Taylor Pendrith rides Canadian support to extend lead at Butterfield Bermuda ChampionshipPGA TOUR rookie leads eclectic leaderboard by three shots
October 30, 2021
By Jim McCabe, PGATOUR.COM
Taylor Pendrith shoots 65 to lead by three after 54 holes at Bermuda
SOUTHAMPTON, Bermuda – Perhaps you enjoy golfers’ stories of perseverance and resiliency. Or maybe your pleasure are travelogues of intriguing places played and below-the-radar tournaments contested by unheralded competitors.
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Take your pick, because somewhere in there, the leaderboard at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship has delectable options.
If this is a week for long shot names to seize the opportunity, you’d have to say they are doing so with remarkable panache, too, because at the end of Saturday’s third round at Port Royal Golf Course, only two of the top nine names (Danny Lee, Peter Malnati) on the leaderboard have won on the PGA TOUR.
What’s more, six of those nine names are here on strong standing in the Korn Ferry Tour category (Taylor Pendrith, Lucas Herbert, Vincent Whaley, Justin Lower, Patrick Rodgers, Curtis Thompson). And then another (Patrick Flavin) who is in contention thanks to going old-school on us and getting here via a Monday qualifier.
At times mid-way through the front nine, Flavin, who played his college golf at Miami University in Ohio, tickled the lead. So did Rodgers, who is 193 tournaments into a PGA TOUR career that has been lucrative, but somehow hasn’t produced a win.
But Rodgers doubled the par-4 11th and Flavin’s loveable story lost some shine when he failed to make a birdie on the back nine and bogeyed the par-4 18th to shoot 68 – 203 and slip into a tie for eighth.
That opened the door for Pendrith and the hard-hitting 30-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., was more than happy to oblige, even if he felt almost apologetic. “It’s hard to follow up a low round with another low one,” he said.
Of course, there’s nothing to apologize for, because following up a second-round 61 with yesterday’s 6-under 65 – both days highlighted by back-nine 31s – puts Pendrith in position to get Canadian flags waving in Ontario. Oh, and maybe shine the spotlight on Kent State and its beloved golf coach, Herb Page, because two of Pendrith’s mates from Ontario and Kent State – Mackenzie Hughes and Corey Conners – already own PGA TOUR wins and making a trio would be remarkable, to say the least.
Pendrith surely loved the topic – he and Conners are best friends and have been each other’s best man at their weddings, which was just a few weeks ago for Pendrith. Meg, the happy bride who stood just a few yards away from her husband’s post-tournament interview, is best friends with Corey Conners’ wife, Malory.Taylor and Meg Pendrith with Corey and Malory Conners at the Pendrith's recent wedding. (Courtesy)
Pendrith conceded a phone call could be in order, to see if Conners has any advice. “I’m not sure (but) I might call him. I’ve never been in this position before, so it’s new to me.”
It’s a proud Team Canada thing.
But quickly, Pendrith pulled himself into the present. True, he sits at 17-under 196 and has a three-shot lead over Lee (65), with Herbert (65) four back and Rodgers (69) and Whaley (68) tied for fifth and five behind. But unsettled weather lurks, thunderstorms and high wind, “and while it’s nice to have a three-shot lead, anything can happen and it could get crazy out there,” said Pendrith.
It did Thursday morning, too, which is where Pendrith thinks he poured a solid foundation for the week. He shot 1-under 70 during a stretch when breaking par was a challenge and while he doesn’t want those conditions (“I don’t think I ever want that”), Pendrith is confident he’ll be prepared.
One might think Pendrith’s chances are enhanced by the fact so few of the contenders have won on the PGA TOUR, but he doesn’t buy that.
They’re familiar names to him from Korn Ferry Tour competition – Herbert, Whaley, Lower, Thompson – and Pendrith knows how important this chance is for all newcomers, that this fall stretch is crucial for them.
“I mean, there will be some nerves for everybody in the top 10, I think. But I’m just going to focus on what I can control and just go play golf and try to battle the wind (and rain).
“But I know I’m hitting it really well, driving it well, and my putter’s been hot.”
That’s a delightful recipe to bring with you to the first tee, but Pendrith would caution about starting the celebration prematurely. It’s just that, well, Canadians are a proud people, and they are everywhere, it seems, when an athlete from north of the U.S. border is in contention.
Yes, even here in Bermuda.
“A lot of Canadian support,” Pendrith said with a smile. “They were singing the national anthem, which was really cool. It made me feel at home.”
Now, if can only bring it home Sunday, the music and festivities will really commence.