Jamaica’s junior team departed the island on Thursday afternoon for the 34th Caribbean Amateur Junior Golf Championship in the Dominican Republic. Competition will tee off on Sunday at the Punta Blanka Golf Course in Punta Cana. The three-day fifty-four hole competition will conclude next Tuesday.
Jamaica will be challenging for its first hold on the championship, having placed second in 2018 at home and 2019 in the Bahamas. There was no championship in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The bulk of the thirteen-member team left the island on Thursday while the full team inclusive captain Emily Mayne and Winni Lau will meet up in the Dominican Republic for the start of the Championship. The team members on the flight were Rocco Lopez – U18 Boys – who won the Bob Slatter trophy back in 2018 when he played in the U13 age category; Trey Williams and Ryan Lue in the 15& U category, and Aaron Ghosh and Ramsay Wayner in the 13 & U category. The girls were Mattea Issa – 15 & U and Samantha Azan in the 13 & U.
The other team members are Michael Lowe, Radino Lobban in the 18 & U and Aman Dhiman in the 15&U. On the girls side Eryn Blakely in the 18&U and Anoushka Khatri in the 13 & U category complete the team.
The new players on this year’s team are Ramsay Wayner and Anoushka Khatri.
Everyone on the team – players, coach and manager were upbeat about Jamaica’s chances to win the championship for the first time.
According to coach Jonathan Newnham “the team is well prepared. We have had a couple weeks of nice training and we are looking forward to doing the best we can in the next couple of days and then ultimately to take home the trophy.”
Rocco Lopez, one of the most experienced players on the team said “I am just gonna try to go out there and do my best. I am ready to play.” Another player Mattea Issa is looking forward to some good competition. She said “I am looking to put in some good hard work and help the team get as much points as I can to help us try to get that victory and take home the trophy. These past few years we have been so close so we are hoping towards that and get the trophy.”
Team manager Alison Reid has high expectations, she said “I think we have a really good team. We gave strong players in all categories and I think if we figure out the golf course. We are lucky we have two practice days this year so we have time to look at the course and have the children play balls over and over on the holes that they find challenging to really try and see if we can maximize on our advantage. If the children can use their mental strength cause their golf is ready so its just mentally, not to beat upon themselves if things don’t go exactly how they want on first day, if they can just play, just not worry about every shot, just practice the things they can control, play the thing that they have learnt, I thing we have a very good chance.”
Several golfers have in the past won age group trophies including Jonathan Newnham, Justin Burrowesn (twice) and Rocco Lopez, however the country is still looking for its first country trophy.
The team is sponsored by Sandals Foundation, BCIC, Spanish Court Hotel, KFC and Fleetwood.