Thursday, April 18, 2024

Johnson after 13th golf title


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Who will emerge to challenge James Johnson in the Massy United Insurance Barbados Open golf title this year?

The Barbados champion and national captain is after his 13th Open men’s title when the island’s biggest amateur tournament, now rebranded as the Massy United Insurance Open, tees off today.

The men’s and women’s championship divisions (featuring players with 0-9 handicaps) will play all three days at Royal Westmoreland while the Men’s First Flight, Women’s First-Flight, Seniors (over 50 years) and Super-Seniors (over 60 years) will be played at the Barbados Golf Club today and then at Apes Hill tomorrow.

All divisions will complete the final day of the Open championships at Royal Westmoreland on Sunday.

In the absence of OECS champion Trevor Levine, who was unable to depose the defending champion after leading by two strokes on the final day last year, Johnson’s main challengers are expected to be compatriots Scott Stollmeyer, Julian Jordan, Elvis Medford and Carlsen Leacock.

Trinidadian teenagers Liam Bryden (1 handicap) and Sol Joanni (2 handicap), who both made favourable impressions in the Trinidad Open earlier this year, are also expected among the contenders.

The wind and the challenges of the expansive Westmoreland course are certain to test the stroke control of players but Johnson said he was ready to go after another national title.

“I know the course well and I have won before . . . so that should serve me in good stead. I enjoy playing the Barbados Open and I am definitely seeking to make it No.13,” he said.

The championship flight has also attracted a number of the island’s multi-talented sportsmen, good enough to boast single-digit handicaps. Among them are former Barbados tennis players Michael Date and Roger Edghill and former West Indies cricket coach Ottis Gibson.

Women’s champion for the past two years, Rae “Muffin” Stollmeyer, will not be defending her title this year and the way is open for a new queen of local golf.

Fifteen-year-old Mavi Vergos, who was second in 2013, is tipped to lift the crown but will have to stave off experienced campaigners such as Lyn DeCambra-Mcleod, Sally Schofield and Pauline Raynor of Trinidad.

A new champion is also certain to emerge among the senior men, where last year’s champion Robert Piggott and veteran contender Ricky Skeete, both Barbados players, have moved into the Super-Seniors.

Barbadian Bill Weir is defending the Super Seniors crown but will have his work cut out in fending off the likes of Caribbean champion Monty Chapman of Trinidad and Skeete.

The championships are organised by the Barbados Golf Association and president Cally Boyea said 124 players from the Caribbean, North America and Europe were entered.

“We toured the three courses yesterday and all systems are go. We are hoping that the weather cooperates and that we can get the exciting and competitive golf this weekend  that the Barbados Open is known for,” said Boyea. (BA/PR)

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