BARBADOS CAN NOW say it has two international golfers.
James Johnson and Roger Beale became pioneers last week when they debuted
in the prestigious World Golf Championships Barbados World Cup at the
Sandy Lane Country Club course in St James.
Three months ago, Johnson had to turn pro to represent
Surpassing all expectations, he and Roger Beale tied for 21st in the 24-team
field after firing a one-over-par 72 in Sunday's final round. The result
made them joint Caribbean Challenge winners alongside the highly-fancied
Trinidad and Tobago team of Stephen Ames and his younger brother Robert.
The "Bajan Brothers", as they were dubbed during the event,
dovedtailed well to push hard on the final Sunday evening to catch-up
with the Trinis.
Soon after, Johnson gave up his pro status and has now switched back to
the amateur ranks and back to his day job. All week, his story took centre
stage and it was featured on the ABC and ESPN networks, as well as the
Associated Press, Reuters, Telegraph newspaper in England, and several
They were particular interested in the fact that he was willing to give
back his prize money to the Barbados Golf Association (BGA) for the construction
of a driving range. The BGA is now $82 500 richer.
"I might not go back (to work) Monday, probably about Wednesday (today),"
the 26-year-old Johnson told a packed news conference. "I don't think
this week is going to change my life from a work sense, but it definitely
will from an enjoyment sense."
Before the four-day event, Barbados were expected to finish at the bottom
of the 24-team event, but they carded a respectable four-over 288, to
end ahead of Japan and Jamaica.
Johnson had to surrender his amateur status to be able to partner Beale,
who was born in Barbados, but now lives in Canada.
"It's definitely one of the best weeks I've ever experienced. When
I first learnt I could be playing here, I shook from head to foot. It
was a euphoric sensation, something I would never have imagined.
"I've always kind of dreamt of playing on the PGA Tour and being
next to a lot of these great players. I thought I would be a lot more
overwhelmed with the week and a little bit more nervous.
"But I haven't really felt much of that at all, which is surprising.
I guess being in Barbados makes it just a little bit different."
The 26-year-old Barbados No.1 used three United States mini-tour events
to prepare for the World Cup.
"The issue was really me having to sit out of amateur golf, because
I always want to come back to amateur golf. The issue was whether I would
have to wait to return to amateur golf. I didn't want to have to turn
professional. I played in college and I don't feel like I'm good enough,
in a nutshell," he said.
It was a story worth telling and now the entire golfing world knows of