Power and McDowell looking to make hay in Bermuda Championship

This week’s tournament has been upgrade to a full FedEx Cup points ranking event

Séamus Power will be hoping for a strong showing in Bermuda. Photograph:  Matthew Bolt/Getty

Séamus Power will be hoping for a strong showing in Bermuda. Photograph: Matthew Bolt/Getty

 

Séamus Power and Graeme McDowell are among those aiming to make the most of this week’s Butterfield Bermuda Championship’s upgrading to a full FedEx Cup points ranking tournament on the PGA Tour, with an enhanced purse of $6 million.

Originally scheduled to be a lower-ranked tournament opposite the HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai, which became a casualty of international travel restrictions due to Covid-19, the Bermuda Championship at Port Royal Golf Club was given enhanced status in a week when the impact of the pandemic on the main professional tours is more apparent than any other time.

The HSBC Champions – a no cut, limited field tournament which counted on both the PGA and European Tours – was last played in 2019 when Rory McIlroy triumphed. Its demise from the schedule for a second straight year due to impacts of Covid travel restrictions has resulted in a hole on the European Tour with no tournament at all as the schedule winds up to its finale in Dubai next month, while at least the PGA Tour has been able to bump up the status of the tournament in Bermuda.

However, the Bermuda Championship’s increased ranking hasn’t resulted in many of the world’s very top players adding it onto their itineraries: indeed, the headline act is former Masters champion Patrick Reed, the world number 24; while a number of players who graduated off the Korn Ferry Tour will be aiming to kickstart their campaigns in the 2021-22 wraparound season.

Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner, said the decision to cancel the HSBC in Shanghai had been “unfortunate” but taken to “ensure that we abide by the epidemic prevention policies of different markets which may cause inconvenience to the players and make tournament operations very challenging.”

For both Power, 105th in the latest world rankings, and McDowell, who has fallen to 244th, the Bermuda Championship – especially so in the absence of so many big names – provides the opportunity to claim some early season FedEx Cup points. McDowell’s knowledge of the course, a Robert Trent Junior design but short by modern standards, dates back to competing there in the Grand Slam of Golf following his US Open win in 2010.

Power, for his part, has enjoyed a splendid season highlighted by a breakthrough win on the PGA Tour in the Barbasol Championship – which came in a strong run of five top-10s in 11 tournaments – and, like McDowell, is set for a stretch of events that will take in Bermuda and the Mayakoba in Mexico next week and on to the Houston Open and the RSM Classic.

The cancellation of the HSBC has resulted in a free week on the European Tour, which will resume with next week’s Portugal Masters before the tour swings into its final stretch in Dubai for two further events, the second of which is the DP World Tour Championship which is confined to the leading 60 available players off the Race to Dubai.

Pádraig Harrington has parked his Champions Tour endeavours stateside to one side for the moment and has added the Portugal Masters onto his schedule. Currently 68th on the Race to Dubai standings, the 50-year-old Dubliner needs to move into the top-60 if he is to tee up alongside many of his Ryder Cup team (and a number of US Ryder Cuppers who have taken out European Tour cards) for the Tour Championship. As things stand, Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy are the only Irish players qualified for the tour finale in the desert.

There is no tournament on the Challenge Tour either this week, which will see a season’s finale in next week’s Grand Final of the Road to Mallorca. Unfortunately, no Irish player has managed to make it to the final tournament where ultimately 20 cards for next year’s European Tour will be dispensed.

John Murphy, though, has secured a full Challenge Tour card for the 2021 season. The 23-year-old Corkman, who turned professional after the Walker Cup and completing his studies at the University of Louisville, and despite playing a limited schedule, finished 69th on the Challenge Tour order of merit which will ensure he can map out his own itinerary on the secondary tour next season.

With no tournament on the LPGA Tour this week, Leona Maguire will resume action in two weeks time at the Pelican Championship in Belleair, Florida before finishing the season at the following week’s limited field CME Group’s Tour Championship.

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