THE Hampshire Hog will forever be remembered as the event at which a 14-year-old Justin Rose first announced his prodigious talents to the world of golf.

The Hog was first played for back in 1957 and Rose became the youngest-ever winner in 1995 – and within two years became the then youngest player to face the Americans in the Walker Cup – the amateur’s equivalent to the Ryder Cup.

Rose would add that honour to his CV another 11 years later and then became England’s first US Open winner since 1970 in 2013.

As well as Rose, who grew up in Hook, the Hampshire Hog honours board features plenty of iconic names – Masters winner Sandy Lyle, the first Brit to don the famous Green Jacket, won the Hog in 1977, while Steve Richardson claimed the trophy in 1989 and played in the War on the Shore – one of the most memorable Ryder Cup matches – just two years later.

In total, 17 Hog winners have featured in the Walker Cup including famous Amateur Champions Sir Michael Bonallack, the long-time R&A secretary – and Peter McEvoy, who captained just the second Great Britain and Ireland team to win the Walker Cup on American soil in 2001, with Luke Donald and Graeme McDowell in his side.

Having seen the event cancelled over the last two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic – the first time since the late 1950s the tournament has not taken place – Hampshire captain Neil Dawson will be a very interested spectator when the Hampshire Hog gets under way on Sunday – for two reasons.

Not only will the four-handicapper, who is also from Hook, lead the county in the South East League campaign for a second year when it gets underway next month – but he is also this year’s vice-captain at the Fleet club, who will be handing over the famous silver trophy in 12 months’ time.

Ryder Cup stars of the future have won Hampshire Hog four times

Neil, who played in the event back in 2014, said: “Obviously with my county hat on, I will be looking very closely to see how our top players perform after more than six months without any competitive events.

“We have been getting together once a month since Christmas, working hard on our game at the new facilities at Stoneham.

“But nothing beats getting a pencil and scorecard in their hands when it counts for something. And it does not get much better than these two events – the Selborne Salver at Blackmoor on Saturday, and then the Hog at North Hants on Sunday.

“Obviously, I am a little biased having been a North Hants member for nine years, but they are two great events, which normally feature anyone, who is anyone in English amateur golf – as the honours boards prove.

“In the last 10 years, we have seen Andy Sullivan and Matt Fitzpatrick play at North Hants and end up playing in the Ryder Cup four or five years later.”

“To see how our players fare against England’s best, especially after a two-year gap – which none of us could have foreseen because of COVID – will be great. I can’t wait to see the closing holes on Sunday and see who emerges as the winner.”

Hampshire Golf captain Neil Dawson

Hampshire Golf captain Neil Dawson is this year’s vice-captain at North Hants GC, which hosts the Hampshire Hog for the 64th time on Sunday. Picture by ANDREW GRIFFIN / AMG PICTURES

From amateur legends to Rose and Jordan… the Hog’s path to fame and fortune

IT is 26 years since a Hampshire player got their hands on the Hampshire Hog – Lee-on-the-Solent’s Russell Tait kept the trophy in Hampshire 12 months after Justin Rose’s spectacular win as a 14-year-old in 1995.

Since that victory and because of changes to the handicapping system over the years, the overall strength of the field, has just got stronger and stronger since Justin’s famous win.

Hampshire captain Neil Dawson said: “It is virtually impossible for a kid of that age to be good enough to get in the event today – let alone win it. But everyone connected with Hampshire Golf would settle for a home victory of any kind.

“We have the players who are talented enough, like Toby Burden, Martin Young, Colin Roope, Mark Burgess and Ryan Moody, and nothing would give me greater pleasure to see one of them collect either trophy on Sunday.

“Martin claimed the Hampshire Salver for the best 72-hole aggregate in 2000, and Ryan Henley won the Selborne Salver at Blackmoor in 2005, and took the trophy for the best weekend score.

“I can’t wait for Sunday – the course is in good condition as ever for this time of year, and the players will finally get to play the new par five third, which now measures 547 yards, for the first time in the Hog, since it was completed in 2019.

“Anyone who wants to see some of the golf stars of the future – for free – should come down to North Hants for a great sporting spectacle.”

Unfortunately for Dawson and Hampshire hopes, Henley is not in the field for either event this weekend – and neither is Rowlands Castle’s former England international and Brabazon Trophy winner Darren Wright.

2019 Hampshire Hog winner Matty Lamb

Hexham GC’s Matt Lamb was the last winner of the Hampshire Hog in 2019. Picture by MARK SANDON

Matty Lamb became 22nd Hog winner to appear in Walker Cup

HEXHAM’S Matty Lamb was the last winner three years ago when Wright finished fourth after a superb second round 64 in his first proper event after regaining his amateur status.

Since then, the Northumbrian golfer has gone on to play in the 2021 Walker Cup in Great Britain and Ireland’s heroic defeat against the USA at Seminole last summer, taking the number of Hog winners to appear in the amateur game’s equivalent to the Ryder Cup to 22.

Other famous winners of the Hog include 11 winners on the European Tour, and the Callenge and Seniors Tour – a list that includes Rose and Lyle, plus Carl Mason (1973), the late Ryder Cup player Gordon Brand Jnr, and Gary Wolstenholme (1997 and 2002), who broke Peter McEvoy’s record as the most capped English amateur international, who had in turn broke Sir Michael Bonallack’s previous record of 131 matches between 1957 and 1974.

The Hog honours board also features former Sky TV golf commentators Bruce Critchley (1969) and John Hawksworth (1985), Ryder Cup stars Gordon Brand Jnr (1981) and more recent European Tour winners Callum Shinkwin (2012) and Wiltshire’s Jordan Smith (2013). Hoylake’s Matthew Jordan, who won the trophy in 2016 – before playing in the Walker Cup 12 months later with former Hampshire juniors Harry Ellis, Scott Gregory and Jack Singh-Brar.

Jordan, a winner on the European Challenge Tour in 2019, who now has a full European Tour card, also claimed two of the biggest prizes in amateur golf – the St Andrews Links Trophy the year after his win at North Hants, followed by a magnificent nine-shot win in the Lytham Trophy in 2018. He chose to turn pro that year, even though the Walker Cup was held at the Royal Liverpool club where he had been a member as a junior.

His father, who caddied for Matthew at North Hants, is a past Hoylake club champion. Both enjoyed a tour of the Justin Rose Room in the clubhouse and posing for photos alongside much of the memorabilia from Rose’s incredible career – although the famous GB jacket from his Gold Medal winning performance in Rio, would not be added for the winners to see for another 12 months.

The first round gets under way at 8am with the second round beginning around 1pm. Play should be finished by 7pm bar the event ending in a tie – European Tour winner Eddie Pepperell lost in a famous play-off at North Hants in 2007.

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