Teenage sensation Oliver Betschart ready to tee off on APGA tour
Oliver Betschart is determined to put his best foot forward when he makes his debut on the Advocates Professional Golf Association Tour (APGA) at Port Royal Golf Course today.
The promising 14-year- old is among a field of 21 competing for $60,000 in prize money, the fourth largest purse on the Tour, in the inaugural Butterfield Bermuda APGA Championship at the par-71 Southampton layout.
Betschart was among four locals to secure entry into the 36-hole event after he finished just outside the top three at the Bermuda Championship local qualifier held at Port Royal last week.
“I was really pleased that I qualified and have the opportunity to play in this sanctioned PGA tournament,” Betschart told The Royal Gazette.
“I like that it is helping to develop the game and is giving more opportunities to more people, which can only be good.”
After his good performance last week, Betschart enters the tournament happy with his game and full of confidence
“I know from playing over the last week what I am capable of,” he added. “I also know that I left a lot out on the course. I am positive and my game plan will be the same; one shot at a time.”
Betschart missed out on qualifying for the Bermuda Championship at the first attempt by a solitary shot.He was on course with three holes to play before a bogey at Port Royal’s signature 16th hole ended his hopes.
“After the first day shooting a 75 and being three shots off of the lead, I figured that I had a chance if I could put together a good round the next day at around even or one over,” Betschart said.
“I had a rocky front nine with a double on 5 but I birdied the next hole, shooting two over for the front.”
As the pressure started to mount, Betschart kept his composure for most of the back nine before stumbling with just three holes left to play.
“I had a really steady back nine," Betschart said. “I missed a six-foot putt for par on 16, which was my only bogey. That left me three over for the round, which was the third-lowest round of the day.
“I didn’t know where I was until I entered the clubhouse and saw some of the other scores, at which time I already knew that I was one shot out of qualifying.”
Betschart was disappointed to have fallen short after investing a lot of time and energy towards his qualifying objective.
“I decided at the end of the Bermuda Championship last year that my goal was to compete in the qualifier this year,” he said.
“I trained the whole year for this, playing tournaments in Texas, Switzerland and Scotland and I knew that if I played my game then I had a good chance.
“I was a little disappointed, but that’s golf. I played solid and I stuck to my game plan. I had a great caddie in Mike Bolsover, who helped me to keep focused.
“My coach David Ogrin, in Texas, whom I am always in contact with, was a huge part of my progress this year, including helping with my mental fitness and I also need to thank my good friend and mentor, Camiko Smith, who always looks out for me and also helped me prepare.”
Smith and amateurs Christian Collins and Damian Palanyandi also play in this week’s tournament.
“I’m looking forward to teeing it up in the APGA,” Palanyandi said. “Hopefully we can all go out there and put up some good numbers.”