BASINGSTOKE Golf Club’s Charlie Forster will be bidding to go at least one better when it comes to the English Amateur at Ferndown this week.

Twelve months ago, the Southeastern Louisiana University student was riding high after his first season playing NCAA golf, helping his team to win the Southland Conference to reach the NCAA Regional Finals.

The then North Hants GC member, who switched to his hometown club at the start of this year, got to the semi-finals of the English Amateur at Lindrick, losing in South Yorkshire to Sheffield star George Ash, a member at the Hallowes club.

The teenager had clubmate Sam Bairstow, who played Walker Cup the year before, on the bag, but lost in the final to Sussex’s Joe Sullivan, despite the advantage of being backed by a large Yorkshire crowd in the last two matches.

Forster, who only took up golf seriously seven years ago – having been a promising footballer – narrowly missed out on becoming the 10th Hampshire player to reach the final since 1925.

The 2021 Hampshire Boys and Schools Champions – who also was crowned South of England Boys Open winnter that summer, stormed to the last four with a string of eye-catching victories, including knocking out Hampshire team-mate Joe Buenfeld, the 2019 European Junior Open winner, in the second round.

But he lost the 17th hole with a bogey giving Ash a crucial one-hole lead and could not make a par at the short 18th to force the semi-final into sudden-death.

Harry Ellis English Amateur

Harry Ellis became the youngest-ever winner of the English Amateur in 2012, aged just 16, breaking Sir Nick Faldo’s record by two years

Forster’s charge to the last four came 10 years after Meon Valley G&CC’s then 16-year-old Harry Ellis became the youngest-ever winner – beating Sir Nick Faldo’s record set in 1975 at Royal Lytham, after he defied a thunderstorm to beat Royal Lytham’s Henry Tomlinson, who went on to become a caddy on the European Tour.

Since then, Forster has claimed his first win in the USA back in September and earned a big move to California’s Long Beach University for his remaining two years on a golf scholarship.

Forster heads across the border to Dorset this week along with a number of other Hampshire players bidding to join Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood, Danny Willett and fellow Augusta Green Jacket winner Faldo, in claiming the English crown.

Justin Rose was the last North Hants player before Forster to reach the quarter-final in 1996, at nearby Hollinwell, when he was just 16.

Also in the field is Hampshire county captain Lawrence Cherry, after the Stoneham member, who is the assistant general manager at North Hants GC, got in as a late reserve.

Hampshire’s forthcoming showdown with Surrey for the South Division title at Blackmoor GC on Sunday, could be complicated if he – or any of his first-team – reach the latter stages of the knockout, which gets under way on Thursday morning for the top 64 qualifiers and ties.

Jersey’s Jo Hacker will fancy his chances of going further than last year having won the Gold Medal at the Island Games, in Guernsey, last month.

Buenfeld will be back confident that it took an in-form Forster to stop him 12 months ago, having lost himself in the final of the Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Channel Islands Amateur Championship, at Stoneham, to his best mate James Freeman two months earlier.

The third member of Cherry’s Hampshire first-team squad bidding to qualify for the matchplay rounds at Ferndown is North Hants GC’s Robert Wheeler, who makes his debut in the competition, having played in his first Six-man qualifer when Hampshire finished second to Kent last month at Farleigh CG, in very strong winds.

The weather forecast for the early partt of the championship is not bright with strong winds and heavy rain forecast for Wednesday’s second round – and the danger England Golf may be forced to shorten the qualifying rounds.

Stoneham’s former Hampshire Boys Champion Alex Talbot has become something of the forgotten man after four quiet years at Boise University after winning the Pechell Trophy in 2016 when he was a junior at Bramshaw.

And South Winchester’s Harvey Denham is another junior looking to translate his promise on the men’s stage when play getd under way at Ferndown and Broadstone, having become the youngster-ever winner of the Pechell Salver, in the men’s county championship qualifier two years ago.

His 36-hole total at North Hants GC as a 16-year-old saw him break Jack Singh-Brar’s record set back in 2013, when the future Walker Cup player from Brokenhurst Manor led the qualifers at Blackmoor GC.

Lee-on-the-Solent’s Will Green would love to have the success that future Ryder Cup star Steve Richardson enjoyed in the competition, having won at Royal St George’s no less in 1989.

Having come through the same Lee junior section as Rico, Green is keen to show the progress he has made since his switch to New Mexico Junior College, last autumn.

The left-hander has been on the winning Thunderbird side three times in the 2022/23 season and picked up two top 10s, having won the Green Cup for the best nett qualifying score at the 2020 Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Channel Islands Amateur Championship, at Hayling GC.

Another former South of England Boys Open winner – Liphook’s Sam West, who won the English Schools U16 title five years ago, plays in the English Amateur off the back of two top 10s for Ohio-based Miami University’s Redhawks. Last year he made the last 64 but lost to Rotherham’s Charlie Daughtrey, the 2020 Yorkshire Amateur Champion.

South Winchester’s Henry Glanfield, is more known for his cricketing exploits playing for Hambledlon in the Southern Premier League, but had a handicap low enough to beat the ballot of plus-2.2.

The other Hampshire player in the 204-strong field for the two qualifying rounds at Broadstone and Ferndown is Tournerbury’s Hampshire Colts player Will Paton, who recently graduated from the University of Houston-Victoria after his most successful season in the States.

Steve Richardson English Amateur

Lee-on-the-Solent’s Steve Richardson won the English Amateur at Royal St George’s in 1989, beating Guernsey’s Bobby Eggo in the final in a play-off. Who will win this week at Ferndown?

In 2014, Meon Valley G&CC junior Harry Ellis, the 2012 English Amateur Champion, and Corhampton’s Scott Gregory both reached the last eight at Saunton, in North Devon.

The latter lost in the final to Yorkshire’s Nick Marsh after becoming the eighth player from Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Channel Islands player to reach the final.

Gregory, who also reached the last eight in 2015, lost in the semi-finals at The Berkshire, in 2017, the year he and Ellis played for Great Britain and Ireland in the Walker Cup against the USA.

Hayling’s Jamie Mist lost in the semi-finals at Ganton in 2016. La Moye’s Jason Stokes lost to eventual finalist Callum Farr in the third round, at Hankley Common, in 2019, when Stoke Park’s Connor Gough was just days away from breaking Ellis’ record.

Lee-on-the-Solent’s future Walker Cup player Steve Richardson was the last Hampshire player to win the English title – beating Guernsey’s Bobby Eggo at the first-extra hole in the 1989 final – in what was described then as the best final “in living memory.”

Eggo had been the loser to Brokenhurst Manor’s Kevin Weeks two years earlier at Oxfordshire’s Frilford Heath GC as the New Forest man became just the second Hampshire winner in some 60 years.

Richard Bland was beaten by Buckinghamshire’s David Fisher, at Saunton, in 1993, although the latter missed out on a Walker Cup place despite having won the Brabazon at Stoneham, earlier that summer.

Bland’s great team-mate and friend Matt Blackey lost in the semi-finals at Royal Hoylake in 1997.

The first Hampshire player to win the English Amateur was Hayling’s Ian Patey, back in 1946, beating Ken Thom 5&4 at Royal Mid-Surrey.

But the tall accountant, who worked in the bus company business, lost in the final four years later, beaten by Kent’s John Langley on the last green at Deal’s Royal Cinque Ports GC.

The first Hampshire player to reach the final was Shanklin & Sandown’s Flight Lieutenant Cecil Hayward, who lose in the second-ever English Amateur final at Walton Heath in 1926, losing to defending champion Froes Ellison, who had won at his home club Royal Liverpool in 1925.

•Follow the live scoring at Ferndown and Broadstone here.

Ian Patey English Amateur

Hayling GC’s Ian Patey – the first Hampshire winner of the English Amateur in 1949, at Royal Mid-Surrey

error: Content is protected !!