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Pro golf on hold

Sherrylyn A. Toppin

Pro golf on hold

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Barbados’ top golfer James Johnson will not be turning professional – at least not just yet.
Johnson, responding to questions at a Press conference to launch the United Insurance 28th Barbados Open yesterday, said it had been discussed but was not on the cards at the moment.
“We’ve talked about it for the last eight years since I graduated from the United States. Right now, I am very comfortable with amateur golf. It is a lot less pressure. I am enjoying my amateur golf right now and I think I’ll probably keep pro golf on hold for a while,” Johnson said.
But he also admitted he was looking forward to competing in the Jamaica Open, which will be held at the Half Moon Bay Course in Montego Bay in December.
“They also have a pro division in that event. I won’t be competing as a professional but I will be playing with professionals in the same event. That will be interesting to see – amateurs playing with pros and you’re playing against them so to speak. I am looking forward to that.”
Johnson is the four-time defending champion of the Barbados Open that will be held Friday through Sunday at Royal Westmoreland.
He is once again among the favourites in the championship division and is determined to make the “home court” work in his favour.
“I think there is always a little bit of pressure. We want to win. We prepare and train pretty much three to four months in advance for this event in Barbados, so it is a great honour to be considered national champion.
“But, at the same time, I have confidence. I try to take that pressure off myself and I believe I can and will do it,” he said.
“It is my home course. That’s where I play most of the time so I know it very well. In that sense it is one of my favourites. Definitely, it is a beautiful golf course and certainly one of the best in the Caribbean, but I feel I can win on any golf course.”
His greatest challenge is expected to be Trinidadian Talin Rajendranath and Adrian Norford with Barbadians Marcus Clarke and Julian Jordan out of the island. Carson Leacock also can’t be counted out.
Former West Indies cricket captain Brian Lara will be back for the third consecutive year in the championship.
Johnson is in tremendous form, having won the Rockley Open, the T&T Open and the St Kitts Open this year.
“I am confident. I go into every tournament feeling that I can win. I have done particularly well recently, but at the same time it is sport, it is golf and anything can happen.
“As we have seen in the professional ranks, there are guys that are fantastic players and the difference between winning and losing is so small that any time you can have a mistake and come up short,” Johnson said.
Meanwhile, Barbados Golf Association president Birchmore Griffith said all of the categories in this year’s event would be very competitive.
In the Women’s division, 2010 champion Serena Smith has since won the BGA/RBTT Classic and the Sir Garry Sobers Championships.
As she prepares for the Caribbean Junior Championships, the teenager will have to contend with two-time winner Kemeisha Anthony of Antigua, who was absent last year.
In the Super Seniors, defending champion Asraph Ali of Trinidad will be back and playing against Barbadians Cally Boyea, who lost by one shot last year, Roger Beale Sr and Griffith, the 2009 champion.
Kendrick Haynes won the senior division by one shot last year from Robert Piggott and they are expected to be in a three-way tussle with Rickey Skeete.
The top juniors will also be on the greens.
In throwing their support behind the event, David Alleyne, general manager of United Insurance, commended Griffith and his team at the golf association, noting that the sport had grown under Griffith’s tenure and was of “an exceptionally high standard”.

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