Junior golfers ‘outplaying themselves’ as qualifying ends

Some of the golfers who played the final qualifying round on 25 Feb.

Junior golfers have completed four rounds of qualifying in a bid to make the cut for the Cayman Islands team to compete at the 2018 Caribbean Junior Golf Championships in Jamaica this summer.

More than a dozen young players participated in the final round at North Sound Golf Club on Sunday, 25 February, with seven of them either setting or matching their best performances of qualifying.

NSGC professional Brad DeSchiffert, who has taught many of the youngsters, said there’s been some noticeable development of play among many of the juniors, especially in the recent months of qualifying.

“It’s better than we’ve ever seen before. We’re getting some numbers we’ve never seen before. They’re outplaying themselves,” DeSchiffert told CaymanSportsBuzz.com. “It’s been something that we’ve been waiting for them to do and realise their full potential, allowing them to play the best golf that they possibly can. It’s really showed in the last four rounds.”

James Rees hits one from the bunker on No. 18.

Justin Hastings and Aaron Jarvis were tied for the day’s best round, shooting 69 to lead the Boys U15 division.

“I really struck the ball well today. I would have liked to see a few more putts drop but [I was] bogey-free until the 18th. So, I’m taking lots of positives away from today and looking forward to Jamaica,” Hastings said. He previously shot 69 in the first round of qualifying and followed it up with a 76 and 72.

It was Jarvis’ best round, after a 78 and 70 in the two other rounds he played. Tom Dickens was third on the day with his best performance of 90, bettering his earlier rounds of 100, 93, and 104. Derek Peene didn’t have his A-game on the day but was still upbeat after a 111. His earlier scores were 105 and 88.

Lauren Needham and Holly Mclean were the only girls on the course, competing in the U13 division. Mclean shot 83 to follow prior scores of 79 and 83, while Needham hit 87, her highest of four rounds (85, 79, 80).

“I had a good back nine and then the last hole broke me down but, all in all, it was a pretty solid round,” Needham said, adding that she was happy with how her game has developed over the past year.

Mclean (right) is excited about having Needham join her on the team.

Mclean summed up her performance this way: “I didn’t play that well today but I had a pretty good front nine, so it kept me kind of in the game.”

There are two spots for U13 Girls on the team, and Mclean said she was elated at having some company this time around. “This will be my first year with another girl coming, so that will be good,” she said, tapping Needham on the shoulder. Needham was selected last year but was not able to make the trip.

Todd Purton was the top golfer on the day among U13 Boys with a 79. He said his chipping game was on point on Sunday. Purton has steadily improved his play across the four rounds: with 95, 94, and 85 in the earlier three.

Other U13 Boys’ scores were: Andy Hastings 85 (79, 80, 76); James Rees 93 (98, 102, 101); Sam Mclean 95 (101, 109, 99); Zachary Garnett 104 (120, 108). James Bould (80, 86, 80) and Danny Lyne (87, 86) did not play on Sunday.

Joe Purton was the lone boy in the U18 division. He followed up his earlier round of 83 with a 90 on 25 February.

Todd Purton saved his best round for last.

DeSchiffert said the juniors are dedicated to their craft, practicing regularly throughout the year, and he was not surprised to see the improvement on the course. “When it came for their first round, they played the best golf they could and it shows because they’ve been playing some good golf the whole way. Some are going to get more used to playing in tournaments but most are already there,” he said.

The Cayman Islands Golf Association will name the team in the coming weeks. There are spots for three U18 boys, three U15 boys, two U13 boys and two U13 girls.

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