“Conversations With Champions presented by Sentry” is a weekly program from Golfweek. This week: Seamus power, winner in the 2022 Butterfield Bermuda Championship.
Seamus Power was only 34 when he won his first PGA Tour victory. He’s now 15 months later and he has another one.
Over four days, he had 28 birdies at Port Royal Golf Course. This broke the old record by one. He had three birdies on the 16th hole each of the three previous days. His bogey Sunday on par-3 ended his streak.
He was the highest-ranked player on the field and was ranked No. 48 minutes before the action began. Power was ranked No. 32 on Monday. 32 spot.
Here are the words and phrases of Power after Sunday’s win in Bermuda.
SP “It’s been an interesting day. I felt great throughout the day. I played well for the first 14 holes. It was a tough round coming in. I managed to stay close to Ben. Although he made quite a few birdies from 11 to 11, I was able just enough to get in. It was hard going. It was a day filled with all kinds of emotions. As yesterday, once you reach the 12th tee, you know that the next hour was going to be tough. I made a few birdies on the front, and then just kept going back in. It was an incredible feeling. It was incredible to win the first one, but it was even more amazing to be able again. It’s a three year exemption with all the cool benefits that comes with it. It’s just that you feel so proud of yourself and it’s incredible to be able do it again.”
Q: Three-year exemption, plus you’re now No. Q: Three-year exemption, plus you’re now No. 32 in the Official World Golf Ranking. What does all this mean for you moving forward?
SP “The problem with not having the exemption is that every year is one-year. It’s hard going. So, an extra couple of years is great. To be able focus on practicing and improving my game, and not worrying about other things. Last season, having the winner’s exemption for 21-22 allowed me to play more freely than when I was up near the lead. That’s something I find very nice. It’s something we should all strive for, even though it can be a bit more difficult than usual. It’s going be amazing. You get a lot more bonuses. It’s amazing to be able to return to Maui every year, which was one of my most memorable golf memories. As you move up in the world rankings, it opens doors. All those kinds of positives are great. It will sink in eventually, but I am just happy to have won the contest.
Q: There is a solid fan base out there, cheering for you and many people following you. Please give us more information.
SP: “It’s amazing. It was a great experience. It’s one my favorite places and I have been fortunate enough to make many good friends there. It’s not just at Bay Hill. Like I have friends who also own a Bay Hill house. Simon (Power’s caddie) stayed with them and we had our birthdays there. A large group of them attended and held a party. It was just like having good friends with whom I clicked. Mick is a Butterfield employee and obviously has ties to the tournament. It’s been a unique, unusual, and unexpected experience that I kind of stumbled upon. I absolutely love coming to this place. Simon and I discuss this event for months ahead of time. It’s one those weeks that you look forward too, there’s something nice about the island. I’ve played well here before, and I’m happy to claim the win.
Q. How would you describe the final hour and a quarter of this tournament?
SP “Obviously, it’s up and down but it’s kinda what I expected. It’s the exact same as yesterday. Even 12 today was challenging. I’m hitting, I have 100 yard to the pin, and you are guessing if it is a pitching wedge that I hit 145 yards, or if it is a gap wedge. It’s all guessing. It’s slightly off and you stand on the next. You’re probably talking to me because I thought I hit a good shot but it fell short of the green. It’s about 30 yards, maybe 25 yards. Fourteen is hard, the wind whipping is strong, and 15 and 16 are just as brutal today. You know this stretch is coming, but there are only so many things you can do. The hardest thing about that stretch for me is trying to putt. You’re trying putt on 15, 16 and 15. I putt on 16 and will never know what happened to the ball. You can feel the wind blowing, it’s like you’re experiencing wind gusts. I missed the hole, it was four and a quarter inches, five feet. I felt like I had made a good putt. Just before me, Ben did the same thing. Although it was difficult, I was able do the job. Birdie on 17 was a nice touch. Although I did a lot of work on 18, it was not enough. It was about what you would expect. The first nine holes are fairly easy, with the exception of No. 8. There are many good opportunities. I did get a few, but not as many as I wanted. But, like yesterday, you are just trying to hang on for dear life.
Q: Did you lose sight of what you were doing when things started to go south for Ben [Griffin]? Are you able to see the bigger picture?
SP “It’s both.” It is obvious that you are trying to concentrate on your own things. Ben was having trouble on 14 and I had to make a conscious effort not to lose focus of my own routine. It was a great shot. I made the putt for birdie. Although it was difficult, he didn’t make a lot of mistakes. He hit 16 on the wrong side, and that’s the only time I’ve ever seen a ball go left on 16. Although I thought he didn’t hit that bad of a shot, it was just one day. It’s so exposed that it’s only a small golf ball and the wind is blowing it around. You can get in trouble if you hit the wrong wind. I made a great shot that I didn’t think about 16. About three quarters of the way through the flight, you feel a strong gust. It gets held up and is about 20 yards short. You couldn’t convince us to put one more club on the tee. It’s difficult. It’s inevitable, but you just have to try your best. That birdie on 17 was a nice touch. Although it was very short, I still managed to score one.
Q: Was it easier to get the first win or chase that second one? Do you think you might have the answer now that you have your second win?
SP “I felt it was a bit easier today. Although it’s not going to be easy, I felt comfortable from the beginning. Three of my best shots this week were on the first hole. I believe that was a sign I was mentally in a good place. It was definitely a bit easier down the stretch, even though I didn’t play that way. But I felt more comfortable. It’s likely a little easier. It helps to know that you have done it before.
Q: The final round was not your turn. You took the lead until the 14th hole, when Ben made bogey and you made birdie. How did you feel compared to Ben’s playing experience?
SP “Yeah. I just kept reminding myself that I know the course well enough. I didn’t make many mistakes and was confident. He birdied 10, 11 and 10 to go two ahead. I also had a few chances that I missed. I kept reminding myself that if I wanted to stay there, it was possible. There are very few people who won’t drop shots on that stretch. Knowing that I would have a chance of standing on the 12th tee, and having played in this tournament before, I was confident it would. It almost did.
Q: This week, you were 48th in the world rankings. You are likely to be invited to the Masters with this win. How does it feel to be invited to the Masters?
SP “It’s really lovely. It’s a very funny thing. I was not aware of the world rankings until I reached the top 10, and then it became very, very important. The match play is almost over, and then the cutoff for majors begins to approach. It’s great to get a little bit closer to the 50, as you mentioned. It’s nice. It opens so many doors. It’s almost like you suddenly have the ability to change your schedule, add Maui tournaments, and even know that you will be in the Playoffs. This makes life a lot easier, that’s certain. It’s not like you’re looking at it constantly, but sometimes you do look over your shoulder, especially since I was in my 30s when I last played well. As you say, it’s just slipping down. You know that the cutoff for the top-50 will be soon. There isn’t much golf left this year so it’s nice not to worry about that. You’ll be able to clear your thoughts and focus on the future.
Q. On 14 what were you able to hit from the tee?
Q. What did you leave in, and what did it hit?
SP: “I had 148 or 9 yards, 148 yards. I hit the gap wedge and landed at about pin high. It probably rolled to 25 feet beyond, yes.
Q: Simon claimed that you two were discussing how you wanted more wind while you were here on Friday. Did it ever come down to like being careful what you wish?
SP “No. I was fine with the wind these last few days because I have been fortunate enough to play here a few time and I’ve seen the course in many different wind directions and how it works. Just a little bit of experience. I made a great shot at the left hazards line on 16 It was done before and ended up online with the pin. It was a bit more confident knowing my ball would return and do the job it was supposed to. It can be difficult to aim in an ocean and hit a shot. It’s difficult to trust the ball will return if you aren’t used to it. I have done it before. Last year, I was here and the tee was still there. You’re hitting a long iron that starts out into the ocean. It just takes a bit more trust. The same with No. 8. Today, you are very protected on the tee box but I have played in that westerly wind before. It hits the tee hard, and it moves left once it reaches the end of the tee. I made a confident shot, hitting a right pin. It was about 10 steps from the pin. This is something I would not normally be comfortable with, but it’s what I did before and I just knew that the ball would return if I just trusted it.
Q. Do you play a lot with Simon back in Ireland?
SP “I would’ve, yeah. Simon is about an hour from me so we could a played, yeah. A bunch of different championships and all that stuff. You’ll see more of each other in junior golf and championships, and so forth.
Q. When you became a pro golfer, were you one those guys who said, “Okay, I’ll give me three, four, five years” or were you just in it for the money?
SP “I don’t know, to tell the truth. I used to say that if I believed I was good enough for the PGA Tour, then I would probably continue playing. If I believed for one second that I was not, I would have quit. It’s true, I could have done it in six months. This was my mindset when I started it. I was not interested in playing at the highest level for long periods of time. I wanted to play at the highest level, and I believed that if I didn’t believe I could win, I would have quit probably very early.
Q. A lot of Irish players are playing very well recently.
Q. Rory and Shane recently visited…
SP “Wentworth and Padraig. It’s been wonderful. It’s one thing that gives you an extra boost to know that you can win again. Yeah, it’s huge. Rory and Shane, like Shane, have played incredible golf this year. Rory has played amazing golf since the summer. He didn’t win the Wentworth title, but he was a top player at many big tournaments. He did well at many other major tournaments, and he was a top player in the Masters. It was wonderful that both of those players won. Padraig, yeah. Padraig was a master at the Champions Tour. It’s great news for Irish golf. Leona Maguire is also on the LPGA. It’s a great time for Irish golf, and we hope it inspires more junior golf in Ireland.
Q: I spoke earlier about Luke Donald and the Ryder Cup. You had a chance to speak with him last week.
SP “I briefly chatted with you on Wednesday night at the party in the hotel. Yes, we had a brief conversation. He just told me a few details about a new event. It was GB&I vs. Europe team competition and some other options. He said that my previous week’s schedule was going to be affected by how I played in it. This gives me more flexibility and helps me to plan my future. It’s something I will talk to him again about now that I have more freedom to do what I like. It’ll be, yes, I’m going talk to him, and see what he suggests. It’s worth it. It doesn’t have to match up. But I want to get his opinion. I also don’t want my daughter to be there next September. It’s something. I will talk to Luke to see what happens.
Q. You scored 28 birdies this week which was a tournament record.
Q. Can you comment?
SP “It’s the best greens I’ve ever seen since I arrived here on Tuesday. Because I had putted well here before, I was excited to see the new surface. I knew that I would be able make putts once I saw it. My wedge play was excellent, I made some good putts and did all the necessary things to make birdies. I putted well, hit some wedges very close, and played the par 5s well.