The few fans in attendance this week for the PGA Tour’s Bermuda Championship witnessed one of the best finishes so far this season.
Doc Redman entered Sunday’s final round at Port Royal Golf Course with a one-shot lead at 10 under, but it was Wyndham Clark and Brian Gay who duked it out down the stretch in beautiful Bermuda. Seventy-two holes weren’t enough to decide the tournament, which saw Gay lift the winner’s trophy for the first time since 2013 and the fifth time in his career after one playoff hole.
Looking for his first win on Tour, Clark got off to a hot start with birdies on Nos. 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 to make the turn at 5 under for the round and take the solo lead. After adding two more birdies on holes 10 and 11, Clark cooled off with four consecutive bogeys before his first dropped shot with a bogey on No. 16.
As Clark was cooling, Gay was gearing up for a late run. Making his 602nd career start on Tour, the 48-year-old four-time winner made seven birdies from holes Nos. 6-15 to climb within one shot of the lead. Clark’s bogey on No. 16 temporarily tied Gay for the lead before he made a bogey of his own on the par-5 17th to drop back to 14 under.
After Clark made par on 17, Gay stuffed his approach to the 18th green, telling his ball to “go in the hole” in the air. Gay tapped in for birdie to tie the lead at 15 under with Clark watching it all from the tee box.
The 26-year-old product of Oklahoma State and Oregon hit a gem of a drive, setting up an up-and-down birdie chance from 36 yards for his first win on Tour. Clark’s shot landed in front of the pin and skipped 10 feet past the cup. His putt carried too much pace and slid past the hole on the right, leaving a testy three-footer, which he made, to force a playoff.
Both players found the green in regulation on the first playoff hole, with Clark holding the slight advantage. Gay made a clutch putt from outside 10 feet while Clark missed from inside seven feet.
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“Yeah, I’m pretty bummed,” Clark said after the round. “Obviously I would have liked to have won. I played so good, just had a little mishap on 16 and 17 and then really didn’t make those two putts on 18. I played great. It was a great tournament. Obviously I’m disappointed.”
Normally an alternate event opposite the WGC-HSBC Champions, this year’s Bermuda Championship was elevated to full status, meaning full-FedEx Cup points were rewarded as well as an invitation to next year’s Masters at Augusta National Golf Club for Gay, who was 38 before making his debut trip down Magnolia Lane.
Playing on a sponsor exemption, Ollie Schniederjans finished third at 13 under. Denny McCarthy made six consecutive birdies on Nos. 2-7, closing out the week with a bogey-free 8-under 63, tying Peter Malnati for the low round of the week and finishing T-4 at 12 under alongside Stewart Cink, Matt Jones and Redman.
“I remember coming (to Bermuda) last year and I was — my game was nowhere near organized like it is now and I missed the cut, so to come out here and almost win, it’s a cool finish,” said Schniederjans, who had one brother on his bag this week and another competing in the field. “Towards the end of 2020 I feel it’s been a very successful year for me and my development and I just want to get back to the PGA Tour and be ready to do stuff like this.”
With a top-20 finish this week, rising star Will Zalatoris secured his PGA Tour special temporary membership, meaning he’ll receive unlimited sponsor exemptions for the rest of the season. Over the last two months, Zalatoris has finished T-6 at the U.S. Open, T-8 at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship and T-5 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.