HAMPSHIRE Colts manager Lawrence Cherry believes getting his foursomes pairings right will be the key to winning the South East U26 League for the first time since 2016, when they face Bedfordshire on Sunday.

Cherry, who was on the losing team against Essex in last year’s final, knows his Hampshire team must beat Bedfordshire by 7-5 or better to be crowned the South East Colts champions for 2022 — and their opponents have home advantage on top of that task.

The old North and South divisions were scrapped last year, removing the need for a final between the two winners, with just five counties now willing to field an U26 team.

And having lost to defending champions Essex at Barton-on-Sea back in June, when only one of the county’s first-team squad were available to Cherry, he has again had to pick a mix-and-match team, with the likes of Bramshaw’s Joe Buenfeld and English Amateur semi-finalist Charlie Forster, from North Hants GC, all set to return to the USA to resume their golf scholarships in the next 24-48 hours.

Cherry, whose team travel to Beadlow’s Cainhoe Wood for Sunday’s title-decider, said: “The biggest lesson we have learned as a team in my first year as manager that the foursomes are the key part of every game.

“The first four games in the alternate shot format are so important. You cannot afford to go into the singles a couple of points down, if you lose the foursomes 3-1. Even a point deficit makes the afternoon session so much harder.

“If we can’t get a point advantage or better in the morning foursomes, the least you need to be is level at 2-2. So Saturday’s practice session is very important.

“We will go out and play in our pairs and swop them over after nine holes if I think it will benefit the team once we see how everyone is playing – and we all had a look at the course online earlier this week.

Hampshire Colts v Kent

The winning Hampshire Colts team who beat Kent 6/12-51/2. Back row (l-r) Danny Coombs, Lawrence Cherry, Alan Drayton (county president), Will Green, Luke Evans. Front: Mat Thomas, George Daniels, Christian Lindgreen and Alfie Mepham. Picture: HAMPSHIRE GOLF

“The team meeting over dinner will help us thrash out the right course management for the match – we have a good spirit even though we have had to make a few changes in the earlier matches against Surrey, Kent and

Those wins over Surrey and Kent — Cherry claimed the winning point in the latter last month when playing in the anchor role — will count for nothing unless Hampshire can claim their second win on the road of the season – and pick up a two-point advantage in doing so.

Cherry, who lead Hampshire Boys to the 2015 English Boys County Finals, has packed his team with six Stoneham players in a bid to create a strong bond in his pairings, with the other two both playing at North Hants.

The county’s U26 manager has been able to call upon reigning Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Channel Islands Amateur Champion James Freeman. The Stoneham player, who is a strong foursomes player, is returning to the University of Birmingham where he is studying for the PGA degree next month.

Freeman picked up both points in last year’s final against Essex, who claimed the South East Colts title for a fourth year in a row in 2021, and for the 12th time in the competition’s history dating back to the 1960s.

North Hants’ Robert Wheeler comes into the team having been in good form at last week’s Solent Salver events.
Wheeler, who has been at The Tournament Golf College, playing at St Mellion, in Cornwall, and in Portugal, over the past year, finished seventh in the Mike Smith Memorial Trophy at Brokenhurst GC, having been 14th in the Stoneham Trophy, 24 hours earlier.

But in both events, Wheeler broke par in his first round to be among the leaders, only to tire in the afternoon.

His superb six-under 66 at Stoneham left him three clear at lunch, but an 82 sent him tumbling down the leaderboard. His 72-hole aggregate was still good enough to take fourth place in the Solent Salver, his best finish in a major Hampshire Order of Merit event so far.

Stoneham’s Luke Evans and George Daniels, who made their bow in the win over Kent, keep their places in the team, alongside clubmates Mat Thomas, and North Hants’ Alfie Mepham, who has played in the last two matches.

Lee-on-the-Solent’s Will Green flew out to start his junior college golf scholarship at New Mexico, and North Hants’ former Hampshire Boys captain Christian Lindegreen has returned to Tennessee’s Cumberland University for his third season playing in the Mid South Conference in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Team: Lawrence Cherry, James Freeman, Mat Thomas, Eliot Thomas, Greg Daniels, Luke Evans (all Stoneham), Robert Wheeler, Alfie Mepham (North Hants).

Mat Thomas Foursomes

Mat Thomas is one of six Stoneham players in the Hampshire Colts team to face Bedfordshire for the South East League title at Cainhoe Woods, on Sunday, Picture by ANDREW GRIFFIN / AMG PICTURES

error: Content is protected !!