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West, Roy and teen Betschart reach the big time

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Eric West on the way to victory in the Butterfield Bermuda Championship Local Qualifier at Port Royal Golf Course (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Eric West, Scott Roy and Oliver Betschart were all smiles in the clubhouse after qualifying for the Butterfield Bermuda Championship for the first time at Port Royal Golf Course yesterday.

West won the 54-hole local qualifier by a comfortable four shots at one under, with fellow amateur Betschart and professional Roy clinching the remaining spots after finishing tied for second at three over.

The 39-year-old West coped best in the wet and blustery conditions on the way to carding the day’s lowest round of five-under 66, that contained six birdies and a solitary bogey.

He relied heavily on a short game and putting that shone through when it mattered most to come from four shots behind overnight leader Camiko Smith and go on and claim the title to qualify for the main event at the second attempt.

“Scoring is about hitting the right place on the greens and capitalising on opportunities,” an elated West said.

“I felt really comfortable when the wind started to blow and the rain started to come down and hit some great putts and some great shots.”

West made early inroads after getting up down for birdie from the bunker at Nos 2 and No 7 to go and make the turn at two under both for the round and tournament.

Even better fortunes awaited him coming in on the back nine where he birdied Nos 10, 12, 15 and 17 to surge ahead for good and seal victory.

“Given the circumstances I was proud how I handled myself,” added West, whose only blemish was making bogey at No 13. “It was very business like; put it on the fairway, put it on the green, put it in the hole.

“I hit some great bunker shots so close I didn’t have to make a lot of putts.”

West is now looking forward to realising his dream of showcasing his talents in a PGA Tour event.

“My dream was always to play in a PGA Tour event, so I feel really lucky to be able to play in an event like this and represent Bermuda,” he added.

“The first time I attempted to qualify I wasn’t playing much golf and just didn’t play very well.

“This time I came more prepared and was just trying to play my game and take it one shot at a time.”

While West took matters all in stride, 15-year-old Betschart could barely hold back tears of joy, especially having narrowly missed out by one shot last year.

Oliver Betschart celebrates with his dad Marcus after qualifying for the Butterfield Bermuda Championship for the first time at Port Royal Golf Course yesterday (Photograph by Colin Thompson)

“This has been my goal for the whole year and now it’s finally true and it’s hard to accept it but I am really excited,” said Betschart, who carded the second lowest round of 68 that included five birdies and two bogeys.

“It’s just exciting. Last year I was up here working with the tournament staff and seeing all the work that goes on and I am really happy to be a part of it this year.”

Betschart was six shots off the lead heading into the final round and caught ablaze on the back nine where he carded three of his five birdies, including back to back at Nos 14 and 15 to safely get across the line.

“I was definitely nervous coming down the stretch and then made a lot of good shots,” he added.

“I made a good 15-footer at 16 to save par then on 18 I had that really tricky downhill for birdie and that was just kind of the breaking point there.

“I knew that was worth something.”

With Roy having all but qualified with a hole to spare, Betschart was forced to sweat it out for the final spot as professional Chaka DeSilva had a chance for birdie walking up to the 18th green.

However, the teenager would not be denied this time around as DeSilva was unable to capitalise.

“All of my nerves just let out there, it was just crazy,” Betschart added. “I respect Chaka and everything but I was really hoping he didn’t make that.”

Roy also struggled to keep his emotions in check after securing his spot in the main event.

Scott Roy is congratulated by fellow professional Camiko Smith after qualifying for the Butterfield Bermuda Championship for the first time at Port Royal Golf Course yesterday (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

“This year was going to be the year, I’ve played well and knew it was happening,” he said. “I have been very close the last couple of years and just knew if I was patient one would happen.”

The Bermuda Professional Golfers Association president shot a one-over 72 that contained three birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey.

“I played extremely well today and my caddie kept me in,” he added. “It was one shot at a time and here we are.

“Playing in a PGA Tour event hasn’t sunk in yet but I am pretty sure once it happens I will be ready.”

The trio will now join compatriot Michael Sims who received a sponsor’s exemption for the main event to be held at Port Royal from November 9 to 12.

DeSilva and fellow professional Nick Jones and amateur Jarryd Dillas secured the three qualifying spots for the Bermuda APGA Championship up for grabs after finishing fourth, fifth and sixth.

That event will also be held at Port Royal from October 26 to 28 with the winner receiving exemption into the Bermuda Championship.

Amateur Damian Palanyandi was disqualified for leaving the course after nine holes yesterday without informing the officials

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Published October 19, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated October 20, 2023 at 8:19 am)

West, Roy and teen Betschart reach the big time

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