Alex Noren fires 61, takes lead at Bermuda Championship
Posted on: 10 Nov, 2023 at 12:01 AM
Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Noren of Sweden rolled in 11 birdies to claim a two-shot lead at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship when the first round was suspended Thursday in Southampton, Bermuda.
Noren posted a career-low, 10-under-par 61 at Port Royal Golf Course. D.J. Trahan, Vince Whaley, Robert Garrigus and Dylan Wu carded rounds of 8-under 63, the latter three going bogey-free on the day.
Only nine players did not complete the round before darkness fell, including 15-year-old Bermudian amateur Oliver Betschart, who made the field via the local 54-hole qualifier and is the youngest person competing in a PGA Tour event in 10 years. Betschart was 1 over with three holes to play.
Noren, starting his round on the back nine, made seven birdies over an eight-hole stretch that culminated with a birdie 2 at the par-3 third hole.
He picked up his only bogey at No. 5 before finishing with three more birdies over the last four. The 41-year-old spun his approach at the par-4 ninth just a few feet from the cup for a tap-in birdie to tie the course record.
"Very happy," Noren said. "I mean, it was quite easy conditions and there's a lot of wedges out there, but I improved the wedges a lot coming from (the Zozo Championship in) Japan where I struggled with them, so I'm very, very happy. It was great to get a 10 under. It was a long time ago I had like a really low round, you know, lower than maybe 5, 6 under."
Noren pointed out the lack of wind contributed to the player-friendly conditions. He wouldn't mind that ocean breeze picking up now that he's defending a lead.
"If it's not windy, it's like you've got to keep these unbelievable low rounds up and it's not that easy," he said. "So I like the wind when a 5-under round is great, so I hope for some more wind over the next three days."
Noren has won 10 times in Europe but still wants his first PGA Tour victory. Trahan, meanwhile, is a 42-year-old who last won on tour in January 2008. Trahan said he feels better physically and mentally than he had in a long time.
"I actually sought out plant medicine and it changed my life for the better and it's got me in a place of so much more peace," Trahan said. "The healing that I've been able to experience through the medicines that I've sat with has been -- there's no way any therapist could ever give me what I've gotten from that. So, and a lot of people would probably push back on me for doing unconventional things, but for me it has been a complete and utter blessing."
Stewart Cink, 50, was part of a large tie at 7-under 64. Adam Scott of Australia is tied at 6-under 65, and Lucas Glover, the highest-ranked player in the field (No. 31), opened with a 1-under 70.
Adam Long broke the PGA Tour record for consecutive fairways hit, extending it to 69 in a row before he finally missed off the tee. He entered the tournament with his streak at 58 and easily cleared the previous record of 59.
"Hit a hybrid on the first and then the second fairway's really hard to hit," Long said. "Luckily it was kind of into the wind so I hit a driver and hung in the fairway somehow and perfectly in the middle, so after that I was just kind of coasting."
The tournament is the penultimate event of the new FedEx Cup Fall series, where tour players are vying to finish in the top 125 of the points standings to retain full status for the 2024 PGA Tour season.
--Field Level Media