2023 Walker Cup hopeful Jack Brooks charges to victory at North Hamps
OPENS: Monday, April 11th
FORMAT: 72-hole strokeplay
A storming back nine from England Men’s stalwart Jack Brooks saw him overturn a four-shot lead with 18 holes to go and win the Hampshire Salver last night.
Three stunning iron shots in the last eight holes at North Hants GC set up a back-nine charge for the Lancashire-based player, who at one point, on the final afternoon, was six behind third-round leader Freddie Macarthur (Ullesthorpe Court).
Birdies at seven, 11, 13 and 15 saw him eclipse the Leicestershire golfer, who opened with two birdies in three holes but dropped away on the back nine, bogeying 15 and 16 to lose his lead.
Brooks, who won the opening Northern Order of Merit event earlier this month, also bogeyed 17 after his third at the par five plugged in the bunker. However a regulation par at the last secured him a title he last entered in 2009.
The WAGR-ranked Hampshire Salver is made up two separate 36-hole open events and was played for the first time in three years because of Covid. On Saturday Blackmoor hosted the Selborne Salver, with Hockley’s Luke Hodgetts winning by one from Colin Rooper (Rowlands Castle). The following day Bishops Stortford’s Max Hopkins came out on top in the Hampshire Hog as he birdied the final two holes to pip 2020 British Amateur finalist Joe Harvey (The Kendleshire) by a shot.
For Brooks the WAGR ranking points was the main thing. The 31-year-old has the 2023 Walker Cup in his sights and then plans to return to the pro ranks at the end of next year. The Mere player originally turned professional in 2011 before regaining his amateur status six years ago.
“Obviously getting picked for the Walker Cup is going to extremely difficult but I am lucky to have some fantastic support,” said Brooks.
“The help I get from The Mere and Bol Foods makes a huge difference. I need to play in a lot of tournaments, if I am going to get anywhere near the Walker Cup side, but victories like this are a great start.”
At North Hants yesterday, Brooks played 24 holes without a birdie. His morning round of 72 included 16 pars and two bogeys as he just couldn’t get the putts to drop.
But after lunch, the putter warmed up, starting at the seventh where he sank one from 20 feet for a birdie after reeling off six pars.
He got to two under for his round thanks to an excellent approach shot at 11 and then also stuck it in close at 13 and made no mistake from five feet.
At the par three 15th the pin was tucked away but the former England U-14s champion went for it and his bravery at the 171-yarder was rewarded. His ball came to rest eight feet from the pin and his now-warm putter did the rest.
His first bogey of the round would follow straight after but a closing 67 was enough for a one under par total and another major success for the prolific winner.