Youngest-ever player wins Amateur Championship trophy

Thirteen-year-old Justin Hastings won the Men’s title, Orapin “Nitti” Howe won the Ladies event, and Super-Senior Braden Howe and Senior Scott Kapuscinski defended their 2016 titles at the 25th National Amateur Championships in Grand Cayman on March 18 and 19.

Before presenting 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 adding that no one envisaged the winner being 13 – the youngest ever.

The tournament, sponsored by the Cayman Islands Golf Association at the North Sound Golf Club, comprises four championship divisions. A separate handicap event for men and ladies runs at the same time.

Super-Senior (60+) Howe was pushed hard on the Sunday by Bill Knibloe but eventually triumphed after a great tussle, organizers said in a press release. Senior (50+) Kapuscinski shot a strong first-round level par 71 in windy conditions and consolidated his lead with a two over 73 in round two to keep his hands on the trophy. There were some good scores in the chasing pack, with Paul Woodhouse’s second-day 77 earning him the runner-up spot, two shots ahead of Mick Whitworth.

In the Ladies event, Caribbean Mid-Amateur teammates “Nitti” Howe and Isabel Mendes were pushed by national junior team player Holly McLean, who was playing in the event for the first time. Only three shots separated them at the end of 36 holes, with Howe and Mendes tied for the lead. It took a two-hole playoff to decide the winner, with Howe sinking a 3-foot putt on the 18th green in front a large crowd of spectators to clinch the victory over Mendes, last year’s champion.

In the Men’s Championship, first and second place after day one were held by 14- and 18-year-old brothers Aaron and Andrew Jarvis, followed closely by Brian Ross, Tracy Moore, Justin Hastings and Stefano Franceschi. Brian and Aaron had a close fought battle in the final group, with Brian coming out one shot ahead. However, 13-year-old Justin Hastings, who played in the group in front, put on a Sunday afternoon charge, shooting a 67 (4 under par) to take the title by two shots.

Handicap divisions

The Men’s handicap division was won by Cormac Sheehan, with a tie for second between Jason Perras, Daniel Fortune and James Walton. The ladies event was won by Lauren Needham, who at age 12 has made the national junior team for the first time this year, with Diane Brazelton runner-up.

Allen Bernardo, owner of title sponsor TRAC Automotive, presented the trophies and prizes and announced a commitment to continue sponsoring golf in 2018.

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