HAMPSHIRE captain Lawrence Cherry’s faith in introducing new blood into the county first-team was rewarded with a one-point victory over the Channel Islands, on Sunday.
The youngest captain in Hampshire Golf’s post-war history included himself for the trip to Royal Jersey, in the absence of vice-captain Toby Burden, Hayling’s winner of the last two Hampshire Order of Merits, who was unavailable – as was Rowlands Castle’s former GB&I international Darren Wright.
The latter had finished seventh in last week’s nationally-ranked Hampshire Hog at North Hants GC.
Cherry still had the experienced trio of Test Valley’s reigning English Mid-Amateur Champion Stuart Archibald and fellow over 35s champion Martin Young, the last Hampshire skipper to land the English County Championship, back in 2017 – plus Blackmoor’s Mark Burgess.
Stoneham’s Cherry – who led Hampshire Colts to the South East League title last summer for the first time since 2016 – took over the captaincy from Neil Dawson in February, becoming the youngest player to do so in some 70 years, at just 26.
Lawrence pledged to continue blooding younger players with the county’s mid-am stalwarts (over 35s) not getting any younger.
He gave debuts to clubmate Harrison Pake, North Hants’ Robert Wheeler and former Hampshire Junior Champion Aman Uddin, from Lee-on-the-Solent GC.
Uddin and Pake – who knocked Burden out of last year’s county championship on his way to the last four – picked up the first point in Saturday’s foursomes, winning 4&3 in the bottom match.
Hockley’s Luke Hodgetts – winner of last year’s prestigious Selborne Salver at Blackmoor GC – helped Archibald to a 2&1 win in the top match.
Wheeler and Young then claimed a two-hole win to make it 3-0 to the visitors with steady rain falling throughou the afternoon session on the seaside course, which is more parkland the further you play from the beach.
Blackmoor veteran Mark Burgess, who has played in three English County Finals since 2013, partnered Cherry. But they lost 2&1 to Royal Jersey pairing Josh Ozard and James Draisey, who made the most of their local knowledge.
Young lost in the last Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Channel Islands Amateur Championship final held at Royal Jersey, in 2017, and romped to an 8&7 win over Guernsey’s Danny Blondel in the second of Sunday’s eight singles, which were greeted by some strong winds which only served to beef up the course’s defences.
Archibald beat Draisey 2&1 in the top match – having been three up at one point, before being pegged back to level, while Pake faced the redoubtable Richard Ramskill, a former Hampshire player more than 20 years ago.
The 32-year-old, who works for Wave 105 radio station, showed his progress over the last couple of years by completing a fine 3&2 win to claim maximum points in his first full match in Hampshire blue.
The bottom four matches were all very tight so Cherry was pleased when Wheeler held out for the decisive half against Royal Guernsey’s former pro Jeremy Nicolle, who need to hole from 20 feet for a birdie to tie the game.
Cherry made a birdie three at the last but still lost by one hole to former Hampshire Boys player Matthew Parkman, who grew up living by the course.
Burgess and Hodgetts both lost on the 18th green as the Channel Islanders fought back strongly, winning the session by a full point as Uddin lost 4&2 to Jamie Blondel, leaving Hampshire the victors by 61/2-51/2.
•See the full scores here.
The new county captain must now pick a team for the first South East League match against Kent, at Liphook GC, at the end of May.
The county’s four top US college players should be back in the USA, including Bramshaw’s Joe Buenfeld, the 2019 European Junior Open winner, who lost to Stoneham’s James Freeman in the 2022 county final.
Brabazon clashes with Kent league match
THAT weekend also sees the Brabazon Trophy – the English Amateur Strokeplay Championship – being held at Sunningdale.
A number of Cherry’s first-team squad are entered in the Brabazon South Qualifier being held at Goodwood, on May 16, while Wright – the winner at Hoylake in 2010 – has been granted an exemption as a past champion.
The former EuroPro Tour winner will play in the Brabazon over the famous Berkshire club’s New Course on May 25 and 26, with the top 60 qualifying for the weekend.
Burden and Young have both won Sunningdale’s Gerald Micklem Trophy, one of Europe’s top mid-am tournaments and would relish the chance to land the English Amateur Strokeplay trophy, also won twice by Corhampton’s Neil Raymond in 2011 and 2012.
Raymond, the first player to defend the trophy outright in more than 50 years became the fourth Hampshire player to win the Brabazon, joining Hockley’s Paddy Hine, who became the first player to land the Brabazon and the Carris – at the English Boys Strokeplay – in the same season, in 1949, aged just 17.
Hartley Wintney’s Stan Fox claimed the Brabazon in 1956 at Somerset’s Burnham & Berrow – the course where Raymond won his first – while Guernsey’s Bobby Eggo became the first Channel Islander to win the famous trophy in 1988, at Saunton.
Other well-known winners of the Brabazon include future Augusta winners Sandy Lyle and Charl Schwartzel, Ryder Cup stars Gordon Brand Jnr, Ronan Rafferty, Paul Way and Peter Baker,
In 2017, former Hampshire junior Jack Singh-Brar missed out by one shot at Woodhall Spa as Kyle McClatchie became the second South African winner in 71 years since the Brabazon was founded.