Tacky fifth-former wows fans at golf tourney
EACH time Romaine Evans drove the ball from the ladies' tee at the par-five 14th hole, the slender Tacky High School fifth-former drew "ooohhs and ahhhs" at the Travel Weekly US Travel Agents Golf Tournament at the Sandals Golf and Country Club in Ocho Rios.
Fresh from the September 9-11 Duke of York Young Champions Trophy at Prince's Golf Course in England, Evans was displaying his driving skills in a Sandals Foundation initiative.
Competitors at the weekend travel agents' tournament contributed a token US$10 to have the youngster and others tee off from the par-five hole, on their behalf.
The contribution will go towards the Sandals Foundation, which continues to nurture young Jamaican golfing talent such as Evans and his tee partner, Zandre Roye, two of 23 young players adopted by the programme.
Many of the participants in the programme are from in and around the Exchange area of Ocho Rios where Evans lives. However, coach Bill Williams said some travel from as far as Kingston and St Andrew on Saturdays.
After winning the junior title at the Caribbean Amateur Golf Championships in St Croix, United States Virgin Islands, in July, Evans was invited to participate in the prestigious Duke of York Young Champions Trophy.
The Duke of York Young Champions Trophy is an international 54-hole stroke play golf tournament for young men and women who are either current holders of their Under-18 national championship or have won some other major golfing event in the preceding year.
The inaugural tournament was played in 2001 with 12 players from six countries. Since then, The Duke of York Young Champions Trophy has expanded and now draws players from across the world.
It aims to promote the development of junior golf, encourage competitiveness and friendship between individual champions, while providing them with an opportunity to play on Open venue courses against their peers. The event counts towards the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
Evans placed 51st out of 60 participants, but said he learnt invaluable lessons on the greens at Prince's Golf Course in what he described as his "biggest-ever tournament".
"We played three rounds over three days. It's a big tournament. Rory McIlroy, the world's number-one player, was there playing in 2004. Tiger Woods also went one year but couldn't play because he was too old then," said Evans, who plans to pursue tertiary studies in electrical installation or mechanics on graduating from Tacky High.
"I had never played on a links course before. Their roughs are really rough," he said, describing the characteristics of links courses, the oldest style of golf courses, first developed in Britain.
Links courses are typically characterised by dunes and sandy soil unsuitable for the rolling greens associated with courses elsewhere in the world.
"Their roughs have tall grass. It was really hard to get off those roughs. We don't play in that type of high grass in Jamaica, so I took home that experience with me," Evans said.
However, his next challenge is not on the golf course.
"The next step is to get those CXCs then college, overseas, to further my golfing. There are fewer chances in Jamaica to get on the PGA Tour," he said, pointing to his ambitions of one day going pro.