Iz Hustler is the champion of the inaugural Barbados Junior International Golf Championships which were contested at the Barbados Golf Club (BGC).
In a new tournament offering world-ranking points and replacing the annual National Juinior Championships, Hustler fought off his rivals in the 18-and-Under division to win over three days and 54 holes.
He posted scores of 75, 72 and 73, for a three-day gross 220, and was chased by second-placed Xzavier Wiggins (223), with Dario Sargeant third (231), and Oaziah Layne fourth on 232.
Hustler, a Barbados senior team player, had to makeup ground on the second day last Thursday after his main rival and fellow Barbados player Wiggins stunned the field with a two-under-par 70 over the first 18 holes.
Wiggins stumbled on the second day as he posted 77, and Hustler, who was five shots off the pace, carded an even-par 72 to share the lead with a gross 147 going into the final day, last Friday.
Hustler forged ahead and separated himself from the contenders over the first nine holes on the last day, posting a two-under 34 on the front-nine.
His one-over-par 73 on the last day was three shots better than Wiggins’ 76.
Hustler will receive a new World Amateur Golf Ranking and a nomination for a place in the upcoming Youth Olympics in Argentina.
Wiggins, along with female national junior Emily Odwin, will represent Barbados at the British Open Junior Champion-ships in Scotland in July.
Two players from St Lucia were among the 35 players who contested the championships. The tourney as divided in four divisions, with boys and girls playing off the same tees in the younger divisions over a shortened course.
In the 13-and-Under category, Barbados junior Dominic Jordan emerged winner with a three-day gross 173, while Eryn Blakeley, also a Barbados junior, was second on 176. Third was Nicholas Phillips with a gross 179.
Laea Blakeley won the 8-10 division, posting 79, one stroke better than second-placed Lenny Jansen (80) and two better than third-placed Jason Johnson (81). Gordon Chow was fourth (89).
Among 11-13 year-olds, off the red tees, Dylan Allaher (217) was the winner, while Brianna Prescod was second (222) and Matthew Seale, third on 226.
Tournament director Denis Foster thanked the players, parents, support sponsor Richard Proverbs and host club, the BGC, for helping to make the inaugural tournament a success.
Foster disclosed that it was becoming increasing difficult for Caribbean players to gain entry to major events without having international ranking points.
He said it was critical other associations in the region created accredited events to assist the region’s young golfers in gaining exposure and provide opportunities to earn points.
“Our tournament is going to be in April every year, after the Trinidad Juniors, and we know it is going to get bigger. We need more of these tournaments in the region to create a circuit to help our players,” said Foster.
BGA president Trevor Tasker praised Foster and all other stakeholders for helping to make the first of such world-ranking tournaments a success and pledged the BGA’s continued support for the development of junior golf. (BB/PR)