The one that got away for Gregory

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Scott Gregory

Gregory and Ellis key men for Walker Cup mission

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It is normally fishermen who have the great tales about the big one that got away but right now Corhampton’s Scott Gregory knows exactly how that feels.

The 19-year-old, who came very close to qualifying for the Open at Muirfield last summer, was leading one of the most prestigious amateur tournaments in the country on Sunday with six holes to play.

But the heavens opened at North Hants Golf Club and play in the Hampshire Hog was abandoned, when the Waterlooville player was within touching distance of landing his first major title.

Gregory, who had shot a level round 70 in the morning, had deliberately avoided looking at the scoreboard as he came out from lunch as one of the early starters in the 36-hole competition.

But he was determined to make a fast start having discovered how firm several of the greens were despite the wettest winter ever recorded, and with some tricky pin placements to contend with.

Gregory started his second round with a birdie effort at the first which lipped out from 10 feet after firing his four-iron into the heart of the green, and he made a good up and down at the second from the greenside bunker to stay at level par.

He watched another birdie putt lip out from eight feet at the par five third but got his round under way converting from 15 feet at the fourth.

The Hampshire first team squad member made it back-to-back birdies – again from eight feet – after an arrowed seven-iron into the green.

The Corhampton club champion was putting again from eight feet for a three at the sixth but the putt lipped out again.

He then sunk a nine-footer however for a three at the seventh after knocking in a four iron under the wind from 196 yards to get to three-under.

The short par three eighth which has a shallow diagonal shaped green was proving very hard to hold and Gregory, trying to learn from his first round flirted with the front bunker but his tee shot was two or three yards too strong and ran through the green after a firm bounce.

It left him with a tough up and down but he was able to tap in for par and the ninth was playing long into the wind, with his 195-yard approach landing 45 feet from the pin, but a successful lag putt kept a bogey off his card again.

At the par three 10th, Gregory’s six-iron came to a halt 10 feet from the hole, and the putt dropped for his first two of the round.

That moved the former pupil at South Downs and Crookhorn colleges to four under.

It was clear first round leader Sam Edwards, who was a hole in front of Gregory, was coming back to the field, having dropped three shots to fall back to level after his first round 67.

The rain was getting heavier but Gregory was dialled in for another birdie effort at the 11th.

He knocked down a nine-iron under the wind to seven feet, before his attempt for a three lipped out.

Visibility was also fading rapidly as the heavens opened and Gregory smashed his drive down the 12th barely able to see the ball flight after it left the club.

There was a long delay before he could play his second with the group ahead in trouble on the green and when they could finally go, Gregory’s approach from 198 yards missed on the left but he got up and down, holing an eight-footer for his four.

But no sooner had his two-iron split the fairway on the 13th – then the hooter rang around the heathland course.

That left Gregory tied with three others with the fourth best score in the first round – and he was left with the consolation of the sixth-place prize on countback. Despite the disappointment, Gregory can be positive.

He said: ‘I know now that I can beat the best players in the country when I am on my game, so that gives me a lot of confidence.’

Gregory is in the Hampshire team for the friendly match against the Channel Islands this weekend at Royal Jersey, along with Blackmoor’s Ben Lobacz and Mark Burgess.