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US Open winner Graeme McDowell pays tribute to inspirational Brian Morris

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Sorely missed: Brian Morris (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Graeme McDowell is among the many around the world to have been moved and inspired by fellow professional and friend Brian Morris’s courageous battle with brain cancer.

Despite having initially been told by doctors he only had months to live, Morris defied the odds and soldiered on for a further three years before finally succumbing to his illness last Sunday at the age of 55.

Not only did the late Ocean View Golf Course head professional’s plight inspire US Open winner and Europe Ryder Cup player McDowell, it also helped him to put his own life into perspective.

“I think as pro golfers we can see the glass half-empty sometimes because it’s a difficult and a frustrating game,” McDowell told The Royal Gazette. “However, to see a guy like that going through what he went through, his outlook on life was so positive, the life goals and things he wanted to do knowing that his time on earth was potentially limited.

“I remember him telling me he was able to get back in the swimming pool and work on his fitness and train a little bit after some of the radiation chemotherapy he had gone through.

Moving tribute: US Open winner Graeme McDowell

“Simple things in life like getting back into a swimming pool is just something that we take for granted.

“He definitely helped me with perspective a little bit, understanding how lucky we are to have our health.

“I am sure he will be a big loss for golf in Bermuda, but hopefully we can celebrate his life, see him for what he was which was an incredibly huge person to go through what he did and stay as tough and hang in there as long as he did.

“We all know cancer is an incredibly debilitating disease but the treatment is the thing that is the hardest for sufferers to deal with and he did an amazing job.”

McDowell and Morris were among the field that competed in the 2021 Butterfield Bermuda Championship at Port Royal Golf Course where the latter realised a dream of playing on the PGA Tour.

“It was cool to be there at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship a couple of years back and kind of learn about his story and go out there and watch him finish his Friday round,” McDowell, a four-times PGA Tour winner, added.

“He obviously had a pretty good game, swung at it wild, but it was his passion and positivity I think is so important.

“He really puts life in perspective.

“To see the people out there watching him play the tournament, I could really feel how much love he had and inspiration for other people as well.

“It really is great to see a guy out there embracing life, try and achieve his goal to play in a PGA Tour event. I am sure it was something pretty awesome for him and his family.”

Morris had travelled to Florida with his wife, Laurie, to celebrate their wedding anniversary when his condition took a turn for the worse.

He was flown back home by Medevac and died not long after being admitted to Agape House.

“Brian and I had actually planned on connecting,” McDowell said.

“He was going to come to Orlando last week because the PGA Show was in town and he was going to stay in the area where I live.

“We were going to catch up and maybe grab a drink or have dinner and then I did not hear from him. Obviously it was disappointing to hear that he had passed away.

“He’s fought long and hard for many years and I am sure he is in a happier place now not having to fight that fight.

“He will be dearly missed, I am sure, by his friends and family and the people of Bermuda.

“He touched a lot of people in his life because he was certainly a very inspirational guy.

“I will think of him many times and cherish his memory. I was glad that I got a chance to meet him and learn his story and that him and I were able to communicate the way we did.”

Morris’s positive outlook also rubbed off on former New England Revolution striker and United States forward Taylor Twellman who also spoke fondly of the late father of five.

Taylor Twellman, left, and Brian Morris (Photograph supplied)

“Very few people you meet that have an energy that transcends life,” Twellman said.

“He took negative news and did not let it dictate his life, rather he dictated life itself. I am a better person after meeting and hanging out with Brian.”

Twellman and Morris met during the Revolution’s preseason tour of the island.

“He was a huge Revs fan as we did our preseasons in Bermuda every year,” Twellman added.

“He heard I was a golfer and he liked me as a player and we had a mutual friend, so that was our connection.

“He loved his football, he loved his golf which meant we connected immediately.”

Morris will be laid to rest today after a funeral service at Ocean View, beginning at 1pm.

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Published February 04, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated February 06, 2023 at 8:00 am)

US Open winner Graeme McDowell pays tribute to inspirational Brian Morris

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