Hampshire booked their place in the South Eastern Group League Final at Frilford Heath, in October, as they ended their South Division campaign at Hayling on Sunday, unbeaten in all 4 matches for the first time since 2012.
But they were made to sweat through the climax of the afternoon singles by a Surrey side who were desperate to keep their flickering hopes of retaining their Daily Telegraph title alive.
Shanklin & Sandown’s college stars Jordan Sundborg and Conor Richards enjoyed mixed fortunes on the baked fairways – with an easterly breeze replacing the traditional south westerly some of the holes on the front nine were playing very short.
Richards demolished his hapless Kent opponent when the Lander University student, who was named his Conference’s Player of the Year for 2017/18, was brought into the county side when his home club hosted Hampshire’s first home game of the season at the end of May. And during the second he again teamed up with West of England Amateur Champion George Saunders in the morning foursomes.
They found themselves up against another in-form US college player in the shape of Max O’Hagan and HIndhead’s Cameron Phillips. But the Hampshire pair were quickly 3 up in the second match out after winning the sixth and seven with Richards driving the green at the 350-yard par four to win it with a birdie 3 to go 4 up.
Surrey fought strongly on the back 9 but could only reduce the deficit by 2 holes and Richards and Saunders shook hands on a 2&1 win on the 17th.
Sundborg was playing with former captain Martin Young and after Surrey edged ahead with a win in 2 of the first three games and they settled for a half against Surrey captain Kieran Lovelock and Lewis Hinton.
Surrey piled on the pressure winning the first 2 singles after lunch to lead 41/2-11/2 with Richards in a ding-dong game with O’Hagan who had gone 3 up after 4 holes.
Conor, the current Isle of Wight Champion, birdied the ninth and 11th – after hitting his tee shot to three feet on the short par 3 – to reduce the arrears to 1. He was all square after another at 13th after another prodigious drive with his two-iron on the 340-yard downhill par 4 found the green. But after both players made great recoveries for a half on the 17th, O’Hagan won the 18th with a par to take the match by 1.
Captain Roope lost while his foursomes partner Jason Stokes, from Jersey, 3 putted the 18th to halve his game to leave Hampshire needing 2 wins.
Sundborg was sailing as he made his way along the Solent shoreline going 5 up through eight against Sunningdale’s Will Dugdale and won comfortable and Hayling’s former Europro Tour player Toby Burden, playing on his home course, collected the crucial sixth point for the draw by beating Lovelock 2&1.
Report by Andrew Griffin