ABU DHABI // The teenage golfer Jennifer Henderson performed superbly around the demanding Abu Dhabi National course on Friday to earn what she thought would be an exciting trip to Argentina, only to be told that she was too young to claim the prize.
Jennifer, 17, who is studying for A levels at the British School, was the runaway winner in the local heat of the BMW International, with three places to offer in the final to be staged in Buenos Aires from Dec 1-6. Her stableford score of 39 points, off a handicap of 13, was three better than Jean Wang, an expatriate from Taiwan, who admitted afterwards that she felt "surprised and lucky" to be receiving her airline ticket and five-star hotel voucher.
Jennifer put on a brave face, and said: "I am used to this kind of thing happening, but if they can find a loophole then I would love to go and play in Argentina." Arno Husselmann, the general manager of Abu Dhabi Motors who hosted the event which has similar qualifiers in Dubai later this month, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, was saddened by the outcome of a tournament which was open to all members of the club but could only be won by those over the age of 21.
"I feel really sorry for Jennifer but we don't make the rules," said Husselmann. "The nice thing is that she still gets the winner's trophy and all the recognition that goes with it. The fact that, at 17, she can compete against and beat women much more experienced suggests that she can look forward to a great future in the game." The trip which was passed on to Wang, whose 36-point total was four better than runner-up Catherine Feron, and supplemented two men's awards in a competition that attracted over 100 members of the National club. Rupert Evans was a convincing winner among those with a handicap between scratch and 12.
Playing off six, his putter worked like a dream to help him amass 42 points and beat Bilel Belaid by four with Donovan Joseph a further point adrift in third. "Everything I looked at on the greens today just went in," said a delighted Evans. Accompanying him on the journey will be Cliff Wisely, a Californian who rattled up a staggering haul of 45 points. "My handicap of 15 will be coming down after this," he remarked, celebrating a day to remember.
"I have just got back from the States playing golf. It is a long way to go to play golf, but it is something to look forward to." firstname.lastname@example.org