Ryan Harmer became just the second Isle of Wight player to win the Courage Trophy in 54 years with a stunning second round 65 at Hockley last Sunday (4th September).
The 20-year-old had been intending to turn pro this month and undergo a degree course with the Professional Golfers’ Association under the guidance of Shanklin & Sandown Golf Club’s head pro Peter Hammond. However, after being selected for Hampshire’s 6-man team at the South East Qualifier for the English County Finals and helping the county to their sixth victory in 10 years, he started to have second thoughts.
Harmer’s good form continued in August with an eighth place finish in the Mike Smith Memorial Trophy and a third place in the Stoneham Trophy in the space of 24 hours.
And last year’s winner of the Hampshire Order of Merit Nett Trophy took county captain Martin Young’s call to both Harmer and clubmate Jordan Sundborg to force their way into his plans for the English County Finals, at Sandwell Park later this month.
Young has yet to formally announce his seven-man squad to travel to the West Midlands to face Cornwall, Warwickshire and Yorkshire but after his latest victory – the biggest of his amateur career so far could not have been better timed.
Sundborg was runner-up to Corhampton’s British Amateur Champion Scott Gregory in last year’s Courage Trophy at the Great Britain and Ireland international’s home course, thanks to a stunning second round 63, which equalled the course record.
He travelled to Hockley’s windy chalkland course up on Twyford Down, near Winchester, knowing victory would give him a shot at landing this year’s Hampshire Order of Merit.
But Sundborg, who embarked on his four-year golf scholarship at Stirling University this week, could not find the form that brought him the Solent Salver, thanks to third place finishes in both the Mike Smith at Brokenhurst Manor, and in the Stoneham.
Instead, it was Harmer who grabbed the opportunity with both hands despite trailing halfway leader Ben Lobacz, from Blackmoor, by four shots after the Hampshire Open winner fired a quick-start 66.
But Lobacz – who borrowed a driver from Gregory, who missed out on the chance to defend his title, having a week off after making his European Challenge Tour debut – took 10 shots more in the second round, while Harmer headed in the opposite direction.
He made three birdies in a row from the fifth and despite a bogey four at the par three eighth, the former Freshwater member then picked up four shots in five holes as his game caught fire between the 10th and the 14th.
The short 16th cost him another shot but the downhill par five 18th yielded his ninth birdie of the day to seal a four-shot win over Young, who added a 68 to his opening 71.
That denied the county captain – the reigning county champion – his fourth Courage victory in five years, and his fifth in total, and matched Mark Bell’s feat in winning at Arlesford in 2007, and convinced the county colt his decision to postpone plans to turn pro have worked out well – in the short term at least.
Harmer and Sundborg were also awarded their county colours by Hampshire captain Martin Young at Hockley. The colours are awarded in recognition of players’ performances representing their county.
Sundborg who had a 100% record in his two Daily Telegraph League performances regained his place in the eight-man team for the final league game of the 2016 season against Surrey while Harmer who picked up maximum points in his two matches in the defeat againsst Sussex earlier this season, also played at Brokenhurst Manor.