bogey on 13, the putt just kind of bowed a little bit on me. I hit three pretty good shots and it wasn’t in the hole yet,” he said. “I just had to make sure I stayed positive and stayed patient.
“I holed a lot of putts from 25 to 40 feet this week, so I kind of got over that putt on 14 and went, like this is your range, you’ve holed so many of these this week, like you’re probably going to hole this one as well. I just felt super confident. From the moment it left the putter, I was like, that’s not going to miss, that’s going in.”
Left to mourn what might have been overnight leader Pedrith said: “Yeah, it was a brutal day out there, it was super tough.
”Danny and Luke were playing pretty nice and made a couple birdies early. I was just kind of cruising, making pars and I didn’t really get anything going. But, like I said, I hung around, I was right there on 17 tee.
“So it’s a new experience for me, pretty cool. It was a fun day. Wish I played a little bit better, but lots of positives.”
Following his victory Herbert was joined on the 10th tee by Premier David Burt for a photo-op and brief conversation, after which TNN’s Trevor Lindsay caught up with the Premier to ask his opinion of this year’s event, one burdened by inhibiting conditions, but nevertheless providing many periods of exhilarating play and performances.
“One of the things that’s most important from the tourism perspective is to highlight what Bermuda has to offer and events like this are an excellent showcase for us to do that, so I’m most grateful that the event was able to take place.
I’m grateful for the work of all the volunteers and team here at Port Royal Golf Course,” said Mr. Burt. “I’m certainly grateful for all the Bermudians who participated and represented this country well.
“And certainly congratulations to the champion, I think it’s been a good few days of golf and, for me, tomorrow it’s back to work.”
Noting how this year’s tournament had attracted players of much higher status on the PGA Tour as had been the case in previous years, where a more lucrative World Golf Championship event hosted in China had drawn away top talent from competing on local shores, the Premier was asked if Bermuda would be more so willing to negotiate an extension of the current five-year agreement that has the Championship contracted through 2023.
“Maybe, maybe not,” was the non-committal response. “I actually don’t know those things personally, that’s more operational matters dealing with the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA), my role is not to get into specific details thus I’m not able to answer that, but it’s something that we examine, as with everything, the return on investment, whether or not it’s been beneficial, and then we can decide whether or not we continue.”
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