Last became first when Simon Richardson, the 72nd man to hand in his card, was crowned winner of the 40th Selborne Salver, at Blackmoor.

With the crowd and almost all the competitors resigned to a three-way play-off, Richardson, off +4, quietly posted a 68 to go with his morning 69 to win by three full shots – the only man to break par on a difficult day, writes Kit Neilson.

Hot sunshine, a brisk wind and six rainless weeks had all conspired to stiffen Blackmoor’s defences, and few players came to terms with the firm, fast greens, unpredictable bounces and testing pins.

But Richardson, 28, a Lincs county player and champion, came with a gameplan, simply to keep it in play.

“I used my driver four times all day and hit my irons to the right spots,” he said.

“And I putted ridiculously well, the greens were that true. In fact, the course was in fantastic condition all round.”

On a day when pars were precious, Richardson made 30, with 16 coming before lunch.

He did birdie the fifth, chipping in from 20 yards, but bogeyed the 14th to finish a stroke behind Sean Towndrow (Southport & Ainsdale) and three adrift of the brilliant 66 of James Allan (Chelmsford), probably worth 63 on a “normal” day.

Also looking good at halfway were Jack Bush (Morlais Castle, Merthyr), Richard James (Aberystwyth) and William Whitelock (Shipley), all matching the par of 69, and the veteran John Kemp (Woburn) by himself on 70.

With the favourites faltering after lunch, Richardson plotted his way round.

He bogeyed the 10th, his opening hole but birdied the 13th, 14th and devilish 18th, where he hit his approach to three feet.

He then rattled off eight pars, dropping just one shot at the seventh, for his winning 68.

Three players were tied on 140, with Michael Saunders (Dartford) taking second place through his best-of-afternoon 67.

Bush was third, adding a 71 to his earlier 69 and Allan, a left-hander, fourth with a 74.

Fifth, on 142, was pre-tournament favourite Ashley Chesters (Hawkstone Park), on countback from Ryan Lumsden (Royal Wimbledon), who shot a brace of 71s.

Jamie Dick (Forest Hills, Glos) added a fine 68 to his morning 77 for seventh spot, the same tally as Sean Edwards (Bigbury), who shot 71, 72.

Pick of the home county players on what was a disappointing day for Hampshire was Tom Robson (Rowlands Castle), with 74, 70, two clear of Scott Gregory (Corhampton), who was in the frame after a morning 71, but struggled to 75 in the afternoon.

Martin Young (Brokenhurst Manor) had no luck at all, with 74, 76 – his sole birdie in the afternoon coming at the home hole and his ironic smile telling its own story.

Hayling’s Darren Walkley carded 76, 75, a shot ahead of 2009 winner Mark Burgess (Blackmoor).

Billy Watson and Matt Wilcox, both of North Hants, shot 153, two better than Ben Wall (Hayling), while Southwick Park’s Edward Welton had a pair of 81s.

A family illness forced the withdrawal of the 2005 champion, Ryan Henley (Stoneham).