The Isle of Wight could not deal with the firepower of the mighty English County Champions when they took on Hampshire at Shanklin and Sandown Golf Club last month.
After their victory at Trevose in October, the victorious team led by Brokenhurst Manor’s Martin Young got the chance to meet Hampshire’s Olympic Champion Justin Rose, at Walton Heath, where they were able to swap stories about playing for their county.
Rose, who grew up in Hook, soared into the country’s hearts as an 18-year-old when finishing fourth at the Open, has been inspiring Hampshire’s future heroes on the golf course ever since. And now they have the current Spanish Amateur Champion in their midst it fell to Isle of Wight Games golf manager Darren Masterton to take on the new kid on the block in the shape of Billy McKenzie, from Rowlands Castle.
Martin Young, who was vice-captain of the GB&I mid-amateur team that contested the third Concession Cup against the Americans the week before, was not on the boat that crossed the Solent.
But the other member of that team – Shanklin & Sandown’s Ryan Harmer, who recently turned pro and is looking to compete on the mini-tours this summer – was playing for the Island.
After clubmate Nat Riddett had been beaten convincingly by Meon Valley’s ex-England U16 cap George Saunders – a regular practice partner for the current British Amateur champion Harry Ellis, who made his debut at the Masters in April – Harmer found another top US college golfer too strong in the shape of North Hants’ Sam De’ath.
Harmer, who also played for Hampshire in the English Boys Finals in 2013, made 4 birdies in a row around the turn but still lost out to De’ath, who graduated from Florida’s Webber International, winning on the last.
Last year’s Hampshire vice-captain Tom Robson then made it 4 points out of 4 with a win over Ben Guy as the county colts manager raced to 6-under par for his round.
The hosts’ Conner Knight was the toast of the Island team claiming the scalp of British Mid-Amateur Champion Matt Wilcox, from North Hants, the same club as where Rose made his name, and who had won the Berkhamsted Trophy at the age of 44, in late March.
Osborne’s Chris Hayward was beaten by Roope while clubmate Matt Williams, who is hoping to play in more county events this summer, lost to Mark Burgess, from Blackmoor, another member of the county championship winning squad, who was a semi-finalist when Shanklin and Sandown hosted the 2003 Hampshire Amateur Championship.
It left Newport’s Nick Matthews, who is also a member at Meon Valley, to battle it out with Liphook’s Sam West.
They both are members of the Hampshire Boys squad and it was Matthews who claimed the honours against his teenage team-mate, who is in this season’s England U16 South training squad.
Hampshire unsurprisingly ran out the winners 6-2. With Shanklin’s 2 Hampshire college stars Jordan Sundborg – the reigning county champion – and Conor Richards both away until the end of May, the Isle of Wight might have been able to put up more resistance if they had been available.
But the match will have helped Roope’s preparations for when his first team return to Shanklin to face Kent in the second Daily Telegraph League match of the season, on 27th May, when both Sundborg and Richards are due back on the Island and likely to be key figures as Hampshire try to reach the South East Final for the first time since 2012.