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Look to our athletes for positive boost
With all the negative news swirling about regarding unending crime, roadway carnage, less than stellar Governance and the impending implosion of the partnership, it is a good time to look to our sportsmen and women for a positive boost. We have a number of Olympic athletes who are working very hard on a daily basis to bring glory to T&T in London’s summer Olympics including Jehue Gordon, Richard Thompson, Rene Quow, Kelly Anne Baptiste, Keston Bledman, Cleopatra Borrel Brown, George Bovell and now young sailor Andrew Lewis. We wish them all well and look forward to their performances.
I would also like to pay tribute today to a veteran T&T athlete, golfer Stephen Ames who recently shot a blistering 61 or 9 under par (one off the course record) at Gleneagles Golf Course in Dallas Texas to earn himself a spot in the prestigious British Open Golf tournament at Royal Lythan and St Ann’s in late July.
In the age of instant gratification and generous funding for elite athletes it could serve us well to have a quick look at the 33 year golfing career of the Caribbean’s only professional golfer to ever make it on the PGA tour. Stephen Ames first made sporting headlines when he was invited to Hoerman Cup trials in 1979. Although he was not selected on the 79 team he went on to represent T&T with distinction in the Hoerman Cup in the eighties until turning professional in 1987.
Among his highlights at this time was breaking the course record at the prestigious Sandy Lane Golf course in 1980 with a 64 (8 under par) at the tender age of sixteen. Upon turning Pro Stephen only had the limited financial backing of his parents, who had other children to educate, along with one or two small benefactors from St Andrews Golf club in Moka, Maraval.
So, it was an often difficult and lonely existence for Stephen in the early nineties playing and supporting himself on a shoestring budget on the small tours of Florida and Canada. He was however, able to win at least twice on what is now called the Nationwide tour before a US visa issue caused him to attempt to qualify for the European tour.
I should mention here that before Stephen embarked on the European tour he sought sponsorship from one of T & T’s largest manufacturers for his travelling expenses in exchange for half of any prize money earned and was turned down flat. Stephen went on to spend four years on the European tour where he often performed with distinction including two wins in the French Open and the prestigious Benson and Hedges open at Wentworth, UK.
In December 1997 Stephen finished 3rd in the US PGA qualifying school, a six day marathon where thousands of top class professional golfers compete for 35 highly prized places on the prestigious PGA tour, where he has performed with much credit for the past 14 years including four victories, among them being his runaway six stroke victory at the Players (unofficial 5th major) at TPC Sawgrass in 2006. He also set the course record of 61 (11 under par) at the famed Blue Monster in Doral, Florida in 2001.
T & T’S sporting public should understand and appreciate a true national sporting hero who has been bringing positive recognition to our twin island state for five decades starting in 1979, a time when Jimmy Carter was President of the USA and Eric Williams was Prime Minister of Trinidad.
Within the past nine years, Stephen has started a charitable foundation which has helped numerous young T & T and Guyanese golfers with free equipment, while his annual Ryder Cup tournament featuring T &T’s juniors versus their Canadian counterparts is a great event which contributes very positively to those taking part. Stephen also spends most of that week during the tournament giving free golfing clinics and spends endless time with all of the juniors.
Yes T&T, we have got to get our young people to understand that longterm success can only come from longterm planning, preparation, execution and hard work and that after success is achieved, giving back is always part of the equation.
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