SOUTH, Bermuda — Seamus Power knows the wind and Port Royal well enough to realize he’d better make his point early. He did just that Saturday, adding a few birdies late and another 6-under 65 to share the lead with Ben Griffin at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship.
Power made a 30-foot birdie putt on the thrilling par-3 16th and a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-5 17th to atone for his only mistake, a double bogey on the par-3 13th.
Griffin followed the same script in strong winds with three birdies to open the round. He put his approach downwind for birdie and a 66 from the 18th to 5 feet.
At 18-under 195, he was two shots clear of Kevin Yu (67) and Aaron Baddeley (68).
Power at number 48 is the highest ranked player in Port Royal.
The 35-year-old Irishman is no stranger to windy weather and has played in the Bermuda Championship over the past few years.
“I knew I had to get birdies before 11,” Power said.
He made four early in a row and was 6 under for the day until a missed green and bad chips led to a double bogey on the 13th.
“One mistake. The wind picked up like crazy,” Power said. “But I was able to hang in there and it puts me in a good place going into tomorrow.”
The 16th was the strongest tee because the green was to the right of the ocean and the wind was blowing from left to right.
“I don’t know how comfortable you get when you get to 16 and you have to aim your ball in the ocean,” Power said with a laugh. The shot ended up pin-high from the right side of the green to the left flag, and the putt slipped into the low side of the hole.
Power has one PGA Tour win, last year at the Barbesole Championship in Kentucky. He would love nothing more than a win to secure a strong early start to the PGA Tour and a spot in the Masters.
As for Griffin, even more at risk.
A few years ago he quit the game and was working as a loan officer when he was inspired to play in the member-guest and the members gave him enough money to prepare for the Korn Ferry tour on Monday.
That was the beginning of the baby steps — qualifying on the Corn Ferry Tour and earning his full card on the PGA Tour last year.
Victory Sunday comes with a two-year exemption.
“It’s been really surreal the last year and two months just getting comfortable on the golf course and trying to go out and win,” Griffin said. “When you’re playing small tour events and you’re trying to finish top 10, maybe get enough money to qualify for Monday, it’s not that easy.”
“Now that I have this little freedom, I can go out there and try to win golf tournaments.”
The last victory .