Pendrith soaks in a peaceful Bermuda with 61 for the lead

Oct 29, 2021, 3:09 AM | Updated: 3:10 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, Bermuda (AP) — Taylor Pendrith of Canada got married two weeks ago and wasn’t sure what to expect out of his game. Once the weather cooperated, it proved to be better than ever Friday in the Butterfield Bermuda Championship.

Pendrith ran off five straight birdies at the turn and flirted with a sub-60 round until settling for two closing pars and a 10-under 61 at Port Royal, giving him a one-shot lead over Patrick Rodgers going into the weekend.

Pendrith was stuck on the wrong side of the draw for an opening round in rain squalls and 35 mph gusts that allowed only six players from Thursday morning to break par. He more than made up for it in ideal weather in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

“Felt a lot easier out there than yesterday,” Pendrith said. “Yesterday was some of the worst weather I’ve ever played in, just almost like surviving out there. Didn’t really matter how you hit it, you just have to hit shots. Today was a completely different story.”

In the calm and beauty of Port Royal, Pendrith had nine birdies and on eagle to offset his lone bogey on the 13th hole to move past Rodgers into the lead at 11-under 131.

Rodgers, who had to return to the Korn Ferry Tour Finals to get back his PGA Tour card , had the good end of the draw and took advantage. He followed a 68 in breezy conditions with a 64, chipping in for eagle toward the end of his round for a 64.

Vincent Whaley (67) was two shots behind, followed by Danny Lee (67) and David Skinns, the 39-year-old rookie from England who had another 67.

Patrick Reed, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 24, was six shots behind.

Pendrith is in his rookie season on the PGA Tour and has made the cut in his three tournaments he played. And then he took a week off to get married, taking a brief honeymoon in the north of Ontario before getting back to work.

With weather this gorgeous, it felt like a honeymoon.

“I told her we’re going to Bermuda and Mexico for the next two weeks, so pretty good vacation spots,” he said. “The weather is finally cooperating so we can enjoy it a little bit better.”

The cut was at even-par 142, and it included Brian Gay, the defending champion who had travel issues and wasn’t able to play a practice round. How much did the weather help? Camilo Villegas opened with a 77 and followed with a 65 to make the cut on the number.

Rodgers set the early target with four birdies on the front nine in the morning and then his chip-in for eagle on the par-5 seventh to reach 10-under 132.

In some respects, this season feels like a second chance. He had to grind to the end to finish in the top 125 and we didn’t, it was off to the Korn Ferry Tour to regain his card.

“I got my card at 22 and I didn’t feel like I would ever be in that position, to be quite honest with you,” he said. “I felt like I had the game to not put myself there and it was maybe a little slice of humble pie, and more so just kind of managing stress on the golf course.

“I’m really grateful to be out here, and I’m playing some stress-free golf, which is nice.”

Brandon Hagy (72) and Chad Ramey (71), who shared the 18-hole lead, failed to take advantage of the beautiful weather, though both were very much in the mix going into the weekend.

Sixteen players were separated by five shots at the halfway point.

The tournament receives full FedEx Cup points for the second straight year because it is no longer an opposite-field event with the China Golf Association canceling the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai for the second straight year.

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Pendrith soaks in a peaceful Bermuda with 61 for the lead