Tradition builds at Butterfield Bermuda Championship into fourth year
October 06, 2022
By Kevin Prise , PGATOUR.COM
- October 06, 2022
- The Butterfield Bermuda Championship, contested at scenic Port Royal GC, will be played Oct. 27-30. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Don’t let the tranquil setting or modest length fool you.
Across its first three iterations, the Butterfield Bermuda Championship has proven one of the PGA TOUR’s most unique challenges. Entering its fourth playing, the event has assumed a staple role on the TOUR’s fall calendar, set for Oct. 27-30 at Port Royal GC in Southampton, Bermuda.
The event’s reputation has only grown since 2019, as its history and tradition build by the year.
“What an amazing place this is,” said Peter Malnati, who has recorded back-to-back top-25 finishes in Bermuda. “I played in the (2020) pro-am with four locals, and there’s just a demeanor here on the island of calmness, and it’s a relaxed nature. It’s obviously visually stunning, gorgeous, beautiful, but it seems to have a nice spirit to it. I love it, and I’m very comfortable.
“Week-in and week-out on the PGA TOUR, we play the best golf courses in the world, and we’re playing one of them right here in Bermuda, so it’s really cool.”
To date, the Bermuda Championship has raised over $1.1 million for local charities, a number that is sure to only grow in the years to come.Port Royal GC measures just 6,828 yards but packs a punch with its dynamic shot values. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)
It’s a memorable week in both venue and transportation routine. Players challenge a Port Royal GC layout that demands a variety of shot values, after a scenic ferry ride from one of the island’s ample resort districts.
Port Royal GC measures just 6,828 yards but with its seaside setting, elevation changes and a variety of doglegs, asks a lot of questions. It’s a strategic test that produces a worthy champion and sets up players for continued success through the fall and remainder of the TOUR season.
“You’ve got to be so much more precise,” said 2021 winner Lucas Herbert, who navigated tricky wind conditions over the weekend en route to a 15-under total and one-stroke victory. “You’ve got to be really good at understanding how the wind moves around the golf course.
“It’s not the longest golf course we play on TOUR, but the test is not about the length, it’s all about controlling the golf ball.”
“You’ve got to be in control of your ball flight and know your numbers and distances, where to hit and not to,” said Matt Fitzpatrick, reigning U.S. Open champion. “I think there’s a lot of mental stuff involved, and you’ve really got to think your way around. You’ve got to be on top of your game; it’s a challenge, and you’ve got to be on it for 72 holes.”I think there’s a lot of mental stuff involved, and you’ve really got to think your way around. You’ve got to be on top of your game.
The winner at Port Royal GC will be exempt on TOUR through 2025 and qualify for this season's Masters, PLAYERS and PGA Championship among other perks.
The stakes are high, in contrast to the leisurely setting of the 15-minute ferry ride from the hotel to the golf course. Players can meander the top deck and savor the ocean views, or converse with their peers in the cabin below.
Rob Oppenheim has even converted the ferry into a practice facility, doing putting drills on the top deck en route to a top-25 finish in the event’s first playing in 2019.
Bermuda comprises more golf courses per square mile than anywhere else in the world, and the tournament has strived to provide opportunities to local players through the years, including Brian Morris, head professional at nearby Ocean View GC who has terminal brain cancer but competed at last year’s Butterfield Bermuda Championship on a sponsor exemption.
Morris maintained an upbeat presence throughout the week at Port Royal GC, capturing the spirits of fellow pros and fans as well as the worldwide golf landscape.
“I believe that a positive attitude and positive outlook is probably better than any miracle drug,” Morris said. “We have a lot to be thankful for, outside of the bad things. There’s so much to life without dwelling on the bad stuff.”
Brian Morris battles cancer and competes in Butterfield Bermuda Championship
Bermuda’s climate is conducive to year-round golf, allowing local pros ample time to hone their games. Concurrently, the sport has become an integral part of the international business landscape on the island.
Each year, tournament exemptions are awarded via a local qualifier for Bermudians. The 2022 qualifier was conducted Wednesday, with Michael Sims, Jarryd Dillas and Nicholas Jones earning spots in the field at Port Royal GC.
Sims, who has spent time on the Korn Ferry Tour, has now qualified for the Bermuda Championship on four consecutive occasions. Across the past three years, his former Korn Ferry Tour-turned-PGA TOUR peers have discovered the truth to Sim’s sentiments of the island’s magic.
“I had a ton of fun with everyone,” said Harry Higgs, who finished runner-up at the inaugural Butterfield Bermuda Championship in 2019. “The island’s great, so hospitable, well-run event. It was a lot of fun, for sure.”
Lucas Herbert earns first PGA TOUR title at Bermuda