Swan Backs Protégé Betschart To Shine

November 8, 2023 | 0 Comments

[Written by Stephen Wright]

Kim Swan believes “cool customer” Oliver Betschart will not be fazed when he tees off in the first round of the Butterfield Bermuda Championship at Port Royal Golf Course tomorrow [November 9].

Arguably the island’s greatest-ever golfer, Swan first coached Betschart as a five-year-old, chopping down an adult club so he could swing alongside his older brother Benjamin during lessons at Port Royal.

He also recommended Betschart, who will become the youngest player to compete in a PGA Tour event since 2014, to American coach David Ogrin, who will caddie for the 15-year-old this week.

“This is a major milestone in Oliver’s life,” Swan told Bernews. “It’s part of a larger plan for Oliver, I’m sure. Having had some early influence on him, I know he will take it in his stride.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he does quite well this week. It wouldn’t surprise me at all.”

Swan, Betschart and Ogrin Bermuda Nov 8 2023

Swan, who played in the championship last year as a sponsor invite, remembers nicknaming Betschart “Big Jack” after legendary player Jack Nicklaus because of his meticulous approach to the game and said his talent was immediately evident.

“Oliver still has the club I chopped down for him when he was five,” said Swan, a former European Tour professional.

“I told his mom not to buy him a new club. That’s how Seve [Ballesteros] learned to play, hitting with one club on the beach.

“When Oliver was seven, he hit his first hole-in-one on the third hole at Port Royal. I remember him coming up to tell me what he’d done. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh’.

“When he was around nine, I encouraged his parents to take him to Florida to play in the Drive, Chip and Putt [a nationwide junior skills competition for boys and girls aged seven to 15].

“I realised how exceptional Oliver was and knew he needed to continue his development outside Bermuda. I knew he was the real deal.”

Ogrin, whose biggest win came at the Valero Texas Open in 1996, where he beat Tiger Woods by two shots, has coached Betschart since 2019 after being contacted on Facebook by Swan, who also attached a video of Betschart in action.

“David was like, ‘Well, he reminds me of, erm, me!’” said Swan, who first met Ogrin when the pair played at the Junior Orange Bowl in Florida in 1974.

“I’ve always tried to link my students with people outside Bermuda. I knew David and Oliver would be a good mix.”

Betschart will be the second 15-year-old Bermudian to play in the championship after Kenny Leseur, another of Swan’s students, who was six months older when he qualified in 2019.

“I coached Kenny and Oliver together,” Swan added. “Kenny was the forerunner for Oliver, and hopefully, we’ll have someone else coming up just as good behind him!”

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