LAWRENCE Cherry became the youngest county captain to pick up the Daily Telegraph Salver in 60 years, with a comprehensive victory over Berks, Bucks and Oxfordshire in the South East League Final, on Sunday.
After Cherry’s side had wrapped up a crushing 81/2-31/2 victory in the balmy October sunshine, the 26-year-old Stoneham member immediately dedicated the victory – the first in the final since 2012 – to the late Hampshire Golf secretary and president Keith Maplesden.
Lawrence said: “We had an emotional year with the sad passing of our past president and secretary Keith Maplesden, who served from 1994-2009 and continued to come and support us.
“He was a massive part of the county and helped a lot of the players on their journey – including players in my team – so this one is for Keith. ”
Maplesden, who saw Hampshire win the Daily Telegraph Salver for a fourth time in seven years at Wildernesse in his first year as secretary back in 1994 – passed away after a short illness in June.
But he was very much there in spirit as the South Division champions put the North Division winners to the sword.
Hampshire were without four college players – including Bramshaw’s Stoneham Trophy winner Joe Buenfeld, and last year’s English Amateur semi-finalist Charlie Forster, who now plays out of Basingstoke, having won the South of England Boys Open in 2021 while a member at North Hants GC.
But Hampshire were still quick out of the blocks winning three of the morning’s four alternate-shot matches and halving the other to lead by three points at lunch, with eight singles to follow.
Vice-captain Toby Burden, playing in his third final since 2009 – and the Hayling member’s second since returning to the amateur ranks in 2016, after five years as a pro – won the top match 4&3, having been sent out to set the early tone.
But the Three Counties then picked up wins against another former pro – Liphook’s Darren Walkley – who lost on the last, despite a brave attempt to chip in, while Blackmoor’s Sam Parsons was beaten on the 16th.
With Hampshire leading 4½-2½, Cherry’s team needed just two more wins from the remaining four singles. Stoneham debutant Harrison Pake – who sells radio advertising for Wave 105 during the week – raised the volume with a solid 2&1 win.
That left Cherry’s two most experienced campaigners – Ryan Henley and Martin Young with seven county championships, 15 league final and 14 English County Final appearnces between them – in a race to seal the outright victory.
Stoneham’s Henley, who made it four county championships by beating Walkley in June’s final, celebrated his sixth final – and sixth appearance on the winning side.
His winning putt against B.B.&O.’s Kevin Freeman – who was playing in his ninth league final, having been a member of the 1999 winning team at The Neville GC – was conceded after chipping it stone dead on the 17th for a 2&1 win, that sparked the victory celebrations.
Brokenhurst Manor’s Young – playing in his ninth final since 1999 and his 23rd league season in total – bounced back from going one-down with four to play, to win 17 and 18 minutes later, to round off a two-hole win against former B.B.&O. pro Tim Shin.
Test Valley’s Stuart Archibald – last year’s English Mid-Amateur Champion (over 35s) – won the anchor match 4&3.
Although the three-time Europro Tour winner had made his Hampshire debut against Sussex back in June 2005, the 2006 county champion had never played in a league final before he turned pro – or after he regained his amateur status three years ago – until this weekend.
His win meant Hockley’s Luke Hodgetts’ 3&2 loss in the penultimate match could not dampen the celebrations after an emphatic victory.
Cherry, who toasted Keith’s memory as the team raised a glass of Champagne, added: “For about 30 minutes on the back nine, there was a sticky spell when B.B.&O. were up in four, and down in four of the singles.
“We only had a slender lead in two of the matches. They could have still forced a tie and shared the trophy by turning one into a win and halving the other.
“But Ryan and Martin used all their experience to ensure the victory – I am so proud of my team. I could not have asked any more of them this season.
“Most of us didn’t know about the 1994 win also being at Wildernesse… it was obviously meant to be.”
Burden reveals promise players made for Maplesden
COUNTY vice-captain Toby Burden joined in the toast as the county’s Tournerbury-based coach Kevin Flynn produced the Champagne for the post-victory presentation.
The Hayling golfer – who turned pro after helping Hampshire to the English County Finals with a 22-shot triumph over Essex in the South East Qualifer at Stoneham in 2010 – was unbeaten in both foursomes and singles to make it four points out of six in the final.
Burden was very close to Maplesden, who passed away suddenly in June. He said “Since the sad passing of our friend Keith, we have always made sure we stuck to our collective word of focusing on each hole and shot at a time.
“We all made a massive push to trust ourselves and give it our absolute best every time we put the Hampshire shirt on and even more so since he passed away.
“We wanted to show how much he has meant to us and also show this dedication to his wife Sue as well,” said Burden, who saw Essex claim the Daily Telegraph Salver after a narrow win at Frilford Heath five years ago.
“Hopefully this victory will mean as much to them as us,” added Toby, who saw Ryder Cup hero Justin Rose, and Hayling’s former European Tour player Matt Blackey, who is now based in the USA, chime in on social media with congratulatory messages saying “for Keith.”