All set for 50th Ja Open Golf Champs
Prize money totalling US$100,000 will be up for grabs at the 50th Jamaica Open Golf Championship which tees off with a pro-am event at the Half Moon Golf Course in Montego Bay, St James, next Wednesday.
The pro-am event will give local amateurs the benefit of playing with professional golfers ahead of the main tournament, a 54-hole stroke-play event set to get under way next Thursday.
Among the top golfers who will be seeking the US19,000 top prize is Jamaica-born Johnny Bloomfield, a three-time winner. Other top contenders will include Americans Tom Gillis and Gene Jones. Gillis has played in several PGA and Nationwide Tours, winning his first title at the 2009 Nationwide Tour Players Cup.
Jones, who became a professional way back in 1975 currently plays on the Champions Tour, which he joined after reaching age 50 in 2007.
Three other Jamaicans - Wesley Brown, Al Robinson and Peter Horrobin - will be hunting a share of the main prize. Brown, who began playing as youngster at Runaway Bay and later at Sandals Golf and Country Club, has had some success on the Florida circuit.
Peter Chin, the Jamaica Golf Association president, expects a good show from the Jamaicans and the rest of the golfers.
"We expect exciting golf. We have a very good field of professionals and amateurs and we expect some high-level golf," he underlined in an interview at yesterday's media launch held at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston. Chin called hosting this year's event "tremendous for the golfing community".
The Jamaica Open Championship is returning after a four-year break and tournament director David Mais said: "This is the rebirth of the event." He added that getting corporate sponsorship has been one of the main challenges.
Event sponsors are the Tourism Enhancement Fund, with support from the Sports Development Foundation, Supreme Ventures, TVJ, Half Moon, NCB Capital Markets Limited, Spanish Court Hotel, Pure National Ice and Juici Montego Bay.
Director of Golf at Half Moon Spencer Edwards said his organisation is proud to partner with the Jamaica Golf Association for the 50th staging.
"The Jamaica Open is an opportunity to put Jamaica on the map," Edwards outlined.