MARK BURGESSS will be hoping the hard work put in so far this year by the Hampshire first-team squad will boost his chances of becoming just the second player ever to win the Selborne Salver twice, writes Andy Griffin.

Burgess, who delighted scores of Blackmoor members with his fairytale win in 2009, would love to match the record of two-time amateur champion Peter McEvoy, who went on to captain two winning Walker Cup teams, in 1999 and 2001.

McEvoy’s back-to-back Selborne Salver victories in 1979 and 1980 – when he made two of his three appearances at the Augusta Masters – has never been matched since.

That is despite an honours board featuring plenty of Walker and Ryder Cup stars of the future – including Gordon Brand Jnr, Ross Fisher, Andy Sullivan and Matt Fitzpatrick, plus former Hampshire junior Jack Singh-Brar, who was picked for the Walker Cup team against the USA in 2017, alongside former county team-mates Harry Ellis and Scott Gregory.

Burgess, who has won the Courage Trophy at Hampshire’s Strokeplay Championship twice since 2006, has been working once a month with the Hampshire first-team squad at the new practice facilities at Stoneham, followed by nine holes of matchplay.

The Blackmoor member, who lives at Holybourne, said: “Matchplay, either foursomes or singles, is very different to strokeplay. But any competitive golf helps prepare you for the next tournament.”

Burgess has great belief in his ability, despite now being 45.

The pandemic means this weekend will be the first time the Salver has been held in three years, and Burgess can’t wait.

Play gets under way at 8am tomorrow (Saturday), with the second round starting at lunchtime. Play should be finished by 7pm. Entry is free.

The Hampshire Hog takes place at Fleet’s North Hants GC on Sunday, with the Hampshire Salver going to the player with the best 72-hole score.

Hayling’s Toby Burden – who won the Courage Trophy, Hants Open and Hampshire Order of Merit last year – plays off plus-five, and in the same top match is 18-year-old Jack Bigham (Harpenden), an England Boys’ international, whose playing handicap is plus-six.

With the bar for the 60-plus starters coming down at plus-1.3 and a dozen off plus-four, the level is high – if not quite as high as pre-lockdown.

Others to watch include Harley Smith (The Rayleigh Club), the plus-five teenager who won the 2021 Carris and McGregor trophies and shot an astonishing 63 round at Walton Heath in the Justin Rose Junior Championships.