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Professional golfer Brian Morris dies aged 55

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Living his dream: Brian Morris got to play on the PGA Tour before succumbing to cancer when he received a sponsor’s exemption for the 2021 Butterfield Bermuda Championship (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Professional golfer Brian Morris, who inspired many thanks to his fight against cancer, has died at the age of 55.

Morris, who realised his dream of competing on the PGA Tour when he was granted a sponsor’s exemption into the 2021 Butterfield Bermuda Championship, passed away surrounded by his friends and family after he returned from hospital overseas on Sunday.

In an interview with The Royal Gazette in April 2021, Morris revealed the toll the disease had taken on his body but his remarkable attitude, love of life and boundless optimism came shining through.

“Your life is not important unless you are important to people,” he said. “If you have been dealt a crap hand, then help others who may have a similar hand. Surround yourself with positive people.

“Don’t bitch cause it’s raining. Get yourself an umbrella and be thankful your tank is filling up. Don’t be afraid to have a bad day. You can get mad and sad, but let it out and move on. I have bad days, but I also make some bad days good.

“You gotta believe. Don’t listen to statistics. Forget about life expectancy! You’re not average … you are you.

“I have helped and met so many people I would have never met before and, maybe just maybe, I got this disease so I that can help others. Maybe that’s my calling?

“I don’t have millions but I have positivity to spare and I care; that may be worth more than any amount.”

It is precisely that generosity of spirit that has led the world of sport to unite in mourning for one of Bermuda’s great sportsman and characters, with golfers past and present lining up to pay to tribute to his life and career.

Michael Sims competed in the 2021 Butterfield Bermuda Championship alongside Morris, and relayed the depth of emotion generated by his great friend’s passing

“I was very fortunate to have known Brian for so many years, I don’t even know where to begin.

Butterfield Bermuda Championship: Brian Morris (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

“The things that I will miss are the texting, the calling and the little conversations. But even 20 years ago when he was working up at Belmont, the conversations that I had then with him, he was never afraid to lay it on the line in just telling you what he was thinking.

“It always came from a place of love, at least that’s how it came to me. He always came from a place of love and I was definitely very fortunate to have spent a lot of time with him and to play some golf with him. Our experience at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship I will live with for whatever time I have left.

Brian Morris at the BPGA Stroke Play Championship (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

“I am going to miss him but I also know he is always around me. Yesterday I was crying and they were tears of sadness, but also joy just to know that he is pain free.

“Just to see what he did with himself and how he changed his ways a little bit. He got into the golf community and to his impact is worldwide with one man from little old Bermuda touching people across the globe and that’s pretty grand. It really is.

“Whenever he told you something, it was coming from his heart. There was nothing ill intended in it and he stuck up for what was right. We all make mistakes but he learnt from them and that’s what we loved about him because he lived every second. I am going to miss him.”

The Butterfield Bermuda Championship appearance represented the pinnacle for Morris and the tournament organisers expressed their condolences.

“The Bermuda Tourism Authority, Butterfield and our event management team are all deeply saddened by the news,” Danielle Carrera, Tournament Director of the Butterfield Bermuda Championship, said.

“We feel tremendously lucky to have been a part of Brian's phenomenal journey, and to have helped him fulfil his dream to play in a PGA TOUR event with a sponsor’s exemption to our 2021 event.

“Brian Morris was a talented, caring and selfless soul dedicating many years of his life to making a difference despite his battle with cancer. Our thoughts are with his family and many loved ones at this difficult time. One love, Brian Morris.”

Port Royal professional Steven Lambert Jr was often in competition against Morris but found it impossible not to warm to his opponent.

“He was a competitor, leader, friend and ultimately my counterpart co-worker with him being the head professional at Ocean View Golf Course and me being the head pro at Port Royal Golf Course,” he said.

“I will miss him dropping positive energy, insight and advice towards my career and ultimately another mentor that I had after the passing of my former boss Greg Maybury.

“I am going to miss him and I wish his family and friends condolences and hope that I can continue to help around the community, like he did in golf with youth and adults to spread the positivity of golf around Bermuda, because his happy place was the golf course and I try to live the same way.”

Bermuda professional Dwayne Pearman is another who will miss the jovial Morris.

“It’s a sad day and Brian was a trooper,” he said. “He was a great guy and well liked by everyone that knew him.

“I got to meet Brian as a golf professional. He was a good professional, he was taught well and everybody really liked him. It’s sad that he’s gone.

“Whoever came into contact with Brian knew he was the guy. He would make you laugh 24 hours and he was a fun guy and was always smiling. Always happy go lucky and I am glad I got to know him.

“He was just so friendly and nice and it’s too bad that it’s come to this. But I just want to wish his family all the best; his wife and his kids and everybody and I am hoping they just hang in there because I know it is not easy.

“Brian used to call me greed and I am going to miss seeing him at Ocean View. I used to walk in the office and first thing he’d say was ‘hey greed, how’s things going and all that stuff’ so I am going to miss him.”

Brian Morris greets well-wisher D'Ani Pitcher, 9, on the second day of the 2021 Butterfield Bermuda Championship (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Daniel Augustus heard the news after competing at Torrey Pines on Sunday and remembered Brian as a good man.

“My condolences to the Morris family. Brian was a staple of golf in Bermuda so my condolences and rest in peace Brian.

“It’s tough because Brian was everybody’s friend. He was a good man and he will be surely missed; not just in the golf community but period. The Flatts County Mayor, nobody loved Flatts like Brian loves Flatts.”

Ebonie Cox, who was the first female golfer to play in the Johnnie Walker Classic at Ocean View Golf Course last year, paid tribute to her friend.

“We bonded off of a passion for golf originally but he showed me so much more than that,” she said.

“I used to tell him how much him and his wife reminded me of my mother; him for his resilience and her for just the strength she showed and continues to show. He would always stress the importance of family and making sure the people you love and care about knew it.

“All I can think about when I remember him is his passion; his passion to live. His passion to love and his passion to help. His passion was infectious and I will forever be grateful for the support and most importantly the friendship we built.

“My heart, thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

The Bermuda Government’s Consolidated Golf Courses Board of Trustees said in a statement: “We express our profound sadness on learning of the passing of our golf professional at Ocean View Golf Course, Mr Brian Morris.

“Brian’s courage battling terminal illness became a role model for many to emulate as he lived with purpose to the very end. Our prayers and heartfelt condolences go out to his wife, children and family.

“In addition, we recognise his golfing and sporting family in Bermuda and around the world are also mourning his passing.

“Brian Morris did not allow a terminal illness to prevent him from living his life purposefully.

“May he rest In peace.”

It was not just on the golf course where Morris’s sporting prowess was evident as he was a decent cricketer in his youth and former national player and coach Barry Sousa remembers him well.

“I dealt with Brian at Nationals with the league team as well as the Shell Youth Tournament,” Sousa said.

“He played along with Derek Wright, Mark and John Ray, Albert Steede, Cleon Scotland and all those guys and he was a decent cricketer.

“He was a left-handed opening bat, but he could also bowl and was a good fielder. He was definitely a decent player.

“He was a fun-loving type of guy and the guy you want in the changing room. If you wanted a little joke or laugh to bring you up Brian was the man. He was a good guy to have in the team.”

Former Wolves president Kavon Trott also recalled Morris’s days as a footballer.

“I was the coach and he was my left winger,” Trott said. Brian trained and worked very hard as a footballer.

“He came from BAA but grew up in the neighbourhood so everybody already knew him and he just fitted right in. He came and did his job and we all had a good time. After we played football win, lose or draw we always had a good time and that was our thing.”

Saltus Grammar School, where Morris attended high school, also paid respect to the former student, who excelled at cricket as a left-arm seamer before turning his attention fully to golf.

“The sincere condolences from all the Saltus family to the family of alum Brian Morris,” Saltus said in a Facebook post. “His fight against cancer was incredible and his fortitude throughout the battle was a lesson to us all.

“Brian was truly one of life’s great characters and will be greatly missed by his family and legion of friends.”

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Published January 31, 2023 at 10:44 pm (Updated February 01, 2023 at 1:51 am)

Professional golfer Brian Morris dies aged 55

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