Teenager steals the show at golf championships

Allen Bernardo of TRAC Automotive, Justin Hastings and CIGA President Paul Woodhouse.

While most 13-year-old boys were relaxing Sunday afternoon, playing the latest video game or watching their favourite show on Netflix, one of their peers was blitzing the field to do something unprecedented and win the 25th Cayman Islands Amateur Golf Championship presented by TRAC Automotive.

Justin Hastings outclassed a field that included men much older than him to become the youngest ever winner of the tournament. After shooting a credible 77 on day one at North Sound Golf Club and being four strokes of the pace heading into the final round on 19 March, Hastings shot an impressive 67 despite windy conditions to erase the deficit and earn himself the trophy.

Justin Hastings

He finished with a combined score of 144, two ahead of Brian Ross. “It was a great round, really confidence boosting,” he said in an interview with CaymanSportsBuzz.com.

The grade eight Cayman International School student said he was surprised at his performance and was overjoyed at winning the championship, possibly the youngest ever to have the honour. “I am very surprised. I didn’t think I’d ever really have a chance, especially this young. It’s just awesome to pull it off,” he said,

“The hardest part was not knowing, because I wasn’t in the last group, I wasn’t in the top three or four [after the first round]. So, I think it was not knowing what the leaders were at, not knowing what I had to do to catch them. It was a lot of guessing work out there,” Hastings said.

Another teenager, Aaron Jarvis, was third with 177 strokes over the two days, having let his first-round lead slip away from him.

Meantime, there was high drama in the women’s competition as Nitti Howe outlasted Isabel Mendes through two playoff holes to win the crown. Howe held a four-stroke lead entering the second day.

“I did the best I could but unfortunately, I got in trouble and we tied in the end,” she said.

A playoff beckoned. They were still even after the first playoff hole on the par-4 #10, so they moved on to the par-5 18th hole where Mendes faltered on her second shot, opening the door for Howe to take the victory.

“What went through my mind was that whatever I do, I have to par the hole because I know she can play well and recover well. I just ignored everything else, did the best I could, keep my head down and stay with the game,” Howe told CaymanSportsBuzz.com after holding on for the win.

Nitti Howe was all smiles at the end of the two playoff holes.

Young Holly McLean was third with a combined score of 174, three behind the others. Her 85 on Sunday was four better than Howe’s round, as she closed the gap on Howe and Mendes.

Scott Kapuscinski won the senior championship by a comfortable 13-stroke margin. He had 144 (71 and 73) through two rounds. Paul Woodhouse was second with 157, two ahead of third-placed Mick Whitworth.

Braden Howe scored a four-stroke victory over Bill Knibloe among the super seniors. How shot 83 on Saturday and 84 on Sunday for a combined 167. Knibloe scored 171, while Phil Riposo was third with 192.

L-R: Braden Howe (super senior) Justin Hastings (Amateur Champ) Nitti Howe (Ladies Champ) Scott Kapuscinski (Senior Champ)

Meantime, Cormac Sheehan won the men’s handicap tournament, while Lauren Needham won the women’s handicap competition.

In his speech, before presenting 13 year old Justin with the trophy, CIGA President Paul Woodhouse recalled the prescient words of last year’s champion: that it was unlikely that anyone over 20 years of age would win for a while but admitted that no one envisaged the winner being 13 – the youngest ever.

Allen Bernardo, owner of the title sponsors TRAC Automotive, attended to present the trophies and prizes and announced a commitment to continue sponsoring golf in 2018. This news was very warmly received as Cayman will be hosting The Caribbean Amateur Golf Championships in 2018. This prestigious annual regional tournament involves around 80 of the top golfers from across the region.

Tournament results:

2017 Cayman Islands Amateur Championship Results

2017 Cayman Islands Amatuer Championships handicap results


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