Jamaica set to field strong team at 2018 CAJGC
A preliminary junior team has been named by the Jamaica Golf Association (JGA) to represent the island at the 2018 Caribbean Amateur Junior Golf Championships (CAJGC).
The championship will take place from July 3-6 at the Caymanas Golf Club. The team was decided following the national trials, which took place at Caymanas from March 24-26.
Jamaica looks set to field a strong team which will hope to take advantage of home field and challenge regional powerhouse Puerto Rico for the title.
The trials produced promising displays from Jamaica's young golfers. Standouts Justin Burrowes, Emily Mayne, and Rocco Lopez each won their respective divisions convincingly.
Burrowes won the boys' 18-and-under division with a three-day total of 226 (76, 72, 78), setting himself up as the only automatic qualifier from this division, having scored well below the maximum scoring requirements. The boys' 18-and-under division requires a maximum score of 234 over the three days to automatically make the team. Burrowes should be a strong contender in his division having recently won the Jamaica Open, where he competed against some of the top amateur golfers in the region.
The girls' 18-and-under division was won by Tiana Cruz, scoring a combined 237 (79, 82, 76). Cruz, who is currently attending school abroad, travelled to Jamaica to take part in the trials. She is a veteran of the national team and has represented Jamaica on numerous occasions. The remaining spot available in the girls' 18-and-under age group will also be decided closer to the championship.
TIE FOR FIRST PLACE
The boys' 15-and-under division saw a tie for first place, with Triston Brown (86, 82, 77) and Radino Lobban (87, 77, 81) both shooting three-day totals of 245. Brown and Lobban are automatic qualifiers for this year's team, having shot below the maximum allowable of 246 for their age group. The third and final spot in this division was awarded to Michael Lowe, who shot 255 (87, 89, 79).
Rocco Lopez won the boys' 13-and-under division with a three-day total of 222 (71, 74, 77), which was the lowest qualifying score of all juniors at the trials. His first-round score of 71 was the only under-par round shot for the tournament. Lopez is set to represent Jamaica for the third consecutive year and is hoping to make a big impact for the team. Matthew Grant claims the second spot in this division, shooting 248 (85, 85, 78).
Emily Mayne won the girls' 13-and-under division, scoring 246 (91, 78, 77). Mayne's second- and third-day scores were back-to-back personal bests, proving that her game is rapidly improving and has the potential to score major points for the team. Mattea Issa qualified as the youngest member of the team at 11 years old, taking the second spot in the 13-and-under division with a score of 269 (91, 87, 91).
National team coach Jason Lopez fancies the team's chances at the championship.
"I'm very proud of the way the kids performed in the junior national trials. With continued hard work and preparation, I am of the opinion that our team can win the overall title this year. Our team has a great mix of seasoned players and up-and-coming talent. This will bode well for our team come tournament time, because that's when things can get a bit dicey," said Lopez.
The juniors will continue to develop their game over the next several weeks through participation in the Sandals Foundation Junior Cup. The first match of the cup takes place at the Caymanas Golf Club on April 21. The second match takes place at the Sandals Golf and Country Club on May 5 and is part of the inaugural Sandals Golf and Jerk Festival.