Golf juniors in Europe, North America
Following the highly competitive Caribbean Golf Championships in Barbados, several of the region’s leading young golfers are this week seeking glory in major international junior tournaments.
While Barbadians Iz Hustler and Emily Odwin jetted off to Scotland to join 152 other golfers from 80 countries to compete in the 2016 R&A Junior Open Tournament, compatriot Xzavier Wiggins is in the United States for the IMG World Juniors.
Other Caribbean juniors representing their countries in Scotland are Puerto Ricans Valeria Pacheo (17 and under champion) and Melvin Morales (14-15 champion); Trinidadians Ryan Peters and Serena Mckenzie and Bahamians Haylie Turnquest and Zavier Robinson.
The R&A Junior Open is being played at Kilmarnock from July 11-14, on the eve of the 145th British Open at Royal Troon, and the juniors will also get the opportunity to witness the world’s top senior players in action.
Along with Wiggins, other regional juniors from Trinidad, Jamaica and Puerto Rico are taking part in the IMG Academy Junior World Golf Championships which run from July 11-15 in San Diego, California.
Some of the other Caribbean players contesting the IMG Juniors, which are attracting 1200 players from 56 countries, are Jamaicans Tiana Cruz, Seibert Walker, Justin Burrowes, Kei Harris, Luke Chin and Tristan Brown and Trinidadians Liam Bryden and Zico Correia.
Last week at the Barbados Golf Club, several of the regional young players now campaigning in Europe and North America would have used the 29th edition of the Caribbean Junior Championships as the perfect warm-up for the bigger stage.
The regional championships generally produced a high standard of play, across age groups in varying conditions, and served as a good test of skills, fighting qualities and mental toughness.
While the first two days were windy and asked questions with regard to control and ball flight, the final day was played amidst intermittent showers and tested their patience and ball-striking ability on rain-affected fairways and greens.
Vice-president of the Caribbean Golf Association, Birchmore Griffith, praised the Barbados Golf Association and the Barbados Golf Club for partnering to host a really successful regional tournament that tested the players in different conditions and showcased the region’s future champions .
“It was relatively short notice for the BGA and everyone came together and did a fantastic job. The team-work was excellent and overall the tournament went well. The feed back was positive from players, coaches and supporters,” he said.
Griffith also had special praise for the Turks & Caicos team which contested the Caribbean Junior championships for the first time and secured a gold medal through the performance of Brooke Rivers in the 11-13 age-group. Rivers tied with Barbadian Emily Odwin, registering 254 over 54 holes.
Ninety-five players from nine territories contested the championships over three days and Puerto Rico successfully defended the overall team-title.