USA-based college golfers Saunders and Markwick help Hampshire Colts to victory over Surrey

George Saunders . Copyright ANDREW GRIFFINGeorge Saunders . Copyright ANDREW GRIFFIN
George Saunders . Copyright ANDREW GRIFFIN
Two of Hampshire’s US-based college golfers scored valuable points for Hampshire Colts as they finished strongly to beat Surrey 5 ½ -2 ½.

With the eight singles matches having been sent out late in the day in four fourballs, Hampshire Colts manager Nat Riddett gambled by sending out his top guns, who play college golf, in the first four slots at Sutton Green, near Woking, writes ANDREW GRIFFIN.

Corhampton’s Jamie Markwick showed the pedigree that earned him a South East Junior Championship crown three years ago to put Hampshire in a strong position by making it 3-1 to the visitors.

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Markwick has not made the team during his second year at Florida’s Nova South Eastern University.

Corhampton’s Jamie Markwick. COPYRIGHT ANDREW GRIFFIN.Corhampton’s Jamie Markwick. COPYRIGHT ANDREW GRIFFIN.
Corhampton’s Jamie Markwick. COPYRIGHT ANDREW GRIFFIN.

But the former Swanmore College pupil took Surrey captain Sam Wood all the way to the 18th before closing the match out on the last for a crucial point.

In very testing conditions, with a howling, cold wind, Hampshire had taken an early lead thanks to Stoneham’s two-time Hampshire Junior Champion James Freeman beating Gabriel Backers 7&6.

He was quickly followed into the clubhouse by Lee-on-the-Solent’s George Saunders, fresh from his first year at the University of Tennessee.

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The player ranked No. 3 in the NCJA standings after two very successful years at Texas Midland – before his transfer last summer – beat Will Deacon 6&4.

Unfortunately for Lee clubmate Aman Uddin things were not going so well as the Dixie University No. 1 struggled off the tee on his return from Las Vegas.

Uddin – who made his Colts debut while still a junior before rule changes in 2019 made matches only for players aged 18-25 - was beaten 7&6 by Surrey newcomer Archie Wells.

Stoneham’s Owen Grimes, the only player who appeared for the Colts in the South East Final in 2019, produced another gritty display to earn a 2&1 win against Cavon Mallon.

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Grimes had been the hero for the first team, earning the winning point against Dorset two weeks ago.

The left-hander’s point made it 4-1, meaning Hampshire could not lose the match.

It was left to debutant Luke Hodgetts, from Hockley, to get Hampshire over the line.

He had been three up with three to play in the penultimate match but Surrey’s Darragh Monaghan made two birdies in three holes to grab an unlikely half.

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Paulton’s Park’s George Caplehorn also ensured a successful debut, producing a mirror

version of Hodgett’s back nine.

From two down with three to play, George, son of Lee-on-the-Solent GC pro Kevin Caplehorn, won 16 and 17 before getting up and down from 30 yards on the par five 18th.

His pitch to less than a foot left Bryce Campbell needing to make a putt from nearly 10 feet for a half, which he missed.

When Stoneham’s Lawrence Cherry lost a nip-and-tuck game with James Hollis 4&2, the result was no foregone conclusion as Surrey got it back to 3-2.

But events in the bottom pair of matches ensured a winning start.