Tagged in: birdie

Peter Malnati shoots 63, leads PGA Bermuda Championship

Peter Malnati saw his infant son at a PGA Tour event for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic, which brought a smile to his face and another birdie on his card for an 8-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the Bermuda Championship.

The tournament is the first to permit limited fans — no more than 500 a day at Port Royal — since the opening round of The Players Championship on March 12.

The final birdie was the ninth of the round for Malnati, who has gone from the South to the West to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and keeps playing some of his best golf.

It was the third time in his past three events he posted a 63 or lower. Malnati was runner-up at the Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi and followed that with a tie for fifth in Las Vegas. This round gave him a one-shot lead over Ryan Armour and Doug Ghim, who birdied his last two holes.

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“With everything in the world right now — and this island is doing a phenomenal job with their testing protocol and keeping everyone safe — I just didn’t know if it was actually going to work for them to get out here,” Malnati said of about his wife and 1-year-old son.

“So coming off that disappointing bogey on 17, I hit a nice drive on 18 and before I even get my yardage or anything, I see my wife and boy standing out there.

“It just brought a huge smile to my face,” he said. “To see them and then to finish with that birdie, I’m a happy man.”

Malnati ran off five straight birdies starting with No. 9, and he was looking to finish strong.

Among the shorter hitters in the modern power game, he had made up his mind to take on the bunkers down the right side of the par-5 17th hole and turn it into an easy birdie.

Instead, he turned it left into the water for a penalty stroke and made bogey.

“So that stunk,” Malnati stated. “But how can I complain about much? We’re on the island of Bermuda and I sure played great.”

The Bermuda Championship matches the weakest field of the year on the PGA Tour, though it receives full status this year because the HSBC Champions in Shanghai was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning Bermuda is not the same week as a World Golf Championship.

The winner receives an invitation to the Masters next year. It also is the start of consecutive PGA Tour events permitting limited fans. The Houston Open has said it will sell no more than 2,000 tickets a day. The Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua, the first event on 2021, also announced this week it would limited fans.

Doc Redman, Vaughn Taylor and Chase Seiffert were at 65, while Hunter Mahan was in the group at 66. It was Mahan’s lowest opening round in more than two years.

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Sergio birdies final hold to win Sanderson Farms

Sergio Garcia didn’t have to sweat much over the final shot that clinched the Sanderson Farms Championship, his first PGA Tour triumph since the 2017 Masters. It was only 2 feet 6 inches in length, barely more than a tap-in after the Spaniard hit the shot of the tournament from the final fairway.

But just like with the other putts he stroked this week, Garcia wasn’t watching when he rolled in one last birdie putt to close out a final-round 67 to edge Peter Malnati by a shot at the Country Club of Jackson.

“Well, I guess eyes closed is probably normal for me now,” Garcia said. “I realized that I get too caught up in trying to make it too perfect instead of just letting myself do it. You don’t have to hit a perfect putt every time to be able to make it.”

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Garcia, 40, has been one of the more cerebral players on Tour for more than two decades.

But even after opening with a share of the 54-hole lead in Mississippi, it didn’t appear likely coming down the stretch that he’d be able to add to his trophy haul this week.

Garcia played his first 13 holes in 2 under, a solid score for a co-leader but not good enough to keep pace with Malnati, the 2015 champion who blistered the course with a closing 63.

There were few signs entering this week that self-trust would amount to much for Garcia, who was making his first-ever Sanderson presence.

He had missed three of his last four cuts, including each of the first two majors this year, and had dropped out of the top 50 in the world rankings for the first time since 2011. In nine starts since the break, he had ended better than T-32 just once – a T-5 finish at the RBC Heritage in June.

Asked if he had become frustrated by media asking him what’s wrong with his game, Garcia shed some perspective on his recent drought. “I really wasn’t that frustrated,” he stated, “because nobody was really talking to me.”

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