Champion James Johnson, seeking his 12th United Insurance Barbados Open title, will be the man to beat when the major tournament tees-off tomorrow morning at the Barbados Golf Club.
The defending champion, who was 16 strokes better than his nearest rival last year, is expected to face a tougher challenge this time out with several top regional players in the mix for the three-day Barbados Open.
Among those seeking to upstage the Barbados No.1, will be veteran Kittitian champion Trevor Levine, a past winner in Barbados, Trinidad and St. Kitts, his compatriot Raymond Percival , Trinidadians Adrian Sampson and Wayne Baptiste and Barbadians Julian Jordan and Marcus Clarke .
Barbadian Rae “Muffin” Stollmeyer is the defending champion in the women’s division.
Coinciding with a special staging of the 30th edition of the United Barbados Open, which has come to be regarded as the island’s national championships, the tournament is being played on four courses for the first time in its history.
From the BGC, at Durants, amateur action moves to The Country Club at Sandy Lane on Saturday and to Royal Westmoreland on Sunday. A Pro-Am tournament was staged at Apes Hill yesterday and over the next three days , the competition for professionals continues at Apes Hill.
“I’m definitely looking forward to getting out there. A major change this year is the fact that we will be playing over different courses … adjusting to three different courses and the different conditions will be a pretty big challenge,” said Johnson , the favourite in the men’s championship flight.
A different course each day is certain to set the stage for some intriguing play in the five divisions of the United Barbados Open, which also includes the men’s first flight (10-19 handicap), the seniors (50 years and over) and the men’s super-seniors (60 years and over).
Another exciting battle is looming among the seniors where Barbados player Michael Haynes is defending the title but is certain to be pressed by veteran national players and Caribbean champions, Robert Piggott and Ricky Skeete.
The super seniors could turn out to be a tussle for the silverware among highly favoured Trinidadians, defending champion Monty Chapman and Arjune Samlall, who is playing in Barbados for the first time.
Samlall, playing with zero handicap, said he showed up in Barbados to win the championship.
Response to the 30th United Barbados Open has been overwhelming and president of the Barbados Golf Association, Hadley Byer, reported that the championships have been oversubscribed.
“We have about 130 players and we are expecting some exciting golf over the next three days. The Trinidadians represent the biggest contingent, about 35, but we also have players from St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Martinique, the USVI, Canada and England,” he said. (BB)