Shanklin and Sandown Golf Club’s Ryan Harmer helped Hampshire reach the English County Finals for the sixth time in 10 years by beating Surrey by three shots at Reading’s Calcot Park earlier this week.
Florida State student Harry Ellis was the hero of the hour firing a second round 66, stirring memories of Paul Casey’s epic 65 at West Herts 16 years ago which sent Surrey to the finals single-handedly. But with all 6 scores counting, the slightest mistake in the 36-hole strokeplay could have been potentially disastrous and Harmer kept his cool on the tricky Harry Colt classic parkland track.
With the wind always a factor and several sucker pins danger lurked not far away all day. None more so in the second round on the seventh an uphill par 3 at 156-yards which sloped severely from back to front with a large run off back to the water which lay between the tee and the target.
Having just made 4 at the par 5 sixth, Harmer struck his eight-iron sweetly but with the pin on a ridge in the middle, his ball skipped to the back left. He looked to have judged his chip well as it trundled towards the hole, but caught the slope immediately below the cup and ran all the way off the green and halfway down the slope back to the water.
Facing a likely double-bogey 5 he prodded a low chip which skidded to a halt 3 feet above the hole, before the 20-year old holed the breaking putt for a great four in the circumstances.
Harmer would add 3 more bogeys on the back 9 on his way to carding a second 74 of the day. But while his 8-over par total would not have won any honours it left him in 37th place in the 66-strong field, having made two birdies and six bogeys before lunch. And crucially it kept Hampshire in the hunt having led at lunch by 3 shots from Surrey with a total of 23-over par.
Ellis had shot a fine 68 to lead the race for the Peter Benka Trophy as the leading individual, and when his 66 put Hampshire on the route to Sandwell Park, in the West Midlands, overlooking West Bromwich Albion’s Ground, it left Harmer with a possible regret.
He is due to sign up for his Professional Golfer’s Association degree course in early September as he takes his first steps into the pro ranks – but the English County Finals are not being played until the end of the month, which will rule him out of the final.
Harmer has already helped Hampshire Colts reach October’s South East Group Final after the U21s beat Sussex and Kent at The Dyke, on the outskirts of Brighton, at the end of last month,
That performance put Ryan firmly in county captain Martin Young’s mind for his 6-man debut after Corhampton’s Scott Gregory’s win in the British Amateur last month earned him a call up into England’s European Amateur Team Championship side at Chantilly in France.
Ryan, who helped Hampshire Boys reach the English Finals and was in the team with Ellis that just missed out at Staffordshire’s Kedlestone Park in 2013, was delighted to be on the winning team. He said:
“Being in the team with such a great group of golfers and pulling off that result felt fantastic.”
Hampshire have only won the English County Championship once in their history – back in 1996 when a 16-year-old Justin Rose was a member of the team.