Barbados’ junior golfers are seeking to do the host country proud when the 2016 Caribbean Junior Championship tees-off on Tuesday at the Barbados Golf Club.
The island is fielding a full team for the 29th staging of the regional championship, which is being played over 54 holes from July 4-8, and some compelling battles are looming in various age groups.
Top Barbados juniors Iz Hustler and Xzavier Wiggins will be carrying the home team’s best hopes in the boys’ 14-15 years division, which seems to be one the most competitive categories in the regional tournament.
They along with the improving Oaziah Layne are highly favoured to get the better of their main rivals from Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago and the Dominican Republic and at least secure a podium position at the challenging Durants course.
While Hustler, the national junior champion, will be playing in the division for the second year, the talented Wiggins and Layne will be moving up from the 13 and under age-group.
They will encounter the fast-improving 14-year-old Puerto Rican, Andres Aranguren, who won the 13 and under division in St. Croix last year and has ambitions of landing the gold medal in his first year among the 14-15 age-group players.
His record at the 2015 Caribbean juniors was impressive as he shot scores of 73, 73 and 76 (gross 222), which were five shots better than his compatriot Melvin Morales, who won the 15 and under division from Barbadian Iz Hustler.
Hustler, who shot a gross 240 for his second place finish behind Morales (227) in St. Croix last year, will be looking to go one better in a field of 19 players on a course he knows well.
Dominic Jordan, the son of Barbados national senior player Julian Jordan, and Quinn Heljenek are making their debut in the 11-13 category and will be seeking to learn from the outing.
Barbadian girls Emily Odwin, who won the 13 and under age-group at a regional junior tournament in Trinidad in April, and national junior champion Alyssa Inniss-Gittens, who will compete in the 14-15 division, are also expected to perform well along with Eryn Blakeley (11-13) and first-timers Jada Jones and Leiann Bynoe (16-17 division) and add vital points to the overall team score.
Laura Perez of the DR and Puerto Rican Camila Robles, who was second in the 11-13 age group last year, are among the girls favoured to make their presence felt in the 14-15 division.
Barbados will be represented by three players in the Boys’ 17 and under division and they include captain Joshua Jones, Christian Mason and Christopher Cobley. They are all seasoned campaigners but will have their work cut out in seeking to fend off the in-form Trinidadian trio of Sol Joanni, Liam Bryden and Sachin Kumar.
The Trinidadians seem likely to dominate this division, once 17-year-old Kumar can reproduce the form that helped him to win his second Trinidad Open senior title in March at Moka.
Puerto Rico are the defending team champions and players from Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas, the USVI, Turks & Caicos and host country Barbados are contesting the three-day championships.
Scores over 54 holes will count towards individual medals and team scores. (BB/PR).