The bulk of the Jamaican team left the island with high expectations early Saturday morning, for Palmas Del Mar in Puerto Rico for the 34th staging of the Caribbean Amateur Junior Golf Championships.
They were excited to get on location to express themselves on the golf course as they try to win the overall country trophy for the first time. The two coaches, Jonathan Newnham and Jason Lopez as well as the most experienced male and female players Rocco Lopez and Emily Mayne respectively, were upbeat about Jamaica’s chances this time around having come close in 2018 and 2019 when the island ended in second place on both occasions to perennial winner Puerto Rico.
According to Newnham “we are ready to go and I am excited. We have done our prep. We are going there to make sure we understand the course properly and then go out there and execute as best as possible so I am excited for the journey ahead and look forward to a great week.”
The team is on a mission to win the overall trophy this time. “That’s why we are going but obviously a lot of factors are out of our control so we are gonna stick to what we can control (and) believe in team Jamaica, which is the best that we can do” said Newnham.
Coach Lopez said that everyone was well prepared having been assessed on various golf courses across the island. These include Caymanas, Cinnamon Hill, Constant Spring, Half Moon, Sandals and Tryall. “We are well prepared. We had a great training series. Between myself, Jonny and Alison (team manager)we were able to do a comprehensive review of all the kids games, testing on different golf courses (and) different facilities. Of course, they all have their own personal coaches and I think they are well prepared for this event.”
Lopez stressed that “the mental preparation will start now, to try and prepare them to perform without putting too much pressure on themselves. That will be the job going forward.”
Eighteen (years) and under leader of the female pack, Emily Mayne was hoping for the best, “we are just gonna try our best to stay calm, cool and collected throughout the rounds. We just gonna try (to) get the most points we can and hope for the best”
Rocco Lopez (18 & Under) thinks that the team-building skills that were honed during the preparation for championship will help the team to succeed this time. “I think we’ve put in the work. I think we’ll be ready for this year. Each Saturday we travel around Jamaica to different golf courses and we practice together with the team and do team-building skills and I think that really helps.”
The players who left Jamaica on Saturday will team up with Eryn Blakely (18&U) in Puerto Rico and go through at least one practice round ahead of Tuesday’s start of competition.
The other team members on the boys side are 18 & Under – Aman Dhiman and Trey Williams; 15 & Under – Lek Drummond, Aaron Ghosh and Ryan Lue and 11-13 – Kemari Morris and Shasa Redlefsen; while the girls are 15 & Under – Samantha Azan and Mattea Issa, and 11-13 – Alessandra Coe who is making her first trip as a national representative.