Walker, Burrowes enjoying taste of pro golf
TRYALL, Hanover — Former Jamaican junior representatives Sebert Walker Jr and Justin Burrowes made their debuts as professionals at last week’s 56th staging of the Jamaica Golf Association (JGA) Open at Tryall Club in Hanover, and while they failed to finish in the money, they were optimistic.
Walker, who will be based between Atlanta and Nashville in the USA, finished 22nd overall with a nine over par 231 for the 54-hole tournament, nine shots better than Burrowes who will be based in Dallas, Texas, where he has been living for nearly a year now.
It was a nervy start for both players who would have been on the same national teams while playing junior golf. Both men will stick with their long-time coaches — Walker with his father Sebert Sr, the head professional at Cinnamon Hills in St James, and Burrowes with Jason Lopez, who has guided his career ever since he first took up clubs.
They are both on the same trajectory, with plans to play in some tournaments in the USA later this year, trying to get sponsors, and start qualifying schools next year in the hopes of getting on some of the tours, as they make their way up the very competitive ladder of professional golf.
Walker, who recently graduated from Tennessee State University, where he played NCAA golf, started the JGA Open slowly, shooting a five over par 77 on his first day. He said he was “pleased to be able to get out there and perform to a somewhat respectable level”.
“However, we definitely want to do better and we’re looking to do better. So it was good nonetheless to get going with that career.”
The former Cornwall College student said the decision to go professional only really firmed up during his final year in college.
“I played college golf and it was something that, as I went along in college, I realised that it is attainable. It’s something that I have the ability to do and I decided that it would be something I would give a round at once my college career is finished,” he told reporters last week. “So we’re at that time and it’s just, you know, the next thing in order.”
Sebert Sr, who caddied for his son throughout the tournament, was proud of his career decision.
“Well, you know, I am proud, it’s a proud moment,” he said, and explained that there was no pressure on his side. “No one pushed anything on him. He decided that this is what we want to do. So it’s a supporting motion, we are supporting what he does.”
Himself a former player, Sebert Sr said accompanying his son around the 54 holes over the three days “gave me some energy as well”.
“At no point I felt like I could slow down. He started off rough as we saw, but, you know, there’s potential for him to do well as he goes on.”
His advice to his son, he says, is to take a balanced approach.
“It’s just for him to know that with everything he also has to put God in there and he has to keep practising, that’s what I’m pushing on him to, you know, impress on him,” said the senior Walker.
Burrowes said he was uncharacteristically nervous at the start of the tournament on Sunday morning.
“It was a rough day, I would say that for sure,” he told the Jamaica Observer. “I think that’s the most nerves I felt on a golf course in a while.
“I mean, it was, it was, it was crazy honestly, like I don’t know…it didn’t even feel real for the first three or four holes, and then I settled down a little bit and then just didn’t really have my A game at all today, didn’t really play very well. But I mean, all in all, I was just kind of glad to get the first day over with. I think it can only really get better from here.”
Asked why he was so nervous, he replied, “Yeah, that’s a great question. I don’t know. I mean, I guess maybe I was just getting in my own head a little bit. I don’t know, but yeah, it’s definitely very nervous the first couple of holes and then yeah, just couldn’t really get to, you know, rhythm. I was, you know, I was just moving a little too fast honestly, so why, I’m not sure.”
The decision to turn professional, he said, was always there.
“I have always wanted to turn pro since I was six years old and you know…playing at home, having my family here, everybody here, some good friends here, I just thought it was the perfect way to start my professional career,” Burrowes told the Jamaica Observer.