Dream come true for Smith
Camiko Smith exorcised his demons of the past after qualifying for the PGA Bermuda Championship at the second bite of the cherry at Port Royal Golf Course yesterday.
The 34-year-old came up short at last year’s 36-hole local qualifying event at the same venue after squandering the lead on the back nine.
However, Smith would not be denied this time around, as he carded a one-under-par 141 to win by five shots and more importantly punch his ticket to the main event at the Southampton layout starting in two weeks.
“This means a lot, especially being my home course,” he said. “Playing in a PGA Tour event is a dream come true and you have to thank the Government and the Bermuda Tourism Authority for getting an event here.
“It’s an opportunity that doesn’t come around too often, so it’s definitely a dream come true and great opportunity.”
Smith held a one-shot advantage over the chasing pack at the start of yesterday’s round and never gave his rivals a look-in the rest of the way.
The Port Royal professional closed with final round of even-par 71, which included two birdies and as many bogeys to go with his one under the previous day.
“My strategy was basically play it one shot at a time and play smart,” Smith added. “I spoke to my coach [Carlos Brown] yesterday and he just told me to play smart, don’t get suckered in, and that’s exactly what I did. I stayed to myself and did what I had to do.”
Smith gained early momentum after getting and up and down for birdie with a ten-foot uphill putt at the 4th hole.
Despite three-putting for bogey at the 6th, he was still in control at even par at the turn, which left him three shots clear of the chasing pack.
Smith moved back to one under for the round after tapping in a short birdie putt at the 14th hole but was pegged at the par-three 16th, which he bogeyed after his tee shot found the bunker.
However, he quickly regained his poise with successive pars on the final two holes to seal the deal with plenty of breathing room to spare.
“This is something that I have wanted to do my entire life,” Smith said. “To be home and have that putt [at the 18th hole], go in and have my mom there was pretty exciting.”
Meanwhile, Michael Sims and Anthony Phipps secured the remaining two qualifying spots after finishing tied at four-over 146.
Phipps, a professional based in Orlando, Florida, shot the day’s lowest round of 70, with four birdies and three bogeys.
He was two under through nine holes and, despite making bogey at Nos 13 and 16, he did enough to achieve his qualifying objective.
“I’m speechless and a lot of emotions,” he said.
“Obviously coming down the stretch, I was just trying to get the ball in the hole. The back nine I had nine fours, my whole scorecard was all fours, so it was pretty consistent back nine steady and it was enough to get the job done.”
The 23-year-old was all alone in second until Sims birdied the last two holes to close with an up-and-down 73 that contained five birdies, two double bogeys and three bogeys.
Sims’s hopes hung in the balance after making the turn at three over.
However, the former Korn Ferry Tour player was equal to the task as he rallied coming in to repeat his qualifying feat of 2019.
“My caddie at one point asked me do I want to know where I
am and I was like ‘no’,” Sims added. “It ain’t going to change the way that I play or anything, so there’s no need to add that in there.
“You have a shot at this thing no matter what. But 15, 16, 17 and 18 aren’t exactly the easiest closing holes on the golf course.”
Sims two-putted for birdie at the par-five 17th and carded another birdie on the last after his wedge approach left him with a three-foot putt, which he nailed.
“I knew I had to finish strong,” Sims added. “The one thing that I always draw on is some of the past things that I have done, and I have closed things out in the past like that.”
Andrew Trott claimed the first alternate spot after beating amateur Will Haddrell on the first play-off hole, which he birdied, after the pair finished regulation tied for fourth on 148.
Scott Roy claimed the third alternate spot after coming out on top in a five-man play-off, which also included fellow professional Daniel Augustus and amateurs Eric West, Robert Vallis and Jarryd Dillas. They had finished on 149.
The Bermuda Championship will be played from October 29 to November 1.
1 Camiko Smith 70 71 141
T2 Michael Sims73 73 146
T2 Anthony Phipps 76 70 146
T4 Andrew Trott 75 73 148
T4 Will Haddrell (a) 71 77 148
T6 Eric West (a) 76 73 149
T6 Robert Vallis (a) 75 74 149
T6 Scott Roy 77 72 149
T6 Jarryd Dillas (a) 72 77 149
T6 Daniel Augustus 74 75 149
T11 Mark Phillips 78 76 154
T11 Christopher Smith 78 76 154
T11 Mikus Ming (a) 74 80 154
T11 Dwayne Pearman 74 80 154
T15 Fraser Hunt (a) 77 78 155
T15 Philip Hagen (a) 77 78 155
T17 Jevon Roberts (a) 80 76 156
T17 Mark Robinson (a) 77 79 156
19 Andrew Trott-Francis 78 85 163
20 Calvin Hendrickson (a) 82 83 165
21 Cornell Bean Jr 87 82 169
22 Michael Wells (a) 86 88 174
23 Tariqah Walikraam 86 89 175
Chaka Desilva 79 WD WD