Many pros love teeing off here

Cayman’s charm never fails to captivate visitors, especially those with sporting backgrounds. 

Golfers have been no different and for 2012, a number of former greats expressed their delight with playing on these shores for the Cayman Islands Golf Invitational. Among them was Steve Flesch. 

“It’s a lot of fun, for a great cause with the charities involved and it’s always great to come to Cayman in December,” Flesch said. “This is my second time in a row in Cayman. Coming from Kentucky, it was an easy decision to come to Cayman.” 

Flesch, 45, currently competes on the Professional Golfers’ Association Tour. The Union, Kentucky resident turned pro in 1990 and has won over $18 million during his career. This year, he ranks 787th in the world, with his best performance coming in February at the Mayakoba Golf Classic. 

Flesch was one of nine elite golfers here for the invitational, held at the North Sound Golf Club. The others were Rich Beem, Brian Davis, Joakim Haeggman, Peter Hanson, Richard Johnson, Skip Kendall, Thomas Levet and Greg Owen. The event, in its third year, is the brainchild of Marcello Santi, an Italian who is himself a former pro.  

Initially called the Friends Pro-Am Invitational and the Audemars Piguet Invitational, the tournament has garnered support from local government, businesses and the Ritz Carlton, Grand Cayman, whose Blue Tip golf course served as the venue the first two years. 

Most of the golf legends, like Kendall, 48, have taken part in the tournament in years past. As Kendall states, few players would turn down an opportunity to tee off in Cayman. 

“This is my second year, as I was not here for the first event,” Kendall said. “It’s a beautiful place, what’s not to like? We all genuinely want to keep coming here. Marcello’s doing a great job, it’s a great event and I can’t say enough about it. 

“It’s also fun playing with the local guys. I was having a blast playing golf.” 

The tournament attracted companies like Deloitte and Ogier to sponsor teams. Businessmen like Danny Scott and Raul Nicholson-Coe would tee off alongside local players like Samantha Widmer and Isabel Lawson. The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism remains one of the event’s major sponsors, pushing it heavily as part of Cayman’s tourism product. 

Aside from the pros, the invitational incorporated other aspects like a junior golf clinic with David Leadbetter Golf Academy instructor Sean Hogan at North Sound and a floating hole in one challenge at Camana Bay. 

By tournament’s end, Johnson and Levet emerged the winners with scores of 69 and 65. The top corporate side was Crighton Properties, consisting of Dale Crighton, Jimmy Field and Mike Farrington. 

For French star Levet, 44, the results pale in comparison to the experience of playing here. 

“It’s a great tournament that we do for Marcello,” Levet said. “It’s always a lot of fun. We become friends with a lot of the local players. I’ve been coming here for three years and the weather on Island is fantastic. You tell your friends to come back. 

“I hope to come back. I also hope the tournament is not too popular that we can’t keep making friends.” 

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