Saunders claims West of England Strokeplay Championship
George Saunders became the second Hampshire player to win the West of England Strokeplay Championship.
However, the Meon Valley Golf Club ace had to share the spoils with Callum Farr at Royal North Devon Golf Club.
Both players carded scores of four-under par.
However, Saunders displayed great nerve to birdie the final hole and clinch a share of the silverware.
Rowland Castle Golf Club’s Darren Wright was the last Hampshire player to win the trophy in 2009.
In his opening round in Devon, Saunders had to negotiate wind and rain and shot a one-over-par 73.
But he produced a sparkling 69 the following day to move into 11th in the table.
After a chip-in on the 10th in his third round, a first Hampshire triumph in nine years looked to be well and truly on the cards.
However, Saunders lost a shot on the par-three 16th.
A tired swing from the former England under-16 international resulted in him carding a bogey four.
And he was unable to cash in on the par-five 17th.
Saunders needed to finish strongly on the final hole and that he did.
He despatched his driver off the tee, which left him 144 yards short of the flag.
Saunders’ choice of club was a nine iron and his shot landed 16 feet away from the pin.
There was no margin for error on the green and he needed a birdie to share the victory.
And that Saunders did, keeping his cool brilliantly to hole the putt.
It tied the Meon Valley ace with clubhouse leader Farr, who shot a fine 70 to move two places up the leaderboard in the final round.
It was the culmination of a month of good form and vindication of a winter of hard work for Saunders after he missed out on a place in the Hampshire team that went on to be crowned English County Champions for the first time in October.
He had helped the county claim a spot in the final in July following their win over Norfolk.
Saunders also reached the last eight in the Boys Amateur Championship last year.
Words by Andy Griffin