Two of Caymans’ top amateur golfers Payten Wight and Justin Hastings traveled around 4,000 miles to Santiago Chile to play in the 4th Latin American Amateur Championship on Jan. 20-23.
The Masters Tournament, The R&A and the USGA formed the event in an effort to further develop amateur golf throughout South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. The purpose of the LAAC is to advance the sport in the region and to create heroes who aspiring golfers would want to emulate.
This year’s event included the number 1 amateur golfer in the world – 19 year old Joaquin Neimann from the host nation Chile, who finished the event as runaway winner with an astonishing final round score of 63 (8 under par).
Cayman was invited to send two players to participate in this annual event. Playing in his third LAAC, Payten played well for the first two rounds, narrowly missing the cut. Asked about his time at the event he said, “The tournament opened my eyes and made me realize how important the short game is. I struck the ball really well for the two days and enjoyed every moment while I was there.”
It was Justin’s first LAAC and he made headlines, as at 14 years of age he was the youngest ever competitor. With his father Rich as his caddie, he made the cut and got to play all four rounds of the event. Justin’s reaction to being part of this event was,” It was my best tournament experience so far, and it will be my goal to return to this tournament and improve on my results.”
CIGA president Paul Woodhouse congratulated both men on their achievements and said that he hoped that the experience of playing in such a high level event would not only help Justin and Payten in their ongoing development but would also be something that could be shared with the other Cayman players in their preparation for the upcoming 62nd Caribbean Amateur Golf Championship, which is taking place in Cayman in August.