Nearly an hour after completing his second-round of 67 to get within the top 20 in the Butterfield Bermuda Championship, Graeme McDowell was still on the premises of Port Royal Golf Course. It had nothing to do with his golf.
It had everything to do with his humanness. “This is pretty special,” said McDowell, solemnly. He was standing just off the ninth green, watching as the final pairing of the morning wave played its 18th hole. Now if there are only several hundred spectators a day being allowed into Port Royal GC because of COVID-19 regulations, every one of them appeared to be at the ninth green for the same reason McDowell was.
Brian Morris’ story had inspired them. His strength had gripped them emotionally. Morris, 54, the head professional at Ocean View Golf Course in Bermuda, had a malignant brain tumor removed from the back of his skull two years ago.
Doctors immediately determined that the Stage IV cancer had spread to Morris’ stomach, his esophagus, and into his neck. It is terminal. Yet, when the tournament sponsor to this week’s event offered Morris an exemption, he jumped at the opportunity, knowing very well there would be more tears shed than birdies made.
Brian Morris, statements
“You know what, I’ll always have one PGA TOUR start to my name,” said Morris, whose scores of 89-92 were comprised of so many magical moments during an emotional 36 holes. "To see my family, my friends.
I don’t know if I’ll ever see them again, you know? So, it means a lot. It’s huge,” he said. When the pairings came out, Morris discovered he’d play alongside his cousin, Michael Sims, the Bermuda native who starred at the University of Rhode Island, fashioned a brilliant amateur career, and played professionally for 12 years before leaving the game.
But Sims, 42, loves his native land, took on the challenge of a local qualifier, got in, and enjoyed every footstep of his two-day walk alongside his cousin. “So special that I got to share it,” said Sims. “Brian’s such a fighter and you can’t help but smile or laugh when you’re with him"