High winds nearly knocked Ryan Armour over on the 15th hole at Port Royal Golf Club, but it couldn’t knock him off the top of the leaderboard at the Bermuda Championship on Friday morning. Scores were kept high by a frisky, fickle southwesterly wind that puffed about the course, gusting to 35 mph, and nudging golf balls in all directions.
“I enjoy the challenge of it. Today was really hard,” Armour said. “We didn’t know whether to say get up, get down, what to tell it.”
Armour did better than most, following up his 7-under 64 in the opening round with a 1-under 70 and a one-stroke lead over Kramer Hickok among the early wave of finishers.
Armour, 44, made birdie on three of his first five holes to get to double-digits under par, but canceled them out with three bogeys before he tacked on one last circle on the card with a birdie at the par-5 17th. Armour didn’t just enjoy the battle; he enjoyed the Robert Trent Jones Sr., layout in Southampton, Bermuda.
“What I really love about this place is it’s unique. Every day could be different, it depends on where the wind’s coming from,” he said. “You’ve got to hit so many different shots off the tee, so many different shapes off the tee. You can’t just go over everything like, I hate to say it, like kind of we’re playing every day on the PGA Tour.”
The wind sent scores skying in the second round with five players posting numbers in the 80s and former British Open champion Henrik Stenson withdrew with a foot injury after playing his first nine holes in 43. On the oceanside, par-4 15th, Armour was nearly blown off course.
“I had a chip behind the green and on my backswing I got blown and like I had the grass mark right on the toe of the club and I’m like, wow, I almost missed that chip shot. So I was happy to get out of there with 4,” he said.
Armour has missed the cut in three of his first four starts during the Tour’s 2020-21 season and seven of his last nine dating back to July. As one of the shorter hitters on Tour, Armour has tried chasing more distance and realized he’s better off focusing on what makes him great.
“I was trying to just get it from a high-260s carry to a mid-280s carry. I just kind of went crooked and I can’t play golf that way,” he said. “I don’t hit it long enough to play out of the rough. So, for me, fairways, give myself as many opportunities as I can and try and hole some putts.”
Armour didn’t earn his first victory until age 40 at the Sanderson Farms Championship, and has been a steady performer the last few years after bouncing back and forth between the Tour and Korn Ferry Tour. As for win No. 2? it could be blowing in the Bermuda wind.
“I did what I could out there today to get it under par,” Armour said. “I can’t stress how difficult it really was out there.”