American Andrew Arft holds on to win 56th JGA Open
HANOVER, Jamaica – American Andrew Arft held off a strong field to complete a wire-to-wire win in the 56th Jamaica Golf Association (JGA) Open, presented by Aqua Bay, which ended Tuesday at Tryall Club in Sandy Bay, Hanover.
Arft wrapped up victory by carding a 54-hole score of seven under par 209. It was the biggest win for the 27-year-old Florida native who pocketed a cheque for US$20,000 and said afterwards “I am as happy as can be to be honest”. He had only heard of the event a week ago.
As expected, Tuesday’s final round was fiercely contested by the top contender and produced another close finish as the top six finishers, all Americans, were separated by four strokes. Dominic Piccirillo was second by one stroke with a six under par 210, Josh Anderson and Blake Wagoner were tied at five under 211, Brad Adamonis was fifth with four under 212 and Ryan Linton sixth with three under 213.
Linton shot an eight under 64 on Tuesday’s final round, the low round of the tournament while Piccirillo was the only player to card an under par score all three days.
Wesley Brown was the top Jamaican professional, finishing joint eighth with last year’s winner, Patrick Cover, both on one over par 217 with newly-minted professional Sebert Walker shooting 15 over par 231 for 22nd place. Orville Christie was 24th with 17 over 233 with Justin Burrowes who was also making his professional debut, shooting 18 over 234 for 25th place.
Sean Morris won the amateur title for the first time with a 17 over 233 to lead four Jamaicans at the top of the leaderboard as Oshae Haye was second with 19 over par 235, Trey Williams was third with 25 over 214 and Zandre Roye was fourth with 27 over par 243.
Arft, who said he heard about the event at a mini tour event in Florida last Tuesday, sent in his application by Thursday, booked his ticket on Friday and arrived on the island on Saturday where he got the chance to play a few holes.
“The last day was tough.” he admitted. “It’s definitely tough but I got a good start, made a really nice eagle on 11 and backed that up with two bogeys which was just kind of disappointing.
Continuing, he said “I had an idea of where I needed to be and what I needed to do and kind of talked it over with Jason my caddie and hit some clubs off the tee on 16 and 17.”
Arft, who started the day at six under par, and was seven under at the turn before he was joined at the top of the leaderboard by Piccirillo, who dropped five shots on the front nine which he played in 32 shots including eagles at the par five sixth and eighth holes.
Despite dropping a shot early on the back nine, Piccirillo was still in the chase but a bogie on the 18th hole was the difference.
Arft told Observer Online he did not check the scores until he was on the 16th hole. “I saw some discrepancies in the leaderboard as far as my group and what they were at, I didn’t know if it was true or not. I walked up to the pin on 18, I found out that the closest was six and I needed a par to win and shot a good wedge to 20 feet and two putted it and that’s just the end of the story.”
Piccirillo, who was tied for 10th last year after placing 15th in 2021, took his loss in stride, telling Observer Online his late collapse was typical. “Always, that’s my 18th hole every year, every round but its golf”.
When he was told he was the only player with subpar scores all three rounds, Piccirillo said “I didn’t realise that, that’s nice,” adding that “my first few rounds weren’t quite what I wanted but I scored all right, I played really well the first day and then I was four over on the last three holes, so it happens, it’s golf and it’s this golf course.”