OWEN Grimes must wish he was defending his Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Channel Islands Amateur Championship crown at Hockley instead of Aldershot’s Army Golf Club next month.

For the former Murray State University golfer who stunned the cream of the county by beating the defending champion on his way to claiming the Sloane Stanley Challenge Cup at Liphook in 2018, broke the Hockley course record on his way to winning the Delhi Cup on Saturday.

It was the second time in three years Grimes, the former Romsey GC junior, who now plays out of Southampton’s Stoneham GC, has claimed the Delhi Cup.

Grimes fired eight birdies in a round of 64 before lunch that also included a solitary dropped shot. Having started at the 11th, he made a birdie four and then picked up shots at the 15th and 18th to get to the turn in 34.

A birdie three at the second was followed by a two at the fifth and Grimes moved to six-under with another birdie at the seventh. The only blemish came at the par three eighth and that four was quickly atoned for as he finished three, three to take a five-shot lead into lunch.

Grimes missed defending the Delhi crown he won in 2017 after starting a golf scholarship at the NAIA-ranked Kentucky college, having finished third behind Meon Valley’s George Saunders in 2016.

But Owen was determined not to let the lead become a distraction by playing too conservatively in the afternoon.

“The strange thing is I did not putt that great but I hit the ball fantastically with 16 greens in regulation before lunch.

“I three-putted the fourth to go one-over and I thought to myself if I could negotiate the next three or four holes safely, there are three par fives to come on the back nine.

“I birdied two of them including the last at 18, and picked up a birdie two at the12th so I knew that anyone making a run at me would probably have to break my new course record.

“I had no idea how Alex was doing but not many people can go really low, but I felt comfortable out there and was confident I could make more birdies in case anyone did.”

Talbot certainly might have put more pressure on the leader if Grimes had known the former Hampshire Boys Champion had got to six-under after just seven holes to tie the lead.

The former Hartpury College golf team captain who is looking to go to the States on a scholarship in September, holed a long one above the hole on the fifth for a two having picked up shots at the second and third.

He then chipped in from off the green for eagle at the driveable sixth. The seventh is ranked the hardest hole on the course but another three put Talbot right in the mix but still a shot behind.

A six at the par five 14th was not what was required but Talbot finished strongly with birdies at 17 and 18 to card a 63 and take Grimes’ record that had stood for barely four hours.

Talbot, who opened with a level par 71, said: “I guessed I’d be around the score at that time as I started so well –but wasn’t really too bothered as I just needed to keep on playing my own game.

“Breaking the course record was nice but I still really wanted to win,” said the former Bramshaw junior.

Ryan Henley who won the Delhi Cup five times in a row from 2009 was two shots back in third after rounds of 69 and 66, which would have normally been a winning total.

Winchester College student Oliver Dickman was fourth on four-under, while Stoneham’s James Freeman was runner-up in the handicap prizes with nett scores of 70 and 68 after Stockley Park’s Christophe Dechamps fired a nett six-under total, playing off six.

Brokenhurst’s Alexander Olney bounced back from an 81 to shoot a nett 63 to take the lowest afternoon round prize, while Stoneham’s Jack Warren took the scratch prize with a 66.

Picture: Owen Grimes has won the Delhi Cup twice in the last three years – he was at college in the States so could not defend his title in 2018. By ANDREW GRIFFIN / AMG PICTURES

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