The 50th staging of the Jamaica Open was held at Half Moon Golf Course in Montego Bay, designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and renovated by Roger Rulewich. Competitors came from Latin, North and South America, Australia, the Caribbean and Europe. The star of the show was a weather system that created a constant wind that was estimated at over 30 mph sustained over the four days from early morning until late evening.
When the final group made the turn for home, they were going directly into the wind. The final three holes were very instrumental in determining the winner. Paul Eales from Great Britain who lead from the first day with a brilliant round of 4 under par 68, was locked in a battle with Tom Gillis, and Kenny Goodykoontz, both from the USA. Paul Eales described his journey back to the clubhouse uphill and into the wind like “a ship losing oil.”
After bogeying the 453 yards par 4 15th hole, the threesome came to the 401 yards par 4 16th hole. Eales followed Goodykoontz who drove over the right-hand fairway bunker in the rough, and Gillis who drove down the middle between the right and left fairway bunker, by driving into the right side bunker, blocked out from the green by a big tree.
Eales hit his second shot pin high left of the left greenside bunker in the light rough. Gillis hit his ball right of the pin above the hole, and Goodykoontz fired his ball next to the pin tap in range. After Goodykoontz tapped in for birdie he was at +2, Gillis made his long downhill putt for birdie to move to even par, and Eales pitched his ball from 20 yards uphill and saved par to remain at -1 and the only man under par for the tournament.
In the clubhouse, Dustin Risdon of Canada had finished at +2, and Brad Adomonis my day 1 playing partner had finished at +3. Adamonis had been at -2 for his final round by birdieing the 573 yards par 5 10th but bogeying the 15th, and 17th on the way in to end up even par for the round and +3 for the tournament. Guy Borros of the USA, son of Julius Borros shot a 1 under par 71 to finish at +3 and win the senior section of the Jamaican Open.
On the 204 yards 17th hole par 3 the final threesome set up to tee off. The out-of-bounds left side bordered with the Montego Bay main road, the flag was on the left side of the green protected by bunkers on the left and the right.
On day two the tee box was set at 241 yards into the wind and I watched professionals hit 3 woods off the tee. I hit a driver for the first time in my life on a par 3 and it was blown over into the right bushes. Goodykoontz hit the green, Gillis ran over the green, and Eales “held on” and the wind took his ball into the right greenside bunker leaving him a long bunker shot towards out of bounds. Gillis chipped onto the green and made his par putt, Goodykoontz missed his birdie and made par, and Eales missed his 25-foot par putt and tapped in for bogey. Eales stood at -1, Gillis at even par, and Goodykoontz at +2.
On the 440 yards 18th, the finishing hole it was now a dogfight between Eales and Gillis. Goodykoontz hit a great drive down the right center. Gillis drove his ball down the right, but the wind blew in unto bare dirt under a large tree. Eales hit a drive into the right bunker.
From the bunker Eales drove his ball into the right greenside bunker next to the small sliver of green on the back right uphill final tier. Gillis hit his ball low under the tree, missed the right greenside bunker, onto the green and over the green, into the back left side bunker.
Goodykoontz hit onto the green in regulation and waited for the battle of sand saves between Gillis and Eales. Although sweating, Eales wasted no time in hitting out of the bunker to the small target with lots of spin. It was a gutsy shot and the ball landed and slowly rolled to tap in range.
The large crowd gathered greenside roared. Gillis replied with a bunker shot to about 4 feet. The crowd gave another roar of approval. Goodykoontz two-putted for a par and waited. Gillis made a slippery downhill putt to finish at even par. Eales tapped in and all the competitors and caddies shook hands and exchanged pleasantries.
The Championship tees played at a challenging 7141yards and during the Pro-Am were set up shorter for the amateurs. I played all three rounds in the Amateur 10 and under division and finished well in the bottom half of the field in terms of scores. However, the experience was inspiring, encouraging, and character building.
The professionals and other amateurs were supportive, friendly, and determined to complete play. Several women played in the Pro-Am, but during the Championship male amateurs and pros competed together and were matched based on their performance in the previous rounds.
Experience and course knowledge paid off as the first 6 places went to Jamaican players. First place winner was Mr. Owen Samuda with a total score of +17, and a best score of 75. Oshae Haye was second at +19, and Sean Morris was third at +22. Special mention to 16-year-old Sebert Walker Jr. who was in 6th place in the amateurs from the championship tees with a total score of +29, and a best score of 80. Half Moon gave out prizes for the first three amateurs.
Half Moon also gave out prizes to Oshea Haye for a hole-in-one on hole #14. The 1st Overseas Prize was given to Robert Sterling from Canada, 78-87-82=247. 1st Senior Prize was given to Tommy Lee 87-84-82=247.
The results of the Senior Professional are 1st Place Guy Borros 219, 2nd Robin Byrd 222, and 3rd Gene Jones 229.
The final tournament results for the Professionals are 1st Place Paul Eales 215, 2nd Tom Gillis 216, 3rd Place Dustin Risden, and Kenny Goodykoontz 218. The total purse for the tournament was US$100,000 plus gifts and vouchers.
This year’s event had numerous sponsors lead by the Tourism Enhancement Fund. Other sponsors included Half Moon, Supreme Ventures Ltd, TVJ, and Sports Development Foundation. Associate sponsors include NCB Capital Markets Limited, Spanish Court Hotel, Pure National Ice, and Juici (Montego Bay).
Bertrand Bonnick DDS is an avid golfer and freelance writer with a GHIN handicap of 5.0, who lives in North Carolina with his wife Kaye and their two boys. He is a volunteer instructor with The First Tee and is a member of The Oak Hollow Men’s Golf Team at one of the few public Pete Dye’s Course in High Point, North Carolina. He is a former member of the Jamaica Golf Association, and Rules Committee Chair for the Baychester Golf Club in the Bronx. In the past, Dr. Bonnick has taken the PGA/USGA Rules Course, and Tournament Administration. He is the author of 3 novels and currently runs a sedation dental practice in North Carolina while being the Course Director for the IV Sedation Course for Dentists at The Aristotle Institute.