Sam West’s final chance to emulate Justin Rose and claim the biggest title in junior Hampshire golf

Sam West has made a habit of winning big titles in his relatively short amateur career.

Monday, 27th July 2020, 2:20 pm
Updated Monday, 27th July 2020, 2:21 pm
Sam West receives the Harry Vardon Trophy from Hamphsire Golf president Alan Drayton (Stoneham GC) after the Past, Present, Future match at Hayling GC earlier this year. Picture: Andrew Griffin.

In 2018, he was crowned English Schools U16 champion. And last year the Liphook GC junior claimed the South of England Boys Open (SEBO) at Yeovil and Sherborne in Dorset.

But this week he has the chance to put his name on the biggest prize in junior golf in the county when the 70th Hampshire Boys Championship is played at Sherfield Oaks, near Hook.

And Hook is the village where 1996 Hampshire U18 champion Justin Rose – the most successful winner of the county junior championship – grew up.

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West, a pupil at Churcher’s College, in Petersfield, is in his first year of the sixth form.

But because he turns 18 in September, the 17-year-old only has one more crack at emulating Rose.

As well as the reigning Olympic champion’s name, there are some other famous golf names on the trophy.

Other U18 winners include European Tour players Richard Bland (1990 and 1991) and Jack Singh-Brar (2011), who was just 15.

The latter played in the same Walker Cup team against the USA in 2017 as that year’s Amateur Champion Harry Ellis, who is now on the Challenge Tour, and Corhampton’s Scott Gregory, the 2016 Amateur Champion.

The Meon Valley ace is the last player to win the Hampshire Junior Championship twice,in 2010 and 2013.

Ellis was just 14 when he won at Stoneham 10 years ago – Rose was 15 when he broke the course record to land the crown at Waterlooville.

West is mindful of the big names that have won the title, but does not shy away from the tag of being one of the favourites.

He said: ‘This is the last year I am eligible, and obviously it would be fantastic to win that trophy.

‘I have won some big events and they have all been important in my development.

‘Winning SEBO last summer was particularly satisfying as it gave me my first World Amateur Golf Ranking, which is key to playing in bigger and better events.

‘The weather was not great in Dorset, so to play four rounds over two days in tough conditions was very pleasing.’

West has been a regular member of Hampshire Boys’ U18 squad over the last three years.

He was also selected for England’s South Region U16 and U18 training squads over that period.

Earlier this year he picked up the Harry Vardon Trophy as the county’s best young golfer, in 2019.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, West - along with members of Hampshire’s three junior squads - took part in a number of online short-game skills challenges.

West came out on top of the Hampshire Lockdown Order of Merit, which featured a couple of Ryder Cup-style matches in April and May.

‘The lockdown challenges certainly helped keep my short game sharp. They were fun too.

‘I played in the Faldo Series up in Derbyshire earlier this month, and my long game was a little rusty.

‘I have played Sherfield Oaks a few times – the championship was held there two years ago.

‘There are some tough, tight holes.’

Last year’s champion Aman Uddin, from Fareham’s Cams Hall GC, who is now a member at Lee-on-the-Solent GC, is now in the USA playing for Dixie University near Las Vegas.