Guernsey Press

McKenna reaches the last eight of county elite

A birdie barrage from the defending champion ended Conor McKenna’s excellent run at the Hampshire County Championships at the quarter-final stage on Saturday afternoon.

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Royal Guernsey's Conor McKenna on the ninth hole in the second round of the 119th Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Channel Islands Amateur Championship at Blackmoor GC. (Picture by Andrew Griffin/AMG Pictures, 33311510)

However, the 17-year-old Island men’s and boys’ champion had already done enough to finish as runner-up in the Hampshire Youth Championship U21 strokeplay as he continued his fine run of form at Blackmoor Golf Club.

In the 36-hole qualifier, McKenna followed up an opening round of 72 on Friday morning by going two better with a 70 in the afternoon to finish 11th with the top 16 progressing to the matchplay stages.

He came up against Rob Boxall in the first round on Saturday and came through a tight encounter 1 up to earn a meeting with defending champion Ryan Henley.

He is a familiar name in the island as he won the second of his Hampshire titles when the championship last visited L’Ancresse in 2007 – the year McKenna was born. The Stoneham star defeated Guernsey’s own Steve Mahy in that final and the runner-up from that day still regards Henley as the best amateur he has played against.

McKenna was all-square with his illustrious opponent, who was seeking to become the first person to defend the crown in over 40 years and make it an incredible five titles in all, through seven holes, but then Henley blitzed the teenager with a run of four birdies in five holes and there was to be no coming back from that for the Royal Guernsey teeanger as he went down 6 & 4.

Guernsey’s other representatives – Jeremy Nicolle, Danny Blondel, Jayden Tucknott and Jason Savident – missed out on the knockout stages in a high-quality field of 70 players.