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Joseph Hooks sets early pace at Port Royal

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Joseph Hooks leads the field at the Butterfield Bermuda APGA Championship at Port Royal Golf Course by two-shots (Photograph Akil Simmons)
Bermuda’s Damian Palanyandi finished best of the locals and is tied for eleventh overall at the APGA Championship(Photograph Akil Simmons)
Bermuda’s Oliver Betschart is tied for thirteenth at three over at the Butterfield Bermuda APGA Championship at Port Royal Golf Course (Photograph Akil Simmons)

Joseph Hooks leads the field at the halfway stage of the inaugural Butterfield Bermuda APGA Championship after firing an opening round of 67 at Port Royal Golf Course yesterday.

The 29-year-old from Farmington Hills, Michigan, put together a solid round to carve out a two-shot advantage over Ryan Alford and Marcus Byrd, who are tied for second.

“I am pleased with my round especially because we did not play anything way back for the practice round yesterday,” Hooks told The Royal Gazette.

“But I made a point to pay attention to what the holes did because I had a feeling we could very well show up today and be tipped out. What I did in my practice round helped me.”

Hooks, who has pocketed $20,541 in earnings on the APGA Tour, was a model of consistency as he hit sixteen greens in regulation and was clinical with the putter posting six birdies on his scorecard.

Hooks got off to a wobbly start after two-putting for bogey on the opening hole but came storming back with four birdies before the turn.

A seven-iron approach at the par-three 3rd left him with a seven-foot birdie putt which he made with ease before gaining another shot with a five-foot putt at the 5th.

Hooks’s round gained further momentum after he two-putted for birdie from 25 feet at the 7th hole and rolled in another from six feet at the 9th.

“I was just thinking one shot at a time and you have to commit to it,” he said.

“It’s one shot at a time and if you get out of position off the tee then the approach becomes really hard. So I just committed to the tee shots really well.”

Another good wedge approach at 12 left Hooks with a ten-foot birdie attempt which he nailed to go to four under, but that shot was immediately given back on the next hole when he missed a rare green in regulation and was unable to convert a five-foot putt to save par.

That shot could have caused him to lose focus but he again bounced back to sink a six-foot birdie putt at 14 before seeing out the remainder of the back nine at level par.

Hooks is now hopeful of securing his first win on the tour with another solid round.

“‘I am playing really well this year,” he said.

“I am playing consistently, so I am not concerned with much at all and I’ve just got to keep doing what I am do doing.”

Breathing down the leader’s neck is Los Angeles resident Alford, whose two-under round of 69 included four birdies.

“Today I played some good golf,” he said. “I made a few mistakes; three-putted on a par five and made a silly up and down that I did not convert on the 5th. But other than that I had four birdies and I played some solid golf.”

Two-times winner Willie Mack III, also from Michigan, is fourth at one under followed by a foursome at even par that includes 2022 APGA Tour Player of the Year Kamaiu Johnson.

Amateur Damian Palanyandi finished best of the local talent after his round of 73 left him tied for eleventh.

“I am pretty satisfied with my round,” he said. “I played pretty solid coming in and made a couple of good putts, so it was a good finish.”

A shot adrift of Palanyandi among the field of 21 is compatriot and fellow amateur Oliver Betschart.

“I thought it was a pretty good round but I just made a few too many mistakes,” the 14-year-old said.

”My back nine was not as good as I wanted but there’s always tomorrow.“

Local pair Camiko Smith and Cory DeSilva both found the going tough on the way to disappointing rounds of 78 and 87, which left them in the last two places on the leaderboard.

DeSilva is playing as an alternate for Christian Collins, who secured exemption into the event in the local qualifier at Port Royal last week.

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Published October 12, 2022 at 8:04 am (Updated October 12, 2022 at 8:04 am)

Joseph Hooks sets early pace at Port Royal

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