Friday 23rd August 2019
Andrew Griffin reports from Blackmoor Golf Club
John Moore (Past President, Hampshire Golf), Billy McKenzie, Martin Young, Linda Frost (Captain, Blackmoor Golf Club) and Toby Burden.
BILLY McKenzie bowed out of amateur golf with a four-shot victory in the final Hampshire Golf championship for individuals by claiming his first Courage Trophy.
And for the 24-year-old, who has struggled to produce the golf his talent suggests he is capable of for nearly 18 months, it was a great way to go out with a bang as he prepares himself for a trip the European Tour Qualifying School, in September.
The William Woods University graduate, who has already claimed the Tillman and Berkshire Trophies – two of England’s top strokeplay events – added the Hampshire strokeplay championship to his CV in style, on Sunday.
McKenzie entertained the watching crowd in front of the treacherous 18th green at Blackmoor – spinning his 115-yard wedge back down the slope, with the ball coming to rest just an inch or so from the hole.
Proud parents Gavin and Alison were able to watch his easiest winning putt yet, as his three-under par 66 was the best of the afternoon.
The left-hander, who was nominated three years in a row for the Jack Nicklaus Award by the NAIA while on a golf scholarship in Missouri from 2013-17, held off former county captain Martin Young, who was bidding for his fifth Courage Trophy in 16 years.
McKenzie began with a birdie at the difficult 10th – but a bogey four at the long par-three 15th was followed by a mistake on the 18th.
He was forced to chip down the 10th after a wayward drive, and then saw his third roll off the front of the green.
Last year’s Spanish Amateur Champion did well to get up and down for a five.
Turning at one over, he resisted the temptation to take a shy at the first green with driver and holed a 15-footer for his three.
After a bogey at the fifth put him one-over par, he got back in the red with back-to back birdies at the par five eighth and the par three ninth, the latter hitting his iron to four feet.
Stoneham’s Ryan Moody had set the pace with a sparkling 65 including five birdies and a bogey, to lead by two from Young.
But the former pro, who lost his place in the Hampshire first-team after the first two league games of the season despite being unbeaten, could not maintain that pace and saw an 11-shot reverse in the second round, with five shots going on the front nine.
And when Young dropped four shots in three holes on his front nine, it allowed McKenzie to move into the lead despite dropping a shot of his own at the fourth.
He made birdie at the eighth and ninth again with a razor sharp tee shot finishing two feet from the pin on the par three.
A good up-and-down at the 12th kept the momentum going, but Young got one back at the 13th – only for McKenzie’s birdie three at the 14th to restore his three-shot lead.
McKenzie dropped his second shot of the afternoon at the 15th but Young was in need a miraculous finish.
And Billy’s two birdies in three holes slammed the door shut on Young’s hopes of getting to within two of David Harrison’s record seven Courage Trophies – and one of Kevin Weeks’ total of six, despite a birdie two at the 17th which left him on level-par.
Liphook’s Sam West, who won the South East Boys Championship at Yeovil and Sherborne earlier this month, was two shots back in third with rounds of 73 and 67.
Young was left with the consolation of taking his ninth Hampshire Isle of Wight and Channel Island Mid-Amateur Championship in 12 years for the best Over 35s score with his level-par total after a second round 71.
And Burden claimed the Cole Scuttle for the best 72-hole score in the Courage and Hampshire County Championship qualifier, pipping Young by a shot– thanks to his return of 77, 70, 68, and 74 – having been tied sixth at Blackmoor four shots behind the runner-up.
Hockley’s Mitchell Bligh won the handicap competition playing off three, with nett rounds of 68 and 67 to beat Bramshaw’s Joe Buenfeld by four shots, after the two-handicapper carded a 70 and 69 with Blackmoor’s Karl Morgan edged out on countback after his excellent nett 65 was followed by a 74.
Please click the link to see 1st Round and 2nd Round start times for tomorrow's Courage & Mid-Amateur Championship at Blackmoor.
Practice Rounds (£30.00) by prior arrangement with the Pro Shop.
David Wheeler - County Secretary