HAMPSHIRE captain Neil Dawson knows that nothing less than three wins – starting with this weekend clash with Dorset – will do if his side are to make the South East League Final for the first time in four years.

A disappointing 8-4 defeat at the hands of Kent on Sunday – after the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee holiday weekend forced a switch in their usual schedule – was not the start of the season Dawson had in mind.

On paper a four-point victory margin looks like a heavy defeat for Hampshire. But the fact that five of the eight singles matches went to the 18th, only for the visitors to manage just one win still did not give much consolation to the Hampshire captain.

Dawson, who is a member at North Hants GC, said: “I said before the game the return of the morning foursomes matches after last year’s COVID restrictions meant we could only play singles, would play into our hands.

“So to lead by a point at lunch was very encouraging, even if we knew Kent were without two of their best players because the match clashed with the Lytham Trophy.

Rowlands Castle’s Colin Roope who will face Dorset

Rowlands Castle’s Colin Roope claimed Hampshire’s only win in the singles against Kent last week as his team lost 8-4 at North Foreland GC. Picture by ANDREW GRIFFIN / AMG PICTURES

“But after lunch we never really got going. We were behind in all eight matches after three holes I think, and while there were a couple of notable fight-backs, we never really got in front to suggest we could win.

“It is hard to put my finger on things – our preparation on Saturday could not have gone any better. I think most of the team were three or four-under par in practice.

“The team’s mood over dinner was great. We were confident the night before, but whether we became a bit too confident having won the morning session, I am not too sure.

Dawson: Long delay between matches did not help Toby

“Our cause was not helped by a long gap between the last foursomes match and Toby Burden going out last in the singles.

“We are used to turning around in 40-45 minutes, but Toby had to wait more like 90. I would have expected him to win against Ed Richardson, but he never got going, so that might be a lesson I have learned.

“The only good thing is we now play Dorset straight away, so the boys will be motivated to get back out there and get the win we now nee, on Sunday.”

The South Division is regularly won by teams who pick up three wins in their four games – some times it needs a draw in the other game to proceed to the final against the North Division winners.

The Hampshire captailn will probably need Surrey or Sussex to beat Kent as well as picking up three wins in their three remaining games to claim a 17th South Division title since the competition began in 1964.

The good news is that Hampshire have not lost at home to Dorset in more than 20 years, drawing just once in the 21st Century as they head into the Dorset clash at Liphook Golf Club, which starts with four foursomes at 9am.

Lee-on-the-Solent’s George Saunders – home early from his disappointing season at University of Tennessee – could come into the picture, otherwise the Hampshire captain – without the options of his players currently on golf scholarships in the USA until later this month – will go with the same squad to face Dorset.

Bramshaw’s Joe Buenfeld, who is bound for the NCAA regional finals after victory for Texas’ Incarnate Word last week, is not available until June’s match against Sussex at Hayling.

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