Shehzad’s teed up for two big ones

Cayman’s top junior golfer Shehzad Hafiz will be competing for the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean Junior championship in Trinidad and the Junior Open in England this month.

The Junior Open takes place at Hesketh Golf Club in Southport immediately before the British Open, from July 14-16.

The R&A’s biennial under-16 event, the Junior Open was founded in 1994, the Junior Open came under the R&A administrative umbrella in 2000.

Staged every two years, the event is closely linked to The Open Championship and played on a nearby course. All golfing nations affiliated to the R&A are invited to enter their best under 16 boy and girl golfers.

Shehzad, 15, will compete over three rounds of stroke-play or 54 holes in the Gold category (under 3). The championship format includes those competitors in the Silver(4-9) and Bronze (10-18) categories who play 36 holes. There is both a scratch and handicap element to the event.

The 54-hole tournament regularly attracts over 100 entries from across the golfing world. This year, players from nearly 70 countries will be taking part, including Bangladesh, Lebanon, Panama and Nicaragua, as well as the more established golfing nations.

Competitors are nominated by their national governing bodies, some being chosen for their recent records in competition, others qualifying by winning a specific selection event against their peers.

Either way, the quality of the field is invariably high, and some major talents have graduated from the Junior Open to feature prominently in top-level golf.

Sergio Garcia played the event in 1994, as did Paula Creamer in 2002, just three years before she became the youngest-ever winner on the LPGA Tour.

This year’s amateur champion, Reinier Saxton of the Netherlands, won his category in 2002, and even more recently fledgling superstar Carly Booth – who recently played on the GB&I Curtis Cup team – played the event in 2006.

Shehzad said: ‘I appreciate the support provided by the Cayman Islands Golf Association, North Sound Golf Club and Britannia Golf Club for the opportunity to compete in the Junior Open.

‘I also want to take this opportunity to thank my parents, Saad and Samina, for all the support they’ve given over the years.’