Ebonie Cox first woman to tee off in Johnnie Walker Classic
Ebonie Cox will make history this weekend when she becomes the first woman golfer to tee off in the Johnnie Walker Classic.
The 36-year-old amateurfeatures among a field of 81 competitors and will take on the men during the 36-hole championship to held at Ocean View Golf Course on Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting.
“It’s the only way I can play competitive golf at a higher level,” Cox told The Royal Gazette. “It’s my home course and I am confident that I can do fairly decent so I’m just throwing my hat in the ring.
“I am excited just to be a part of it because it’s my first time playing and I’ve been working so closely with Brian [Ocean View head professional Brian Morris] in the last year during what he is going through [battling cancer]. I just want to play with my colleagues and have fun. I just want to enjoy it.”
Morris is excited that Cox has the chance to showcase her talents in the event.
“She is the first female entrant we have ever had and she is actually going to be playing the blue and gold tees with the men,” he said. “It will be nice to see how she fares against the men off their tees.”
Cox will face a formidable field including defending champion Jarryd Dillas and fellow top amateurs Damian Palanyandi and Will Haddrell. Newly crowned Moongate Tour Championship winner Camiko Smith, Chaka DeSilva and Ocean View pair Delyone Borden and Morris are also among the leading contenders.
Allan Bradshaw is back to defend his title in the senior division, which also features debutants Zane and Allan DeSilva and Millard Beach.
Two overseas amateurs from Ghana and New York will also tee off, much to the delight of Morris.
“The goal is to get it to a point where there’s overseas players,” Morris added. “I am thinking next year to have the Johnnie Walker Classic over two weekends; seniors the first weekend and amateur and professionals the second.”
Morris is again looking forward to some exciting competition at the par-70 Devonshire layout.
“I am looking forward to the same competitive golf that has been played in the past six Johnnie Walker Classics,” he said. “Apart from Daniel Augustus and Kenny Leseur, I’ve got all the top senior, amateur and professional golfers here. Whoever wins is definitely going to be the best on the island this weekend.
“This tournament is the one people look forward to, so I’m looking for people to come out and enjoy themselves as usual.”
Organisers have been forced to go ahead with plans to stage the event despite the approach of hurricane Fiona due to scheduling conflicts with the upcoming Butterfield Bermuda Championship Local Qualifier and thr end of daylight saving time.
“There is no provisional date because you start getting into the qualifier for the Butterfield Bermuda Championship and then we have work for the Bermuda Championship,” Morris said. “Then the clocks go back and we lose daylight so I can’t have as big a field and I would have to cut 20 people.”
Organisers have scheduled a clean up after the hurricane passes to get the course ready for competition.
“The plan is Friday to show up at around midday to clean up the golf course and get ready for first tee at 7.30am on Saturday morning,” Morris said.
“We are hoping so anyway. But if it’s so bad that we can’t have it, then we just can’t have it.”