Ex-Portsmouth Boys School pupils Rich Harris and Joe Foster win Hampshire county golf foursomes title
Former Pompey Academy footballer Rich Harris teamed up with school friend Joe Foster to land the County Foursomes golf title for the first time.
The former City of Portsmouth Boys pupils’ four-shot victory at Liphook gave Hayling a win in the alternate shot championship for the first time since 2007, writes ANDREW GRIFFIN.
Harris, who saw his dreams of playing football for Portsmouth when they were still a Premiership club dashed by a serious hip injury, has proven he can mix it with the best at county level in recent years.
Foster has been a regular playing scratch events on Hampshire Golf’s amateur calendar over the years, but never visited the prize table.
But with Harris he found himself going toe-to-toe with defending champions Mark Burgess and Sam Parsons, from Blackmoor.
And protecting a three-shot lead at lunch was no easy feat for Harris and Foster as the chasers were in no mood to give up their title without a fight.
Liphook’s renowned putting surfaces gave the players plenty of looks for birdies. But as ever reading the speed and contours of the quick greens at East Hampshire’s heathland gem proved a tricky test.
Even an eagle chance on the last – after Burgess’ five-iron from 210 yards almost went in for an albatross on the hole now extended to 515 yards in the recent course changes – could not threaten the champions-elect.
Foster laid-up with his approach and Harris pitched to 20 feet, knowing even with Parsons’ eagle attempt they realistically still had two shots in hand by making par.
With the back left pin on the severely sloping green, Burgess and Parsons’ eagle was no gimme and so it proved.
Parsons could not convert and they had to settle for par after Burgess missed the one coming back.
Foster’s par putt sealed the win with a fine three-under par 68.
He added: ‘Sam and I played as juniors at Southsea Golf Club and have known each other for 20 years.
‘So to beat the defending champions was extra special – we had a great time. We all really spurred each other on to play some great golf.
‘Rich won our club championship for the first time last year and then completed the double by winning the county championship. But I have never really won much until the Addison.
‘The greens were magnificent as ever. Greenkeeper David Murdoch is a genius. Liphook’s greens are always that good.’
The Blackmoor pair of Robert Boxall and Henry Carter finished third – some 11 shots behind the Hayling pair - after rounds of 77 and 73.
Stoneham’s James Pinhorn and Ed Percival took the handicap prize by a shot from Wayne Harford and David Jeffrey.
The Mid-Amateur Foursomes went to Stoneham’s two former county champions Ryan Henley and Richard Elmes.
They shot 78 and 75 to finish four ahead of Jason Dymot and Colin Green, from Lee-on-the-Solent, while Harwood and Jeffrey, playing off a combined handicap of six, claimed the handicap prize in the Over 35s, with a five-over par total.
Foster and Harris join recent Hampshire Order of Merit and Courage Trophy winner Toby Burden as winners of the County Foursomes, after his victory with former England A squad member Mark Thistleton.
Thistleton also won the trophy in 2001 playing on his home course with Chris Page.
Before that, Hayling’s future England international and European Tour pro Matt Blackey won the trophy in 1993, playing with the club’s long-serving pro Mark Treleaven.
The Foursomes was first played back in 1953 when Brabazon Trophy winner Stan Fox, from Hartley Wintney claimed the trophy with D Lewcock.
Former county president Clive Cole has a record 10 wins with three different partners – six of them with fellow Stoneham member Martin Ashelford.
Cole is the only player to win the Foursomes three years in a row – a feat he achieved twice, with Dr Norman Bradford (1956-58) and later with Ashelford (1960-52).
The latter pairing’s final victory came in 1973, appropriately at Stoneham.