ROYAL Guernsey’s Ollie Chedhomme became just the third Channel Islander to win the Hampshire Junior Championship in 72 years at Lee-on-the-Solent GC.

And 44 years after Peter Wilcox became the first Guernsey junior to win the Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Channel Islands U18 championship, Chedhomme needed a birdie at the last to prevent Rowlands Castle’s James Plater making it a double in the U18 and U16 categories.

Chedhomme, who has been a regular visitor to the mainland this summer – playing in both men’s and junior opens in Hampshire – was unaware of where he stood in the competition as he stood on the 18th tee.

But at four-over par, he was in fact level with last year’s U16s champion Plater, who playing on the green in front. And when Plater bounced back brilliantly from a costly double-bogey five on the penultimate hole to make a birdie three on the 18th to post four-under, the championship was heading towards its first play-off since 2018.

Chedhomme hit a safe drive down the right-hand side, with the road and trees tight down the left the clearest danger to his title hopes.

Ollie said: “My approach all day had been to try to find the fairways off the tee and I hit a nice drive which ended up in a good lie after just running into in the right rough.

“With the pin tucked in the front left I had 118 yards with my 50-degree wedge – which span the ball back from the middle of the green to just six feet.

“I missed virtually the same putt in the morning, so I knew it broke about a ball from the right and this time it went in, although I did not know how significant it was till I got back to the clubhouse and signed my card.

“It’s great to get a big win like this. The regular trips over to the mainland have paid off. I have certainly become a better golfer from playing different types of courses, and getting used to playing heathland and parkland layouts, not just the links I know from home – and playing men’s events as well as in opens on the Hampshire Junior Order of Merit.”

Victory was the perfect preparation for Guernsey’s Junior Champion who is ready to face Jersey in the Inter-Insular later this month, when he will be the only junior in the annual men’s contest.

But Guernsey’s most exciting young prospect in many a year had to comeback from a serious wobble after making four bogeys in a row in the middle of his second round.

Ollie added: “After my two birdies through three holes after lunch, I knew I was playing well – but there was always going to be a rough patch somewhere.

“So when I made four bogeys on the bounce from the seventh to the 10th. I knew it was going to be difficult to stop the rot. I just had to keep my head and keep telling myself to hit as many fairways, and as many greens, as possible.

“When I made a par on the 11th I knew that was a game changer to try and stop the bad spell. I made an up-and-down from the back of the green,” he said.

“The eight-foot putt was up the slope, and from left to right, so I knew after missing a few short putts it was a real confidence-booster to make that one and re-focus myself.”

The only other Channel Islander to win the Hampshire Junior crown was Barry Melville, from Jersey’s La Moye, two years before Wilcox became the first Guernsey winner.

In recent years both La Moye’s Jason Stokes and Jo Hacker have finished runners-up in the blue riband championship, which has been won by the likes of Olympic Gold medal winner Justin Rose, European Tour veteran Richard Bland, and Walker Cup aces Harry Ellis and Jack Singh-Brar.

Past Hampshire U14 champions Steve Richardson, who played in the 1991 Ryder Cup, and Walker Cup player Sam Hutsby both came through the ranks at Lee-on-the-Solent, a short – but tremendously tight – par 69 in the Alver Valley, less than a mile from the Solent shore.

Ollie said: “You can see why Sam and Steve became great players after growing up at Lee. You need to keep it in play and putt well, and with the extra hard conditions this summer, holding the greens requires good distance control, as well as accurate iron play.”

Many of the juniors in the field, who are members of the Hampshire training squads, were familiar with the course – having attended regular coaching sessions there over the last couple of years.

Chedhomme did his homework in his practice round and set up six birdies in his first round, converting from eight feet at the sixth, and 10 feet on the ninth as he turned in one-over after bogeys at the fourth, seventh and eighth.

Ollie Chedhomme Hampshire Junior Champion

Ollie Chedhomme playing the 17th in the second round of the Hampshire Junior Championship. ANDREW GRIFFN / AMG PICTURES

That two at the par-three, was followed by two excellent threes at the 10th and 11th,as he moved into the red.

Ollie said; “There was quite a bit of swing on my putt on the ninth, so I tried not to be too aggressive. I only had 25 yards into the short par-four 10th and pitched it to five feet.

“I struck my 56-degree wedge to about an inch on the 11th from 85 yards but made back-to-back bogeys on 13 and 14. I had to punch an eight-iron under the overhanging tree on the 16th and was about 25 feet away.

“The putt had a good foot of break from the right but the ball just got to the hole and dropped in, and then watched my six-iron on the 17th end up 10 yards right of the green.

“I opened the face on my 60-degree wedge and landed the ball about five yards short of the pin and then watched it hit the flag and drop in for the two.”

That missed putt on 18 which gave him the line for the eventual win meant he posted a level-par 69 and tied for the lead with Meon Valley’s Jack Field.

But while the latter took 11 more shots in the afternoon, Chedhomme started with two quick-fire birdies, and then showed his mettle when the going got tough before ending up holding the Pechell Trophy, bearing the names of Bland and Rose.

Plater, from Rowlands Castle, had to settle for the U16 crown, joining European Tour ace Jack Singh-Brar and Westridge’s Josh Oddy as the only players to have won the Weddell Trophy back-to-back, and take second overall.

Royal Guernsey’s three-handicapper Tanner Austin finished sixth, eight shots behind the new champion, thanks to an excellent 70 in round two – a nine-shot improvement from the morning.

Meanwhile Connor McKenna, off one, was a further two shots back, with scratch player Jayden Tucknott taking 11th with two 76s.

There was more success for Royal Guernsey – who had the most number of players in the field – in the 18-hole championship for the U13, U12 and U10 Championships.

Thomas Chamberlain claimed the handicap prize in the U13s after a nett 66, while Alexander Mills’ 81 was four behind gross winner Albie Beeston, from North Hants, who claimed the title for a second year in a row.

Bishopswood’s Fred Gill claimed the Royal Guernsey Cup awared to the Hampshire U14 Champion after finishing five shots clear of North Hants’ Dylan Cooper-Kirby, after rounds of 76 and 81.


Royal Guernsey juniors

The Royal Guernsey juniors including new champion Ollie Chedhomme, holding up U13s runner-up Thomas Chamberlain afte they travelled over to the Hampshire Junior Championship at Lee-on-the-Solent GC. Picture by ANDREW GRIFFIN / AMG PICTURES

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