CAPTAIN Martin Young went with youth last year in his quest to end Hampshire’s hoodoo at the English County Finals, but his side were beaten by all-conquering Yorkshire who won a record 21st title – although it was their first in nine years (writes Andrew Griffin).
The 2017 finals take place in Cornwall this weekend and the Brokenhurst Manor player, who will make a record-breaking eighth appearance wearing Hampshire’s light blue in the finals, has this time picked four players who qualify as Mid Amateurs, including himself.
The 47-year-old held back from naming his side in case Walker Cup star Scott Gregory decided to postpone turning professional for a couple more weeks.
Gregory admitted after accepting an 11th hour invitation to play in last week’s Portugal Masters that his decision to turn pro was influenced by how he came back from two down with two to play against Norman Xiong to pinch a draw in the Walker Cup. If he had lost, he would have been tempted to turn out one last time for Hampshire at the spectacular Trevose course overlooking the North Atlantic.
Instead, he is teeing up in this week’s Challenge Tour event in Spain, but will be pulling for his former Hampshire team-mates.
Young hopes his ‘golden oldies’, including current British Mid Amateur Champion Matt Wilcox, from North Hants, can break that run stretching back to their one and only victory at Woodhall Spa in 1996 of failing to win in their last seven appearances in the finals since 2002.
On three occasions, it was Lancashire who denied Hampshire victory, but neither Yorkshire or Lancashire will be heading down the M5 to Cornwall after Northumberland caused a shock by winning the Northern Counties Qualifier last month.
Young’s seven-man squad also includes the Rowlands Castle pair of Tom Robson and Billy McKenzie, Blackmoor members Colin Roope and Mark Burgess, and Shanklin & Sandown’s Ryan Harmer.
Roope is likely to team up with clubmate Burgess who, at 6ft 7ins, towers above most opponents and is set to appear in his third English County Finals.