Kevin Saunders shrugged off the effects of a nasty ankle injury to claim the Hampshire PGA Stroke Play Championship for the third time in his career.

The Brokenhurst Manor professional finished a shot clear of Andrew Cloke (Bishopswood) and the 2012 winner, Nick Redfern (AIA Group), at the Army Golf Club.

Saunders, the champion in 2000 and 2002, damaged ankle ligaments earlier in the year and had barely played going into the tournament.

“I did my ankle at the end of March, so it was one of the first games out I have had,” he said.

“I’m very pleased. It’s the first major of the season, so it’s always nice to get off to a good start.”

The 36-hole tournament looked to be heading for a play-off after Saunders, who had been well ahead, endured a torrid run down the stretch.

“I dropped a shot at 15, double bogeyed 16 and bogeyed 17, so I dropped four shots in three holes,” said Saunders, who was unaware of the scores elsewhere.

“I didn’t know it, but I had obviously been cruising.”

However, he survived to secure the championship after a magnificent up-and-down at the last, capped by an eight-foot left-to-right downhill putt that he rolled into the heart of the hole.

“It’s always nice to win. It’s our biggest event of the year really,” added reigning order of merit champion Saunders, who also won the final major of last season, the Hampshire PGA Masters.

The next major is the Hampshire Open, which takes place at Royal Winchester on Tuesday, July 9.