Harry Ellis believes Hampshire will come back even hungrier for success in 2014 after their English County Finals heartbreak.
The Meon Valley ace suffered a difficult event, taking just half a point out of five matches – despite playing some high-quality golf along the way.
But it underlined the nature of matchplay golf that no matter how well you play, if your opponent is that bit better, there is little you can do done about it.
Lancashire were crowned county champions for the third time in six years after they delivered the knockout blow to Hampshire’s hopes in their Sunday title decider with a convincing victory.
Ellis said: ‘We have to qualify next year again but I’m sure it makes the team hungry to get back there.
‘The whole team was playing well and we went in with a lot of confidence but it didn’t quite happen for us.
‘As a team, we actually did very well and hung in there for a long time.
‘I think we were good enough to win it. With the format, we were leading at Sunday lunchtime.
‘But things turned against us pretty quickly in the afternoon.
‘Finishing fourth doesn’t sound like we were close.
‘But we definitely did well and everyone was bitterly disappointed how it turned out because we all put a lot of hard work into it.’
Ellis himself went down to a 3&2 defeat in his singles clash with Haydn McCullen, the reigning Lancashire boys’ and men’s champion, who played alongside the Hampshire ace for the England under-16s just two years ago.
And it was the sign of things to come as Stoneham duo Elliot Groves and Ryan Henley went down to defeat, while the reliable Brokenhurst Manor stalwart, Martin Young, was also unable to stem the flow.
Rowlands Castle’s Tom Robson was the only man to taste victory on the final afternoon as he despatched Sean Towndrow 4&2.
Ellis, meanwhile, looked set to mount a late comeback in his match as the first man out, only to leave himself too much to do as holes ran out.
The Meon Valley man said: ‘I was five down through 13 holes and made three birdies on the trot to get back to three down.
‘I just left myself too much to do but we could have done with me giving the team some momentum.
‘I would have liked to have got more points for the team but it’s strange because I feel like I actually played well!
‘I was happy with the way I played but it just didn’t quite go for me.’
Captain Richard Elmes, from Stoneham Golf Club, was bidding to lead Hampshire to English County Finals glory for only the second time in 80 years.
Hampshire lost to Leicestershire on Saturday, following their 6-3 win over Devon on the first day.
And they were relegated to last by virtue of match points difference on the final day of the competition.
The south east champions were left as the bridesmaid once more.
Justin Rose was a teenage member of the 1996-winning team at Woodhall Spa, in Lincolnshire, the home of England Golf and the amateur game’s administrative headquarters.
But from a fighting chance at the turn when they were up in two matches, level in two and down in two, it was the red rose of Lancashire that bloomed as the Hampshire rose wilted in the white hot heat of amateur golf’s top team championship.