It is 76 years since a golfer from the Isle of Wight has claimed the Hampshire Amateur Championship, but teenagers Conor Richards and Jordan Sundborg continued their education and experience by reaching the knockout stages at Brokenhurst Manor.
Sundborg, from Shanklin and Sandown, has been most impressive this season having made his debut for the Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Channel Islands first team, winning three and halving the other of his four games against Dorset and Kent. Jordan was only prevented from reaching the last four by Brokenhurst’s Jordan Ainley, gunning for his second Sloane Stanley Challenge Cup having claimed his first when Shanklin and Sandown last hosted the championship in 2012.
Having claimed the third seed in the draw, Jordan faced one of the surprise qualifiers in the first round in the shape of Barton-on-Sea’s John Milne, and went two up on the 10th after holing a 30-footer on the long par three.
Milne went out of bounds at the 11th to go three down and Jordan sealed a 4&3 win by making another six-foot birdie on the 15th. That set up the clash with Ainley and a place in the last four beckoned for Sundborg as he went two up with just four to play having fought his way back from two down after five holes.
He won the sixth, eighth and ninth to go in front for the first time and after losing the 10th bounced straight back at the 11th before claiming the 13th. Ainley made a 10-footer for a birdie three to halve the deficit before the pair halved the long 16th in birdie fours only for the home favourite to hole a tricky six-footer with plenty of break on the sloping 17th green.
The 17-year-old was six-under par stood on the 18th but he flushed his drive on the short par four behind a tree on the right and had to chip out and only succeeded in finding the front bunker with his next
But from having a two shot-lead at lunch, the wind begin to gust quite strongly around the tree-lined course in the heart of the New Forest, and scoring was much harder with just two rounds breaking par from the field of 78.
Sundborg had to settle for a 72 after a costly double-bogey six on the 17th thanks to a missed short putt. That cost him a chance to win the Pechell Salver for the lowest qualifying score having made four more bogeys having made birdies at the par five second and and the driveable 15th.
Conor Richards qualified in seventh place after two fine rounds of 71, but the Hampshire Junior Champion was knocked out by eventual losing finalist Tom Robson, from Rowlands Castle.
The 2009 county champion was three up after three courtesy of a biride, eagle, birdie start but Richards showed his mettle making a birdie two at the sixth before Robson got stuck behind a tree on the seventh to get back to one down.
Richards lost the 12th with a bogey but a flier from the rough on the 13th saw him find the ferns behind the green to give hope to the 17-year-old, who finished second in the British Schools Championships at St Andrews, last month.
Robson produced the hammer blow at the par five 16th, firing a seven-iron 230 yards to 20 feet before making his eagle putt. The pair shook hands on the 17th as Robson holed an eight-footer with two feet of break to make par and seal a 2&1 victory.
The consolation for Sundborg and Richards is that they will represent Hampshire, Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands in the England Champion Club tournament at Durham’s Brancepth Castle, in September after claiming the Club Team Championship.
The pair – playing with Nat Riddett (72, 79) – posted a 11-over total of 431 in the qualifier to pip Royal Jersey by a shot. Westridge’s Josh Oddy missed out on a place in the last 16 after the English U16 international carded rounds of 74 and 80 to finish 43rd.
But the trio will have to wait until next year’s championship at Hayling before getting a chance to equal that victory by Shanklins J E Mellor back in 1939 – when the championship was also held at Hayling.
Report by Andrew Griffin