While Brandon Hagy and Chad Ramey emerged as the overall leaders after day one of the Butterfield Bermuda Open, after six-under-par rounds of 65, not surprisingly Michael Sims ably carried the local banner during the first round of play at the Butterfield Bermuda Open.
The event got underway today (Thursday) at a beastly Port Royal Golf Couse, made so by rain and wind, which at one point during the morning session forced play to be suspended as gusts became untenable, with rain sweeping horizontally across the course.
Fortunately, for Sims, his was an afternoon tee time 6,842-yard, par-71 rated among the best public courses world-wide, as he stood playing alongside cancer survivor Brian Morris and American Sahith Theegala. And while he promptly bogeyed the par-four first, such seemed to get rid of any jitters or tension and he responded to the dropping of a stroke by gaining one at the second with a birdie.
He followed with a pair of pars on three and four and birdied five and seven to make the turn at two under.
The second nine started auspiciously with another birdie, however trouble soon followed as Sims’ struggles began at 11, where he bogeyed and did so again at 13 and 15 to fall to even par when players were called off the course with the Bermudian sitting well poised in 34th position, with three holes to be competed Friday morning.
Conversely, Morris’ struggles were evident early, often and continued throughout his round, with mistakes compounding mistakes, yet Morris and his supporter’s dubbed ‘Brian’s Army’ were unbowed as was their hero as he soldiered through the litany of errors and accumulating strokes, standing 125 at 15-over with three holes to play in his initial PGA round.
The cut may well be hopelessly beyond reach, nevertheless Morris vowed to fight on.
“Don’t get it twisted, score is important and I didn’t play the way I wanted to play today and of course I’m disappointed with my score,” explained Morris. “But that all comes down to nerves which I didn’t think I was going to have. I struggled just a tiny bit physically but to see all my people out there waving and cheering, smiling, from all walks of life, those who have supported me ever since I’ve had this nonsense.
“The thing is, they were all at the same place at the same time, which is cool. All walks of life coming together. So much variety and different walks of people in my crew, you know?
“It’s special. That’s just so cool to have, to see and to feel, especially in these times when so much seems against us, it’s a special vibe.”
As prior noted except for Sims, who spent parts of seven seasons between 2002 and 2013 on the Korn Ferry Tour the breeding ground for the top level PGA Tour all of the other struggled to varying degrees, with Chaka DeSilva and amateur Damien Palanyandi both ending at five-over (76), while Camiko Smith, playing in the morning session carded an 80 (nine over) despite playing at his home course.
Smith stood in a tie for 123, while DeSilva and Palayandi both stood in 102nd place.
“It was a little windy,” said Smith, in stating the obvious immediately following completion of his round. “I didn’t get off to the start I wanted to, it was a little rough and I was struggling from the fourth hole really.
“I just was trying to hold it together. I didn’t hit many of the shots how I wanted to, but just kept plugging away, it’s windy for everybody, so just keep plugging, try to keep it in there.
“I had a couple mistakes, so that was my round … just a tough day.”
Asked how different the course played on Thursday as to what it might on any other day Smith noted it to be vastly unlike that which he commonly experienced in his many years playing the course, one which lies just across the street from his homestead off Spring Benny, Sandys.
It’s funny how I was just mentioning that to someone,” said Smith. “This course is rarely like this. It’s only like this this time of year and even as a local playing here a lot of time it’s still an adjustment, the bunkers are different, the greens are different, the rough is different, everything’s totally different so it’s still an adjustment we have to make on the fly.
“But I actually like it and wish it could be like this all the time.”
Smith noted that he’d burn the tape of Thursday’s calamitous round and look to start afresh harbouring few memories as he seeks to advance in a positive direction up the leaderboard on Friday.
Indeed, after an outing that featured all too many wayward drives, constant scrambling to reach greens and an unkind putter, as he registered zero birdies compared to seven bogeys and a double there would seem little outside of frustration and torture to be gained from watching such.
“I’ll be burning it and starting all over,” said Smith, the nephew of former premier distance runner Kavin Smith. “I mean it’s a new day tomorrow. Every day offers a new shot with new goals, so I’ll pretty much destroy it and fix what we did today.”
Meanwhile, Palanyandi spoke to a particular bout of on course craziness that took place at the relatively pedestrian par-three 13th that ranges a mere 235 yard, easily reachable in a single shot off the tee.
”It was crazy on 13 where one of the guys hit a three-wood and it was still 20-yards short of the green which is just over 200 yards, with 100 yards downhill, which really shows how much the wind was affecting play,” explained Palanyandi. “The back nine is wide open and it was just flying across.”
The young golfer told of being buoyed by the large local contingent of spectators cheering and offering support throughout the course of play, which threatens to continue on Friday where he, Smith, Chaka DeSilva and Brian Morris will likely need all the inspiration they can get to get closer to the cut line, which already appears beyond reach barring major failures by more seasoned players.
“It was awesome, I had my girlfriend, my father, a couple friends of ours so it was good support.”
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