At the end of his press conference on Friday, after answering questions about PGA Tour status and making cuts and adding ball speed, Danny Lee had a message of his own.
“Can I add something?”
Lee wanted to make sure that everyone knew: He didn’t do it on purpose. During Thursday’s opening round at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship, TV cameras were trained on Scott Gutschewski putting on No. 10 when a ball bounded into the picture and settling on the far end of the green. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the ball actually made contact with Gutschewski or not — if he was a punt returner in the NFL, they would have gone to video review — but it was a close call. The ball had come off the driver of Danny Lee, who was hitting a provisional tee shot over the trees on the drivable hole.
“I’ve been getting a lot of DMs about No. 10,” Lee said after Friday’s round, a second consecutive 67. “I mean, hitting up on the green. I mean, first of all, I apologized to everybody and I apologized to Scott. I watched it on TV too, how close it almost hit him. I mean, Jesus, thank God it didn’t hit him.”
Lee explained that he had no idea the group was on the green as he reached the hole. Nobody else seemed to realize that he was going for the green.
“But at the time when we showed up on the 10th tee, they weren’t even on the fairway. I gave another five to seven minutes and then I hit my first one way right, hit the cart path, went 90 yards right. So even then no one said, “They’re still on the green, you should wait,” or anything like that.
“So I obviously hit my provisional, hit a better line, better shot, landed on the green and some of the people were like, ‘What are you doing? Like did you not know they were on the green?’
“But I didn’t, I honestly didn’t. I wasn’t trying to kill anybody out there, that’s not my intention. I’m just trying to come out here like rest of other players, just play my best golf possible. That was my intention. I apologized to everybody. I just want to make sure that I apologize to everybody. I mean, there’s no excuse for it, it’s my fault hitting up there, but I just want to clarify things.”
The near-miss didn’t seem to bother either Lee or Gutschewski. In fact, Lee didn’t even play the ball in real time — he actually found his first and made bogey from there en route to an opening 67 that left him T4. On Friday he was stalled out at one over par through 13 holes but then rallied for a wild finish, holing out for eagle at No. 5 and then finishing birdie-birdie-birdie-par.
“To be honest, I haven’t really made the cut in a while and I haven’t played in a while, so I was just trying to make it to the weekend. I was just grinding it out,” he said. Lee’s last made cut on the PGA Tour came at the Palmetto Championship in June. “That one lucky shot on No. 5 and that just kept going, like momentum was building in positive ways and I kept making putts and a lot of birdies coming in.”
Lee sits T4 heading to the weekend. He’s seeking his first top 10 on the PGA Tour since March 2020. He’s also hoping for a high enough finish to regain status via Minor Medical Extension. Bermuda is one of three tournaments Lee can play to earn 289 FedEx Cup points for full status (which would require a finish of solo second or better) or 135 points for partial status (solo fourth or better).
As for Gutschewski? The 45-year-old has had a rollercoaster pro journey, going 10 years between Tour starts before earning back his card for this season. He followed up a Thursday 69 with a Friday 70 to leave him comfortably inside the cut line at T34. He seemed content to celebrate a job well done post-round.
Both men head back to Port Royal on Saturday with plenty on the line — and their heads no doubt on a swivel.