Walkley defends Order of Merit title

Hayling's Darren Walkley
Hayling's Darren Walkley
Harry Ellis. Picture: PA Images

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Darren Walkley has retained his Hampshihre Order of Merit, having become the first-ever winner of the Cullen Quaich 12 months ago.

The Hayling man finished 19 points clear of North Hants’ teenager Billy Watson after he pipped Ben Wall by just four points in 2014.

Walkley’s fifth-place finish in the Courage Trophy at Corhampton saw him pick up eight bonus points for his score in the Cole Scuttle – the trophy for the best 72-hole aggregate in the two rounds in qualifying at the county championship at Brokenhurst Manor, in June, and the Courage.

With the points awarded for the best five results in the 11 qualifying events, Walkley’s successful defence of the Delhi Trophy at Hockley coupled with his fourth-place finish after 36 holes at Brokenhurst, put the 25-year-old in pole position.

Walkley said: ‘I didn’t think about the Order of Merit at the start of the season.

‘I had my heart set on playing in a few other national events but I did not go up to Scotland for the St Andrews Links, which clashes with the county championship and I ended up winning that.

‘I also played well in the other big events that count.

‘It’s been a fantastic year winning my first county championship and to have my name as the first two winners on the Order of Merit trophy is a great feeling.

‘My name will be there at the top for as long as they play for the trophy.’

Walkley will be in the Hampshire team trying to win the English County Championship this weekend.

He said: ‘I can’t wait for the chance to try and help the team try to win a trophy that has eluded us for too long.’

Corhampton’s Scott Gregory’s chances of landing his first Order of Merit were hampered by the England A squad’s schedule which meant he missed a couple of important events.

But victory at Stoneham last month was followed by victory on his home course in the Courage.

Gregory said: ‘I had no real thoughts about the Order of Merit as I knew I would miss some events, but it was great two more wins under my belt after the upturn in my form over the past two months.’

– ANDREW GRIFFIN