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Detry starts well, Smotherman and Endycott lead way in Bermuda

Detry starts well, Smotherman and Endycott lead way in Bermuda

Thomas Detry made a fine start to the Butterfield Bermuda Championship, as Austin Smotherman stormed to the top of the leaderboard.

Port Royal is the shortest course on the PGA Tour rotation, with a strong wind the major defence of the 6828-yard track.

The wind blows most days of the year on a course that hugs the coast in Southampton, but there was not a breath on the opening day – and the players cashed in.

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Smotherman produced a career-low round of 62 to storm to the top of the leaderboard at nine-under.

It was target golf for Smotherman, who needed only 23 putts over the course of 18 holes, and a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for a player who carded a double bogey on his final hole earlier in the year at the Wyndham Championship to lose his card.

Defections to LIV Golf handed him a route back on Tour and he is looking to take full advantage in Bermuda.

Harrison Endycott was among the late starters and he made three birdies and an eagle in his final five holes to join Smotherman on nine-under.

Detry has been mixing life on the PGA Tour and DP World Tour in Europe. The Belgian has spoken about being keen to make a mark among the big names on the American circuit, and started well with a round of 64.

“I am happy with my driving,” Detry said. “It is performing well, hopefully I can keep this up. It is Bermuda (grass) everywhere so you need to keep it in the fairways as you get pretty much no control out of the rough.”

Detry is looking to conserve energy after a busy period on both sides of the Atlantic.

“Another key is rest,” Detry said. “I have been travelling a lot.

“I played well in Vegas (Shriners Children’s Open), but ran out of steam at the end of the tournament on Sunday. I ran out of steam and did not have any more fuel in my body. Lots of rest will be key.”

Arjun Atwal only found out he was playing 25 minutes before he teed off, as he was first alternate and secured a spot in the field when Nicholas Lindheim withdrew due to a back injury.

The Indian, who won the Wyndham Championship 12 years ago, has barely picked up a club in months having been at home following the death of his father.

With an old putter in the bag, Atwal made nine birdies and one bogey in a round of 63.

First Round Leaderboard

  • T1. Austin Smotherman, nine-under
  • T1. Harrison Endycott, nine-under
  • T3. Arjun Atwal, eight-under
  • T3. Adam Schenk, eight-under
  • T3. Scott Brown, eight-under
  • T3. Denny McCarthy, eight-under
  • T3. Robby Shelton, eight-under

“This is the way I used to putt,” Atwal said. “I brought my old putter with me, my Craz E, and I haven’t putted all that well with it even in the last few years whenever I brought it out, but today just got my old feels back.

“I think I led the Tour in ’05 in putting and this was the putter that I putted with, and also when I won the Wyndham was this putter.

“Today I just felt my old feels back and I started seeing my lines and it was really fun.”

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Harry Higgs has had a torrid time, missing 12 cuts since his fine 14th-placed finish at the Masters, but he found form in Bermuda with a round of 64.

“I legitimately have not played good golf since the Masters in April, and Lord knows why,” Higgs said. “Well, actually, one of the definites is, I was way too hard on myself. Still wasn’t playing my best, but just had a poor enough attitude that with making the cut by a shot or two and then having a chance to get better over the weekend to kind of break out of the slump, I just didn’t have a good enough attitude. Then the last couple months I wasn’t really even close.

“You’re riding real high, especially after playing great in a major. None of us ever think that that’s going to stop. But kind of also throughout my career I’ve had a little bit of a difficult time dealing with successes. Like if you go back and see kind of some of my best results, usually follow with some poor ones and then I shake myself out of it a lot sooner than I have done up until this point.”

Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald is still chipping away at his own game, and he went round in level-par for his opening 18 holes.

Level-par was only good enough for a share of 110th place, meaning Donald has a lot of work to do on Friday if he wants to play at the weekend.

Russell Knox is the highest-placed Brit in the field, after carding a 66 to get to five-under.

Two-time major champion John Daly is still a big draw, and he carded the same level-par score as Donald.

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