The bulk of the Jamaican team of junior golfers return home Friday night with historic trophies from the 34th Caribbean Amateur Junior Golf Championship which was played in Puerto Rico.
No female had ever won any age group category in the Caribbean championship but that did not deter Samantha Azan and Emily Mayne from stamping their class on the event and writing their names in the history books of local junior golf.
Mayne was pleased with her performance. “Day one the conditions were very rough. We had a lot of showers, very hard showers throughout the day so it was hard to keep dry but I just tried my best to stay focused and just stick from fairway to green and it ended up working out. Day two I shot my best score which was one under for the tournament and the best round for the girls. That day was kinda just me telling myself I needed to do the best I could to kinda move up the table because by then I was in third and I wanted to move up to first or at least second so on the last day I would have not much to do. And then the last day nerves did get to me a little bit but I ended up sticking to my game plan and it ended up working out”
She was happy to be the first girl to win the 18 & Under category, “it means a lot also because I am the first Jamaica girl to win it but I am happy with how my work has paid off.” She scored 74, 70 and 80 for 11 over par 224. Mayne tied with Emily Odwin of Barbados for first place.
Eryn Blakely who also represented Jamaica in the age group placed 7th after scoring 251.
Samantha Azan won the 15 & Under category by one shot ahead of another Jamaican, Mattea Issa, who lead by two strokes at the beginning of the 18th hole. Issa lost the lead and the category after posting a three over par on the hole. Azan scored 231 on the back of 74, 79 and78, while Issa ended on 232 (76, 75 and 81).
Azan did not return on Friday but Issa did. She said “its disappointing. Leading up to the last hole and then I wouldn’t say fumbling the bag but kind of, it was a struggle on the last hole. I gave away the lead, I gave away the win, I gave it away so not a great feeling. I know I can do better and I’ll continue to push and do my best every time so hoping it won’t happen again and I can focus on the pressure better, handle the pressure better so that I can know how to handle the situation again.”
Alessandra Coe who represented in the 13 & Under category came 8th with a score of 308 overall. The category went to Ava Saavedra of Puerto Rico with a total score of 237.
On the boys side, Ryan Lue was the best placed Jamaican on tour. He came 4th in the 15 & Under category after carding 239 (83, 76, 80). Danny Lyne of the Cayman Island won the category on the back of 75, 75, 76 for a total score of 226.
Lue was joined in the group by Aaron Ghosh – 267 and Lek Drummond 275 for 12 and 14th place respectively.
Rocco Lopez placed 8th in the 18 & Under category. His scored 78 on each of the three days for a total of 234. Kelvin Hernandez of Puerto Rico took the category with scores of 73, 69 and 68 for a combined total of 210. His 68 was the best score of all the golfers in the championship.
Lopez said “unfortunately I did not play my best but we had two people win their age groups so the team was really proud of them and I think as a team we had a really fun time and we are looking forward to next year.”
The youngest male team, the 13 & Under category was represented by Kemari Morris and Shasa Redlefsen who placed 8th and 9th respectively with scores of 269 and 272. Evan Pena of Puerto Rico won the group after posting 228 for the competition.
Puerto Rico won the team trophy, the Hank James Trophy with 168 points, ahead of runner-up the Dominican Republic on 119 points. Jamaica maintained its 2021 third place finish with 117 points after being on joint second with the Dominican Republic at the end of day two.
Coach Jason Lopez said “we were very pleased with the girls performance. To have Samantha Azan win the Under 15 Girls, Mattea Issa finishing second and Emily Mayne winning to win the Under 18 Girls was inspirational for hopefully all the other young ladies out there who are contemplating what sports to play and we want them to come and play golf so we can continue to build out our women’s game. I think we would have liked to and we have the capability of finishing second in front of the Dominican Republic. Unfortunately on the last day the ball just didn’t roll in our way and we lost by a few points which was a little bit disappointing overall because it would have been nice.
Team manager Alison Reid who is also the convener for junior golf, was very proud of the team’s performance. “I am actually very proud of our team. The course played hard and the children did very well. We were really close, we missed it by two.” She also said that there were some outstanding performances and the young players gave it their all.