Walkley earns Brabazon place

Darren Walkley. Picture: Andrew Griffin
Darren Walkley. Picture: Andrew Griffin
Scott Gregory. Picture: PA Images

Gregory starting to earmark his schedule for next season

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DARREN WALKLEY turns his attentions to the defence of his Delhi Cup title this weekend after safely coming through the Brabazon Trophy southern qualifier.

The Hayling Golf Club amateur shot a one-over-par 71 at Liphook, which earned him safe passage through to the English Amateur Strokeplay Championship at Notts (Hollinwell) Golf Club next month.

And it turns out that his eagle on the 18th made all the difference as his six iron to eight feet on the last ensured he was the right side of the cut-off point for qualifiers.

Walkley said: ‘I was three over on the 18th tee but I knew I had to get the best score out of it I could. I thought two over par might be close so I was trying to get to it but it was a bit of a bonus to get to one over.

‘At the time, it was a decent score and anything around level par was good.

‘But it’s great to be able to be play in the Brabazon Trophy now. It’s one of the biggest amateur events.’

It was an impressive display from Walkley, who certainly didn’t have things all of his own way during his round as he collected two double-bogies on par threes.

He said: ‘I got one on the third and it was only an eight iron and then I had a five on the 11th, which was only a six iron.

‘One of my mates from Hayling, Mark Ward, came and caddied for me and he was brilliant.

‘I think I owe a lot of it to him because he kept me grounded after those doubles on the par threes and made sure I stayed focused.

‘But he was a big help because we would agree yardages and then I was able to commit to shots a bit more.

‘It was a bit of a mixed round with two birdies and an eagle, two doubles and one bogey.

‘But it’s the Delhi Cup this weekend and I’m looking forward to trying to defend my title.

‘I feel like I am playing quite well so we will see what happens.’

Walkley sealed a creditable tied 16th place at the recent South East of England Links Trophy, with Hayling’s Ben Wall two strokes behind him in tied 20th. And the pair had to contend with difficult conditions.

Walkley added: ‘It was brutal. The wind was seriously tough but I felt I played pretty well.

‘The wind was pretty strong but there were some really strong gusts.

‘When it’s like that you know the scoring is not going to be really good so hats off to the guys who won at four over par for four rounds.

‘But it was a real challenge. It’s about trying to avoid letting the ball go on the wind when it’s like that.

‘If it does that, it is out of your control and it’s “see you later”.

‘I managed to make the cut on the mark. Then in the final two rounds at Royal Cinque Ports, I moved up quite a few places so I was quite pleased.’

Another Hayling amateur, Kevin Hickman, also made it through Brabazon qualifying with a 71.

But Harry Ellis and Mason Banger (Meon Valley), Mark Sawford, Adam Reid (Corhampton) and Ben Lobacz (Petersfield) all failed to qualify.