Rowlands Castle pair help fire Hampshire to national title

Hampshire pose with the County Championship trophy at Trevose Golf Club. Picture: Andrew Griffin
Hampshire pose with the County Championship trophy at Trevose Golf Club. Picture: Andrew Griffin
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Hampshire ended their 21-year wait to claim a second County Championship crown as they beat Staffordshire at Trevose Golf Club.

An emotional Martin Young, playing in his eighth English Finals in 16 years, accepted the trophy after the elements had done their best to derail the bid yet again.

But having beaten Somerset 5-4 on the first day thanks to a brilliant 20-foot birdie putt by Rowlands Castle’s Tom Robson, they put their foot down after lunch to seal victory.

Any hopes Staffordshire had of taking a stranglehold in the singles were blown away by the force four and five gusting wind rolling in from the Atlantic as the tail end of Hurricane Maria blew on to the north Cornwall coast.

And it was Rowlands Castle’s Billy McKenzie who had the honour of sealing the victory with a half against Jack Gaunt in the second match out.

He holed a putt on the 18th to send Hampshire’s supporters into raptures.

Shanklin & Sandown’s Ryan Harmer had earlier caused an upset, having been sent out first to face Welsh amateur strokeplay champion Gian-Marco Petrozzi.

He made a brilliant birdie from the best part of 20 foot on the 18th to gain a one-hole win.

Robson rolled in on the 14th having gone five up against Jake Walley in the fifth match.

The point from the Hampshire Colts manager – playing in his fourth English Finals since 2013 – put the county in touching distance of the trophy they last won back in 1996.

Staffordshire needed to beat Hampshire, who beat Northumberland 6-3 on Saturday, to overtake them at the top of the table.

But having claimed the morning foursome 2-1, McKenzie took a vital half to leave the midlands outfit only able to draw.

Matt Wilcox – the current British mid-amateur champion and second oldest player in the team at 43 – had a putt to win the title for Hampshire on 15.

It came up agonisingly short but he eventually prevailed on the 18th, beating Ryan Brooks by two holes.

Young, 47, lost by the same margin to youngster Lewis Pearce.

But he hurried back down the last hole to join his team as they watched Blackmoor’s Colin Roope drill in a birdie putt on the 17th to go three up and seal an historic 6.5-2.5 win.