Five members of Jamaica's team to Caribbean Amateur Golf Championships depart for Puerto Rico

By Sports Desk August 22, 2021
President of the JOA Chris Samuda (r) shared a moment with Mattea Issa and the Jamaica golf team to the 64th Caribbean Amateur Golf Championships at the Norman Manley International Airport on Saturday. President of the JOA Chris Samuda (r) shared a moment with Mattea Issa and the Jamaica golf team to the 64th Caribbean Amateur Golf Championships at the Norman Manley International Airport on Saturday.

Five of Jamaica’s eight-member team departed the island on Saturday for the 64th Caribbean Amateur Golf Championships which will be played at the Country Club at Grand Reserve, Rio Grande in Puerto Rico from August 24 to 26.

The five - Justin Burrowes, Mattea Issa, William Knibbs, Dr Mark Newnham and Shamar Wilson - will be joined later by Rocco Lopez, Owen Samuda and Madelyn Newkirk. The team will have two practice rounds on the par 72 course prior to the start of the championship as they prepare to challenge for the Arthur Ziadie Trophy, the Hoerman Cup and the George Teale Trophy.

A strong men's team headed by national amateur golf champion Justin Burrowes will lead the charge for Hoerman Cup which Jamaica has never won. Jamaica was third at the last championship held in 2019. There was no competition in 2020 because of the pandemic.

"It's one of my favourite tournaments, the Caribbean tournament, it means everything to me to travel with my team to represent my country and hopefully do well," said Burrowes, who welcomed the new players to the campaign.

 "I think they get along really well with the team. They are both very easy people to get along with so that aspect of it is easy.  They are both two very talented golfers so I know they will go out and do their best and that's all we can really ask for.

“I played junior golf with Rocco at least three or four times so I know Rocco really well and we are rooming together; and Shamar, we have been playing together for the past two or three years so we have a good connection there and in the team practices we have been getting along really well and I think to have them on the team is a good addition."

Meanwhile, Wilson said he is eagerly awaiting the start of the tournament.

"It feels exciting, naturally, to go and represent your country which is the highest stage there is.  Everybody wants to get to the stage where it’s the biggest thing to go represent your country, so I am really excited about that," he said.

The most experienced member of the team is Dr Mark Newnham is hoping he is able to inspire the team to give their best.

“What I bring to the team is not only that level of experience but in previous management as well as obviously physician capacities, I have been able to get the best out of the team and I am just looking forward,” he said.

“If you take out my age, we are talking about a very young group of players, talented, awesome and we just going to play and support each other and do Jamaica proud.  The awesome talent that's there and how well we gell together is going really do well for our chances of bringing home the Hoerman Cup and the George Steele Trophy."

 Williams Knibbs, a former amateur champion said he feels like he is ready to play his best golf at the tournament.

"I feel like I am rounding into form at the right time so physically the game is there so it is just for me to deal with it mentally and emotionally," he said.

The female team has been weakened by the unavailability of the four golfers who were named after the trials.  This is because the date of the championship was changed to a later time in August and they are unable to get the time off from school.  Fourteen-year Mattea Issa makes her debut on the senior team while Madelyn Newkirk, who represented Jamaica back in 2016, returns to the team.

Issa was happy to be called to the senior team for the first time.

"It feels great to represent my country.  It's something that I have always wanted to do.  It's a goal of mine to do at this age,” she said.

“Most of the people on my team are a lot older than me so being 14, I think is going to be a great learning experience and I am going to have a great time.  My expectations for this tournament is to learn a lot and do the best as I can, shoot as best as I can and overall, end this tournament being a better golf player because I will be learning a lot from the rest of my teammates."

Meanwhile, team manager Robert Chin has high hopes for the team's chances at the championship.

"I think the men's team will do very well given the experience and given the fact that these guys have performed at the highest level in the Caribbean before so I do expect them to deliver.  On the female side, a little short but it's what it is and we have to just play with what we have," he said.

 

 

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