Camiko Smith and Michael Sims set the tempo in Local Qualifier
Camiko Smith, the 2020 medallist, and Michael Sims hold a four-stroke lead after the first round of the Butterfield Bermuda Championship Local Qualifier yesterday at windy Port Royal Golf Course, where high scores were the order of the day.
Sims and Smith, who played in the same threesome, shot one-over-par 72 to lead the 23-man field in the hunt for four qualifying places in the third Bermuda Championship, from October 28 to 31.
The pair, who qualified last year, are clear of amateur Will Haddrell in third place after his five-over 76, while Chaka DeSilva is in the other qualifying spot after shooting 77.
Only four other golfers shot a sub-80 round – Fraser Hunt, Damian Palanyandi, Chris Grantier on 78 and veteran Kim Swan on 78 – as just three strokes separate nine players from fourth to thirteenth places going into today’s final round.
Also still in contention on 80 are Kenny Leseur, Jevon Roberts, Scott Roy, Nicholas Jones and Dwayne Pearman.
Smith, the top local qualifier last year, just missed an-even par round after shooting an eagle three on the par-five 17th, only to close the round with a bogey on the next hole.
He placed his second shot on the edge of the green near a couple of palm trees before chipping it into the hole as the roar of some fans could be heard at the clubhouse.
“The chip shot was perfect, my short game has been really good, I’ve been putting in a lot of work with that,” Smith said afterwards. “I hit my spot and it rolled in.”
Smith admitted the conditions were tough yesterday with the southwesterly wind testing the golfers on the back nine. He carded 36 on the front nine and 36 on the back after making bogeys on 15 and 16 before the eagle on 17 and another bogey on 18.
“The back nine was very windy, it was blowing like maybe 20 knots,” Smith said. “I knew on the front nine I had to get off to a good start.
“I had a good up-and-down on 1, ran in a good 60-foot birdie putt on 2, birdied 3 from about 20 feet. I was really trying to get off to a really good start, which I did, but unfortunately I didn’t birdie 7.
“I bogeyed 6 and 8, unfortunately, but on 10 I knew I had to get something going. It was up and down on the back nine because it was windy and I knew it was going to be tough.”
Sims, after shooting 40 on the front nine with bogeys on Nos 1, 4, 7 and 8, turned it around on the back nine with a 32 after birdies on 10, 12 and 17.
“I was doing my best to go birdie for birdie with him and pretty much did that,” Smith explained. “All in all, I’m pretty pleased with my round, my caddie, John [Park], kept me in good spirits all day.”
Smith and Sims will be looking for another steady round today, while the chasing pack will look for lower scores, knowing that the battle for at least the last two places are still up for grabs.
“I’ll just look to do the same thing I did today, just keep it tidy tomorrow and birdie the par-fives and keep it solid,” Smith said of his game plan.
Swan, one of the more experienced golfers in the field, knows that he still has a chance today. Immediately after his round of 79, he was on the practice green working on his short game.
“I knew that today would be a challenging day on this golf course,” Swan said. “My game plan was good, my execution was a little tentative.
“The shots I missed were the shorter shots, the longer shots I was able to execute well. A day like today you had to stick to your game plan and make sure that you don’t make big numbers.
“It’s another round to play, nobody is under par and it is all to play for tomorrow. I’m here working on my short game because that’s where it is going to be, to chip well, make some putts and be in position.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow, I really am. I’m looking for a better than average score tomorrow.”
Cricketer-turned-golfer Delyone Borden, is on 81, along with Scott Barnett, two strokes ahead of Jarryd Dillas while Anthony Phipps, who was the third qualifier last year, was well down the field after his opening-round 84.