BILLY MCKENZIE and Scott Gregory rekindled their old partnership to fire Hampshire to a successful defence of their Colts Championship crown.
The duo had not played together since completing their courses at South Downs College but were in fine form at Waterlooville Golf Club.
The pair delivered two victories in their foursomes battle with Kent and Sussex in the triangular format and then backed it up with wins in their individual matches.
It meant the county retained their south division title with a 10-2 win over Kent and a narrow 6.5-5.5 victory over Sussex.
They will now fancy their chances of going all the way when they host the final at Rowlands Castle in October, although they will be without their US College contingent, which includes McKenzie and Hayling’s Jamie Mist.
Gregory admitted it was good to be back alongside his fellow graduate from the county youth ranks and has seen big improvements in his partner’s play.
‘We were all pumped up for it because we won the league last year and we knew we needed to win to get to the final at Rowlands Castle,’ said Gregory.
‘Me and Billy won both our foursomes matches in the morning and then I won both singles games in the afternoon.
‘We went to the same college and played a bit of golf together in the juniors.
‘But it was the first time we’d played in the foursomes since then.
‘We both knew the course well, which helped.
‘His game is a lot more consistent now and you can see the improvement in his game.
‘We were two down in both matches through nine holes and got it back to all square on 16.
‘We went one up on 17 and then saw it out down the last.’
North Hants’ Billy Watson made a crucial birdie putt on the short par four 17th to go dormie against Sussex’s Nick Ward in the penultimate singles.
Watson was unable to match Ward’s birdie four at the last hole but that half left Hampshire and Sussex tied on 16.5 points.
The hosts, however, crucially beat Sussex 6.5-5.5 in the head-to-head to claim the honours.
The back nine proved crucial for Neil Dawson’s side as they turned several games around.
McKenzie was two down in both his singles matches at the turn but came back to secure maximum points against Sussex’s Matt Greenfield and Kent’s Luke Spooner.
Hayling’s Ben Wall had picked up 1.5 points for his side – beating Kent’s Matt Sheehan and halving with Sussex’s Harry Bayley.
Dawson had put out two of his strongest players at the top while saving Watson and Gregory for the death.
But it was another Hayling man in the shape of Jacksonville State player Jamie Mist, who set up the win.
He recorded a victory over Kent’s Joe Curtis, although he was denied the full point by Sussex’s Charlie Strickland.
Gregory was never in trouble against Sussex’s Josh Glossop and Kent’s Jake Sheppard.
That left debutant Sam De’ath, to pick up 1.5 points after lunch and edge the county to their victory.