HAMPSHIRE captain Colin Roope will be looking to his young guns to go low in at least one of the two rounds they will play in Saturday’s ‘Six-man Qualifier,’ in Kent.
Billy McKenzie, who made a very nervy debut in the event six years ago, made the last 32 in The Amateur Championship, at Portmarnock, in Ireland, a month ago.
Last year’s Spanish Amateur Champion had the satisfaction of knocking out England international David Langley by 6&5 when the B.B&O. man was being watched by the Walker Cup selectors.
Roope added: “Although Billy got knocked out in the next round, he came back from Ireland in very good spirits.
“While his own Walker Cups have not panned out this season, he has been playing at a much higher standard.
“George Saunders and Conor Richards had excellent seasons playing college golf in the States. George also did well finishing inside the top 40 in a world-class field in the St Andrews Links Trophy, which was why he missed the county championships.
“Add in the fact that Jordan Sundborg has just won the European Universities Championship in Spain by seven shots, and we have a very capable side.”
And Roope has former pro Darren Wright, who has won England’s two biggest national strokeplay titles, available for the event for the first time since 2010. But despite Hampshire’s superb record with eight wins in the last 17 years, Roope’s men know they cannot afford any slip-ups.
Roope added: “We saw last year at Orsett how a very good B.B.&O. team shot an unbelievable score to beat us by eight shots.
“They and Surrey will be very strong again – B.B.&O. have Connor Gough, a Walker Cup prospect just three months ago, at just 16 – the age Justin Rose was when he was picked in 1997. And they have David Langley, an England international, who just missed out on a place in England’s European Amateur team this week.
“He won the Peter Benka Trophy as the leading individual in Essex 12 months ago.”
“I have always said my aim as captain has been to win the South Division – the six-man has far more variables on the day I can’t control.
“But obviously we want to play in English Finals and we will be doing everything to win that South East crown back, having been second a year ago.”
Hampshire team Ashford GC, Kent, (Saturday July 13): Martin Young (Brokenhurst Manor), Billy McKenzie, Darren Wright (Rowlands Castle), Jordan Sundborg, Conor Richards (Shanklin & Sandown), George Saunders (Lee-on-the-Solent).