THE Selborne Salver honours board is peppered with some of the great names in amateur golf, who have gone on to have big successes in the pro ranks.

Ross Fisher and Andy Sullivan have played Ryder Cups in the last 13 years while last year’s US Open winner Matt Fitzpatrick has featured twice against the Americans, in 2016 and 2021.

Since 2000, former Hampshire junior international Jack Singh-Brar, the winner in 2017, has earned a DP World Tour card, as has Wiltshire’s Jordan Smith, who claimed the title in 2014.

Sullivan shot a course record 60 in 2011 – an incredible nine-under par – as he romped to victory on the East Hampshire heathland course, while Jamie Moul (2006), Fisher (2004) and Zane Scotland (2003) have all graduated to the European Tour after leaving the amateur ranks.

In the 20th century Scott Drummond won the flagship BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in 2004 – nine years after scooping the Salver.

Warren Bennett, Jim Payne, Steve Bottomley, and Andrew Sherborne all went on to win on the European and Challenge Tours after winning at Blackmoor.

And Gordon Brand Jnr played both Walker Cup and Ryder Cup after the Bristol man won at Blackmoor in 1978, preceding back-to-back victories by Peter McEvoy, arguably England’s most successful amateur, certainly post-war.

The other with that claim is Gary Wolstenholme, who went on to break McEvoy’s all-time England appearance record, having won the Selborne Salver in 2001.

Since the Salver became one of England’s top 36-hole open events back in 1976, the winner – if not already an established England international – has often gone on to represent their country.

In that time, just six Hampshire players have lifted the trophy – the latest being Hockley’s Luke Hodgetts 12 months ago.

Hodgetts’ win courtesy of Blackmoor Bowl

After a two-year hiatus caused by the pandemic, Hodgetts by his own admission, was a very unlikely winner. He was only in the field thanks to an invite given by Hampshire captain Neil Dawson.

But having made strides in county events after breaking in the Hampshire Colts side in 2021, the 27-year-old came from nowhere to win by a shot last April.

Hodgetts did have one thing in his favour… he knew the course well from playing in the Blackmoor Bowl – a 36-hole Open which is part of the Hampshire Order of Merit.

“I played the Bowl a few times with some good results. To win the Salver required a lot more obviously, but for me it was having a simple gameplan and making sure I that I stuck to it.

“I worked hard over the winter and I went in with a plan and made sure that my caddy and I were on the same page about making sure we stuck to it.”

Luke – like many winners before him – played conservatively off the tee and went on to shoot 70 and 67 to win by one from Rowlands Castle’s former Hampshire captain Colin Roope.

Things could not have started any worse as Luke opened with back-to-back bogeys, starting from the 10th. But he picked up shots at the par-five 13th and the tricky final hole.

After lunch, the former digital marketing assistant at Callaway Golf, who has just become a freelance photographer and video-maker, made four birdies in seven holes from the eighth, as he got to three-under during his second round.

And his victory margin would have been much greater if he had not closed with two bogeys as the notorious sloping 18th green claimed another victim.

Luke Hodgetts

Last year’s Selborne Salver winner Luke Hodgetts is aiming to earn a regular spot in the Hampshire team in 2023. Picture by ANDREW GRIFFIN / AMG PICTURES

Luke’s anxious wait convinced it would be a play-off

Having posted his one-under total quite early in the day, he faced an anxious wait, convinced that at best, he was most likely to be facing the Salver’s fifth play-off in the last 21 years – and after the tournament’s two-year absence, the second in a row following Sussex’s Charlie Strickland win against Wiltshire’s Jake Bolton.

Luke revealed: “I honestly didn’t think I was going to win outright until one of the refs came up to me and said I could put my clubs away.

“I knew if it went to a play-off I had the confidence to win that, but I didn’t think I was going to win outright until I was told that I had won.”

So if Luke can be categorised as a late-bloomer, what motivates him now to not only beat the best in the county, but also the country?

Luke, who started playing as a six-year-old before joining Royal Winchster when he was 11, said: “My main motivation is wanting to be the best I can at what I do.

“I have always been competitive with myself and I am always trying to get better at everything I do. I was a member at Winchester for nine years but only really started taking golf more seriously when I joined Hockley when I was 20 – that was when I started to practice more.

“I have had to work hard to get to where I am now, but it has given me the consistency which is my main strength. Now that I know I can compete with the best players in the country it has given me more motivation to get better and compete at higher levels.

“Knowing that I have beaten the best players on the big stage has given me real confidence,” Luke added.

His stellar season continued as he finished runner-up to Hayling’s Toby Burden in last year’s Hampshire of Order of Merit – thanks to claiming the Solent Salver for the best aggregate in Brokenhurst Manor’s Mike Smith Memorial and the Stoneham Trophy.

Defending the Selborne Salver, like any major golf title, is very hard. The last – and only – player to do it was a certain Mr McEvoy, back in 1980.

But for now, Hodgetts, who also worked for Adidas for four years, will be happy to cement his first-team place having made his Hampshire South East League debut against Surrey in August, after an injury kept him out of the earlier matches.

And beyond that, getting his WAGR ranking into the top 3,000 is his aim for 2023.

With the Hampshire Salver – for the best 72-hole aggregate in the Salver and Sunday’s Hampshire Hog at North Hants – offering WAGR points, Luke will be using the force of his defence to improve on his current ranking of 4, 130.

MARK Burgess Selborne Salver

Blackmoor’s Mark Burgess became the first member from the host club to win the Selborne Salver in April 2009

Burgess, Parsons and Boxall will fly Blackmoor flag

OTHER Hampshire players in the field include Blackmoor’s Mark Burgess, the only winner from the host club since 1975 when it was just a club competition.

Blackmoor’s Sam Parsons, who has played for Hampshire in recent years, was one of two club members to qualify at the end of last month.

Sam finished two shots behind Robbie Boxall in the 36-hole annual qualifier after he shot 75, 68, compared to the winner’s three-over total thanks to rounds of 69 and 72.

Hayling’s Toby Burden, who is the new Hampshire vice-captain, is bidding to become the first player to win three county Order of Merits in a row – the Salver and the Hampshire Hog count in the race for the Cullen Quaich for the first time in the competition’s 10th year.

Liphook’s Darren Walkley won the first two Cullen Quaichs awarded, and the 2015 county champion will be one to watch after regaining his amateur status last year after six years playing on the mini-pro tours, including the German Pro Golf Tour, which has produced some of the best graduates from the European Challenge Tour in recent seasons, including last month’s DP World Tour’s Jonsson Workwear Open in South Africa.

Former Great Britain and Ireland international Darren Wriight – one of only 10 players to land the Brabazon and Carris Trophy doubles in amateur history, alongside the likes of Sandy Lyle and Peter Baker – will be looking to improve his Salver record having returned to the amateur ranks before COVID, having also spent six years on the EuroPro and Challenge Tours, winning once on the former in 2015 after turning pro late in 2011.

County veteran Martin Young – believed to be the oldest winner of the Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Channel Islands Amateur Championship at 46 seven years ago – would love to add the Salver to the Hampshire Salver he picked up in 2000, when the Blackmoor event was reduced to one round by rain, and a couple of top three finishes earned him the 54-hole prize.

•To see the full start sheet for both rounds of the 2023 Selborne Salver, click here.

Martin Young Hampshire Slam

Brokenhurst Manor’s Martin Young is the only player to complete the Hampshire Slam, winnning all four major trophies in the county back in 2014. Picture by ANDREW GRIFFIN / AMG PICTURES

error: Content is protected !!