Open tees off
Elvis Medford and Carlsen Leacock emerged the early leaders after the first round of the 2015 Massy United Insurance Barbados Open at Royal Westmoreland today.
The two Barbadian golfers both shot six-over-par 78 and were two strokes ahead of defending champion Julian Jordan (80) after the first 18 holes of the 54-hole tournament.
While the more experienced players generally struggled in bright sunshine on the expansive Westmoreland course, 13 year-old Barbados junior player Xzavier Wiggins also threatened to upstage his senior rivals and was one stroke off the pace in the championship flight.
Wiggins, a student of Queen’s College, shot a gross 79 that included an impressive even par 36 on the front-nine.
Medford announced himself among the contenders early today with a two-under-par 34 on the front-nine, with birdies on No.5 and No.6, but was checked on the back-nine with a string of double-bogeys.
However, he is seeking to maintain his position among the front-runners, while hoping to move ahead of the more aggressive Leacock, who sank four birdies yesterday and seems to be driving well.
Scott Stollmeyer and Maurice Forde were also among the top six, both with 81, while former Barbados national players in tennis, Roger Edghill (84) and Michael Date (86) were having an
Over at the Barbados Golf Club, where five divisions were played today, Leiza Munn-Blakeley led the women’s championship with a gross 88 while second was Marilyn Jackson on 91.
Young Barbados player Alyssa Inniss-Gittens shot 86 to be leader of the women’s first flight.
The senior men’s division, featuring players over 50 years, seemed poised for a keen battle as defending champion Charles Cox fired a one-over-par 73, and was being chased by Ivan Codrington (76) and experienced Barbados player Robert Piggott (77).
Defending champion Bill Weir took an early lead among the Super-seniors with a gross 76, one stroke ahead of Denis Foster.
In the men’s first flight West Indies cricket physio C.J Clarke shot 85 that was one stroke better than Nicholas Mouttet.
The day initially started with disappointing news for fans with the revelation that 12-time Barbados Open Golf champion James Johnson was out of tournament.
Johnson, the island’s leading player over the past ten years, has been forced out of the tournament with an injured wrist.
The Barbados Golf Association said the top player informed organisers of his decision to pull out after a round of practice yesterday at Royal Westmoreland.
“I have some tendonitis in my right hand. I have had bouts of it in my career and it flares up from time to time. It is a typical golfing injury and I have to take some rest and treat it,” Johnson said.
Though he has been dealing the challenges associated with the wrist in recent weeks, Johnson said he did not anticipate that the injury would be a long-term one and he was hoping to get back in the game soon.
Johnson, 34, last won the Barbados Open in 2013 and was upstaged last year by Jordan. The golfing fraternity was anticipating a keen tussle this year as the “king” sought to regain his crown but that could be another year in the making.
In his absence, Jordan is favoured to retain the title but after a slow start over the first 18 holes today, he seems to have a challenge on his hands fending off other Barbados national players.
Competition in the three-day Massy United Insurance Barbados Open continues today with play at Apes Hill and Royal Westmoreland.