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Hagy, Ramey share lead at wind-blown Bermuda Championship


Brandon Hagy and Chad Ramey avoided the worst of the wind on Thursday afternoon, each with a 6-under 65, to share the lead in the Bermuda Championship when the opening round at Port Royal was halted by darkness.

For those who started in the morning, it might have been easier playing in the dark.

โ€œYou see winds like this, but normally you donโ€™t play in them,โ€ said Matt Fitzpatrick of England, who had every right to be satisfied with his even-par 71.

The wind and spots of heavy rain were so fierce that play was suspended briefly in the morning. And while it eased slightly in the afternoon, the gusts were strong enough that short putts were nervy and judging the distance on approach shots was key.

Ramey managed to finish off a bogey-free round right before play was halted. Hagy made nine birdies to offset his bogeys, one of which was a 2-foot par putt he missed on the par-5 seventh hole. There was not much he could about it โ€” that was largely due to a gust. Vincent Whaley had a 66, while Palmetto Championship winner Garrick Higgo, Seamus Power of Ireland and Danny Lee were among those at 67.

Reed cards 68

The group at 68 included Patrick Reed, at No. 24 the highest-ranked player in the field. He opened with three straight birdies only to give most of it back with a double bogey. This was a day for flighting the ball, such as the chip 8-iron from 118 yards. For so much of the day, the actual yardage was irrelevant.

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Reed was coming off a bogey on the 16th when he drove into a hazard on the par-5 17th. He took a penalty drop, and then hit 6-iron that plopped down near the hole and dropped for a most unusual eagle. His playing partners, Higgo and Willett, all drove into the hazard on the 17th and they managed to collectively play the hole in 3 under.

When play was stopped, 33 players were under par, some having to return Friday morning to complete the first round. Only six of those scores under par came from the morning.

โ€˜Interesting dayโ€™

Russell Knox, who grew up near Inverness in Scotland, was among the early starters and had few complaints with a 72. He was happy to be standing up. โ€œWe were down on the ground holding an umbrella. My fingers were cramping Iโ€™m holding on so tight, and it was pouring rain as hard as itโ€™s ever rained,โ€ he said. โ€œIt was an interesting day.โ€

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Hagy got a sense of that when he started in the afternoon and saw so few scores under par. Greyson Siggs and Austin Eckroat had the best rounds of the early starters at 68. They played with Seth Reeves, who had a 69. They represented half of the scores under par from the morning side of the draw.

โ€œI think it laid down a little bit for us, but it was still pretty stout,โ€ Hagy said. โ€œBut I hit a lot of good putts and they went in. I think thereโ€™s going to be some times where you get gusts and the ball doesnโ€™t go in, but you kind of have to keep your head down and keep trying to hit some good shots.โ€

Itโ€™s already been a week like no other at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship, which is offering full FedEx Cup points because it is not opposite the World Golf Championship in Shanghai, canceled for the second straight year because of the pandemic. That means the winner gets into the Masters, and only four players in the field already are eligible for Augusta National in April. The 132-man field started with only 126 players because of so many withdrawals, some by players who rarely play any more.

Brian Gay, the defending champion, was bumped from his flight to Bermuda because the plane was too heavy. He arrived on Tuesday afternoon and didnโ€™t get to play a practice round when the pro-am was canceled. Gay opened with a 75.

โ€œWe definitely got the easier part of the day there in the afternoon, but itโ€™s still a strong enough wind that your score could get away from you if you lost control of your ball,โ€ Power said. โ€œHanging in there was the thing today.โ€

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