Walkley dominates to lift county title

Darren Walkley
Darren Walkley
  • Hayling man takes top prize
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Darren Walkley kept a lid on the fireworks but carried off the big prize after landing the Hampshire Isle of Wight and Channel Islands Amateur Championship

The 24-year-old Hayling amateur turned in a dominant display at Brokenhurst Manor to seal the coveted crown.

Darren Walkley. Picture: Andrew Griffin

Darren Walkley. Picture: Andrew Griffin

And few could dispute he was a worthy winner after leading the 16 qualifiers for the matchplay phase with rounds of 68 and 72 – the joint lowest total of 140 alongside Rowlands Castle’s Billy Mckenzie (68, 72), Sandford Springs’ Chris Blunden (70, 70) and Shanklin’s Jordan Sundborg (66,74).

Hayling club-mate Jamie Mist was also among the qualifiers but he went down to Mckenzie in their last-16 clash.

Walkley saw off Sandford Springs’ Max Nicholls (4&3), edged past Jason Stokes of La Moye (1up) and claimed his spot in the final against Rowlands Castle’s Tom Robson with a 3&1 success over Blunden.

Robson, meanwhile, reached the showpiece after battling past Mckenzie on the second extra hole in a nail-biting semi-final clash.

There weren’t too many fireworks but I didn’t make many mistakes.

Darren Walkley

But in the final, Walkley grabbed the early initiative against the former champion and never relinquished his advantage, eventually claiming a 3&2 victory.

He said: ‘I played solidly for six rounds and I was chuffed with the way I played.

‘There weren’t too many fireworks but I didn’t make many mistakes.

‘I felt like there was a bit of pressure on me to perform.

‘It was a strong field so I knew I had to play well.

‘I wanted to prove that I am one of the best players in Hampshire.

‘It was a shame that Scott Gregory and Ben Wall weren’t there.

‘But I know that on my day, I can beat any of them and I was just really pleased to win. It means a lot to me.’

The final saw the Hayling man get off to a flying start as Robson made a hash of the drivable first, taking a six.

Walkley then rolled in a birdie at the second and kept the pressure on when he won the third hole to go three up.

Walkley said: ‘Robbo was the toughest. I know how good he is and luckily enough, he started quite poorly so I managed to get ahead.

‘He started having a good fightback towards the end but I just had to keep doing what I was doing and had to stick to my game plan.’

Robson had reduced the deficit to two holes with four to play but Walkley eventually sealed a deserved victory when his opponent conceded on the 16th green after finding trouble off the tee.

Walkley said: ‘The only time I was down in any of the matches was against Chris Blunden in the semi-final.

‘But there were some tough battles.’

After lifting the trophy, Walkley will go into the county champion of champions event at Woodhall Spall later this year.

And he has adopted a safety first policy to the silverware with his young son Trent keen to share in his glory.

He said: ‘I didn’t want to take it home because I’ve got a three-year-old and he might want to start pulling the golfer off the top of the trophy!

‘But I will bring it to the club and put it on show there.’