Jarryd Dills *File photo
Jarryd Dills *File photo

Bermuda’s reigning Amateur Match Play champion Jarryd Dillas has told the island’s golfers to show the event more respect next month and ensure a better turnout than in recent years.

DIllas, whose comments were made in a Bermuda Golf Association press release, said it was vital that the event began to matter to local players once again.

He said having to take time off work for the tournament, which this year takes place at the Mid Ocean Club on March 5-8, was not a unique situation to Bermuda and that the BGA has ‘a lot of work to do’ to make the event matter again.

He said: “It’s obviously disappointing that we don’t see more people come out to play in one of our national championships.

“I understand it means taking time off work, but it’s the same everywhere around the world. The US, British and Canadian Amateurs are all played, in some part, during the middle of the week and they manage to attract full fields of well over 200 players.

“The difference is that those events are held in extremely high regard within their respective golfing communities, whereas golfers here see very little value in entering our major amateur events, and unfortunately that’s not a problem that can be fixed overnight.

“The BGA has a lot of work to do in order to make its events matter to people again, and I think the association acknowledges that and is beginning to take the necessary steps in order to regain the trust and attention of the local golfing public.”

Asked if he thinks more players will turn out this year, he said: “I certainly hope so. It’s never been more affordable to play, both for members and non-members of Mid Ocean, and I know that a lot of work is being done behind the scenes to ensure that this will be the best-organized BGA event to date.

“But organization counts for very little without participation, so I really want to encourage everyone to come out and take part. Match play is an exciting format, Mid Ocean is a fantastic golf course and the staff and membership are great hosts for the week, and as I said before, the BGA is really focused on improving the overall player experience.

“It promises to be a fun week and I’m confident that those who choose to participate will not be disappointed.”

Players can choose to compete in one of three divisions – men’s, ladies, or senior men (55 and over). The entry fees are $250 for men and ladies, and $200 for senior men, with Mid Ocean & BJGA members offered a fee reduction of $100 for each division.

The event begins with an 18-hole qualifying round on Wednesday, after which players are seeded in their respective divisions based on their stroke play scores.

The men's and ladies divisions will be flights of 16, with one match to be played on Thursday, two matches on Friday, and a 36-hole final on Saturday. The men’s senior division will be a flight of eight, with one match on Thursday and Friday before an 18-hole final on Saturday.

Last year, Dillas won his fourth consecutive Match Play title, overwhelming Chris Brough 8&6 in the men’s final.

In the ladies’ division, Ann Symonds narrowly defeated Linda Down 1UP in a hard-fought contest that was decided by a final putt on the 36th hole. The win was Symonds maiden Match Play victory.

Both have indicated that they intend to defend their titles next week, with Dillas looking to lift the trophy for an unprecedented fifth time in as many years.

He said: “I know it has to end sometime, I just hope that time doesn’t turn out to be next week. Match play is such an unpredictable format — each opponent presents you with a new set of challenges and it’s usually the player that makes the fewest mistakes that comes out on top in the end. My game is in good shape at the moment, so hopefully I’ll have a successful week and be in with a chance come Saturday.”

The deadline for entering the event has been extended to Monday, March 3, with entry forms available at the BGA website,www.bermudagolf.org.

For more information, please contact Gary Venning at the BGA Office on 295-9972 or at info@bermudagolf.org.