By Bernard Babb
Canada-based Stephen Layne and teenaged Barbados player Iz Hustler are locked in a tussle for the championship going into the final day of the 2017 RBC Classic on Sunday.
On a rain-affected first day , on Saturday at the Barbados Golf Club, both Layne and Hustler posted one-under-par 71 and will be seeking to stave off their rivals who are in striking distance.
Layne, the 2010 RBC champion, recovered admirably on Saturday to be among the front-runners after a stumble on the front nine, where he registered a double-bogey on the Par 5, hole No.7. He also registered five birdies on the first day.
Sixteen year-old Hustler appeared steady on the first day and moved ahead of his rivals on the first 18 holes with scores of 35 on the front nine and 36 on the back.
They were being chased by Elvis Medford (72) and Mark Blakeley and Xzavier Wiggins , both on 74. Four strokes behind were Simon Proverbs , Julian Jordan and Dawn Bispham – all on 75.
Among the women, reigning Barbados Open champion Alyssa Inniss-Gittens positioned herself for a run at the championship, posting a four-over-par 76 on Day 1. That was two shots better than teenaged rival Emily Odwin (78) and eight ahead of defending champion Julia Stephenson , who shot 84 while seemingly struggling in the rainy conditions . Last year , Stephenson, a veteran Barbados player, defeated her young rivals by three strokes but will have a lot of ground to make up on the final day on Sunday.
In women’s stableford play, among high handicappers, Allison Rimple led the field with 37 points after 18 holes and was followed by Sarah Pepper (31 points).
Among the Senior Men, former BGA President Hadley Byer emerged the early leader with a two-over-par 74 and was closely followed by defending champion Richard Payne , Ivan Codrington and veteran Barbados player Robert Piggott , all tied on 76.
Veteran coach Denny Foster posted 76 and was one stroke off the pace, behind Paul Charal (75), and tied for second place with David Vowles (76) among the Super Seniors (60 years and over).
John Odle , with 42 Stableford points, was the leader in the men’s second flight and was followed by Kevin Armstrong (39) and Eamon Kearney (39).
Close to 100 players are contesting the 13th annual RBC Classic which is organized by the Barbados Golf Association.
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