Johnson, Anthony are golf champs
National captain James Johnson is back to his winning ways.
Yesterday the top Barbados golfer captured the annual Barbados Open Golf Championship for an amazing 13th time.
Playing at the Royal Westmoreland course, Johnson turned back a stiff challenge from fellow Barbados players Julian Jordan and Simon Proverbs to win the 2016 Sagicor Barbados Open by a stroke on his last putt.
He sank a birdie on the final hole to post the day’s best 72 , for a 36-hole gross 146, while Jordan and Proverbs both shot 74 and ended joint second with a gross 147. Marcus Clarke was third with 156 and Dawn Bispham, fourth with 158.
After rains washed out the scheduled first day of the three-day championship on Friday, the tournament turned out to be a 36-hole event for the top flight players and it came down to the last three holes on Sunday.
Proverbs, Jordan, Johnson and Marcus Clarke all shot 74 on Saturday and started the final 18 holes one shot adrift of Trinidadian leader Ross Cabral (73) .
While other contenders eliminated themselves on the back nine Johnson, Proverbs and Jordan swung the tournament into a three-way tussle , with Proverbs leading his rivals by three strokes going into hole No.13.
Proverbs stumbled at a critical time on the Par 5, picking up a double bogey while Johnson got par and came within a stroke of his rival. Johnson kept the pressure on with birdies at No.14 and No.15 but Proverbs remained in striking distance as they were even going into the final hole.
Jordan, a two-time Barbados Open winner who also sank birdies at Holes 13, 15, and 16 while playing in a four-ball ahead of the champion, also missed his opportunity to force a play-off with Johnson as he bogeyed No.17.
Johnson then held his nerve on the last hole and sank a birdie on No. 18 which decided the championship.
“I am happy to win…I wasn’t playing great but I made some good putts to pull through. The guys played well and it was one on the most competitive finishes I can remember,” said Johnson.
Among the women, Antigua and OECS champion Kimesha Anthony upstaged defending champion Leiza Munn-Blakeley as she won the women’s championship by seven strokes.
It was her fifth win in the Barbados Open for Anthony, a former player on the US college circuit and also a former Trinidad Open champion. She previously won in Barbados in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011.
The Antiguan, who led the field by five strokes on Saturday, posted a one-over-par 73 on Sunday for a 36-hole gross 150.
Munn-Blakeley, who represented Barbados in the Caribbean Championships in Bahamas this year, started four shots behind the leader but was unable to make up ground as Anthony sank four birdies on the back nine to secure the title.
Munn-Blakeley registered 76 for a two-day gross 157 while Barbados national junior Alyssa Inniss-Gittens, who was second after the first 18 holes, finished third with a gross 160.
Veteran Bill Weir, moving back to the senior men’s division after playing Super-Seniors in recent times, predictably won the division as he shot 74 yesterday for a gross 149, five shots ahead of second placed veteran Barbados player Robert Piggott (154). Igna Smart finished third on 160.
In the men’s first flight over at Apes Hill Club, defending champion Malcolm Hunte retained his title as he shot 92 yesterday for a three-day gross of 254. Second was national junior player Oaziah Layne (268) and third, Sunil Chatrani with 269.
Richie Alleyne emerged winner of the super-seniors division, with a 54-hole gross 253 and was followed by former BGA president Cally Boyea with 260.
The championship flights for both men and women, featuring players with 0-9 handicaps, were played at the Royal Westmoreland course while competition in the men’s first flight (players with 10-18 handicaps) and second flight was contested at the Barbados Golf Club and Apes Hill.
The Barbados Open, now in its 33rd year and sponsored this year by Sagicor, is the biggest tournament on the BGA’s calendar and attracted players from the Caribbean, North America and Europe in seven divisions.