Golf tourney survives damper
THE HEAVENS opened up earlier this week but James Johnson’s reign will be the only impediment facing golf’s best.
Everything is set for the 27th edition of the United Insurance Barbados Open, not excluding the Royal Westmoreland course, which survived inclement weather to be in stunningly pristine condition ahead of today’s tee off.
Tournament rules official Cesar Rivera made the assurance yesterday during a Press conference reintroducing United Insurance as the tournament’s title sponsor at the course’s club house.
“Right now the course is in perfect condition; the only problem we had when I got here was the bunkers,” said the Puerto Rican, who rates the course among the best in the world.
“When I arrived here two days ago, Birchmore [Griffith] said to me “There’s been a lot of rain, a lot of rain [so] I don’t know how the course is going to be’, but up to now the bunkers are comparable to any other bunkers in any other course.”
Torrential rains over the course of three successive days had the country under a flood watch as recent as Monday, even leaving the neighbouring Holetown area under as much as five feet of water.
But the Royal Westmoreland ground keeping crew worked fervently around the clock to get the course back up to par, as golfers were able to take the greens as early as Tuesday.
And while the weather may have presented a challenge, attracting overseas entries was anything but, with the organisers being forced to turn down local players just to meet a manageable number of 142 golfers.
But the appeal to several of the region’s top flight golfers comes as no surprise to Rivera, who believes that the quality of the course will continue to draw calibre players to an event regarded as the country’s national championships
“For me, Royal Westmoreland is at the top of golf courses in the Caribbean, and not only the Caribbean but outside the Caribbean too. I just came from California doing a tournament there and the course that was played there has nothing on Royal Westmoreland,” Rivera said.
The tournament has been able to draw a strong contingent from Trinidad while Rob Stephens, a British golfer with a handicap of 0.7, is expected to head the charge of dethroning eight-time champ James Johnson.