“You can have Heaven, I’ll take Bermuda…”
—Mark Twain and now, very probably, Adam Scott
SOUTHAMPTON, BERMUDA – Punctually at seven o’clock local time, one hour earlier than mainland U.S. EST, the last rays of the setting sun shone upon the pink walls of the Southampton Fairmont Hotel with a final golden flash before vanishing into the glimmer-glass turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean. A wave of deepest violet grasped Bermuda in its iron sway as the stars winked on one by one, but the radiant smile of a buoyant, victorious Adam Scott warmed all those around him as though it were high noon, lighting the island like an evening sun.
Reversing a four shot deficit over the final 11 holes at Port Royal Golf Course, Scott seized the 31st PGA Grand Slam from a shocked Justin Rose, who went from mortal lock to gallant, yet dispirited runner-up in just 100 minutes. Scott closed the 36 hole tournament with a sizzling 64, a new course record, carding five birdies an a late eagle without a single bogey for a two day total of 134, 8-under par and a two shot victory over Rose, who despite four consecutive birdies from the fourth through seventh holes was doomed by bogeys at nine and 16.
Indeed, it was Scot’s eagle at 17 that was the defining moment of the tournament, triggered by a 190-yard 6-iron that covered the flag all the way before finishing two scant inches from the cup.
“I was almost a double eagle!” exclaimed a visibly impressed PGA of America official Allen Wronowski, and it was. The ball bounced millimeters from the flag, hovered magically for a moment in the air as if seeking the hole like a lover, then dropped still, no English whatsoever, lying dead by the hole’s edge. No rabbit pulled from a hat by Houdini was ever so startling, and the roar of the gallery rang from Southampton, Bermuda to Southampton, New York…Southampton, England even.
“Standing on the 11th tee, it didn’t look like this was possible,” Scott confided candidly. “But I played very well and managed to slowly claw away at Justin. After he made bogey on 16, I managed to capitalize on that by hitting such a great shot into 17…it was a tap-in. What a cool way to finish. It’s a shot I’ll remember for a long time,” he concluded, beaming.
Meanwhile Justin is left to lament the stunning turnaround. After a sterling 67 to open the tournament gave him a three shot lead at the halfway point, Rose had the same cushion after a front nine 33. But Rose suddenly sputtered while Scott surged. Rose carded six straight pars while Scott birdied the par-3 13th and the par-5 15th, the former with a 3-iron to five feet, the latter with a wedge to 12 feet. Suddenly the lead was down to one with the dangerous, indeed iconic 16th lurking dangerously ahead.
“For me, 15 was a key hole. I had a 30 footer there and I had a good read and [I] hit just a beautiful putt, all over that 30 footer, I think it’s in the middle,” Rose explained. “With a foot to go, it somehow misses, and Adam drains a 20 footer…but I guess it just shows, no lead is safe really.”
With Scott charging Rose hit the chamber with the bullet in it, pulling his tee shot on 16, (the most recognizable hole at Port Royal), into the gunch between the green and the ocean. The ball ended up jammed between a tree stump and a bush for an unplayable lie. Rose scraped a bogey, but now the match was tied and the stage set for Scott’s late heroics.
If it makes Rose feel any better, Scott had to break the course record to beat him.
“That’s the position I put myself in. I started with a two shot lead and somebody had to shoot well to beat me,” he stated. When somebody finishes it out like that, you have to tip your hat and say, you were beaten rather than losing.”
If anything else can make Rose feel better, it’s that we’re in paradise. It’s Bermuda, where the locals celebrate their victories and diffuse their defeats with hearty laughs, breezy joy, and plenty of Dark and Stormys. Though Rose sank metaphorically like a shipwreck doomed by the Bermuda triangle, after a week of dazzling sunshine, impeccable accommodations at the stately Southampton Fairmont, and the unwavering camaraderie of the genteel yet fun-loving Bermudians, coming in second is nothing a few Gosling rum drinks can’t fix. And there’s always the U.S. Open trophy and an honorary membership at Merion to fall back on.
“Actually my friends and I had a little tournament this past month where we played Pine Valley, Merion, Aronomink, and Somerset Hills together,” the affable Rose noted, finding a silver lining like he always does.
Meanwhile the fans were spellbound by the sublime golf and incomparable atmosphere.
“We came here for our third wedding anniversary just to watch Adam Scott again,” said golf fan Jason Sumner, who with his wife Viktoriya flew all the way from Burlington, Vermont – 800 miles. Indeeed, Viktoriya was sporting a homemade T-shirt with “Team Adam Scott” on the front and “#1” on the back. “It’s the second time this year we’ve come to a tournament to watch him play. We followed him around Barclays the whole week when he won, and we decided that we had to come to Bermuda to watch him again and celebrate our anniversary. We came to two tournaments and we got two wins!” he concluded energetically.
“It was so stressful watching him fall behind by four shots,” added Viktoria. “I almost threw up from all the pressure!” she gasped breathlessly.
“It was all worth it!” Jason concluded. “We met him in the elevator and he ended up talking to us for a long time. The conversation ended with us wishing him luck and he simply said ‘We’re gonna win tomorrow’. What a dream come true, and what way for our honeymoon to be made so much better! Thanks, Adam! You’re a great golfer and an even better person!”
Talk about selfless. Talk about personable. Talk about being a role model and an ambassador for golf. That’s the kind of altruism that brings the fans back time and again. That’s the kind of P.R. the PGA Tour needs. Tiger Woods gave us pancake waitresses off the course and cheating scandals on the course. Adam Scott made a young couple’s honeymoon even more magical. Now he has the pink jacket and Waterford crystal trophy to take home as well, along with a course record, a lifetime of memories, and the warm glow of lighting up golf fans’ lives with his generosity.
It’s full night now. The crickets hum and buzz and sing. From Front Street in Hamilton straight along the South Shore thoroughfare to the end of Hamilton parish the bank managers, company directors, civil servants, insurance men, and travel industry reps are at home with their wives and husbands showering, changing clothes, getting ready to go out and fill the roads with the dinner and cocktail hour traffic. The warm Bermudan evening has come alive with all its incomparable romance and adventure, and the night is scented with jasmine, hibiscus, and all Bermuda’s other botanical wonders, while soothing sea breezes gently kiss the native’s sun-tanned faces as they head out for the finest cuisine, wine cellars, and tropical seaside ambiance found anywhere from Cabo to the Canary Islands. Twain vacationed here. So did the Bush family and Winston Churchill. And with the right kind of eyes you can see the centuries of history that all around us, begging us to learn from their examples. All times are one in Bermuda, from Admiral Somers’s British navy protecting the world from the barbarous incivility of privateers, (“Pirates, ye be warned!”), to the great conclaves of authors writing their master works, to the world-shaking political summits to the grandest of sporting events.
I won’t dismiss Heaven (yes, capital “H”) as off-handedly as Mark Twain did, but while I wait for the Good Lord to shine his light on my and take me to a place where every song is my favorite tune and every golf course is seaside, and I don’t have to wait on every shot, Bermuda will do quite nicely in the meantime, thank you very much.
NEWS, NOTES, AND QUOTES
Though he wasn’t much of a factor in the tournament, Jason Dufner’s trademark Dufnering craze shows no sign of slowing down. A homeowner draped as banner across his house which stands by the 14th green that read “Dufnering! PGA and the Grand Slam!” People took turns Dufnering it beneath it for photo ops.
Port Royal Golf Course was designed by Robert Trent Jones in 1970. Renovated in 2007 by former Jones associate Roger Rulewich. Over 1,000 trees were removed to open up wide vistas across the scenic property.
The Bermudan fish chowder (made with Gosling’s rum!) was everything everyone said it was but, sadly, I never got to try my shark hash or spiny lobster, (more because of a tight schedule rather than lack of trying). Nevertheless, the fish tacos, fish stews, and scallops were sublime, as was the Bermudan ceviche. You won’t lack inventive seafood dishes here!
Next up: Mid-Ocean and Port Royal
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