DESPITE a lowly finish by his standards in the Mike Smith Memorial Trophy, where he had to settle for ninth, Martin Young went on to claim the Stoneham Trophy 24 hours later.

Young blew away most of the field with a first round 67, having got to the turn in six-under par. And despite making three bogeys and two more birdies on his back nine, he knew his round could have been even better.

The 51-year-old from Brokenhurst Manor’s closest chaser was Stoneham’s two-time Hampshire Junior Champion James Freeman.

The 19-year-old, who embarked on the PGA degree course at the University of Birmingham in the autumn, after opting not to head across the Atlantic along with several of his county team-mates, came home in a very creditable 69.

But with Young shooting a 70 in the afternoon, the Hampshire Colts player need to go even lower to stand any chance of hauling in the former English Mid-Amateur Champion.

Young was delighted to equal the host club’s Ryan Henley’s record of five Stoneham Trophy wins, which stretch back to 2005. And he knew that his victory could have been even more emphatic after making six birdies an eagle in the morning.

Young won the Stoneham Trophy in 2019 before COVID forced the 2020 tournament to be cancelled, along with nearly all the rest of the Hampshire Order of Merit events.

Martin, who qualified to play in the British Seniors Open at Sunningdale last month, said: “It was great to finally get a chance to defend my title.

“I have the same number of Stoneham wins now as Ryan Henley, we played a lot of golf for Hampshire, so it feels very good to get to the same number as him.”

Hampshire Golf 2019 Order of Merit winner Martin Young

Martin Young’s win in the Stoneham Trophy and Solent Salver has boosted his hopes of defending the Hampshire Order of Merit crown he won in 2019. Picture by ANDREW GRIFFIN / AMG PICTURES

Young also took the Solent Salver – for the best aggregate in both events – for a record seventh time, beating Hayling’s Toby Burden by five shots and boosing his hopes of retaining the Hampshire Order of Merit title he won in 2019.

The former county captain started on the 10th in his first round and hit his approach within inches on the 189-yard par three. A two-putt birdie followed at the par-five 12th and he picked up his fourth shot at the 13th after nearly driving the short par-four.

The par-five 14th was into the wind, so Young had to settle for par but was back on the birdie trail on the 132-yard 16th, holing from 10 feet for a two.

He missed from eight feet for another on 17 but then saw his third shot from 100 yards disappear inside the cup after finding a filthy lie in a divot with part of the turf stuck on top of his ball.

The first also offered another relatively simple birdie four, but Martin had to make a smart up-and-down to avoid dropping his first shot at the second.

His first real error came at the fourth when he failed to get up-and-down after underclubbing on the tee. The three-time county champion made four from the greenside bunker on the par-five sixth, but gave the shot back at the next with a three-putt

He was in the sand at the par-three eighth and ended up making four to go back to five-under before making a par four at the ninth.

In the second round, Young got to the turn in two-under with birdies at the third and fifth, but gave those shots back with bogeys at the 10th and 11th.

But any hope of encouragement for Freeman was dispelled by a birdie from four feet at the 12th. The defending champion then hit another approach stone dead at the 13th, chipping to 18 inches from 60 yards to set up another birdie three.

His lead extended further as he holed for his 11th birdie of the day at the 16th, but the final hole extracted some revenge for his hole out before lunch as his approach spun back off the green from pin high, and ended up taking three to get up-and-down.

Martin said: “It really could have been any score that first round as I had a couple of good chances to go lower, but also had a bit of luck when I needed it, after getting a terrible lie on the 18th.

“I thought if I could shoot anything under-par after lunch, young James had to go lower than his 69 – with the rest even further back, so I didn’t need to take any real risks in the second round.”

The double victory also moved Young up the leaderboard in the race to win a second Hampshire Order of Merit title, having claimed the Cullen Quaich back in 2019. He currently sits in fifth place, 14 points behind Stoneham’s Ryan Moody.


Stoneham’s James Freeman

James Freeman was second in the Stoneham Trophy playing on his home course. Picture by ANDREW GRIFFIN / AMG PICTURES

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