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3rd time lucky

Last minute replacement Padraig Hamilton collected the $600,000 winners prize after today’s final round of the PGA Grand Slam in Bermuda. In front of I would say 2,500 to 3,000 spectators each bathed in sunshine, the Irishman after a 5 under-par overnight, birdied the 11th, 12th and 13th of his 2nd round and despite a bogey on the last ended up on 9 under and beat nearest rival Webb Simpson by a shot.

Tied in 3rd place were Bubba Watson and last year’s victor Keegan Bradley on 3 under. Harrington, despite only standing in for the injured Ernie Els just this weekend, was a popular winner after twice being a previous runner-up in 2007 and 2008, both times losing in a play-off.

We followed the players round the immaculate Port Royal course until the 9th hole when the bar got in the way. However the great thing about this tournament is the ropes are very close to the players and it was obvious they were enjoying themselves. In saying that, you would when last place still picks up $200,000 for two rounds of golf with the deep blue Atlantic Ocean for company.

It’s a great event, but it is clear to me that the Grand Slam is not a money spinner for the island. With the trend of relative unknowns winning the golf majors in the past few years, it has meant that the Bermuda tourism office has been unable count on a tourist upsurge that a Tiger Woods appearance would bring for example.

Income from tickets is not sizeable with them priced cheaply to encourage residents to support the competition, and importantly fill the television screens for viewers overseas, plus I am sure not being on a weekend, which every other major golf tournament is, hurts attendance. Add a huge drop off in corporate sponsorship and it all points to a loss making exercise for government.

It is said that the government are in negotiations regarding hosting next year’s Grand Slam but with a potential change in power I wouldn’t be surprised if this was it’s last year, which will be a shame.

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