Hacker’s Hampshire defence begins

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DEFENDING Hampshire champion Jo Hacker says all the good memories came flooding back as he prepared for the 2022 instalment of the prestigious county championships.

The college golfer enjoyed his best spell in his young career last year, qualifying in third place before winning all four matchplay contests to lift the illustrious trophy.

In doing so, he became the first Jerseyman to win the title since Christy McLaughlin’s success at the turn of the millennium.

He will attempt to defend his title at Stoneham Golf Club this weekend.

‘Reflecting on last year’s win obviously brings back tons of good memories,’ said the Jacksonville University player.

‘The level of golf I maintained over four days is the best spell I’ve ever played.’

Hacker would take this form into the British Amateur Championship, where another impressive run was stopped short at the last-16 stage of the draw.

Looking forward to this year’s Hampshire Championship, the Islander would love to play his way into a groove to continue into the summer.

He said: ‘I go away to try and retain my crown before heading up to the St Andrews Links Trophy and the British Amateur [Championship].

‘It would be great to play well this week and take that form into the bigger competitions in the weeks to come.

‘I had very little expectation heading into the event last year as I was out of form. It probably freed me up and allowed me to feel comfortable.’

Stoneham is set to be a course that suits Hacker, who has displayed obvious firepower already this season.

The plus-five handicapper raced out to six-under-par through just eight holes at Royal Jersey last weekend, before dropping three shots on the closing nine for a 67 (-3).

He would follow that with a 71 (+1) in the afternoon to miss out on the win on countback – to Royal Jersey member Ryan Riley.

Stoneham presents many opportunities for birdies on the par fives, all of which are reachable.

It will also make for exciting matches between the county’s elite.

The defending champion said: ‘It won’t be easy, as Stoneham is the home club for many of the better players.

‘They will be used to the course, while I will have to try and absorb all the information I can during the practice round.

‘I am hoping that this week has come at the right time, because I feel like my game is in much better shape than it has been during the spring semester in the US.

‘If I can keep the higher numbers off the card, my scoring will be right there.’

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