India’s Arjun Atwal sits one shot behind leaders Smotherman and Endycott, in his first competitive golf for three months since the death of his father; “I just haven’t played golf, and forget walking. So I’m really pleased I got through the 18 holes and I’m not worn out as such”
Last Updated: 28/10/22 12:02am
The USA’s Austin Smotherman, who had nine birdies and a clean card in calm conditions, and Australia’s Harrison Endycott, who played his final five holes in five-under, share the lead at the Bermuda Championship.
India’s Arjun Atwal went to Bermuda without having competed in the three months since his father died and without the guarantee of a tee time.
He walked off Port Royal on Thursday with an eight-under 63 that left him one shot behind.
Atwal had not played golf of any kind since returning from India until last Friday, and the 49-year-old was not sure how he would hold up over 18 holes.
As it was, he is in the mix, with scoring conditions so ideal that nearly 75 per cent of the 132-man field broke 70.
No one was more surprised than Atwal, whose lone PGA Tour victory was in the Wyndham Championship in 2010 on a sponsor exemption.
Nicholas Lindheim withdrew with a back injury, before Atwal headed to the first tee and promptly opened with three straight birdies.
“I haven’t played much golf. I lost my father about three months ago in India, so I went over there,” Atwal said.
“I just haven’t played golf, and forget walking. I played 18 holes at Isleworth last Friday in a golf cart, and it’s not the same as this place. So I’m really pleased I got through the 18 holes and I’m not worn out as such.
“I take it for what it is now. I have nothing to prove to anybody. I’ve won out here. I’ve won on the European Tour, the Asian Tour, and I’m looking forward to the 50 tour next year after March.”
Smotherman finished at No. 137 in the FedEx Cup last year as a rookie, but was able to keep his full card when he moved into the top 125 with all the players defecting to LIV Golf.
He was bracing for big wind, much like he experienced last week in Dallas for the member-guest at Trinity Forest. He got nothing like that in the morning calm when he had a bogey-free round for his best score on the PGA Tour.
Endycott joined him on 62, though it was not an ideal start. He opened with two bogeys. By the end of the round, the Australian had seven birdies and two eagles to atone for that.
“I don’t think we’re going to get too many rounds out here with no wind,” Endycott said.
The four players who join Atwal at 63 included Adam Schenk, whose wife said he missed his flight on Monday because he left his clubs at home.
Sean O’Hair and Thomas Petry are among those at 64. The group at 65 featured Ireland’s Seamus Power, who at No. 48 is the highest-ranked player at Port Royal.
Watch the Butterfield Bermuda Championship throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage continues Friday from 6.30pm on Sky Sports Golf.