A teenager threatened to upstage Barbados champion James Johnson last Sunday but he survived to win the 2015 RBC Golf Classic.
In a tussle that came down to the wire on the final hole of the two-day tournament , at the Barbados Golf Club, Johnson made one of the greatest escapes in local golf .
Watched by spectators from the fringes of the club-house , at the Barbados Golf Club, Johnson birdied the final hole to shake-off a stern challenge from 14 year-old Iz Hustler and at the same time also nipped Mark Blakeley's bid for the championship.
That critical birdie putt on the par-5 , No.18, left the champion with a 1-over-par 73 on the final day and a two-day gross 150, which was one stroke better than second-placed Blakeley (151), a former Jamaica player, and three better than Hustler (153) and veteran Orville Alleyne (153).
The final nine holes of the tournament proved to be tense but exciting for the major contenders as , Johnson, who had trailed leader Carlsen Leacock by six strokes on the first day, started to pull back but encountered an inspired Hustler, a junior national, who seemed bent on upstaging his older rivals.
While Blakeley, a scratch golfer and a Sagicor Insurance Executive, had registered an impressive two-over-par 74 and seemingly flew under the radar in an earlier group, Johnson and Hustler tussled on the back-nine with the young player holding a one-stroke lead going into the final two holes.
The teenager played well and kept one hand on the crystal trophy up until the final hole , when he stumbled on an errant tee-shot and never recovered.
Johnson prised the title from Hustler's grip as he sealed the win with a birdie on the 18th hole and the improving junior collected 8 strokes.
Among the women, former national player Helen Foster (gross 163) held on to her five-stroke overnight lead to win the championship over experienced rival , Julia Stephenson (168). They were chased by teenager Alyssa Gittens-Inniss (173) and Gail Fields (180).
Andrew Linton led the men’s first flight on both days and captured the title on Sunday with a 77 which gave him a 36-hole gross of 155, four strokes better than second-placed Cardinal Burnett ( 159).
Fourth was Julian Watson, a 14 handicap who shot a nett 142 behind Linton.
Favourite in the senior men’s division, Ivan Codrington , who won the highly competitive division at the Barbados Open, shot 152 to stave off his rivals with another consistent performance. He won by five strokes ahead of Igna Smart (157) and six ahead of Michael Haynes (158).
In Stableford play, among high handicappers in the men’s open division, Canada-based Peter Howard clipped the field by a stroke as he scored 76 points, one more than the steady Clennell Goodman (75) and David Degg (75). Early leader Peter Hennesy finished on 70 points.
Sarah Pepper, with 60 points , won the women's stableford division ahead of Claire Boucher (59 ) and Zerina Belgrave (58) and Alison Rimple (58).
Predictably, men’s super-seniors champion Bill Weir claimed another title among players over 60 years, as he shot 73 on both days and carded a gross 146. That was three better than veteran Barbados player Robert Piggott (149) while Teddy Grell registered 156 Ricky Skeete, gross 160.
The RBC Classic , now in its 11th year, is organised by the Barbados Golf Association and more than 120 players took part in the 36-hole tournament, which was jointly sponsored by Royal Fidelity Merchant Bank and Trust.
By Bernard Babb Full results >>>
Fourteen year-old Iz Hustler lines-up a putt on the ninth hole while being monitored by Carlsen Leacock.
Mark Blakeley emerged runner-up in the men's championship of the 2015 RBC Classic.
Winner Helen Foster (right) and runner-up Julia Stephenson share a toast after the final 18 holes at the Barbados Golf Club.
Champions James Johnson and Helen Foster accepted their awards from Robert deSilva (left), Managing Director of RBC in Barbados, and Cally Boyea (right), President of BGA.
Local & Regional News archive
Global Golf News