IMAN Hamid-Wilkinson became the youngest-ever women’s Island champion over the weekend, defeating Julie Frank in the final at Royal Jersey 3&2.
It was a breakthrough success for the 16-year-old with the theme of first-time winners extending into the men’s section of the draw as Harrison Carlyon fought back to defeat former men’s champion Alex Guelpa on the last hole.
Hamid-Wilkinson, of the Royal Jersey, first picked up a golf club just a few years ago, but her steely determination and work ethic has seen her turn heads in recent times and she confirmed that excitement with a polished performance under pressure to take the crown.
The victory sets up a tussle against Sarnian Veronica Bougourd for the Channel Island title.
Meanwhile, Carlyon has impressively juggled both cricket and golf over recent years, serving as opening batsman for Neil MacRae’s Island cricket side.
Despite his golf being steadily on the rise of late, this victory marks a breakthrough on the local golf scene as the former De La Salle student displayed a gritty attitude to see off a strong opponent in Guelpa.
He will now face Guernsey champion Tom Le Huray over 36 holes at the Royal Jersey as the pair contend for Channel Island honours.
He said: ‘I have always been a big fan of the matchplay format, so this competition was definitely one I targeted at the beginning of the season.
‘Obviously the ultimate goal was to win one of the ‘major’ events in the calendar and to close that out was great.
‘It is a really long week with a lot of matches to get through, both physically and mentally it is a real challenge.
‘I think it’s important to remind yourself that there will be some bad breaks in there and make sure that you are able to refocus effectively.
‘In the final, my short game was really strong down the stretch, I made a couple of key up-and-downs at 15 and 16 to turn the match around.
‘It wasn’t easy in the wind, so hitting greens was tough. Those are the situations where you need your short game to bail you out and, fortunately for me, it did.
‘There were some nerves out there, but good nerves nonetheless. It is the buzz you want to feel in any sport and I felt as the crowd built, if anything my game seemed to get better.’
One match ahead of the men’s, Hamid-Wilkinson was making history.
The teenager has aspirations of taking her game to the United States for college and the way she handled the occasion showed that a route overseas is entirely possible.
She said: ‘It’s really exciting to be the youngest winner of the event.
‘All my matches were very difficult, so to get through all of them and win is a great feeling.
‘Being the youngest player can be quite daunting as most of the people playing have a lot of experience handling the pressures of this event.
‘But I really tried to focus on my own game and not stray away from that and I did a good job of that throughout the week.
‘The wind really picked up for the final and made things a lot tougher out there. My caddy Vic was a big help with picking lines on putts and determining how much the wind would play a part.
‘I have always liked the matchplay format. You can be more aggressive knowing that a bad hole won’t cost you the match.
‘The nerves were certainly there, but it was great feeling and, if anything, they seemed to fuel me to play some great golf.’
Team Asset Management sponsored the showcase event, which saw the men’s and women’s championships run in tandem as well as the seniors and several other contests.
Michael Le Feuvre made home course count against defending senior champion Paul Walters.
He won the duel 3&1 after defeating former professional Wayne Stephens 1up in the semi-final.
In the men’s handicap section, Andrew Rafferty was behind for the majority of his match, but turned it round to defeat La Moye junior Ryan Hafey by just one hole.
Elsewhere, it was Catharina Hollick who claimed the women’s division II crown, with a strong 4&3 victory over Heather Gallagher.
The closest match of the day was in the women’s bronze final, where Carol Allen won a great match with Lisa Hamilton-Howes on the first playoff hole.