Scott Gregory will be hoping a few putting tips from a top local professional will help put him among the leading contenders for the County Championship, which starts on Friday.
The talented 19-year-old has sought advice from Lee-on-the-Solent’s James Ablett after struggling to hole putts from inside 10 feet.
But a few pointers from Ablett has apparently helped things click into place and the Corhampton man is determined to make the most of it at Hockley, in a field that contains the cream of the region’s top amateur golfers.
Gregory said: ‘I’ve been struggling on the greens a bit recently.
‘I was missing putts from about six feet to 10 feet – ones that I need to convert.
‘But I got a few tips from James Ablett that worked well for him. I’ve tried them out and my putting has got a lot better.
‘I was getting a bit too technical and over-thinking things a bit.
‘But he told me to focus on the target a bit more and not worry about my stroke.
‘Since then I have been holing everything.
‘I’ve also gone back to my old putter, which I’ve had since I was about 11.’
Waterlooville-based Gregory is by no means the only candidate from the patch who has genuine ambitions of lifting the coveted title.
Petersfield’s Ben Lobacz will have gained huge belief from his shock run to the final last year, while Meon Valley’s Harry Ellis has plenty of pedigree as the former English Amateur champion.
Hayling’s Darren Walkley won the recent Delhi Cup on the Hockley course, while Portsmouth’s Ron Quarrington shot 66 in that same event, which will give both huge confidence of repeating their heroics.
Quarrington said: ‘I am looking forward to going back to Hockley.
‘I have come close to making it into the top 16 a couple of times, but after a 66 in the Delhi Cup I have got to have a realistic chance this time if I can get anywhere close to being under par over 36 holes again.’
There are plenty from around the Hampshire region who will have their own ambitions of making it through the 36-hole qualifier on Friday to reach the 16-man matchplay knockout where anything can happen.
Gregory said: ‘Hockley suits me pretty well.
‘You have to be straight off the tee and you need to be pretty good with a wedge. Those are probably my strengths.
‘Stoneham’s Ryan Henley will probably be the man to beat but I think Martin Young from Brokenhurst and Darren Walkley of Hayling will also be in the mix.
‘But there are a lot of good players in there and anyone can beat anyone on the day.
‘The first aim is to make it through to the last 16.
‘I missed out on countback last year, which was pretty gutting.
‘If I can shoot two rounds of level par, that should be good enough.
‘Of course, it depends on what I do in my first round and I might have to change the game plan.
‘If you win this one, you are the best player in the county, so it’s a big deal to everyone who enters it.’
County Championship contenders from the region:
Petersfield: Ian Lane, Ben Lobacz, Ross Lobacz
Corhampton: Adam Reid, Scott Gregory, Tim Markwick,
Meon Valley: Mason Banger, Harry Ellis
Rowlands Castle: Mark Sawford, Tom Robson, Billy Mckenzie, Ryan Grace
Hayling: Jamie Mist, Darren Walkley, Ben Wall, Mark Ward, Richard Harris
Portsmouth: Ron Quarrington